Using elastic thread to shirr the bodice of a sundress makes a pretty dress out of the fabric of your choice in a record amount of time. It's fun! It's fast! It's the amazing .... well, never mind. Here's a quick tutorial for using elastic thread to make a quick sundress for dolls, girls, and grownups, too.
- 1-3 yards fabric (depending on size)
- elastic thread
- sewing machine
First, do some quick measurements. You only need two: The chest measurement and the length measurement. To get the chest measurement, wrap the tape around the fullest part of your bust, or for girls and dolls, around the chest just under the arms. The get the length measurement, hold the measuring tape under your arm and let the free end dangle...lower the end of the tape until it reaches the length you want the dress to be.
Next, choose a fabric you like. Quilting cottons have such a vast array of patterns and prints, it's hard to imagine not finding one you like. You can use other wovens if you like, linen or rayon or silk or whatever. Theoretically, I guess you could use a knit as well, but as I've never done this I don't really know how well it would work out.
You will need enough fabric to fit around you (or the girl or the doll) twice at the length you want with a little extra for straps and hems and seam allowances.
Cut your fabric the correct width and length. For girls' dresses I tend to use the entire width of quilting cotton (44-45 inches), so all I have to worry about is the length. These dresses are pretty forgiving, so if the chest measurement is 23 or 24 inches, you can still use the 44 inch width and it will fit just fine. It won't have as full a skirt, though. A dress this size is made with a single seam allowance at center back. Cut the fabric the length you want plus hem allowances--because I use a 4mm and a 6mm rolled hem, I add just 1 inch for hems.
For an adult, you'll need 2 pieces of fabric. Cut each piece your full bust measure wide plus seam allowances and your chosen length measure long plus hem allowances. A dress this size will have two side seams instead of a center back seam.
If you're making an adult dress, sew and finish ONE side seam.
It still isn't going to look very gathered. We'll get to that in a minute.
For the girl's dress place the center back edges together wrong sides together. If you're making an adult's dress, do the same for the side seam you left unsewn. Stitch this seam with slightly less than a 1/4" seam allowance. Press the seam to one side--but don't press the area where the elastic thread is stitched. Heat will make the thread contract and make it harder to sew the second seam.
I shrunk mine before sewing the center back seam, but I don't recommend this. It's much easier to sew the side seam before you shrink.
Now it's time to put on the straps. It's up to you whether you want to make the dress a halter style and just use two straps or put four straps on to tie over the shoulders. Four straps is much more versatile. If you want to wear it halter style, you just tuck the back straps inside the dress and tie the two front straps around your neck. You can make straps by sewing and turning or you can make self-fabric binding straps.
And you're finished! A cute dress and it probably didn't take more than a couple of hours. Congratulations! You're Awesome!