Friday, February 28, 2014

Open Back Dress Modification: Cross Shape

With the weather beginning to turn towards spring, I am always so excited to see all the little girls dressed to the nines in their Easter dresses! As an avid sewist, I "hatched" this fab idea...
 Convert the beautiful Brownie Goose Millie dress pdf pattern into an open back cross shaped dress!
You can get the pattern on etsy here:
When I saw this bunnie fabric in the quilt shop, I HAD to have it!
It is the Bluebird Park Bunnies in Lampost Grey by Kate and Birdie Paper Company for Moda Fabrics. The Goldenrod underskirt is a hand dyed organic cotton that I purchased on the local swap board. The 13" wide lace is a beautifully soft cotton blend that washes and irons well.

I loved the buttercup yellow thread too!

Here is the modification that I will show you how to whip up today!

This is the traditional Millie open back...sooo gorgeous!

Alright, to get started, you want to have your pdf and all supplies that the Brownie Goose pattern calls for...
PLUS a bit of light interfacing. I used Pellon 911ff, fusible featherweight, and the cross cut out pdf listed at the end of this post.

When cutting your dress back bodice and lining,
Instead, trim a piece of interfacing just a bit smaller than the edge of your fabric,
and at least 2.5" wide, as shown above.

Head on over to your ironing board and fuse your interfacing to the wrong side of your BODICE piece (not the lining piece). Follow the manufacturers directions.
My directions called for a damp press you can see above that I sprayed a scrap of muslin with water.

Next, I pressed the whole piece until the press cloth was dry, and the interfacing had bonded with the fabric.

Place your bodice lining and outer bodice pieces right sides together (above I am showing the order of your stack of fabrics, all of the edges should be lined up neatly as shown below).
Now, you are ready to mark the placement of the free cross template printable found at the end of this post.
From the bottom edge of your bodice, measure up 1.25" and mark with a fabric pen.
Be certain that you have measured the 1" test square on the print out.
When that measurement is correct, cut out your cross stencil as shown above in yellow, on the left.
Place the bottom edge of your stencil on that 1.25" mark.
CAREFULLY trace around your stencil ON BOTH SIDES, as shown above on the right
*Note, follow the pdf instructions for adding the ribbon loops for the button closure BEFORE you sew this all shut like I did.
To begin sewing, use the smallest straight stitch on your machine...mine was a 2.5.
You will sew on the larger, OUTSIDE line that you just traced.

When you come close to a right angle, make sure your needle is down in the fabric.
Lift your presser foot to turn, and continue sewing with a 1.25" seam allowance all the way around your cross edge and along the scoop back of the neckline, up to the top of the strap.

Just a few notes on this technique...SEW STRAIGHT! If your needle falls a bit to one side of your traced line, that is ok...ONLY if you keep sewing straight. Otherwise, your cross will be a bit curved and wonky.
Also, do NOT backstitch at the corners! Doing so will cause a nasty pucker in the fabric right at the corner. *****

When you are done, it will look similar to the photo above.
Repeat with the other back bodice piece.
P.S. I do not know what the deal is with Blogger tonight...the program will not allow me to enlarge this photo! If you need a close up, just click on any picture in this blog post  : )
P.P.S. Make sure that you go and find the patience of are gonna need it for this next part of clipping, trimming and turning. In the end, it is worth it!

The next step, is to clip your lovely curves.
Be sure you do NOT cut your stitches!

Next, you will cut out the center of the cross.
Cut on the smaller, INSIDE line that you traced earlier.

Now, you need to clip a "V" shape in the corners, as shown above.
Get as close to the inside corner as you can but remember...
do NOT cut your stitches!

Finally, on this marathon of trimming, cut off the outside corners...
WITHOUT cutting your stitches!
If you feel the need to trim your seam allowances as well, trim the lining.
The body that the interfacing adds to the structure of the cross is important to keep.

Since you probably took a while to carefully trim your beautiful bodice, go and make sure your iron is on....darn auto-shut off!
Now, ever so carefully, turn your bodice inside out as best you can with your fingers.
Get your teeny - tinest dowel or pokie thingie to turn out those corners nice and neat!
Go SLOW and be gentle!

With your best pointy thing and your hot seamy iron,
turn out those corners into nice crisp points.
I found that pressing the middle last worked best.
Once the top and bottom points are flat and crisp, the middle is easier to get to with your iron.

Gah! How ugly this practice piece was...BUT it helped me to perfect this technique.
You may just want to practice on a bit of scraps your first go : )
The results can be just stunning! I am excited to finish and gift this dress to a special little dollie.
I am so glad that you stopped by, please share your creations with me on my facebook page, or in the Brownie Goose Lovers page on Facebook.
Be daring ladies...I am certain that you can apply this technique to many other patterns too!
As always...have a beautiful day!