Fancy Up some store-bought dresses for Christmas (or any occasion)
Some of you email me sometimes, asking me if I make everything. Like every last thing in my house, in my clothing closets, linen closets, wall hangings, etc. But I don’t. Even though it may seem like I do…..haha! It’s just when I get an itch to try something out……I do it. And then other times it’s because I want something in particular but don’t like the price tag at the store. However, I would say most of the stuff we own is just store bought. Does that make you feel better? ;)
So, for Christmas…….I really wanted some fancy Christmas outfits for the kiddos. (Because I like fancy Christmas clothes for some reason. It’s like getting new Easter clothes. They just go hand in hand. Though, the clothing has nothing to do with the actual relevance and importance of those two beautiful and-new-clothes-aren’t-really-necessary holidays. But you get me, right?) And I didn’t have time to make any, so I was all ready to just buy a few things for the kiddos to wear for Christmas. No big deal. I’m not an anti-purchased clothing person, remember? ;)
However, I looked in a few stores…..and just didn’t find anything I liked. Okay, I did see some gorgeous dresses at Janie and Jack while in CA 2 weeks ago but over $100 for a fancy holiday dress was just way too much. So I bought a couple plain dresses at Carter’s (about $10 on some extra sale) but they just weren’t Christmas-y enough for me.
So I added red. And a red tie for my little guy.
Then we were set. Thank you Carter’s…………and some red fabric.
So, if you’re scrambing for a little last minute Christmas outfit……..just fancy up a simple dress. Or add a homemade tie.
Turn plain into holiday fantastic.
And this goes for anything you see in the store. Use plain items as your canvas……and then go from there. Change things up, add sashes, shorten hem lines, remove accessories, add your own, turn shirts into dresses, pants into shorts, blah, blah, blah.
You know the drill. ;)
It sure helped me after not finding the Christmas dresses that I wanted.
And if we were actually sending out Christmas cards this year, they would probably look like this (minus Steve and I….darn). And to all of you dear friends and family who have sent cards……I wish I would have planned further ahead so that I could get these out to you too. But I didn’t. I took these pictures this morning. And edited during nap time. Eeeek! Christmas is in 6 days so I’m not sure these would get printed, labeled, stamped, and in the mail this week…..even if I tried really hard.
So choose one, and accept it as a Very Merry Christmas card to you. (I couldn’t decide on which background I liked best. Haha.)
And if you look really close……you’ll see the real names of my children who I generally call monkey, turkey, munchkins, stinker pants, or whatever other name I’m in the mood to call them.
And if you’re interested as to how I changed up these
little dresses (and made the tie), read on:
First up……..the baby dress. (And I realize not all of you will have the same dress with the exact sewing construction. So just use these alterations as a guide.)
For this little dress, I wanted the belt to be red, not pink like the original. I was going to pick the belt out and replace it with a red one……but the construction of the dress was more complicated. The belt wasn’t placed on top…..it was sewn into the dress. So I sewed together a tube of fabric that was almost twice as wide as the original one……because I wanted to give it that little gathered look in different sections. The belt on the dress was about 1.5 inches wide but the new belt was about 2.5 inches wide. I also made it nice and long so that the bow would be full and long in the back. Once the tube was turned right side out, pressed flat, and ready to go……..I placed the very center of the belt at the center front of the dress. (Need help sewing fabric into a tube? Click here.) Now, you can sew a basting stitch and gather in each vertical line of gathers (more on gathering here) and then just sew over the basting stitch to attach the belt to the dress. Or, you can do it the way that I did………and just pinch it and gather it with your fingers as you sew. I made 3 vertical gathers along the front and then one at each side.
Then I flipped the dress to the back and made two more on each side of the back of the dress. How many gathers you do will depend on the size of your dress. Just do what looks best to you. And then once you tie the bow in the back, the pink is hidden. (But if you peek under the belt…..the pink is still there. So be sure to keep the belt nice and smooth as you’re sewing your gathered sections. you don’t want it to droop or your belt underneath will show. But this only concerns you if you’re working with a similar dress with belt.)
