I have been watching a lot of Project Runway lately (hulu has seasons 6-12 so naturally I had to watch them all again) Many of the designers were playing around with leather and harnesses in different ways and I really loved it. Since I happen to have quite a bit of leather laying around from MOOD (my favorite leather source) and I decided I wanted to play around with it a bit. So I grabbed this lovely cotton linen I picked up from Miss Matatabi.
For this dress I made the size 2T. My daughter is 36″ tall and has a 21″ chest.
You will need:
(3/8″ seam allowance included except for the center back, add seam allowance needed there)
Scraps of leather
1 12″ invisible zipper
1 small hook and eye
Teflon sewing foot (which I sew with 90% of the time but it’s especially great on leather)
Invisible Zipper sewing foot (if you don’t have one get one, you will sew a perfect zipper every time)
To start, I cut out my bodice pieces. Then I started laying leather down and cutting it to the shape I wanted.
Then I edge stitched the leather in place.
Same for the back. Also note, when cutting the back since I am adding an invisible zipper I added seam allowance to the center back. The rest of the pattern includes seam allowance but since you can modify the pattern to suit your style needs the center back doesn’t have seam allowance.
Then with right sides together, sew the front and back pieces together at the shoulders. Press open and top stitch if desired.
Repeat with the other side.
Now for the skirt I decided for a simple gather. I measured the bottom edge of the bodice pieces and then cut a rectangle that was 2X that width and the desired length that I wanted. (14″ for this size 2 since I would be adding a band to the bottom as well) So I ended up with 3 rectangles, 1 front and 2 back pieces. Run a basting stitch along the top edge and pull to gather. Then sew right sides together, sewing the skirt piece to the bodice pieces.
The back should look like so. Now we are ready to add the zipper.
An invisible zipper has a little fold by the teeth on the wrong side of the zipper. That little fold is where you want your stitch line to be so that when zipped the fabric rolls away from the teeth and the zipper disappears. (hence invisible zipper)
So the first step is to take an iron and press the fold away.
You can use a regular zipper foot, or a regular sewing foot in a pinch but I have to say if you want a perfect every time zipper use an invisible zipper foot. You will match the zipper right sides together with the center back edge. Then place the invisible zipper foot down so the teeth are in the groove of the foot. The needle should be in the center position. (following the little line marking on the top of the foot. Then you just sew all the way down, the foot does the work of making sure your stitch it where it needs to be.
Then while the zipper is closed, I mark seams and in this case stripes on the other side of the zipper so that when I sew the other side I can be sure everything matches up perfectly, because sewing an invisible zipper into stripes especially is worthless unless you get those stripes matched up. Then unzip the zipper and with right sides together match the other side of the bodice with the other side of the zipper, and sew it the same way.
Then do a test close. Is is perfect? Great move on! Are your stripes off? If yes and it bothers you fix it, (it’s worth the time if it’s going to bug you) If it doesn’t bother you and you are just so proud that you got a zipper installed you could care less if it’s perfect than pat yourself on the back and move forward.
For the lining, I just did a bodice lining, but you can line the whole dress if you rather. Sew the bodice together at the shoulders just as you did before.
Then fold the bottom edges under by 3/8″
Then with the back zipper open and with the teeth turned toward the inside so bodice is laying flat and the center back edge is flat, sew the bodice and lining right sides together. Sew from the bottom edge of the lining up to the neckline sew around the neckline and then back down the other back edge. Clip the corners and the curve.
Then turn it to the inside and press well. (you can iron even through it’s leather I just iron from the lining side so I don’t put the iron directly on the leather.) Then top stitch the lining in place along the folded edge and the waistline of the dress. Repeat this for the front and back bodice.
Now for the sleeves. One note I cut the sleeves a few inches shorter since I wanted a mid sleeve length. Then with right sides together, sew the sleeve to the arm curve. Finish seam as desired. Repeat with the other sleeve.
Then with the front and back right sides together, sew from the sleeve edge to the arm pit and then pivot to sew down the side. Finish seam as desired. Repeat with other side.
Then for the back, with right sides together, sew from where the stitching for the zipper stops down to the bottom edge. Finish seam as desired.
Then hem the sleeves but turning them under and sewing in place. I added a little leather to the one sleeve hem just for fun.
Then for the bottom to switch things up a little I wanted to add a band with stripes going the other direction. It’s a 4″ band that I folded in half and then sewed to the bottom. Finish seam as desired.
Lastly, I added the hook and eye to the back at the top of the zipper. and I added the button tab to the front. I simply stitched it in place on the one side and then held it in place with a button on the other side.
That’s all, and this may be my most favorite dress to date. I love the slightly nautical feel it has, and the mid sleeve makes it perfect for fall, then paired with boots and tights it can work for winter and yet the colors are light and airy enough that it will still work great in the spring.
And seriously any dress with stripes makes me automatically happy. I practiced a lot of restraint because I wanted to cut the stripes going in all different directions but decided to keep it clean and simple, hence the hemline so I could throw a splash of fun with stripes.
And the zipper that is near perfection just makes me do a happy dance.