Sewing Bee Fabrics Tutorial
How To Make A Little Girl's Dress
For a friend's first birthday present, I thought what could be cuter than a gorgeous little dress, so here is the gown she got.
What you will need:
1/2 - 1 meter cotton depending on the size dress you are making (available HERE)
Elastic Ribbon (also known as fold-over elastic, from HERE) - enough to fit around the waist twice without stretching, and the length of 2 straps.
How to make it:
First, you need to draft your pattern. Luckily, this pattern is pretty forgiving on fit. You just need to measure the waist, the waist to where you want the dress to come up to on the top at the front, and the waist to where you want the dress to go down to on the legs.
There are 3 sections to this dress. For the skirt part, you want the top measurement to be half the waist, plus 10cm. For the bottom, make it 1 1/2 - 2 times that measurement depending on how full you want the skirt to be. Simply draw a line diagonally from top to bottom, spacing them apart as long as you want your skirt part to be (plus 2cm for seam/hem allowance).
The top front should be a rectangle approx. half the waist plus 6cm, with the depth being how far up from the waist you want it to sit near the neckline (plus 1cm for seam allowance). At each end, curve off from 8cm near the edge to reach a depth of 5cm at the edge. This is to curve under the arms. You can adjust your neckline to make a shape if you want. I like a gentle curve inwards in the centre, but straight across looks great too.
The final piece is the back body part. This is simply half the waist plus 6cm by the same depth as the underarm edge of the front piece.
If you have a pattern like mine with obvious stripes or patterns, just be aware of it when you are cutting your pieces as a perfect pattern match will make any dress look far more professional.
How to put it together:
First, hem your 2 skirt pieces, so turn up the bottom edge to fold, then fold again so the raw edge is completely enclosed and sew into place. I find a quarter-inch quilting foot is a perfect way to guarantee a nice straight line of stitching along the edge (see our sewing machine feet HERE).
Next, you want to attach the top pieces to a skirt piece each. Note that they are deliberately different widths. This is so you can pin a few little pleats in to give the skirt a bit more shape and movement. The easiest way is to fold the top piece downwards over the top of the skirt with the right sides together and the top underneath. Pin the 2 sides together at the top, then make little bunches of gathered fabric evenly along the top as you pin them down together. Sew in place with a quarter-inch seam then stitch over the edge (or a zigzag near the edge to stop the edge from fraying).
After, you want to attach the front to the back. You will only be sewing down one side for now. So place them right sides together, pin, then again sew a quarter-inch seam then an overlock stitch or zigzag at the edge.
Next you want your elastic ribbon. Fold it over the top edge of your dress at the open edge. Sew a few stitches of a straight stitch with backstitching to anchor the elastic in place, then with a gentle stretch and ideally a 3 step zigzag stitch (which allows the most movement of elastic without stitches breaking). I find that a sewing machine binding foot helps me feed this on really quickly. You can do it by hand too, just go slowly to make sure you keep your edge in the centre of the fold over elastic. Keep going until the whole top edge is covered, then again a few straight stitches at the end to help secure it.
Lastly you just need you straps. I find the easiest way is to try the dress on and using a few safety pins, just pin your 2 elastic ribbon straps where you want them. Fold up the bottom of the elastic so the raw edge is hidden between the elastic and dress and sew on just inside the dress. If you attach these by machine it is more obvious than a hand stitch, so weigh up speed versus appearance!
And as simple as that, your dress is ready!