I have always had this idea of a dainty little dress with very girly design elements like gathered shoulder straps ( sleeves), a cinched belt in the front and layered skirt. Often when I think of design, I have a clear picture of how it will all go together, but for this dress I didn't have everything chalked out. I just thought this beautiful floral print ( Suzette by Sue Zipkin for Clothworks) was perfect for putting my ideas to reality and everything just fell into place. I'm so pleased with how it all came together. My little miss wore it the other day and it just looked so good on her...I hope you would like it too and make it for your little bella.
3 half yard coordinating prints from Suzette
I used wandering vines in Red
Elastic thread - white
Coordinating Ribbon scrap - 5 inches
Coordinating Ric-rac - 1.25 yards
Download the pdf for bodice front here ( size 2T -3T)
For the back of bodice cut a rectangle 8 inches X 22 inches. Fold it in half along the 8 inches and shir the doubled piece by sewing along the 22 inches edge. Starting at quarter inch below the fold. Sew 6 to 7 rows. Since you're shirring a double layered fabric, its possible that it doesn't ruffles much after shirring. Don't worry about that, Set your iron on high setting and turn steam function on. Iron on the shirred piece for a minute or so. You should see the piece shrink considerably by this.
Here's a great tutorial on shirring.
For the belt in front, cut a piece 4 inch X 11 inches. Fold in half along the 4 inch side and iron.
Also place the belt piece at the straight edge of the bodice. Sew along the raw edges at the bottom. Insert a scrap of ribbon at the center. The right side of the ribbon should be together with the right side of bodice fabric.
Sew a seam along the three sides ( except bottom edge) of the bodice. Make sure you're sewing through all the layers.
Turn out. Poke the corners out with a sharp object like a pencil. Iron the bodice. Cinch the belt in front with the ribbon scrap you had sewn in the center. Sew the other end of ribbon down by hand sewing or machine sewing.
The bodice is ready. Lets work on the skirt next.
For the layered skirt I took two fabrics
Inner Layer 17 inch X 45 inch rectangle
Outer Layer 13 inch X 45 inch rectangle
Now these measurements may not work for all because my daughter is really skinny and tall and I also wanted the skirt to hit below knees because she grows only vertically. So the easiest way to determine the length of skirts would be to measure the bodice against a dress which fits well. Whatever remains after bodice is length you need + 1.5 inch( for hemming and sewing margins).
Once you determine the length of inner layer, the outer layer would be 2 - 3 inches shorter than that. Mine is 4 inch shorter but that's because I have folded the inner layer about 1.5 inches, whereas outer layer has been folded less than one inch.
The width, on the other hand would work for a lot of ages ( at least 2 - 5) with the only difference being in the fullness of skirt. If you're making it for an average built 6 years or older girl then you may need to increase the width.
Fold the skirt fabrics in half along the width ( right sides together) and sew along the raw short edges ( 17 inch and 13 inch respectively) This will turn the skirt fabrics into cylinders.
To finish the other end of the sleeves ( shoulder straps). Gather their raw ends by sewing a seam and pulling on the bobbin thread.
Et Voila! Floral dress.