experiments in dressmaking and fray-free seams

I’ve been say­ing that I’ll write about my recent exper­i­ments in dress­mak­ing, so here it is! :D I’ve been try­ing to replace some of my real­ly old t‑shirts (dat­ing back to the ear­ly 2000’s!) with the flowy blous­es that are so trendy right now. I just love the sim­ple struc­ture of those blous­es — I love the aes­thet­ic of it and how sim­ple it is to make.

So the dress above is one I made to wear to a wed­ding. I did­n’t have process pho­tos for that one because I just kind of just pieced rec­tan­gu­lar pieces of fab­ric togeth­er until it kind of fits. At the end I had to cinch the shoul­der seams because I made the neck­line too nar­row. But it fit in the end. I wore it with the twisty belt and the dol­lar store fab­ric flower pin. There’s a clos­er look of the flo­ra fab­ric in the twisty belt post. I think I bought the fab­ric at Wal­mart when I was a teenag­er. I also made the skin­ny tie Mike was wear­ing! :D Not from scratch though. I just mod­i­fied an old reg­u­lar tie, fol­low­ing this tuto­r­i­al.

Up next is my square blouse. It looks like this when laid flat. And you can see that it’s just two squares sewn togeth­er, with a shal­low neck­line, and an open­ing on each side seam for arm holes. I found the fab­ric in my mom’s box of old fab­ric. It’s prob­a­bly from Hong Kong. Mike thought the oval dots look like grains of rice :D

Here it is with a belt and again, the flower pin.


And then I made a pil­low­case dress, inspired by this tuto­r­i­al. Now that I’ve exper­i­ment­ed with a plain square-shape struc­ture I thought I’d make it a bit more fan­cy by adding some waist-shap­ing. Here’s a nifty dia­gram of what I did. (I cut off all the seams of the pil­low­case, so I end­ed up with two rec­tan­gu­lar pieces of fabric.)


The dress end­ed up being a lit­tle more snug than I like because I took off too much on the sides. Don’t you mea­sure, you ask? Um… yeah. It real­ly is my fault because I just eye­ball every­thing. It’s like how I nev­er check gauge when I knit and cro­chet… But hey, it fits. Just a bit dif­fi­cult to put on but I’m sure the fab­ric stretch­es (?) over time…


Oooh and I made the red belt to go with it. I thought they looked alright togeth­er. I was pic­tur­ing the dress with a shiny vinyl belt but did­n’t want to buy one, so I cro­cheted one. 

Any­way, with the pil­low­case dress I want­ed to share how I made the fray-free seams. I laid in bed awake one night try­ing to fig­ure out how to deal with the issue of the fray edges. It’s prob­a­bly some­thing many peo­ple know how to do already, but in case you did­n’t know and you’re inter­est­ed, here’s what I did.

Here’s the neck­line and the shoul­der seam. Leav­ing a 1/2″ seam allowance, with right sides togeth­er, I sewed both shoul­der seams from the sleeves edge toward the neck­line, and end 1/2″ before the neckline.


I then pressed the seams open, and at the same time fold down the 1/2″ of seam allowance/hem along the neck­line, all the way across from one sleeve edge to the oth­er. (Note: the side seams haven’t been sewn togeth­er at this point. In fact it’s real­ly hard to stitch along the shoul­der seams and neck line, as you will see in the next steps, when the side seams are already sewn togeth­er. I learned the hard way :S)


I then tuck the raw edges of the seam allowance under, and pin, all the way across from one sleeve edge to the other. 


Then I sewed along the pinned seam allowance, all the way across. (In the pic­ture above only the top part is tucked under and pinned, but of course, tuck, pin and sew the bot­tom part too. So there will be two sep­a­rate lines of stitch­ing altogether.)

Final­ly, I sewed a few stitch­es back and forth in the two spots where the shoul­der seams meet the neckline.


From the right side there will be lines of stitch­es along the shoul­der seams but it’s not too vis­i­ble from far away, and it does­n’t look too out of place any­way, I don’t think…


And then the same was done to the side seams and arm holes. First sew the sides togeth­er, leav­ing 1/2″ seam allowance, start­ing from the bot­tom hem, stop­ping at 1/2″ away from where the arm hole begins.


Then press seams open and at the same time fold back the 1/2″ seam allowance/hem around the arm hole…

… then tuck the raw edges of the seam allowance back and stitch along. The stitch­ing would go in one big loop start­ing from the bot­tom hem, going up the side seam, around the arm hole, and then going back down the side seam and end at the bot­tom hem.


Hope that makes sense! Feel free to drop me a note if you have questions! 

Hap­py Mon­day! :D

10 thoughts on “experiments in dressmaking and fray-free seams

  1. I’ve been deal­ing with the same issues as a new­bie, with your expla­na­tion, I was able to real­ize what to do. Thank you! 

    I’m so excit­ed to go home now and start a project!

  2. Cute dress…there are a few ways to alter the dress to make eas­i­er to put on and take off.
    1. In cen­ter back neck, cut a 4 — 6 inch tear drop shaped cir­cle and use bias tape for the facing…then add a but­ton to one top point and a elas­tic cord, as a but­ton hole on the oth­er top point.
    2. Seam rip to open one shoul­der seam, using bias tape as fac­ing on both sides, add 3 — 4 cute but­tons to the low­er flap and match­ing elas­tic cord loops .. As but­ton holes .. To the top flap. Sew but­tons and elas­tic to come togeth­er as if the seam looks closed..with but­tons decorating.
    LOVE the wall of yarns!

  3. the elas­tic cord loops for but­ton holes idea is bril­liant! must give it a try one day. the tear drop shaped cir­cle on the back would be espe­cial­ly cute. thanks so much Cyndee!

  4. I bought 2 king size pil­low­cas­es. I envi­sion some­thing like this. I have to add mate­r­i­al to sides as I am an old­er lady. Yes they are long 40 x 20. I hope to get a skirt, also. Thanks for the info n ideas.

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