Tutorial: Peek-a-boo Xmas Dress

So I got really busy yesterday, started work on a project with a very Christmassy looking fabric. This was a birthday present and is called America The Beautiful, CRK-70295-3. It’s 100% cotton, not something I usually work with, or experiment on. I have found that knits are more forgiving for an experimenter who doesn’t follow patterns. I took a chance with this though.

America the Beautiful – Red

This did not start out as a dress, it was supposed to be a pleated skirt. However, things happen, and often for good reason and surprisingly decent results! I cut out a rectangle of fabric, 44″ (width of the fabric) by 23″ and sewed the open ends together, right sides facing. I then used pinking shears to trim the edge, and then zig zagged stitch to prevent fraying.

Zig zag stitch raw edges to prevent fraying

Zig zag stitch raw edges to prevent fraying

I then folded the fabric in half, right sides facing, with the edge laying flat on one end. Pinned the ends, marked 3 inches in, 4 inches down, with some tailor’s chalk, and then sewed straight down the lines. I opened up the rectangle, matched up the newly sewed lines in the middle, and made 2 more chalk marks on the ends. Open up the folds and press them into pleats. Now, this was still too wide to add elastic for the waistband, so i added some more pleats – 2 more to be specific. With 6 pleats, the waistline was just about right, maybe a tad loose. I can fix that.

Creating pleats

Creating pleats

I made a cut to insert a zip. See, if i had planned this, I probably would have used the open end to insert a zip. Anyway, a zip went in and then with an additional 4″ strip of fabric, I made a casing for the top of the skirt. In here, a strip of elastic was added to provide better fit. I hemmed up the bottom of the skirt and then thought, hey, this might be nice as a dress.

So, another rectangle, this 22″ by 12″ for the front. 22″ by 5″ for the back. (This is the peek-a-boo bit.) Hem the raw edges, then use your widest straight stitch to sew down points A, B, and C. They were about 4″ each. I tied off the ends at the bottom so that the thread wouldn’t be pulled out from the other end. Pull one thread to create a ruffling effect, this is for the bust area. You will probably want to adjust this based on your body. Place a pin on the mid section of the bodice and on the skirt (with the zip in the back). Match up the mid sections and the sew them together, with the bodice pinned on the inside. Remember to stretch as you sew because of the elastic in the waistband.

Tack and pull!

Tack and pull!

With the 22″ by 5″ strip, hem all raw edges, then use elastic thread in your bobbin, sew many rows of straight stitches down the length of the rectangle. Change the 22″ to fit your body circumference at the bust area. This will create ruffles and some textured material to hide bra straps if this is worn without a t-shirt of spaghetti top. Attach the ends of the ruffled back to the front bodice, right sides facing, so that the edges are hidden.

Ruffled back with elastic thread

Ruffled back with elastic thread

Since i’m not comfortable with so much skin showing, i added straps that connected at the top of the front bodice and the back of the waistband of the skirt section. This required two 22″ by 5″ strips that I hemmed on all 4 sides. Then did some placement experimentation until I found what would cover bra straps and hold up the dress properly. So, here it is! The final product!

So now that I have a dress to wear for a Xmas party, I wonder which felt applique to tack on. Which would you pick and where would you place it?


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