Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tutorial ~ Little Dress for Africa...

 My granddaughter requested a tutorial on how to make the "Little Dresses for Africa."  I am going to show you how to make one.  This one is a size 3, but the procedure is the same, only some of the measurements will vary for larger sizes.  Please go HERE to print off a copy of the instructions as well as a pattern for cutting out the armholes.  This is a rather long tutorial, because I want to explain it for beginning sewers.

I use a sewing machine to make the dresses, but if you do not have a sewing machine, or don't feel comfortable using one, HERE is a wonderful sequence of short videos that will teach you basic hand sewing techniques.  These little dresses are a wonderful thing to take along in a work basket wherever you go, so that if you have to sit and wait somewhere, you can take out your project and stitch!  That is also an excellent way to spread the word to others about this project that blesses the lives of little girls.

1.  Gather your materials.  For this size 3 dress, you will need

       1 piece of cotton or cotton/blend fabric that is 22 inches long by 42 inches wide
       Another piece of fabric, either matching or contrasting, 5 inches by 10 inches
       2 pieces of 1/4 inch elastic, 6 inches long each
       2 yards of double fold bias tape (you can purchase this, OR, make you own if you really get into this
             and want to save money.  Here is a good video on just how to do that.)
       Thread and if you are stitching by hand, you will also need a hand sewing needle and a thimble
       Straight pins
       1 small safety pin
       Clothes iron and ironing surface

 2.  Iron the larger piece of fabric and line up the two 22 inch edges, right sides together.  Starting at one side, stitch a 3/8 inch seam. 
 Here is the end of that seam being sewn.
 3.  Zig-zag over the raw edges in the seam.
 4.  Place the tube of fabric on your ironing board.
 5.  With a hot iron (be careful not to burn yourself!) iron the sewn seam allowance to one side.
  6.  Match up the seam allowance with the center of the other side.  This will be ironing the tube in such a way that the sewn seam will be on the center back.
 7.  Press the tube.
 8.  Fold the tube in half lengthwise.
 9.  Iron flat.
10.  Place the pattern on the two sides that are together, pin it in place.
11.  And then cut along the edge of the pattern.
 12.  Open up the tube.  On one of the top edges, iron under 1/4 inch.  Turn this edge down another 1/2 inch and iron it again.  Repeat with the other top side edge.
 13.  Open the safety pin and secure it in the end of one of the pieces of elastic.

14.  Insert the pin with elastic into the end of the little tube you just sewed.

 15.  Thread the elastic on into the tube, carefully, until only the bare end of the other end of the elastic is showing.
16.  Pin the elastic in place at the end.
17.  Continue pushing the elastic through, using the safety pin, until it goes all the way to the other end.
18.  Carefully remove the safety pin and pin the end of the elastic in place.
19.  Sew back and forth twice over both ends of the elastic to secure it in place.

 20.  The top of the dress will look like this.  Do the other side just the same.
21.  Cut the bias tape into two 36 inch pieces.  Take them to the ironing board.  Open up an end and fold down 1/4 inch and iron that flat.
 22.  Turn the end back in and press so it looks like this.
 23.  Look carefully at the bias tape.  You will notice that one side sticks out a little farther than the other.  When you put the tape on the armholes to sew it, you will be sewing on the narrow side so that you will be less likely to not catch the other side in the seam. 
 24.  Fold the bias tape strips in half to mark the center.
 25.  Place the bias tape OVER the edge of the armhole with the center of the tape matching the bottom center of the armholes.  Pin it in place.
 26.  Beginning on the end of the bias tape, sew back and forth to secure the end.  Stop with the needle down in the bias tape...
 27.  and then you can easily turn the corner and continue sewing the layers together.

 28.  Continue sewing together the edges of the bias tape, right over the armhole of the dress...
 29.  ... and on to the other end.  Sew back and forth to secure the other end too.
 30.  Here is what it will look like.
 31.  Time to hem the dress.  Iron under 1/4 inch on the bottom of the dress, and then another 2 inches.

 32.  Sew the hem in place.
 33.  Get the small piece of fabric and fold it in half, right sides together, so it makes a little square. Iron it flat to make it easier to sew.
 34.  Using a 3/8 inch seam, sew the 3 open sides together, leaving a 2 inch opening so you can turn it right-side out.
 35.  Here you can see where I stopped sewing, advanced 2 inches and then went back to sewing.
 36.  Clip the corners off, not TOO close to the stitching, to reduce the bulk for turning the corners.
 37.  Turn the pocket right-side out and then iron it flat.  Here you can see that open part where I'm turning it in for pressing.
 38.  Here I am ironing it flat.
 39.  With the folded side up, place the pocket in the center of the front of the little dress. Pin it in place.
 40.  Starting at the upper side of the pocket, sew back and forth to secure it, and then continue sewing all around, leaving the top of the pocket open, of course!

 41.  Sew back and forth at the end to secure it.
 42.  Tie the straps into bows at the shoulders, hang up your little dress and stand back and admire it!

NOW, package up all the dresses you make in plastic food bags, marked with the sizes.  Send them to:

 Little Dresses for Africa, c/o Nancy’s Notions
333 Beichl Avenue
Beaver Dam, WI  53916-0683

This post is linked to The Creative Homemaker Hop!

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