Looking for a dress tutorial that is sweet and simple? Look no further!
I made this for my 3-year-old and with a few measurements you can make this for babies all the way to maybe 7 or 8 (just have to make sure you get the appropriate amount of fabric). Get your sewing machine ready and a serger is helpful too!
Ok, to find how much fabric you need, let's take some measurements (see pic below)!
- Measurement A (from armpit level to bottom of the sternum...this is how long the bodice will be) ___
- Measurement B (from bottom of the sternum to preferred length skirt length) _____
- Measurement C (Chest front...best way to get this measurement is to put your child in a somewhat fitted tank/shirt and measure from sides seam to side seam in the front only) __
- Measurement D (around the whole chest or belly...this will help us know how much fabric we'll need for the skirt)____
Let's find out how much fabric you need!
A little disclaimer: Here is the tricky part when we get into sizing...at some point, bigger kids are going to need double the amount for the skirt fabric to get enough width to gather up for the front and the back panels. So, I am going to have to let you be the judge on that, but, for the skirt you will need double the width of your Measurement D (so, for example, my daughter's chest is 19" around and I doubled that measurement to 38" so because my fabric is 45" wide I could get that out of one cut). If your daughter's doubled measurement is wider than 45" you'll need to get double the amount of Measurement B for the skirt so you can cut a front and back panel and sew them together at the side seams. This would also apply if you want a fuller gather...I doubled mine, but, if you think you want a fuller gather, multiply by 2.5 or so and see if it is wider than 45". If you get a 60" wide fabric, you'll need to figure accordingly.
Ok, so, let's really figure out how much fabric to get:
- Double Measurement A plus 1" ____ PLUS Measurement B (double if you fall into the disclaimer above) plus 1" __ PLUS 10" for straps PLUS 2" for the neck strap equals amount you need to purchase.
- You also need like 20" of 1/4" elastic for the neck strap and about 30" of 3/8" elastic for the side seams of the bodice and the upper edge of the back of the skirt.
- Alright! Let's get started! Cutting: Cut your 2 straps at 5" x 40" (we're cutting them long and can shorten them later), cut the neck strap at 2" x 40" (again, cutting long...it gathers up too), to find you bodice measurements Double Measurement A PLUS 1" for seam allowance (SA) __ by Measurement C PLUS 1" for SA__ and cut this rectangle, then, for the skirt double (or x2.5 if you want and have the fabric amount) Measurement D by Measurement B plus 1" and cut this rectangle.
- Iron your front bodice piece in half lengthwise pretty sides facing out (your bodice will be self lined). Then, fold your two 5" straps in half length-wise pretty sides together towards the inside and sew your long edge and one short edge (note: my straps below may look short...they are...I wish I had cut them longer so that's why I gave you a long measurement and they can be shortened). After sewing, turn them right sides out and press.
Picture below just shows the bodice ironed in half...I'm pointing to the crease where I had ironed.
- Now, line up the upper edge of a strap facing inward (as shown below) with the ironed crease of the front of the bodice. NOTE: you may shorten the straps here before you sew them down...these straps connect to the bodice at the side seams and just tie around the back into a bow (2nd picture at the top of blog post)...so, you may just safety pin them in place and shorten accordingly if necessary, then follow the beginning of this Step 3.
Close up...sorry the fabric pattern blends a lot! Pin these straps in place and baste to hold.
- Then, fold the self-lined bodice back, pretty sides together and pin (as shown below). Stitch a 1/2" seam allowance at the sides.
- Before turning the bodice, take some 3/8" elastic and place right next to the seam stitch line. Zig-zag and anchor the top of the elastic and then, pull the elastic hard and zig-zag the elastic in place to scrunch up the side seams (end and cut the elastic a 1/2" short of the bottom edge). Scroll down to see what it should look like.
Hold on to the thread tails if you need something to grasp to get your fabric moving through the machine (shown below).
Should look somewhat like this...I used a 5.5 stitch width and a 4.0 stitch length zig-zag.
- Turn right side out, press, and baste lower edge of bodice 1/2" up (this is important for step 11 when you line up your skirt front with your bodice). Also, serge or finish the lower edge.
- The bodice is done and waiting for it's skirt! :) If your child's doubled measurement D is less than 45" (or if you have a 60" fabric) fold your cut skirt fabric in half width-wise and sew a 1/2" SA for the center back seam (then, finish that seam...serge, sewing machine overcast, pinking shears, etc. you SAs). If you had to get double the measurement for the skirt, sew 2 side seams and finish.
Serged center back SA looking all professional! :)
- Then, to finish the upper edge and hem of this skirt, I used a pretty serged rolled hem on the top and lower hem of my skirt. If you don't have a serger, consider finishing the top and lower hem with this sewing machine rolled hem! We finish the upper edge of the skirt because it is an exposed SA (it shows on the outside as a cute lil ruffle)! Now, we just have to do a little gathering on the skirt and we can put these 2 pieces together, add the neck strap, and be done!!
- Divide your skirt into fourths, center front, center back (if you only have one seam make it this), and sides (if you have 2 side seams, make these seams the sides) and mark with pins or a marking utensil. Then, on the back of the skirt only from side marker to side marker if you only have one center back seam (or if you have 2 side seams for bigger kiddos), take your 3/8" elastic and line it up about 3/8" down from the finished upper edge and we're going to sew it on like we did the previous elastic. Zig-zag at the beginning to anchor and then, pull it a lot as you zig-zag over it. Keep scrolling down to see what it should look like!
- Now, do you see all that fabric that is not gathered (the front of the skirt)? You need to gather it (I just gathered it with one basting line (1/2" down from top edge) because it's a lightweight one layer fabric and this line is exposed (so, I didn't want 2 basting lines), so just be careful when you are pulling the basting thread to gather it up so you don't break it)...now, that I think about it, I may have actually used my Ruffler Foot...my goodness, I can't remember...use what you are comfortable with to gather up the skirt front!
- Ok, the picture below is not the clearest, but, you are going to pin the gathered up skirt front to the bodice front. Line up the gathered stitch line with the lower edge bodice basting line (we stitched in step 6) and pin on the outside (remember that upper ruffled edge is exposed)!
- With your needle in the center, stitch down that gathered skirt front to the bodice front (stitch along your gather stitchline).
- Finally, the neck strap! Fold in half lengthwise, pretty sides together, pin and stitch to where you have a 3/8" tube (line it up with your machine/needle accordingly so that when you turn this tube right side out, it is a 3/8" tube, you will not be using a 1/2" SA here).
- Turn right side out with a skinny loop turner. Now, I just took an estimate measurement of my kiddo of how long to cut the elastic (length from top of dress, loop behind neck, to other side top of dress)...you don't want it to be tight, just comfortable...cut a little extra. Pull the elastic through with either a safety pin or thread the skinny loop turner through the tube, hook the elastic onto it and drag it through. You can pull that elastic through to desired gather. This will gather up that cute neck strap. Stitch your ends down to hold the elastic in place.
You can cut it down now or pin strap in place and cut down after sewing to the dress...if you cut it now, make sure and put a new stitch where you are going to cut so that you don't lose the elastic in the strap casing.
- Try dress on kiddo and pin straps in place (I think I pinned 3" in from the side seams).
- Then, stitch straps in place...stitch about 1/4" down from the top edge. I actually, also, topstitched across the entire top edge of the bodice front too about a 1/4" down from that upper edge to conceal where I stitched the straps in place.
- Next, post a picture on our Facebook Totally Stitchin' page! We love to see what you are making with our tutorials!!
And, you are done! As always, Happy Sewing!! ~Stephanie