After raising three boys, it’s so much fun being able to sew for a girl. In case you’ve forgotten, last Christmas I made my little granddaughter a tablecloth playhouse, using fabric and trimming’s I found at the thrift store and on clearance.
This year, my Christmas project for her was a princess dress. I found a prom dress at the thrift store. It’s amazing how much thrift stores are charging now for prom and wedding dresses–$25-30 a pop! But this one was only $12 and–better yet!–the day I went to the thrift store, all pink tag items were on sale for 1/2 price. So I paid just $6 for this dress. It yielded about 4 yards of the lacy beaded fabric and about 3 1/2 yards of the green silky fabric. That lacy stuff would have cost at least $20/yard in the fabric store, sothat’s quite a bargain.
I found the perfect pattern, McCall’s 5731. It’s out of print but you can still find it through online sources or thrift stores. It was a little more complex than I’d really wanted. But after I started cutting the fabric and saw how easily the edges raveled, it was clear that this pattern was perfect. The bodice is in two layers so I was able to enclose all the seams. I made French seams on the skirt, so there are no exposed seams anywhere.
The construction was made easier because I used the zipper and hems already in the dress. I hate putting in zippers, so I was happy to use what was already there.
For the gold shoes, I just painted shoes from the thrift store with white glue and sprinkled them with glitter. I used a small (about 1/4 – 1/3″ wide) water-color brush to get into all the crevices and under the strap and buckle. After the glue dried, I brushed the shoes with a dry paint brush to remove any loose glitter. This also showed me any bare spots I may have missed. I just touched up the bare spots by painting them with a dab of glue and more glitter. Since the shoes were going to be completely covered in glitter, I wasn’t too particular about the color or style. I just made sure they had a velcro closure for easy on and off and, of course were the right size (actually a size larger, so she can wear them longer.)
Here are some things I learned, for those that want to take on a project like this:
- Measure your princess and try on the dress during construction. I measured for height, waist, arms, torso length, etc. But when she tried it on (after it was all made) we had to do some alterations because it was just too wide on the top. That’s OK, it means she’ll be able to wear it for three or four years.
- Have the right needles. For most silky fabrics you’ll want very fine (at least a size 10,) sharp needles.
- Iron-on interfacing is a must. It should be lightweight, but it’ll work wonders in how the garment holds its shape.
- Remove all the beads and sequins from around the seams before starting to sew. It took me SIX broken needles to figure that one out. Save yourself some headaches and just do it as you cut out the pieces.
- When making gold-glittered shoes, spray paint the shoes first with gold spray paint. Stuff newspaper in the shoes to keep the paint from getting inside. I didn’t do that and every little gap in the glitter shows through black (the original color of the shoes.)
Besides getting a great price on the dress, I also made sure to use 50% off coupons for everything I bought at the store. A couple times I had both 50% off coupons as well as 15% off your entire purchase. (Sign up for coupons at JoAnn Fabrics.)
This was such a fun project. It was even more fun because I was able to make it for so little money.
Tulle netting $4
The surprised look on my daughter-in-law’s face and my granddaughter telling me “I’m pretty!”–priceless.
For more information on bargain sewing, be sure to check out my book Sustainable Sewing.