Friday, June 29, 2012

Reversible Baby Dress pattern and tutorial

Sewing tutorial : Reversible Baby Dress
This reversible dress pattern and tutorial was posted on Ribbon Retreat Blog sometime back. Re-posting it here in case you missed it first time around...

reversible dress sewing pattern

I had been lurking at The Ribbon Retreat Blog and Shop for a while swooning on all the cool sewing tutorials being shared here. I finally gathered courage and asked Shirley if I could become a guest here too. And she agreed (yay!!!)… so I picked this Aviary 2 by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit fabric that had been on my wishlist for a while and went to work. I used it to make a Reversible Baby Dress. I love how it turned out, and I think this beautiful fabric is the reason for that. I hope you would like it too and sew it for the little girls in your life.

I have also added some tips on how to size it up for older kids. If you want to sew it for older kids jump to the end of the post for tips on drafting your own pattern for this dress. 

Fabric 1 (Lilac Sparrows in Aviary 2) -1 fat quarter
Fabric 2 (Lilac Lattice in Aviary 2) – 2 fat quarters

For embellishments: (Optional)
Wonder Under fusible interfacing
Fabric scraps in coordinating colors


Please note that while both sides are wearable, for the purpose of the tutorial, I'm calling the appliqued side outer and the plain side inner.

Preparing the Bodice:

cutting bodice pieces

1. Cut the bodice pattern pieces on fold. 2 each from lining and main fabric.

cutting fabric for shoulder ties

2. Cut four 1.25 inch X 9 inch strips of skirt fabric. Sew tubes with these strips. Here's my detailed tutorial on how to sew narrow tubes.

3. Sandwich the tubes between bodice and lining about 2 inches apart at the center. Sew along the top. Snip some notches along the curves, snip the corners.

sewing shoulder ties to the bodice

4. Join the front and back of the bodice by sewing along the sides ( right sides together)

fully lined bodice

5. Turn out. Iron well.
Bodice is ready, lets sew the skirts now.

Sewing the skirts:

sewing the skirt

6. For the outer skirt cut 2 pieces of fabrics 8 inches by 18 inches. Sew along the shorter sides, right sides together. Also keep in mind that this Aviary print is directional, meaning if you put the fabric upside down the print will appear reversed ( the birdie will be upside down) so take care of matching the sides while joining the two pieces.

gathering the skirt

7. Sew a seam along upper raw side, do not back-stitch. Now pull the bobbin thread to gather the skirt. Gather it until the skirt width becomes equal to the bodice width.

sewing and gathering the skirt

8. Now cut 2 more pieces of fabrics 9 inches by 18 inches. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to sew, gather and prepare the inner skirt. Set aside.

Preparing the bias tape for hem:

cutting fabric for bias tape

9. Cut 2 strips of 5 inches X 18 inches. Sew them together along the shorter sides ( right sides together)

making bias tape from fabric strips

10. Now lets make a bias tape from this strip. Its made exactly like a bias tape except that its cut on grain. We can do that because we are going to use it on the hem which is straight, so we don't need the flexibility of a bias cut fabric here.
Fold in half along the width and iron. Now fold one half onto itself and iron, now fold the other half over the quarter you just ironed and iron it again.  This will make the last fold slightly bigger than the last but one.

sewing bias tape at hem

11. Sew this bias tape at the hem of skirt 1 you made in step 6 & 7.

Joining the skirt and bodice:

sewing skirt to the bodice

12. Sew the bodice main fabric to the skirt. (right sides together). Make sure the side seams of bodice and skirt are lining up.

sew the skirt to the bodice

13. Pull apart the inner and outer fabrics of bodice.

sewing the inner bodice

14. Sew the inner fabric of the skirt to the raw part of bodice ( right sides together).

hemming the dress

15. Here's how the dress will look from outside. Now fold the hem of inner skirt  quarter inch inside and sew along the hem.

reversible baby dress

16.  Now fold it one more time such that the length of inner and outer fabrics is equal.

reversible dress sewing tutorial

 17. Reversible Baby Dress is ready.

Optional - Embellishing the dress:
Since the dress is reversible we need to be very careful in embellishing this because the embellishment will sit next to baby's skin, when the dress is reversed. To make it comfortable and safe for baby, I chose only appliques for embellishing the dress

This fabric is so beautiful that I didn't want to draw any attention away from it so I chose to just use the fabric print as an embellishment. I traced one of the polygons from the light colored fabric on a piece of wax paper and used it as my template for appliques.

