Dress makeover- how to make a casual dress into lolita with ruffles, bows and a corset lacing
First, choose the dress you want to give a makeover to- the only requirements are that it should be about 90 cm long and have a bottom hem circumference of no less than 2 meters.
If the dress is too short, you can add a ruffle to the bottom. If it's long enough, you can simply sew on some lace. If the dress is not wide enough, enlarging it may be a bit too tricky for a complete beginner. If your dress is too narrow, I recommend waiting until you're comfortable doing other, simpler modifications before trying to widen it. If the dress is a little too large, it can be made a bit smaller with a corset lacing in the back. It's easy to add if the dress is made out of panels- that is, if it has two vertical seams on both sides of the back. If it doesn't, the corset lacing can be sewn on flat, but more on that later.
My dress does have two meters of bottom hem circumference, but I've decided to add a ruffle anyway, to show how it's done. First, I cut 15 centimeters off the bottom of my dress.
How to make a ruffle
First, determine the length and width of the ruffle. I used 3 meters of fabric, 17 centimeters wide. If you can cut it out in one piece, great, if not, then just sew the smaller pieces together. After cutting the ruffle out, you should iron it out.
The ruffle should be hemmed to make sure it doesn't fray. If you don't have a serger, you can just zigzag stitch all the edges, like shown on the photo below.
Now for gathering. Stitch one side of the ruffle using the largest stitch length setting on your machine and the lowest thread tension. Remember you only want one side of the ruffle to be gathered ;)
After sewing, grab the top thread, which should be easy to pull. Some thicker materials may be more difficult to gather, but one of the threads should always be relatively easy to pull. This is how fabric is gathered- you pull on the thread and push the ruffled part away from the thread until the gathered hem of your ruffle is as long as the bottom hem of your dress, plus a couple of centimeters of seam allowance.
Example: my dress, after cutting, had a 90 cm bottom hem circumference, so I gathered the 3 meters of my ruffle until it was 94 cm long. 90 cm, to sew onto the dress and 4 cm for a seam.
Now sew through the gathered hem of your ruffle again, on normal machine settings, so that the gathering doesn't move. Then, pin it to your dress. Remember, when you match the ruffle and dress up, the left sides ought to be on the outside and right sides, touching, on the inside, like on the photo below. That way, when you flip the ruffle down the seam will be on the inside.
Next, zigzag the edges.
When the ruffle is attached, join both its ends to make one long pretty ruffle. Then, zigzag stitch the hem, fold it on the inside and stitch flat to make a pretty hem. The photo shows how the inside of the ruffle hem should look like, it's also easier to sew flat on the inside because you can see progress.
How to make corset lacing
Use a ribbon of max 8 mm width, although I recommend using a narrower one. On the back seam of your dress mark using pins where you want the loops to go. Make sure both sides are even and symmetrical. If your vertical stitch doesn't go to the top, place the top loop just under where it ends. Place the bottom loop at the level of your natural waist. If you place it any lower it will pull on the material below your waist, and it will bunch up and may show your petticoat. When you've marked where the loops will go, snip the original seam thread. Then, make a small hole in the fabric, between the chainstitch and overlock, like on the photo below. Pull a piece of ribbon, folded in half, through this hole and sew it to the seam inside the dress.
Repeat for all lacing loops.
After you're done attaching all the loops, I recommend going over the back seams with a zigzag stitch to reinforce them. Now you can be sure they won't fall apart easily :) This is how the final version of the corset lacing looks:
I decided to add a velvet ribbon with lace attached and a bow. First, I measured the front of the dress from seam to seam in the place I wanted the velvet ribbon to be and added 2 centimeters. I cut the ribbon and lace to length. First, I sewed the lace to the ribbon:
Then I pinned the ribbon with lace onto the dress. Take some time with this step to make sure the decoration is pinned on evenly and symmetrically. Then sew it on, on the top and bottom of the ribbon.
How to make a bow
Take a square piece of fabric. To determine approximately how large your bow will be, fold the square in half and fold about a centimeter on each shorter edge inwards.
Zigzag stitch the material so that it doesn't fray. To make the sewing easier fold over one centimeter of fabric on two opposing sides and pin it down- these will be the shorter sides of your bow.
Fold the square in half and stitch both layers together at the seam.
Fold the material so that the seam is in the middle. Pin the sides down so that the hem doesn't start sticking out. I recommend making a small stitch on each side.
Then sew through the middle of your bow. The shape of the bow will depend on how many stitches you make. Then pull on the thread and tie a knot.
Take a small folded piece of fabric to make the middle of the bow, then attach it to the bow.
Your bow is ready to be attached to your dress.
Try on your dress to figure out the length of the shoulder straps. Add a few centimeters for seam allowance. Cut the straps out and hem them.
Fold the seam allowance and sew it down.
Repeat on all sides of both straps.
Pin the strap down in the place you want it. To figure out where this is, try on the dress and figure out where the straps would look the best and be comfortable for wearing.
The straps are done, and the dress is ready! Enjoy your one of a kind creation ;)
The entire dress after makeover