Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to make a Rapunzel dress from scratch

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You’ve probably seen Princess in her  Rapunzel dress before on my blog.  We have to trick her into taking it off and letting us wash it.  Jeff and I had been discussing how I should make her another one soon.
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And then Jeff took Princess out for breakfast and went with her to Target where Princess begged and begged and begged to get this dress.

Now, I look at it, and I see a repeat of the Sleeping Beauty dress, that within 30 minutes of being worn started unraveling and wasn’t worn more than that first day.  I also see a dress that won’t stand up to being worn nonstop for 2 weeks straight.




So, I went to Joann’s and got some more fabric, and then took A LOT of pictures to show how I did this.
1.  Buy this pattern.  Then purchase 3 different fabrics: a lighter purple for the bodice, a darker purple for the overskirt, and a print for the underskirt.  Also purchase two different types of ribbon (broader one for sleeves, thinner one for the lacing).  For my 4 year old daughter I bought 1/2 yard of the light purple, 1.5 yards of the dark purple, and 1 yard of the print.  I had enough to start making a second.

Unless otherwise specified seams are ironed open.

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1.  Fold the short sleeve pattern in half.  Pull it out from the fold about an inch and cut it out.  This ensures the sleeve will have some gather to it.






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2.  Put the front bodice pattern piece on the selvage edges.  Cut it out with about 1 inch of the pattern piece hanging off the edges.  Alternatively cut it out not using the selvages, but instead fold the pattern piece under and cut it that way.





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3.  Cut out the insert piece on the fold.  Make sure it overlaps the other bodice piece by about 1/2” to give yourself a bit of wiggle room.







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4.  Unfold your sleeves.  Spray them with 505 spray to make them sticky and start laying the ribbon on top of them.
To ensure the sleeves are even I put the sleeves in mirror image and put the ribbon across both of them.  This ensures the ribbons are put the same on both sets of sleeves.

If you don’t have 505 spray you can just  pin it like mad, but this lets me not pin.  I’m lazy that way.


5.  Now sew the ribbon down.  Depending on the width of your ribbon you could just zig zag it, my ribbon was just wide enough I had to sew down one side and up the other.

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6.  Spray the bodice insert with 505 spray.  Than lay out the ribbon on it in a criss cross pattern.
I used the grid pattern on my cutting board to make sure the X’s were always the same size.  Mine are 2 inch X’s, but I think a 1.5” X might look better.




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7.  Tack the ribbon down in the middle with a couple of stitches, backstitching several times to make sure it is very secure.







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8.  Iron under the seam of the bodice front about 1/4 inch.  This doesn’t have to be exact.







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9.  Lay the bodice insert on top of the front bodice pattern piece and line up the neckline (I’m showing the second half because it is more obvious in the picture what you’re doing).  Than carefully place the bodice front you’ve ironed on top so it matches the pattern piece and pin it.

10.  Now, topstitch the front bodice pieces together.


11.  Sew the shoulder seams together just like it says in the instructions.

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12.  Run a gather stitch  along the shoulder seam of the sleeve.  For my machine I set the stitch length to 5, and just ran it through very fast.

13.  Gather the sleeve to match the armhole.  I find it easier to put the sleeve in flat for projects like this.




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14.  Sew the sleeve in (don’t forget to reset your stitch length or switch it to your knit fabric setting).

15.  Iron the seam towards the sleeve.  This helps give it a bit more support, and I think feels better when wearing it.

16.  Sew together the panels for the front of the underskirt.  Run a gather stitch on the top of the skirt.
17.  Hem the sides of the two front overskirt panels using a double needle.  Run a gather stitch on the top.

04518.  Lay the overskirt on the bodice right sides together.  Pin the edges and then gather it until you like how it looks.  Pin in place

19.  Find the middle of the bodice front and place a pin there.  Then find the middle of the underskirt  pin that to the middle of the bodice front.  Now start gathering it up so you like how it looks and pin the heck out of that skirt.

20.  Run it through your sewing machine.  Iron the seams down towards the skirt.

21.  Sew back overskirt panels together.  Run a gather stitch, and gather it to the back bodice.

22.  Sew your side seam.  I did not catch the underskirt fabric in the seam to cut down on bulk, but that’s personal taste.

04423.  Iron down your hems.  I tended to use a 3/8” hem, but that’s an eyeball measurement.

24.  Sew down using a double needle, this makes a nice straight hem, but still gives it some stretch and give.

Hopefully that’s as clear as mud.




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If I base success on her refusing to take it off for 4 days straight, than I’d say it’s a very successful dress.  I personally think the bodice shades clash a hair, but she picked it out and won’t take it off, so that’s a success.

I’d love to find some stretch lace so I can add the lace.  I think that would make it absolutely adorable.




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