Making children’s clothes can be fast, easy and cheap. For instance, I recently made four sundresses for my daughter for under $16.
First, you will need to make a trip to the local fabric store. My personal fabric addiction and my frugality (I had coupons) led me to Joann Fabrics. Your shopping list for this project is simple: pre-smocked or shirred fabric, ribbon, and matching thread.
The pre-smocked fabric is a staple at Joann Fabrics, and I found several bolts of pretty, summery prints. Measure your own little girl before heading to the store to determine how much fabric you will need to buy. Or, if you are like me and forget this step, just take your daughter along and haphazardly wrap the fabric around her to make sure you buy enough, then tack on a few inches just in case. I found that a yard and a quarter cut made 2 dresses for my 4 year old.
After stalking the fabric aisles and picking up your smocked fabric, find matching thread and a roll of ribbon that coordinates with your fabric. I chose a three quarter inch ribbon for stability, but if you wanted a more delicate shoulder strap you could use a thinner ribbon. You will need approximately 20 to 30 inches of ribbon for each dress, so purchase accordingly. If you shop frugally, and use your coupons, you should be able to find everything you need for around $5 per dress or less.
Once you have stocked up on your project essentials, it’s time to prewash your fabric. If you don’t want your cotton woven fabric to fray, then zigzag or serge the edges before washing. Once your fabric is washed and dried, iron it nice and smooth. Then its time to do the hem. You can use one of several different treatments for the hem of the sun dress depending on the look you prefer. For a super simple hem, just use the rolled edge hem on your serger. If you are using a conventional sewing machine, you can turn up the hem by a quarter inch, press, then turn it up another quarter inch and stitch on the edge. If you prefer, you can also do a one inch hem, which is more traditional.
Next, pin the shirred fabric right sides together matching the top and bottom edges of the sun dress so they are nice and straight. Straight stitch the edge using a half inch seam allowance and finish with pinking shears or a zigzag stitch to keep your fabric from fraying. If you prefer, use your serger for an even faster, neater edge.
Once you have a nice, neat tube dress, find your model. Have her try on the dress, and decide where you want to put the ribbon shoulder straps. You can cross the straps in the back if you are worried about them slipping off the shoulder, or you can just put them on nice and straight. Make sure you cut your ribbons the same length for each shoulder strap so you don’t wind up with a crooked sun dress.
To sew the ribbon shoulder straps onto the sun dress, pin the ribbon in place first. Then turn the ribbon under a quarter of an inch and stitch a small rectangle to hold the turned up ribbon. Make sure to reinforce your stitching by back tacking so that the straps are nice and stable.
Once both of your shoulder straps are in place, turn the dress right side out and admire your handiwork! The whole project takes under and hour, and the finished product is really cute.