Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Layer Cake Dress Sewing Tutorial

layer cake dress sewing tutorial

Normally, The Little One is very indifferent when it comes to my sewing for her. I often have to offer some bribes to get her to try that new dress I just finished, or a pair of pants I made for her. Every once in a while I get lucky. Once I was browsing forums and somebody "Sew n Show"ed this pieced knit dress with a big cake on the front. And that was it, my daughter fell really hard for that dress, she wouldn't let me turn off my computer until I made her a similar one. I just had no choice but to start sewing a similar dress, even though I didn't know the techniques used to make the dress. I emailed the lady who had sewn the dress asking her the part that I didn't understand, but my daughter wasn't willing to wait. So I just made the dress the way I knew. I did get a response from the mama who made the dress originally and now I know how to do it right. I have added her technique as a note in the relevant steps, so you could get it right. But both the munchkin and I love the dress. Do you have a girl who might love to have a dress like this one? Here is how to draft and sew Layer Cake Dress:

Different knit fabrics, with at least one half yard piece for bodice
2-3 hours

drafting dress pattern with a tee
1. Place a well fitting tee over the folded fabric.

cutting out dress bodice
2. Draw a line along the Tshirt silhouette. This is the dress pattern without sewing margins and front neckline.

dress bodice
3. Add 3/8 inch of sewing margin along the silhouette you just made. Cut both layers.

cutting out teh front neckline
4. Cut out one of the layers deeper to make the front neckline.

sewing teh lettuce hem
5.Place both layers one over the other ( right sides together). Sew along the shoulders and sides. Sew a lettuce hem at the bottom. Here is a tutorial on how to do lettuce hem.
Note: I have explained a better technique to do this in Steps 8-10. So skip to them if you want to learn that. Step 5-7 are the steps I used to create this dress. But step 8-10 is better and faster.

lettuce hem sewing
6. Now cut many strips of fabric from different prints and solids. The width of strips will vary from 1 inch to 4 inches depending upon which color/print you would like to highlight and which one you just want to show a little sliver of.
Also the length if these strips will keep on increasing with each tier. A good rule of thumb is to add a quarter into the length of previous tier to get the length of next layer(tier)
One you cut out the strips, Sew along their smaller sides with right sides together to form a circular strip. Now sew a lettuce hem along the one raw edge as shown above.

sewing the tiers together in a dress
7. Now sew this tier to the earlier one on the dress. Since the lower tier is longer then the upper you will need to stretch the upper tier as you sew. One way to do this right is to use pins to divide the hemline into parts. That way you can be sure that you are stretching the upper tier evenly around the hemline.
This is how I joined the tiers in this dress. However, when I asked to another member of how she does it, she showed me a very different way. And I found that her technique is much better than mine because then you don't see the joining seams. So here is a little detour on the better way of joining the tiers.

cutting out the tiers of dress
8. Cut the two tiers you need to join. The lower tier is about 1.5 times longer than the upper tier.
joining dress tiers
9. Pin the tiers together at every quarter of both tiers. Wrong sides together. Yes! Wrong sides together.

lettuce edge hem on tiers
10. Now stretch the upper tier to match the length of lower tier and sew a rolled hem joining both tiers. You have to be really careful when sewing this because you don't want any of the fabrics to be left out when you do this. Use more pins if you need and go slow and steady.

adding sleeves to the dress
11. For the layered cap sleeves, use the armhole as a measurement to draft the sleeves, the length at the lower part if the sleeve shouldn't be more than 1.5 inches.
Cut from two fabric with the upper fabric slightly smaller than the inner fabric.
Now sew lettuce hem on the straight end of the sleeves ( both fabrics). Sew a seam on along the lower part of the sleeves to make it a tube. Do it for each fabric individually, so you get two tubes per sleeve.
Now pin the sleeves to the dress and sew them on.

cutting out the neckband of dress
12. For the neckband, measure the neckline all around. Lets call this length L. Cut out a 2/3L long and 2 inch wide ( actually after making many Tshirts and tops this way, I have now realized that 3 inch is the optimum width for neckband, but I took 2 inch in this dress) strip. Sew the small sides ( right sides together). 

sewing the neckband to the dress
13. Now fold this strip in half along the width, such that the seam is hidden in the fold. Pin it to the neckline.

sewing the neckband to the  dress
14. Sew the neckline with a zig-zag stitch so it has some stretch.

turn out
15. Turn out. Here is how it will look.

how to sew pieced knit dress
Layer cake dress is ready!
I will show you how to make the cake motif next week.

pieced knit dress tutorial
 Here is similar tutorial for a pieced dress made with serger by Lil Blue Boo. As a bonus, she also shows you how to make and use stamps to block print the dress. Must see!

Pin It


  1. Amazing idea! I pinned this! I'm a new follower via GFC, Pinterest, & Twitter!

    Diana Rambles
    Bento Blog Network
    Link Rink

  2. This is very cute. I love the color combinations you've used. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Wow! This is so cute. I've made some using t-shirts or tanks, but I've never tried to sew my own top. Thanks for the tutorial!

  4. Great tutorial I love the dress. I can't wait to see the tutorial on the other dress also. Thanks for sharing with Adorned From Above.
    Debi @ Adorned From Above

  5. Great tutorial... adorable dress! Thanks for sharing this!

  6. Gorgeous dress - and as always a wonderfully clear tutorial!

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

  7. @Diana @Sketched Soul @Bonny @Debi @folkhaven @Jill Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting. I'm glad you liked it.


Leave some sugar :)