Tuesday, March 22, 2011

patchwork dress tutorial

Do you have clothes in your family that are special and just too hard to throw away? We have been amassing a big pile of such clothes: Pyjamas that are so dearly loved, but too small to keep and too stained and holey to pass on. Little tiny baby vests hand-painted by a dear friend that don't fit our wee guy anymore but are too precious to go to the charity shop. I've been racking my brain what I could make with them all and came up with this... ...a wonderfully comfortable, swingy patchwork dress, filled with special memories.

This is how I made it:
First, choose a top that still fits well around the chest. Cut off just below the arms and cut off the arms. Cut off and keep still usable sleeves from another garment. Cut strips of your fabric, saving any special bits and pictures where possible. Lay them into the rough shape of your dress. The longest strip at the bottom is the whole of a bottom edge of a t-shirt, cut open, keeping the hem. Remember that when you sew your strips together you will loose both length and width in the seams, so allow for this.

Next sew together smaller patches until you have a set of long strips, getting gradually longer from the top of the dress to the bottom.

Cut the underarm of the top

With right sides facing, sew the sleeve onto the open arm hole of your top.

Then start sewing all the strips together. It doesn't really matter if they aren't a perfect gradient as this will be hidden when you sew both halves together.

You should end up with something like this:

With the right sides together sew the side seams. Start at the underarm and work down and out in a straight line to the bottom of the last strip.

You can see how inexact my strips were. I then simply trimmed the excess material with my trusty pinking shears.

Then painstakingly iron flat all the seams.

(or in my case do half of it before your baby starts crying and you don't get around to doing the rest)
Turn right side out, press and there you have it...

Rebe was so delighted when she tried it on, and she wants to wear it day and night (there being a slight confusion as I made it out of pyjamas.

I'm so pleased that these pieces of fabric didn't have to go to waste and that Rebe has a new dress that I'm sure she will wear often.
I haven't stopped upcycling there, last night I made Joa this new jacket...

...and I will post a tutorial for that tomorrow :-)


  1. Love them! I will have to get sewing myself! :)

  2. These are just gorgeous! I keep meaning to do patchwork things with dd's old clothes but never seen to get around to it, but you've made it look nice and simple so maybe I should for the Summer x

  3. What a fabulous dress :)
    having not long acquired a sewing machine I have become a fabric hoarder. Patchwork something-or-other is on my to do list :)

  4. : ) I recognise those pajamas and baby vest. It's a really good idea and Rebe looks cracking in it!

  5. Clever you, well done! love patchwork, love patch work clothes - I have a couple of pairs of trousers I have been meaning to turn into a skirt for the past 4 months - I so admire how you just DO these things.

    Made your wishing eggs today - thanks for the inspiration, posting about them tonight and linking to you xx

  6. Oh Laura, this dress is fabulous! What a wonderful idea!
    I still just love Rebe in her short hair- she is just so adorable!

  7. Laura...What a clever use of favourite old clothing. I, too, have a hard time discarding those precious little outfits that my children have outgrown. Most end up in goodwill or passed to friends, but those really special ones....I have plans too. One day! Love your idea, thanks for sharing!
    xo Jules

  8. Oh what a lovely dress.
    I have just bundled up all of babes old clothes to pass onto an expecting mama because I couldn't justify simply hoarding them in a cupboard. You have given me an idea for the future though.

  9. thanks all, it was really a very simple thing to do. I think the hardest part was gtting my sewing machine to behave itself and just sew instead of getting all grumbly and in a fankle! I think patchwork trousers may be a future project for the boys, will hvae to scour the charity shops for some cool cords and denims for that one :-)
    would love to see your patchwork creations :-)
    hugs x

  10. And I keep using the fact that I have a baby as an excuse not to manage to make things! How do you do it?! I'd never thought of needle felting on an item of clothing. I'm going to give that a go, yours is so beautiful. Well done!