Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chiffon Party Dress Mini-Tutorial

My apologies for the slight delay while I spent the majority of the last week coughing like a dying steam train. The plague has passed, so I can get down to the good stuff.
Last week, we did the great Easter dress reveal and I promised a mini-tutorial.

Before we get started, let me say that I take zero credit for the pattern design of this dress. Zilch. Nada. This tiny tutorial was made with permission of the designer, in this case the talented Jocole over on Etsy. What I'll show you here is a quick way to fancy up her design for a party or other special occasion. Be warned: I am a sewing novice and this is my first how-to. Throw those tomatoes gently.

What You'll Need
  • Pattern for a circle dress or skirt, depending on what you want to make. I used the Circle Flounce Dress by Jocole but feel free to use what you wish. For those brave enough to try a bit of drafting, Ikat Bag has a free circular skirt tutorial and Google will happily fetch you any number of free dress patterns for the bodice.
  • Lightweight fabric for bodice and skirt lining, in the amount called for by pattern. I used cotton for the entire lining of the practice dress and the bodice of the Easter dresses. For the skirt lining on the Easter dresses I chose taffeta to give a little extra sheen and rustle.
  • Stretch chiffon, also called nylon tricot for skirt and/or bodice overlays, in the amount called for by pattern. Check your required yardage for your pattern's skirt and that is the amount you will need for each layer of the stretch chiffon. This fabric is different from regular chiffon and can be a bit tricky to find at local sewing stores. I found only one store in my area that carried it at all and their color selection was next to none. Most of the chiffon for my dresses came from DreamSpunKids. The array of colors she offers is amazing and the prices are reasonable.
  • Lace or ribbon for straps and sash (optional). I purchased dyed-to-match lace from DreamSpunKids to coordinate exactly with my chiffon.
  • The usual notions: thread, needle, etc. I did substitute buttons for the snaps called for in the Circle Flounce pattern, just because I hate snaps.

Step One
  • Lay out and cut fabric for bodice, skirt, lining, and overlays. At this point you will decide whether you want to overlay the bodice and the skirt or only the skirt. For the practice dress, I used a single layer of hot pink chiffon for the bodice and the skirt--

For the Easter dresses, I chose an embroidered cotton bodice and two to three layers of chiffon for the skirts.

Multiple layers of chiffon make the skirt assembly a bit trickier but it is worth it for that lovely swish when you're done.

Step Two
  • Assemble the bodice according to pattern
  • If you have chosen to use a chiffon overlay, I suggest sewing the front and back sides of the chiffon together before sewing it over the lining. According to my trial-and-error this was less likely to cause pulling or distortion during the attachment.
Step Three
  • Assemble the skirt and overlays.
  • Sew each layer of the skirt-- lining and chiffon overlays-- individually then baste the layers together at the top for ease in attaching the bodice. You will want to hem your lining but you don't have to hem the chiffon as it will not fray. I chose not to hem the chiffon for my dresses.
Step Four
  • Attach skirt to bodice.
  • If you haven't already attached the straps, do so now. Attach sash if you have decided to use one. I made mine removable using simple belt loops you can learn to do at this Whimsy Couture tutorial.
  • Try on your princess and watch her twirl!

There you have it. A few simple steps on how to transform a cute basic dress into something perfect for a summer party or church event. Thanks for tuning in!


Ed of Chesapeake said...

Gosh, do they have a pattern in my size, Karen? I've always wanted a nice pink Easter dress. :-)

karen_m said...

Why not a nice full tutu while you're at it? :P

Carlin said...

Good sharing, i also really chiffon dress,and i usually wear it in summer,not only beautiful but also convenient,i always buy mine at here.