applying interfacing for appliques

For appliques I picked two small scraps ( 2 inch X 3 inch) in the colors of the aviary print.  Now cut two small pieces of wonder under fusible interfacing ( slightly smaller than fabric scraps) and place them on the wrong sides of fabric scraps. Now change your iron settings to no-steam and iron on the paper backing of fusible interfacing. This will cause the interfacing to stick to the scraps. Make sure you iron by putting the iron down and lifting it up rather than sliding it across the scraps.
cutting out appliques

Now cut out the polygon from both the scraps using the wax paper template. Peel off the paper backing and place the appliques on the bodice ( with the interfacing touching the bodice) and iron on.

I found that they looked best when they were placed exactly above the polygon. Iron them really well for the interfacing to stick to the fabric.

For added strength I usually also sew along the sides of the appliques. If you want to do this pull apart both sides and sew along the edges of the appliques with the machine on the slowest speed and stitch length set at minimum. That would ensure a precise seam along the appliques' edges.

And now the dress is ready for the cutest little girl in the world,

Instructions on sizing:

Whenever I write a tutorial, I invariably get asked about how to size it up. This is a pretty easy to draft pattern and very flexible. So if you like to sew this dress in bigger sizes, here are some tips to do it.

  • Find a woven dress that fits the child well. measure the width at the waist, this will be the bodice width. Add one inch for seam allowance.
  • Measure the length from waist to the shoulders. Subtract 2-3 inches from it for the shoulder ties. This will be the length of the bodice.
  • Measure the child to see how far apart you want the shoulder ties to be. Add 1.5 inches to this distance. Measure this new distance at the center of the width and draw arcs at the end. These will be partial armholes.
  • Keeps the shoulder ties longer ( about 15 - 20 inches). This will help you adjust the dress after it is sewn. You could always snip off the unwanted length at the end.
  • The rule of thumb for the skirt fabrics is that they should be at least 1.5 times the width of the bodice but no more than 2 times. Depending on how full you want the skirt to be, you can pick the width anywhere between this measurement.
  • The length of the skirt can be anything you want. Or just measure the length of the dress waist down and use it with seam allowance


  1. this is adorable Anshu! I love your fabric choices, very cute!

  2. Lovely! And pretty fabrics! Liz

  3. love this little dress wonderful colors come see us at

  4. Awesome.....!wonderful idea,i would love to try something like this for my niece.thanks for sharing.

  5. So cute! Reversible is always so much fun!

  6. Another beautiful dress and fabulous pattern!

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

  7. Beautiful dress and twice the cuteness!

  8. Cute dress! Just love that it's reversible. Thanks for sharing at I Made It! Monday. Can't wait to see what you link up this week.

  9. what an adorable dress, and great choice of fabric! i'll keep this in mind as a future baby gift for expecting friends.

  10. @clearlytangled: Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you liked the dress. Yeah this print is my most favorite fabric ever.

  11. I wonder if you could have the trim at the bottom of the skirt by just making the plain skirt a few inches longer and having it turn up for the trim on the embellished side.

  12. @Lynn Beumer: I think that's a great idea. I will keep it in mind for my next project.

  13. I really love this little dress & would like to make some for my granddaughters. But for some reason this part of the directions are just not making any sense to me, maybe because I've made dresses, but not sundresses,I don't know. Anyway, I understand how to measure how far apart for the shoulder ties, but I'm lost after that - can you explain? Thanks! "Measure the child to see how far apart you want the shoulder ties to be add 1.5 inches to this distance. Measure this new distance at the center of the width and draw arcs at the end. These will be partial armholes"

  14. @ Judy: Sure! I'll try here:
    So you measure the distance between shoulder ties - lets say it is 2 inches. Now you add 1.5 inches to make is 3.5 inches. Now halve this measurement so you get 3.5/2 = 1.75 inches, ok?
    Now fold your bodice fabric in half ( dividing the width in half). At the fold at the top measure 1.75 inches. Mark this point. Now this 1.75 inches at the top will remain straight ( as is). Now draw an arc using any circular object ( saucer, hat box etc) the starting point of the arc will be the mark you just made and it ends about 1-2 inch above the bottom of the bodice. Don't worry too much about this arc, because the armholes can always be adjusted with the shoulder ties.
    Now unfold the bodice fabric and your bodice is ready.
    Does that help Judy?


Leave some sugar :)