Friday, February 27, 2009

The Totally Tubular T-shirt Dress Tutorial

I may be a little hooked on alliteration, but I think that there may be a few people interested in making g-tube or feeding tube accessible dresses for little girls. For each of these dresses, I make a two layer front bodice.

The top layer is hemmed and allowed to hang; the under layer has a buttonhole added just to the left of center for the feeding tube. The nice thing about these dresses is that they allow access to the feeding button without lifting the dress in public. Here is what I do to make one.

First, use any pattern where the bodice is separated from the skirt. In this example, I used Kwik Sew 2708, unfortunately out of print now. (I'm looking for Kwik Sew 2709, the larger sized version of this pattern -- if you know of a source, please let me know.) I traced the pattern and made an extra copy of the front bodice, adding an inch to the length. This extra length will be used for the hem.

Embroider or applique the top layer at this point, then hem.

Interface the shoulders as instructed by the pattern. Then, mark and sew the buttonhole on the underlayer of the bodice. To mark the buttonhole, I make a cross one inch left of center front and 3 inches from the edge of the fabric. I use a keyhole buttonhole 1 1/4" template for my Singer buttonhole attachment and stabilize it with cutaway lightweight embroidery stabilizer.

Next, pin the two layers together at the shoulders and neckline:

Then, machine baste the two pieces together.

This will make binding and sewing the rest of the bodice much easier. Trim the seam allowance. Add your neckband as desired. I chose to remove the seam allowance from this pattern and bind the neck using my coverstitch machine. I stitched one shoulder on the serger then top stitched. Next, I used the binder on my coverstitch to bind the neck, sewed the second shoulder and topstitched that seam.

If you prefer to hem sleeves in the flat, now is the time to do so. Sew the sleeves to the bodice, following the pattern instructions and top-stitch if needed.

If you are making a gored skirt, like the Sew Baby Twirly Dress, sew the gores together to make a separate front and back. Gather the front and back pieces separately. I use clear elastic to gather my knit skirts -- stretch the elastic, then cut 1" shorter than the width of the bottom of the bodice. I mark quarters on both the skirt piece and the elastic. I don't pin, but start by sewing a few stitches, then stretching to match the first quarter marks. When those marks get to the needle, I stretch the elastic to meed the next set of marks until I get to the end of both fabric and elastic. This makes for fairly even gathering. I use a narrow zig zag to sew the elastic to the fabric. Sew the elastic as close to the edge of the fabric as possible.

Next, attach the front bodice to the front skirt using the sewing machine or serger. Repeat for the back. When you are done, the dress should be done except for the side seams and hem. It should look something like this:

Sew each side seam. Normally, I pin at the underarm seam, at where the skirt meets the bodice and one or two between. Sew the side seam, making sure that all three layers of the bodice match up and are included in the seam. when done, it should look like the following:

Hem the sleeves if you haven't already and the skirt. I like to do a narrow rolled hem on these dresses -- very simple:

Here is the dress, modeled by the Divine Miss shortly after surgery:

and an example of how the feeding tube access works:

The modifications for feeding tube access are fairly easy and can be done by anyone comfortable with making these dresses. I hope that someone is able to use these directions for their own use to make a little girl very happy.

Here is a funny for you. At our ortho appointment this week, DM's surgeon complimented her dress (the red and black cherries dress) and I mentioned I had three similar dresses still on my cutting table. Dr. E said something to the effect that she couldn't even sew on a button. Umm, now wait a minute...I let this woman operate on my daughter? She laughed and said that of course she could sew in surgery. Apparently, most people don't catch her little joke.

DM, btw, is doing very well and is recovering faster than normal from this surgery. The concerns I did have turned out to be things that were expected, so I'm happy with the way things are going.

Orignally posted in 2008, this entry has been updated to fix picture links.


Pollyanna said...

You lost me a little in the directions, but I guess it isn't like I'm going to be making a dress anyway;) I was wondering what that contraption is that you have in the 6th and 7th pictures? I've not see that before.

Now I am totally understanding the need for special places for feeding tubes. I need to come up with something for Dane's tube. His goes down his neck and comes out the bottom of his shirt.

The Divine one sure is getting big!! I loved the tutorial!!

SewPaula said...

Are you talking about the cross thing? it's a seam allowance gauge. It has all these markings on it to show the widths of seam allowances.

Sorry about the directions -- can you email me with what you didn't understand so I can rewrite them?

yarn shop girl said...

awesome! my little one has a mic-key button too! i've been trying to figure out a way for her to wear dresses and this is brilliant! thanks for the tutorial. (and by-the-way my princess is a red head too!) thanks!