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Made by Me Monday – Dress to Kids Ombré Skirt {tutorial}

2013 May 6

I’ve been wanting to try dying something ombré for a while – ever since seeing this post on No Big Dill. Since ombré is big for pretty well anything right now (hair, tops, dresses, shoes…) I figured I could turn a dress that I don’t wear anymore into an ombré skirt for my oldest.

The Ombré “Feel Like a Princess” Skirt

When I was younger I always felt more grown up and “lady-like” in a long skirt or dress, so I decided, even though it is not very practical, to make this skirt as long as possible for my daughter. Then I dyed it pink – which makes it “100 million, thousand, billion times better” (to quote my daughter!). Of course you can make it any length you choose.

Just one word to the wise (meaning those who check my sewing technique!) – this is a quick and easy tutorial! I was not concerned with stitching a proper casing or overlapping my elastic, I just wanted it done – so, with that in mind… you can now forge ahead!

If you want to make one too, you might not have a long, white cotton dress like I did, so you can make a very simple skirt from scratch in 10 easy steps:

  1. Find a layer or two of white cotton fabric (cotton dyes the best)
  2. Measure the length you want to make the skirt and the waist size of your model
  3. Your length = the length measurement + twice the width of your elastic + 1/2″ for the seam allowance on your casing + 1/2″ for hem
  4. Your width =  twice the waist size +1″ for seam allowance
  5. Cut your fabric into a rectangle that is your length (step 3) x your width (step 4)
  6. Fold your rectangle together so the two “length” sides are aligned
  7. Stitch down the “length” of the skirt with a 1/2″ seam allowance
  8. Zig-Zag or Serge over the edge of your seam allowance to finish the edge
  9. Hem the bottom of the skirt by folding the fabric up 1/4″ and then 1/4″ again to the wrong side of the fabric, now stitch close to the top edge of your fold
  10. Finish the raw edge at the top of the skirt by zig-zagging or serging over the edge

Perfect! Now grab your supplies (below) and you can join in on the tutorial at Step 3:

You will need:

  • 1 old dress (or simple skirt beginnings from the directions above)
  • fabric dye (I used RIT in the box)
  • elastic for the waist (I use 3/4″ non-roll knit elastic)
  • pins, scissors, ruler/measuring tape, matching thread
  • bucket for dyeing (a stainable one!)
  • rubber gloves
  • a hanger/ribbon/safety pins
  • extras for the dye (mine calls for salt and laundry detergent)
Measure first:
  • Length = the length measurement + twice the width of your elastic + 1/2″ for the seam allowance on your casing (+ 1/2″ for hem if you don’t have one already on the dress)
  • Width = at least twice your model’s waist size (this should easily be met with any adult dress when sizing it down for a child – just double check)

Here we go (the sewing):

Step 1: Measure up from the hem to your “Length” measurement and mark it and then cut the dress off at that point. You now have this:

Step 2: Zig-zag or serge the new raw top edge of the skirt. If your dress is not hemmed, hem it by folding the fabric up 1/4″ and then 1/4″ again to the wrong side of the fabric, now stitch close to the top edge of your fold.

Step 3: Calculate the casing width. Measure the width of your elastic and add 1/2″.

Step 4: Turn down the top edge of your skirt once by the number you calculated in Step 3. Pin in place. (1) Pin a small piece of ribbon at the back of the skirt so your small person can find the “back” of the skirt (2) Double pin (two pins in the same spot) a small section aprox. 2″ somewhere in the casing – this will be your opening to feed the elastic through.

Step 5: Stitch around the bottom of the casing 1/4″ away from the edge beginning and ending at a double pin and leaving the opening open (hee hee!)

Step 6: Cut the elastic to your waist measurement + 1″. Feed the elastic through the casing using a safety pin or other fun threading device. Match up the ends of the elastic and stitch with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Step 7: Stitch up the opening making sure not to stitch over your elastic.

Step 8: Stitch “in the ditch” (on the seam line) where the seams are on either side of your casing. I know this is non-roll elastic, but this will help it to stay in place even better.

Here we go (the dying):

Step 9: Rig up a hanger above your bucket somewhere safe. If your dye happens to splatter you don’t want your carpet/brand new pants/hamster dyed as well. I have a clothes line above my laundry tub, so I hung the skirt there to dye. You could also hang it above a stainless steel sink if you have one in your kitchen.

Step 10: Attach two cast-off pieces of ribbon to the sides of your skirt with the safety pins.

Step 11: Wet your skirt with hot water until it is pretty wet – wring a bit, so it’s not dripping too much. Hang the skirt on the hanger with the ribbon pieces.

Step 12: Hang the whole thing over your empty bucket. Make sure the bottom 1/4 of the skirt length hangs to the bottom of your bucket. You want the skirt to hang into the dye.

Step 13: Mix up your dye in the bucket as per the directions using HOT water. Dip the whole skirt once (quickly) and then hang it up, making sure the bottom 1/4 of the length of the skirt is in the dye as per Step 12.

Step 14:  Wait… and wait… and check on it… and wait… (1/2 hour later…) Then dunk the skirt length 3/4 of the way into the bucket for about 20 seconds and hang it up again. Wait about 1/2 hour and then dunk the skirt length 1/2 way into the dye (same as before) and hang it up again. Now leave the skirt as is for as long as you can stand it. I think I lasted about 3 hours in total.

Step 15: Wash your skirt in warm or cold – as per the directions on your dye – until the water runs clear. I machine washed mine on a warm small load setting.

Step 16: Dry it and you are done.

Take your ombré princess out for a walk!

Now, on to current happenings! Due to the extra warm weather here I think it is finally time to stitch up some summer clothes for my youngest. I’ll be posting tutorials all next week – come back later this week to find out what we’ll be making!

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