Yesterday I spent the day tackling my donations of sheets, they seemed to be multiplying. I'm not complaining as they are a great source of fabric. Soft, hard wearing and make some great dresses.
But I decided I would take the day and cut some of them up to make pillowcase shapes ready to make dresses.Some I cut up using a dress pattern . And some I cut up to make homemade bias tape. I used my handheld little Clover brand bias maker. It Actually works pretty good, but I still have to iron it my self ( not my favorite job :-) . But I just keep thinking each yard I make is one more strap for a dress for a girl , so it's worth it. And also the money saved from buying ready made is also worth it.
I am still Coveting and dreaming about the Simplicity Automatic bias maker and am saving my pennies. But now I am hearing mixed reviews . So I need to get it for a good deal for it to be worth it.
I also cut up some dress shirts, to make some cute dresses and some I cut into bias tape.
Often friends ask me how I can make multiple dresses so quickly. This is what I do.
1 I take the time to cut out a bunch of dresses at once, either pillowcases, or from a pattern that I have.
2 Then I sit down at my serger and serge away,to make the side seams for the dresses. If I have used fabric instead of pillowcases. Or serge the tops. The serger is the best invention ever!
3 Then I press all my casings at the top for the elastic and press up any seams I may need to do, if I didn't use pillowcases.
4 Then I go back to my sewing machine with my stack of dresses. And sew the casings and hems. For those that quilt you will know what I mean when I say , I chain sew them. Basically I sew across one casing then feed the next dress through continuing to sew and then the next and the next etc etc and don't trim threads in between dresses until the end. I do sew a back stitch at each end of each casing though.
5 Then I find a good movie to watch or TV show and sit and trim threads and thread elastic and pin the ends.
6 Then back to the machine to tack the elastic in place . I actually have started to not do this now and wait until I have the straps pinned on then sew back and forth where the end of the elastic is where the strap is attached.( hope this makes sense.)
7 Then I cut all my straps to match dresses .And just use one pin to attach them to the dresses for me to carry them to the sewing machine.
8 Then I sew on the straps. I separate my dresses into piles according to what color thread I will need for the straps. At the beginning when I am cutting out the dresses I try to think about the thread color needed ,so I am not switching colors every dress. For example yesterday.
I chose fabrics that will have red straps, and white or light colored straps, That way I only had to change thread colors once. and it worked good
9 Then this is the stage when I sometimes embellish the dresses with lace or Ric Rac or pockets.
Well this is what works for me when making multiple dresses. I know it's not any mind boggling news to most sewers and you probably already do this . But people asked me so I thought I would share. Of course I still love the process of making an individual dress from start to finish. But some day I want to make a bunch and use my time wisely.
I am excited to be working with a group of youth at our church on March 30th. Young men and Women aged between 12-18. It is only 1 hour and 1/2 long activity. So I am trying to prep some ahead of time. So we don't have to wait on those cutting before we start sewing. So this was my system I'll let you know if it works out on the night.
30 pillowcases un cut
15 dresses sewn ready for the elastic to be threaded and pinned
10 dresses ready for the straps to be sewn on.
So basically while some are still cutting the pillowcases, a few can be threading elastic in the top casings, and some can be sewing straps. Then when the pillowcases are cut, they can then be passed on to someone to press the casings down at the top . Then passed to someone to sew the casings, then threading elastic etc etc.
I am trying to have a rotation system working so that all the youth have something to do as soon as we get started and there is plenty to keep them busy. You know teenagers their minds seem to wander sometimes. I realize we probably won't get them all finished that night. But I am trying to make it fun for them , by doing the rotation system. So they can encourage each other each step of the way.
So keep those donations coming, while you are spring cleaning ,think about donating your un wanted linens to Dress a Girl they will be put to good use. Clear out your fabric stash to, you know we all have that fabric we had to buy for a project sometime that never happened :-).
Thats how I got started by using my fabric that I was going to donate somewhere. Now I am making Dresses for Cute little Girls all over the world. And I have never been happier.