Hi!! I’m Bee J Stanley, owner of Blutterfly Baby Boutique -Facebook group-https://www.facebook.com/groups/951041588270905/ . I am a mother of 4 beautiful children. I have a wonderful husband who supports all my sewing habits, sometimes unknowingly, OK mostly unknowingly…LOL. I have been sewing little girl dresses now for over 2 years. I’m self-taught from using blogs, internet, YouTube and simply watching others and feel like I’m learning more every day. I’m always willing to help new sewists with questions and hope to learn some amazing skills in return. Not that I’m the expert, but having someone help with simple things that make everything easier can really help. I work a full-time job 50 hours a week with a 3-hour daily commute and I do all my sewing on the weekends- I call it my “play time”. Making crazy over the top modified dresses are my new favorite creations and are so much fun, so I thought I would share a little on how I do that. Threads and Stitches sent me some fabrics to play with and create this blog, so here we go. I’ve never written a blog before so I hope you like it and please come share with me once you have tried this- or one of your own over the top designs! I am super excited to showcase one of the best designer fabrics in the world- Jennifer Paganelli’s Sunny Isle Collection, Sis Boom- Free spirit fabrics. https://www.facebook.com/SisBoom/
The following is a modification using 2 patterns. I don’t necessarily always follow the patterns themselves – but I do use the techniques and measurements to create, as I did in this dress- a masterful Over the Top Modified Clara Ruffle dress. This dress has a modified bodice of a Clara purchased from Violette Fields Threads (VFT) patterns, link to Clara: https://violettefieldthreads.com/products/clara-pattern-set mashed with a modified Francesca skirt from Creative Kids Couture (CKC), link to Francesca http://ckcpatterns.com/francescas-girls.html . If you would like to make this dress, please purchase both patterns as I won’t be explaining anything from the patterns themselves- Only how I modified them.
Both patterns play well together creating the perfect Over the Top Clara Ruffle dress. First, I decided on how many layers of ruffles I wanted. You can do as many or as little as you like. I added 6 layers of ruffles to the skirt, this particular one is 3.25“ wide for each ruffle. Follow the pattern to get the connector piece sizes (I don’t want to give away the pattern measurements!!) Also, the bigger the ruffles the bigger the connector piece- so less confusion if you follow the CKC Francesca pattern for the measurements you need.
Share secrets!! If you don’t have this cutter attached to your ruler you must buy one- These are perfect and keep your fingers safe! It’s a Fiskars – Fabric Rotary Cutter and Ruler Combo Tool.
For the ruffles on the Clara top I cut 4- 4” wide strips the WOF for an added wow factor and lots of puffiness. If you don’t want as much poof then cut them down as you wish. (I used 2 different prints, 2 strips each color)
Now time to serge. I prefer rolled hems so here we go- The best rolled hem threads I have found Is from Thread Arts called Wooly Nylon.
Tip- Be sure to file the top of the plastic so its smooth with a fine nail file to prevent the threads from being caught in the rough plastic- trust me it will pull and ruin the hem if you don’t do this.
Best way to thread this is by tying the thread and pulling it through- The wooly nylon goes through the upper looper.
Also note contrasting threads are perfect for rolled hems. If your main skirt is blue but the ruffle is pink, don’t be afraid to use a blue thread for rolling hems as I did.
Set the serger for rolled hems- Use your manual- then I suggest playing around. There are many different settings depending the machine. The lower looper is the one that needs to have a higher tension. I set mine at a little over 8 and the rest of the tensions stay set to normal (mine are 4). The stitch length needs to be on a lower number (mine is set to a 1).
You also need to adjust the cutter so it has fabric in the roll but not too much.
Again practice makes perfect as all machines are different. Practice on test fabrics until you get the perfect rolled hem. They should look like this.
Here are all the ruffles after the hems are rolled.
Assemble all the ruffles from bottom to the top, keeping the ruffles in order in whatever pattern you decided on – if any. Once you get to the top ruffle stop before adding it- you need to measure the ruffles from the bottom ruffle hem to the last layer of the connector piece, then subtract the seam allowances and add the rest of the desired length for the skirt. Use this main fabric as the final connector piece. You will sandwich the last ruffle with the main skirt to the last connector piece (as you have done with all other layers). I do this all in one step to save time- You can always sew the ruffle then sew the connectors. Then, you have to serge and then top stitch…so see why I do it once. Saves me time and thread, haha. When done it will look like this below.
Next, I’ll work on the bodice. Don’t forget to purchase the Clara so you can create this most desired bodice. I already had all the pieces cut, so first step, I gather all the ruffles the width of the bodice from front to back, use any gathering method you desire. I set my machine to do all the work for me. (I use a gathering foot with the basting stitch and I set the tensions between 8 and 9 so it gathers as it sews). Then I serge the gathers so I have a clean finish and they don’t come apart.
I really modify this bodice as I don’t assemble the way they explain so I’ll give those tips below. First add the ruffles as the pattern explains to the main bodice, but before adding the lining. We will do that step after all ruffles are on and top stitched. Make note you may need to move them over so that when they lay down they are not crossing the center armhole- (they can touch but you don’t want them overlapping- you can always move them after the sides are sewn a little but too much would cause you to have to do some awkward folding)
This is a picture of the main bodice with the ruffles already sewn on. The lining is not attached as the pattern shows. I don’t like to see all the threads in the lining so I altered this, especially if you also decide to add lace- there would be lots of stitches and puckering of the fabrics. Also, if you want more OTT- add lace now over the ruffle top stitch- before continuing.
I will use a method some call as the burrito method to tuck the ruffles in as assembling the lining onto the main. First, pin the outside edges of lining to outside edges of main. Then, sew them together.
Then pin the inside main to inside lining. Note how I roll the ruffles in so they are out of the way. You can pin these so they stay. I just use my fingers to hold the roll in place careful not to sew them while securing the lining to the main.
Then from the front of the bodice pull through the ruffles. Example showing how easy that is (don’t forget to use pinking shears to cut the rounded edges so they lay flat, and cut the corners).
Since the ruffles are so large I sew them in place and cut any excess from the bodice so its easy to assemble the top- and you don’t have to worry about making sure the ruffles are where they should be. Also I suggest you add the button holes now as once the skirt is on that’s a lot of fabric to work with.
Then attach the skirt to the bodice and Viola- Perfection! DON’T forget to top stitch!! There are a lot of ruffles and they will pull, so top stitch for added strength as well as a more professional look.
And here is the completed look-
Try changing up the ruffles and making a variegated look. I absolutely LOVE this!! All 21 prints in this dress are from the Sunny Isle Collection- Jennifer Paganelli- Sis Boom- Free Spirit. Yes, did I say she is my all-time most favorite fabric designer EVER!!!! And she knows it! Ha-ha. I use her prints in a lot of my dresses. Better grab yours today!! Before its gone.
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