Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cinderella Dress Tutorial

 {How to turn a bridesmaid/prom dress into a Cinderella dress-up dress}

This is how I turned a light blue bridesmaid dress (Jessica McClintock Bridal, size 6, full skirt, to the floor) that was worn at my May 1996 wedding into a Cinderella dress-up dress for my 4 year old daughter. 5 bridesmaids wore this light blue dress & about a month ago I got this one from one of my cousins (did you know I have 50 cousins?) She saved it all these years !  Many thanks to my cousin for this for now I have a very sentimental item being worn by my daughter. By the way this cousin is very crafty & should have a craft blog of her own !

You will need:
:: one light blue bridesmaid or prom dress
:: one yard white satin (60 inches wide)
:: fusible interfacing
:: 18 inches of .25 inch elastic for the sleeves
:: enough 1 inch elastic to go around girl's waist plus one inch
:: thread
:: sewing machine
:: bodice pattern with short sleeves ~ I made modifications to the pattern I used for my daughter's princess Rapunzel dress that I sewed her last summer for her birthday party. The original pattern is found here, but there are so many princess bodice patterns & just regular bodice patterns out there, just google away & you'll find many.

 FYI: This tutorial is not exhaustive, it assumes you can sew together a bodice (or google to find out how).
Also I used .5 inch seam allowances, except for attaching the skirt, I used 1 inch seam allowance.

What you do:

Remove the lining from the dress, with a seam ripper by first removing the zipper, then the lining.

 Hand wash the dress fabric, then air dry. Did you know that you can hand washing dry clean only items? I searched around & discovered that it costs around $18 to dry clean a bridesmaid dress !!!  Hand washing it myself saved me a ton of money.

 With a rotary cutter cut off 24 inches up from the hem, this will become the skirt of the Cinderella dress. Since the bottom of the bridesmaid dress is already hemmed, you will not need to hem the bottom of the Cinderella dress (this will save to time & work).
 From the remaining dress fabric cut out the bodice front & back pieces. Also from the remaining dress fabric with a rotary cutter on the bias cut out a 1 inch strip about 20 some inches long, make it into bias tape, this will be used for the finished edge around the neckline of the bodice.

Sew together the bodice pieces. I wanted this dress to last, so I sewed French seams wherever possible in hopes that it won't fall apart as quickly. Since this is for dress-up I used velcro for the closures (for the ease of taking off & putting on) by attaching 3 three inch strips of velcro.

 So a Cinderella dress has 2 white parts on the skirt, one on each hip, to me they look like a white flower petal, this next part has to do with the 2 white flower petals.

From the white satin cut out 2 squares that are 28 inches by 30 inches.
Fold in half, cut out a half oval shape. With wrong sides together gather all along the cut edge (I used the zigzag over cording gathering method). 
  From the remaining white satin cut out the 2 sleeve pieces. For the sleeves I cut out fusible interfacing 1.5 inches shorter (on the bottom) than the sleeve piece. Iron the fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the sleeve fabric. The bottom of the sleeve is folded over .5 inch, then again .5 inch sewn down & 9 inches of .25 inch elastic is slid through the casing just sewn. The whole purpose of the fusible interfacing is to stiffen the sleeves to help them stay puffy.
 When the bodice is all put together, attach the 2 white flower petals to the bottom of the bodice, having the flower petals meet in the center front & in the center back.

Gather the top of the skirt, I used the zigzag over cording method. Attach the skirt to the bodice.

 To make the crinoline to go under the Cinderella dress to make the skirt fuller, take the lining/crinoline part that was removed from the bridesmaid dress, cut the lining at 3 inches above the tulle.
  Fold over .5 inch, then 1.25 inch & sew down to create an elastic casing, leave an opening & with safety pin thread through the 1 inch elastic, sew the elastic ends together. Cut the bottom of the crinoline up to the desired height (it's just tulle, so no need to finish the hem, it won't fray).

 Cost to make this? A little more than $4 ~ it was $4 for one yard of white satin + just a small amount for the elastic.
For me this wasn't just about the product, but also the process. My daughter was absolutely thrilled with the product & I was fascinated with the whole process. I've probably mentioned this before, but I so enjoy the challenge of repurposing. While I was taking this bridesmaid dress apart, I learned how it was made, it had princess seams with boning, a unique construction that you don't come across everyday. If I remember correctly Mondo from Project Runway said that he used to go to thrift stores to buy clothing for cheap, so that he could take clothing apart to learn how it was constructed. I highly recommend ripping apart clothing with a seam ripper, you'll learn a valuable skill !

PS Many thanks to the Project Run & Play judges for including my Cinderella dress in the top 6 for the season 4 auditions :)