Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Not A Tutorial: Sally's Patchwork Dress Part 1

Since this is the season of loving and giving, I'm going to show you how to create Sally's dress from 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' .
My process is quite messy and disorganised. Making this dress taught me a lot, so my method will probably seem a little confusing if you're a beginner.
I'm basing my design on this doll; however you can make this dress out of whatever material you wish. This dress is a very good way of using up scraps of cloth, so dive into your rag pile and start sewing.

Step 1: The Base Dress

I'm assuming you know how to sew basic items of clothing and how to use sewing patterns. I made a base dress from an old sheet and some random cloth, using a pattern from Burda Style magazine (for free patterns that you can print at home, go to burdastyle.com ). Make a simple shift dress (or find an old dress that you don't wear anymore if you want to save time). If you are making your dress, you should leave the front or back open: it makes it easier to sew the patchwork if you can flatten out the base dress. My dress will have an invisible zip in the front to make it easier to get in and out.

Step 2: The patch marking
I'm working on the wrong side of my dress. This is because when the wrong side is covered in patches, the raw seams will be covered. You can work on the wrong or right side of the dress.
Use chalk or a marker to draw the shapes of the patches on to the base dress. This is a good guide for the placing and size of the patches.

Step 3: Patches
Trace the shapes you drew on your base dress on to your patch fabric. I used carbon paper and a tracing wheel to do this. You could also use tracing paper. Do this slowly: I prefer to cut out my patches as I go along, rather than making all the patches at once. You're less likely to make mistakes this way.
Once you have a few patches cut out, decorate them.

You can have a lot of fun with these patches. I appliqued the black spots on to the turquiose cloth. The black stripes were painted on with acrylic paint. If the patches aren't the right colour, try dying them with natural dyes to get the earthy quality of Sally's dress: try this tutorial

Step 4: Sewing on the patches
Line up the edges of the patch. I started with this patch because it was easy to match up the arm-scye and collar edges. Fold the seam allow of the patch under. I had to turn the seam allowance of the base dress collar and arm-scye under as well, to match them up with the yellow patch. Pin it down. When you are finished pinning, the raw edges of the patch, and the raw edges of the base dress should be hidden.

To clarify: turn under the edges, then match the base dress and the patch. This traps the raw edges between these layers of cloth.

Sew around the edge of the patch. You can match the colour of the patch, or use black thread for contrast.

Step 5: Keep adding patches

Continue to pink and sew down patches, always remembering the fold the raw edges of the patch under-unless you want your dress to look ragged. When sewing pieces that go around them hem, do not sew the bottom or side of the patch. Simply secure the top of the patch. This will help you create the jagged hem of Sally's dress. 

. . . To be continued . . .

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