Monday, December 3, 2012

Dainty Floral Dress Pattern and Tutorial

dainty dress sewing pattern

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
1 quarter yd print 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)

cut the pattern pieces

Using the bodice pattern, cut two pieces ( both on fold) one from the main fabric, one from lining. I used the same fabric for both, but you could use different fabrics for the outer layer and lining.

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.

gathered sleeves pattern
For the sleeves, cut two pieces, 10 inches X 5 inches.
folding sleeve edges

Fold quarter inch along the 10 inch sides and sew a seam along both sides.
fold the long edges of both sleeve pieces

Fold quarter inch again along the 10 inch sides and sew a seam.
sew sleeve to the bodice

Set the stitch length to the longest and sew a seam along one 5 inch side on both the sleeve pieces. Pull on the bobbin thread to gather the pieces. Once they are gathered to two inches each. Sew them to the curved part of the bodice piece ( right sides together). Place them 3 inches apart at the center.

place the belt on the bodice

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.
Place the shirred back bodice piece over the bodice front and sleeves. Back bodice right side should be together with front bodice right side. Align the sides.

Cover with the inner layer of the bodice front
Now cover the whole thing with the inner piece of the bodice, wrong side up.
Sew a seam along the three sides ( except bottom edge) of the bodice. Make sure you're sewing through all the layers.
snip corners and cut notches along the curve
Snip the corners and cut out some notches along the curve ( only up to the seam, take care of not cutting into the seam).

sew down the ribbon in the center

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.

turn out the bodice

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.

cut rectabngle fabric for skirt

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.

insert outer layer over the inner layer

Turn right side out and slip the smaller cylinder onto the bigger one. Align the raw edges at one end.

gather the top edge of the skirt

Sew two parallel seams along the aligned raw edge and pull on the bobbin thread to gather the skirts. Adjust the gathers by hand. Here, you have to make sure that the gathers are more concentrated in the front of the skirt ( the part opposite to the seams). We have to do it because the shirred part in the back will be automatically gathering the skirt fabric. I kept the front heavily gathered while the back almost flat. Adjust the gathers until the width of the skirt becomes roughly equal to the width of the bodice.

sewing the bodice to the skirt

Now slip the bodice over the skirt ( right sides together). Line up the raw edges of all the layers. Make sure the skirts seam is at the center of back bodice piece. Sew along the raw edge. Here shirred piece of bodice may need to be stretched as you need to sew along the flat fabric below the shirred part. That is the reason why we didn't gather the skirt much in the back.
turn out the bodice and skirt joint

Here's how it will look after you turn it out. The skirt was almost flat in the back before I joined it to the bodice. Now it seems fairly gathered. That's because shirring is causing it to gather.

hemming the inner layer

To finish the hem of inner skirt. Fold it twice onto itself ( quarter inch first and one and half inch next time). Sew along the fold.

fold the outer layer

To finish the outer layer hemline with a Ric-rac trim, first fold the hem quarter inch on the inside. Iron it to make a crisp edge.

sewing ric-rac on the hem

Now sew Ric-rac along the right side with the seam centered in the middle of Ric-rac.

sewing the ric-rac on hem
Now fold it on the inside and as close to the edge as possible. This will have half of the Ric-rac scallops peeking from the wrong side of the fabric.

gathering sleeves on the other end

To finish the other end of the sleeves ( shoulder straps). Gather their raw ends by sewing a seam and pulling on the bobbin thread.
sew the sleeves to the back

Place them inside the back bodice, about 1-2 inches apart in the center. At this point it will be helpful to try the dress on the child and estimate where you need to sew the ends of straps. I sewed them down about 2 inches below the upper edge of bodice. Sew 2-3 seams for strength as these will be carrying some weight when the dress is worn. Also don't forget to back-stitch these seams.

dainty floral dress sewing tutorial

Et Voila! Floral dress.