Without further ado, I present my DIY Zimmermann inspired applique dress (seen here)! There are quite a few steps, but I promise it’s a fun project with minimal sewing skill!
I’ve had this little summer dress for years and years, I never wore it, yet the fit and the surprising boning in the bodice made it a hard piece to let go of. It had a polka-dot layer with clean white layer underneath, so I carefully removed the outer layer revealing a perfect blank canvas for my DIY!
- a great fitting plain dress
- a roll of fabric fuse/heat bond (find long rolls at local fabric store or walmart for $10-$20)
- approx 1 meter of fabric for applique (I used the entire 1 meter for this project)
- pair of sharp scissors
- iron & ironing board
- needle and thread as needed
1. Begin drawing your applique pattern on paper to create a stencil. Use this opportunity to pin the paper stencil to yourself to create a great fit. Alter the pattern by trimming or adding paper.
2. Trace the stencils onto the smooth paper side of a roll of fabric fuse (the opposite side is the adhesive, will be hard to draw on and will transfer the pen color to your fabric, not chic!)
3. Lay your fabric fuse, adhesive side down, onto of your fabric ( if your fabric has a side you want to show make sure you use the adhesive on the back side, this will be glued to your dress ) set your iron to a low setting and press firmly for 5 seconds in each area. If the glue doesn’t adhere in some areas, simply repeat a few times until the paper doesn’t lift off.
4. Keep the paper on the fabric and begin to cut out your pattern exactly how you want to see it on your dress. When all your pieces are cut out, lay them out on your dress and arrange them to your satisfaction.
5. Peel off the paper from the back of your applique exposing the adhesive, lay it adhesive side down on your dress and iron over it just as your did earlier. Do this with all of your pieces. You should now have a perfectly applied design!
6. My original dress was strapless and I decided to leave the neck and back bare under the applique (slightly different from the zimmermann dress.) Since the paper side of the applique would eventually peel off leaving exposed glue, I ironed white fabric to the back then cut along the pattern creating the cut-out neckline. I also attached a new zipper as the length of the dress was altered.
The applique should be secure and waterproof after 48 hours but if you notice a few corners lifting up, re-iron them, or secure them with a thread and needle. Some people stitch around the edges or apply no-fray glue, but I found the fabric fuse created a great non-fraying edge.
The sky is really the limit with this process, with imagination and a sharp pair of scissors you can take this craft far beyond your grandma’s applique quilt! If anyone out there attempts this project and you are confused by a weird neckline or any of the steps, please ask me for help!!