For the bottom of the dress, I gathered long sections of tulle and attached them to the lining of the dress. I did this in 4 sections along the bottom of the lining and gathered in the tulle nice and tight so it would be pretty full. I didn’t sew the strips of tulle together to get long pieces to gather in. I just overlapped pieces of gathered tulle in the 4 sections because you’ll never see the overlap. If your dress doesn’t have a piece of lining, you could attach it right to the bottom of the dress….but be sure you sew nice and straight since you’ll see the seam from the outside.
And that’s it.
Next up……the little tie.
The tie is made using my Little Guy Tie Pattern, found here. That’s it. :)
And lastly…….the bigger girl asymmetrical dress. (And I realize not all of you will have the same dress with the exact sewing construction. So just use these alterations as a guide. If your dress doesn’t have a lining, I wouldn’t recommend this alteration because the ruffles won’t be able to attach to the lining and then hang nicely behind the asymmetrical hem. But it’s up to you.)
Okay, and I didn’t get any pictures of this process because I thought it would be easy to explain…….but it wasn’t. So here’s a crude drawing below instead. Forgive my shaky free-hand in photoshop with the “pen” tool. :)
First of all, unpick the bottom hem of the dress. Iron flat. Then line up the bottom edges of the dress (front and back) and get the inside lining out of the way. Then start at one bottom corner (I started at the bottom left) and then cut a diagonal line upwards towards the other side of the dress. (Marking with chalk first would be best…..because you want to get it right on the first cut.) Leave enough room below that first cut, so that you have about an inch of fabric below it. On the second cut, cut about 3/4 of an inch below the first cut, following along the same curve of the first cut. The extra scrap fabric below can be thrown away.
Now, grab that little strip of fabric that is 3/4 of an inch wide. Zig-zag (or serge) all along the bottom edge. Then turn it that piece inside out and slip it over the bottom edge of the dress, matching it up exactly with the edge that it was cut from, but with “right sides” together. So, match up the side seams of the dress together and the front with the front, and the back with the back…….but just with the right sides together. It’s like you just flipped that little strip up and over onto the bottom of the dress. Then sew the strip to the dress, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Then flip that strip down and back under the dress. Start at the side seams of the dress then ease it around the dress, pinning as you go, making it lay flat against the dress. Iron flat. Then sew that flap in place.
Edited to Add: Okay, I know that last step seemed weird. And pointless to cut off a strip of fabric to then sew it back on. (I have had some questions about it…..sorry for leaving off an explanation.) But the reason I did that was because it’s near impossible to just do a regular hem on an angled hemline like that. Each side seam would be especially hard because on one side seam it’s almost a point and then the other side seam it’s an inverted point. To try and turn that under and get it to lay right would be really hard. And may make you want to throw your project in the trash. But if you sew that strip back on and then turn it under……..you can ease the bottom edge (the zig-zagged edge) of that strip up and around the entire bottom of the dress, allowing the hemline to lay flat. It’s a bit hard to explain without showing you in person.. But trust me, just trying to hem under that diagonal hemline would be really hard. And would pucker. And bubble. And make you mad. :)
Next, cut a strip of red fabric that is 3 times the length of the entire bottom edge of your dress lining. So if the bottom edge of your dress lining is 30 inches……cut a strip of fabric that is 90 inches wide. (If you have to sew 2 pieces together to get 90 inches, or however many inches you need, that’s just fine.) As for the height, cut it tall enough so that this gathered section can tuck under the dress at the top of the diagonal side and also long enough to make a hem along the bottom. This gathered strip will not be angled…….it will be the same height all the way around but will just look angled because it’s tucked under the asymmetrical hem of the dress. Now, fold the long strip of fabric in half (width-wise) so that your two short ends are together. Sew along the two short ends so that you now have a giant circle of fabric. Now, hem the bottom of this circular section by folding it under a 1/4 inch, another 1/4 inch, and then sew it in place. Then zig-zag (or serge) the top edge and then make a basting stitch about 1/4 inch from the top. Gather it in and sew it right to the lining of the dress, right on top of the basting stitch. (Need help with gathering? Click here.) (Need another gathered skirt demonstration? Click here.)
Then I always steam/lightly iron the ruffles on a project like this. I like them to be flatted out a bit….and not so fluffy. Don’t make actual creases in the fabric…..just lightly brush the iron over the top of the ruffled section, flattening them out a bit.
And then for the flower, I made it just like the one here……then hand sewed it onto the dress.
And that’s it. A little asymmetrical dress.