And then Niles the Puggle joined our family. A couple of weeks ago, one of the quilts was on the couch in the family room. Evidently it was making threatening gestures at Niles, because Niles decided it must die. And so not only did he kill it, he gutted it of all its stuffing and left it strewn about the family room. It was too gruesome a scene to photograph.
But upon examining the remains, The Animator's Wife noticed that the quilt top--the part that was made from the heirloom clothes--was actually still intact. It could be rescued! So she decided to make matching mother-daughter dresses for herself and Little Lovely with it.
For the bodice, she used the Einset Tank Top pattern from Kim Guzman's new book, Learn Drop Stitch Crochet (she only worked it down to the first row of drop stitches). The edging on the lower hem is one row of the drop stitches from the same pattern. And to give the bodice a bit more form factor, she threaded a crochet chain drawstring through the drop stitches on the bodice so that it could be cinched down and given an empire silhouette. As for how the skirt was attached, that's what we'd like to go over today!
Selecting a Bodice Pattern
A fabric skirt can be added to pretty much any non-bulky crochet bodice. Simply find a tank top, sweater, or blouse pattern you like, and you're ready to go! We do recommend, however, that the finished bodice have enough "give" that you can get it over your head easily, otherwise you might have to figure out how to add buttons or a zipper to the fabric skirt, and we're trying to keep this simple. It's much easier to add a drawstring to the crochet part and cinch it down then to add buttons or a zipper to the fabric part (unless you're already an experienced sewer, which The Animator's Wife is not!).
Materials for the Skirt
- Crochet bodice
- Crochet edging - should be as long as the diameter of the lower edge of the skirt
- Fabric of choice - length should be 2-3 times the diameter of the lower edge of the bodice; width should be at least as long as you want the skirt to be, plus 1 inch seam allowance (see below for further explanation)
- Sewing thread in coordinating color
- Sewing thread in contrasting color (for basting)
- Straight pins
- Sewing needles
- Tape measure
- Sewing machine recommended
1. Prepare your materials. Before you do anything, make sure to block your crochet components and wash your fabric. Crochet tends to "grow" with washing while fabric tends to shrink. The last thing you want to do is to spend all this time fitting your crochet and fabric pieces together, only to wash the dress once and have everything be misshapen! Block all the crochet pieces by soak them in cool water, gently wringing out the excess, and stretching it out to dry on a flat surface. Then wash and dry the fabric according to the material selected.
2. Cut the fabric. Measure around the bottom of the bodice, then take that number and multiply by 2 or 3, depending on how much fullness you want in the skirt. The higher the multiplier, the fuller the skirt will be. Add 1 inch for seam allowance, and cut that length. If you are adding a crochet edging to the bottom of the skirt, you'll want to make sure that the length of the edging after blocking is long enough to go all the way around the skirt. Do not make any of these measurements without preparing your materials first (see above)!
3. Start pinning. I know this seems like an unnecessary step when all you're sewing is straight edges, but this really is a headache saver. With right sides together, pin the short edges of the fabric together to create a "tube" of fabric. Next pin down 1/2-inch on the top edge, folding it toward the wrong side. Before pinning the bottom edge, go ahead and trim the fabric to the desired skirt length, and then pin up 1/2-inch on the bottom edge, folding it toward the wrong side.
4. Sew along all the edges that you've pinned. Start with the first edge that you pinned (the one that folded the fabric into a tube), then sew the top and bottom edges. The Animator's Wife used a zigzag stitch for the top and bottom edges just to make it look more kitchsy, but you can use a straight stitch.
5. Make a running stitch along the top edge of the skirt. This is where you'll need the contrasting thread. Choose a color that is obviously visible against the skirt, and make long stitches all the way around the top edge of the skirt, about a 1/2 inch from the edge. Don't worry about making them neat; you're going to remove that thread later.
6. Gather the top edge of the skirt to the width of the bottom edge of the bodice. Pull on either end of the running stitch you just made to cinch the top edge of the skirt down to the width of the bottom edge of the bodice.
7. Pin the skirt to the bodice. If you cheated and skipped the pinning step before, you do not want to skip it now! Pin the top edge of the skirt to the bottom edge of the bodice, distributing the gathers evenly and pinning them as you go. If you skip the pinning step this time, you'll run the risk of your gathers being uneven and unsightly.
8. Sew the skirt to the bodice. Got your pins in? I'll wait... Okay, ready? Good! Now you're going to switch back to the coordinating thread and hand stitch the skirt to the bodice. Take your time and make small, even stitches. You don't want the stitches to be loose, but you also don't want them so tight that the bodice starts bunching up. Gathering in the skirt is desired; gathering in the bodice is not.
9. Sew the crochet edging to the bottom edge of the skirt. This is done in the same way the skirt was sewn to the bodice, except you're skipping the gathering step. And again, make sure you pin first!
You're done! Now don't you want to do this to all your crochet summer tops?