Saturday, 23 February 2013

The 'Alannah Dress' Tutorial

About 10 years ago we went on a family trip to Tunisia and while we were there my Mum bought this tunic.

In the Tunisian sunshine it seemed like a sensible buy, but low and behold, since our return to the UK there hasn’t quite been the occasion for her to wear it. So my lovely Mum donated it to my refashion pile and I have spent months looking at the lovely embroidery on it wondering what I could make with the fabric.
Then last week I booked a short break to Ireland to visit family in April and so decided it would be nice to make something to take over for my favourite cousin’s little girl who will be celebrating her 1st birthday in a couple of weeks. I revisited the tunic and realised that the embroidery around the neckline would fit perfectly onto a baby/toddler dress bodice. And so the ‘Alannah Dress’ was created.

I’m hoping to get the pattern pieces I used drawn up in neat to add to this, but in the meantime, I figured I could add some photos and bit of a tutorial as it really wasn’t all that complex to make.
I started out with a basic bodice piece (18 month girl size) and drew out a cap sleeve to fit it. I drew it to be longer than the armhole so that I could add some pretty gathers. The bubble-style skirt is made with a shaped lining and rectangles for the skirt. I used An from Straightgrain’s guide for sizing and cutting the lining, which you can find here. The tutorial also gives you guidelines for cutting the rectangles of fabric for the skirt. If you use this tutorial, you won’t need the waistband and you may also want to straighten out the curved waistline on lining pieces (I straightened it out for my dress so don’t know if it will work curved or not).
I used the tunic material for the main fabric and then some plain white cotton for the lining. Cut one front, two back and two sleeve pieces from the main fabric and again from the lining fabric. Then cut two lining skirt pieces on the fold and two rectangles from the main fabric from the skirt.
Take the bodice pieces and sew the front bodice to the back bodice pieces at the shoulders. Then pin the lining and main fabric bodices right sides together from the bottom of one back bodice piece right along and around the neckline and then down the other back piece. Don’t forget to put in some ribbon at this point if you want a loop closure. Stitch, turn the right side out, press and topstitch.
Then placing a lining sleeve and main sleeve piece right sides together, sew along the sleeve edge. Turn the right way out, press and topstitch. Zigzag around the curved shoulder edge of the sleeve pieces and then hand-sew a running stitch along the centre 4 inches of the curved shoulder edge (for the gathers).

Pull the stitches to gather the sleeve so that it fits the shoulder opening and then pin between the two layers of the shoulder opening of the bodice (right sides together). Make sure that you have the right side of the sleeve facing the right side of the bodice. Stitch, finish the edges with a zigzag and then turn right side out.
Attach a button to the back opening to correspond with the loop. The overlap the back pieces at the centre at the very bottom and secure with a few stitches. The bodice is now complete and can be put to one side for later.


To make the bubble-style skirt, jstart by joining the two lining pieces at the side seams and repeat for the main fabric skirt pieces.Then sew two rows of long, low-tension stitches along the bottom of the main skirt piece. Secure at one end and leave loose at the other. The pull the loose ends gently to gather the bottom of the skirt to match the width of the bottom of the lining. Pin to the lining and stitch to secure the hem. You want to do this with right sides together.
Repeat the gathering process for the top of the skirt and gather to match the bottom of the bodice (which should also be the same width as the top of the lining skirt). This time stitch with the wrong sides together. (Because I had the lovely embroidery at the front of the skirt I decided not to gather across it and leave the centre area flat.)

You are now ready to attach the skirt to the bodice. I did this the lazy way and just pinned and stitched the bodice to the skirt right sides together, then finished the edge with a zigzag stitch. Not the neatest finish but I was running out of time.


Turn right side out and press and you should have...



  2. This turned out so pretty! I'd love for you to come link up to our party where we can show off all of our old or new projects! :) - Jessica