Or, to put it another way, how do you make a flapper dress out of nothing?
It all starts with the right fabric. This dress was woven out of a single strip of material on the back that was about 4 inches wide at the shoulder and about 1 inch wide at the waist. So, to make it appear as if it stretched or grew as we pulled the dress over us — a problem we discovered while we were making the shirt — we put a pin through it from the bottom up, pinning the fabric and sewing it up, from front to back.
Here’s where it starts to get tricky: The back is stretched because it’s made up of several layers of fabric. And they all stretch as they’re folded. This means that if you want it to look like it does when it was pulled over us, then it needs to stretch at the same rate it was pulled over it.
And if it doesn’t stretch, it’ll look stretched on the outside, which is a problem for the front of the garment. So to keep the shirt from bulging out at the shoulders, we did away with the buttonholes and the front snaps.
This was all accomplished with a little sewing machine. This is actually a sewing machine that has a pin in place of the hook. The hook is in the front, and this pin is at the back, with a hole at the bottom. When you pull the shirt across your chest, a loop of fabric extends out through the hook hole. When you pull the fabric through the needle, so the garment is drawn over your torso, the loop of fabric that originally held the fabric has been pulled through the hook hole. Then a loop that’s created by the stitching becomes the hook hole, and when the shirt is pulled all the way over, the loop in the back of the garment holds it in place.
Here’s a video tutorial for how to sew a garment by Handy, where they show you how to do it by hand.
You can make the dress from scratch. We started with this basic dress, which you can make from just this strip of fabric on the back. It’s not particularly long, in fact it’s a little snug. I was able to complete it in just a few weeks, but I had to use some of the fabric the morning after I finished it.
The fabric that you’re making now is more important than the material on the back. It’s like when you’re making a dress
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