Making a princess dress from a valance and an old kids’ dress
This was a bit of an upcycling project instead of making a ‘princess’ dress from scratch. I took one of her old dress-up outfits, which was too small and tatty, and unpicked the top from it. The plan was to keep the top and attach a new skirt. Instead of going out to buy fabric I used her bedroom valance, which had been sitting in a cupboard for more than a year. I’d made it for her sash window and it was a mix of pale pink silky fabric and white shimmery voile. It looked pretty draped across the top of her window, but it’s since been replaced by a more practical standard curtain.
A layer of net (tule) and viole were used to make the skirt
Once I had unstitched the top part of the dress I put it aside and stitched the new skirt. To make the skirt I cut out pink net (to give it bulk) and the white voile (the old valance) together so they were the same size. I didn’t use a pattern, but measured my daughter’s length. I folded both fabrics and cut about a metre across and about 3/4 of a metre down (for the length) – it was literally two large rectangles (both fabrics folded).
Solitary activity? Not a chance with a cat in the house.
I then cut the fold, pinned both lengths and stitched them. Before joining them at the waist and hemmed both at the top and the bottom. The next step was to join the fabrics and gather the waist. Make sure you get the order correct when stitching – stitch inside out, in this case the net needs to be on the outside (to ensure its the first layer and the voile is the outer layer when you’ve finished stitching).
The skirt is attached to the top. Next step: the ruched apron which will add the princess sparkle
You’ll need to measure the waist gathering against your child. I asked mine to put her arms up in the air and measured the widest part (around the shoulders). This is so the dress slips on over her head and shoulders easily - no zips or buttons required. Once it is gathered to the right size, stitch across to secure the gathering in place. Pin the skirt to the top by pinning the sides together first, then the mid centre and mid back. Make sure your top is inside the skirt when you do this and you’re working with the wrong sides. To make sure all is correct quickly turn everything to the right side while it is pinned and check – I always have to do this before stitching… too many mistakes made!
A simple ruched apron that the little girl can tie around the dress – instant glam
After I stitched the skirt I decided to make a ruched overlay apron that could be tied at the back. This could then be added to the dress if my daughter wanted the extra fairytale glam, or tied around the waist of another dress. This idea hit the jackpot with her, she loved having something she could add or remove at a whim. It was very easy to make the ruched apron. I used the pale silk fabric (ex valance) and cut a metre across and 1/2 metre in length. I stitched all sides (about 1cm) and ironed them flat. Now, with a rectangular shaped piece of fabric on the table I began placing darts at the top.
A little bow and rose placed at the top of each ruffle
I placed five darts across the top front to give it shape and taper the waist. The darts were about 2.5cm at the start and tailed off about 6cm in length. I folded the fabric in half (lengthways) and placed a dart at the very centre, then folded the fabric into quarters (length) and placed another two darts on each side of the centre one. I then placed another two darts alongside these. All the darts were equal spaces apart and equal widths and lengths. I made a waistband by cutting the full length of the fabric at about 15cm wide. I then folded it in half, pinned and stitched it. I left one end open and pulled the right side through before stitching it closed. This was then ironed flat. Once the darts were done I pinned the waistband to the top of the fabric across the darts. I pinned the centre of the waistband to the centre of the skirt and then stitched it.
The final part was the ruching. I cut out five lengths of narrow pale pink elastic (about 1cm width and 20cm length) and pinned it to the wrong side of the skirt. A piece was placed at each end of the fabric (from the edge of the bottom and then upwards towards the top of the skirt). Each piece was placed equal lengths apart. I pulled the elastic gently as I stitched it in place, creating the ruched look.
Bows and roses finish off the apron
As a final touch I made up some bows with pink ribbon and placed one at the top of each gathering. I had a few pale yellow roses and glued these on the centre of each ribbon.
Hope this makes sense to anyone out there wanting to try something similar!