Saturday, May 14, 2011

Coral Reef Dress - Tutorial

Dress Sewing Tutorial : One shoulder coral reef dress
one shoulder dress sewing pattern

Would you like to make one of these. Come on, lets do it together.

First take any dress pattern ( only body) that fits the little girl you are sewing for and fold it such that one shoulder ( including sleeve opening) gets hidden. Now place this on two layers of fabric ( right sides together). Trace and cut.

Now lets make ruffles and shoulder strap.
Cut a 4 inch wide strip for the ruffle and the length should be twice the measurement of the neckline. Note that since this is off shoulder dress, the neck line means neck+ one shoulder.
Note that the width of my ruffle strip is much smaller than 4 inches ( and I deeply regretted it). If you want the dress to look exactly like mine, you can keep the width 2.5 inches but I strongly feel that you should go with a wider ruffle.
For the shoulder strap cut a strip about 3 inches wide and 10 inches long. You probably won't need all 10 inches but I usually keep some allowance to adjust it once I try it on the child.
Now on to sewing:

Sew the one shoulder seam, and both side seams of the main body, set it aside:

Now pleat or ruffle the ruffle piece such that the final length is close ( just a little bit more) to the neck-line.

For the shoulder strap just sew the strip across the 10 inches length, right sides together, turn inside out to make a tube.

Now join the shoulder strap to the main body.
Turn the main body inside out, so the right side is outside. Mark the place ( front and back) where you want to put your straps, and decide how long you want it to be. Mine are 7 inches for a one and half year old.
Now pin one end of shoulder strap to the wrong side of body such that the wrong side of the strap is touching the wrong side of the main piece front. Now pin the other end of shoulder strap to the wrong side of
 back again make sure that the wrong side of the shoulder strap is touching the wrong side of back piece.

Sew over the straps to attach them, do not snip the hanging part of shoulder strap yet, It will help you adjust the fit later on and you can snip it at any point.
Now add the ruffles: pin the ruffle at the wrong of neckline such that right side of ruffle is with wrong side of main  fabric. Sew the ends closed and sew along the neckline to join ruffles to the main body.

Now turn the ruffles over to the right side. The dress is ready to try on.
If you feel that the shoulder strap is big or small, you can adjust it now by picking out stitches from one of the ends where it has the extra tail and increase or decrease the length. Snip the tail once you're done. If you don't want to add another ruffle, topstitch along the neck line.

Most of the dresses I saw at Gymboree or Gap had only one ruffle, so this tutorial is enough if you want to get that look. For me however it was not working because my ruffle strip wasn't wide enough so I had to add one more ruffle. I'll get to how I did it in a bit, but before that I will show you how to finish the armhole.

Cut a strip of about 15 inches at the bias:

Sew it along the armhole ( right sides together).

Now turn it out, and turn it over the seam into the wrong side of armhole. Topstitch.

Since the knits don't fray I didn't worry about tucking the raw edges in. you may want to do it if you're working with wovens instead of knits.

Now giving the dress some pizzazz:
Cut two strips

S1: 3 inches wides X 40 inches
S2: 2 inches wide X 40 inches

Sew S1 at the longest stitch setting along one side of the strip, do not backstitch. After sewing, pull the bobbin thread from one end, to create a ruffle. Spread the ruffles to evenly space them. Sew this ruffle beneath the ruffle that is already there along the neckline. Make sure that the top ruffle completely covers the seams on this one. Now topstitch the top ruffle along the neckline.

For the ruffle at the hemline, take strip S2 and run a stitch along the center of the length, again at the longest stitch setting. Again pull the bobbin thread to make a ruffle but this time the ruffle has to be only as long as the front hemline. Evenly space the ruffles by hand. Now sew it over the hemline. Since it is a knit fabric, I didn't bother finishing the hems, you may have to do it if you're working with wovens.

If you want you can add a flower at the shoulder strap, I'm still debating whether it is too much.
Make It and Love It has a flower tutorial here at the end.
coral reef dress pattern

Enjoy your new dress.


  1. cute! I saw this on Flickr and loved it! so fun to see it was yours. :D

  2. very very cute, these are sort of my new HOME-MOM colors!

    Same party new place .) Make & Share has a new home at HOMEmomMADE. I hope you can stop in next Saturday .)

  3. That is one gorgeous dress!!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  4. That is so cute! You are one talented gal! I really want to try this, but I'd need about four hours to myself...what are the odds?!


  5. I'm loving this with that color combination. SO cute! :o)
    Visiting form Sunday Scoop Linky Party.

  6. Oh my goodness, that is adorable! Just another reason I hope I have a little girl next time around! Boys are great, but the crafts just aren't as cute ;-) Thanks for the tutorial!

    Rachel @ Maybe Matilda

  7. Love that! Such a cute color combo and style. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. Wow! Thanks for the wonderful post. I also love the color combo. The instructions are so detailed- that's always helpful. Very cute!

  9. what a beautiful and frilly fun dress for summer! love it.

    im a new follower!

  10. I LOVE this tutorial. You make it look so easy! I will have to try this! Thank you so much for linking to It's Stinkin' Cute Craft Thursday!

  11. I love this dress. The ruffles and stripes are too cute! I wanted to let you know that I am featuring this over at Blissful and Domestic today. Stop by and grab a button.

  12. I am loving all your projects. I am a new follower. Can't wait to see all the other projects you come up with:> Have a great weekend!

  13. I just L-O-V-E the colors!

  14. I'm back again :-) I thought this dress was SO cute, so I featured it on my blog today! You can see it here:

    Thanks for the great tutorial! I hope I get the chance to make one someday ;-)

    Rachel @ Maybe Matilda

  15. I can't believe this! It's just beyond adorable, I've gotta do one for my tiny-love Ellie~
    All Things Heart and Home

  16. What a great tutorial, even for a novice sewer like me. I love the color combination and how cute the shoulder strap is. Any girl would love to wear this. :)

    Thanks so much for linking up at the Sunburnt Cow. I featured you over at All Thumbs Crafts.


  17. This comment has been removed by the author.


Leave some sugar :)