I originally shared this tutorial over at Riley Blake's Cutting Corners College.
Today I’m going to show you how I made this dress for my daughter.
Let’s get started!
You’re going to need some fabric. I was excited to get my hands on this fabric from the Little Matryoshka line.
Start off by measuring from your little gal’s chest to where you want the waist to be. I wanted a drop waist, so I measured to down around my daughter’s hips. My daughter – 5T – had a measurement of 14.5 inches in length.
Then you will need to measure around your little gal’s chest for the width. My daughter’s was 13 inches.
To accommodate for seams, and for comfort, I cut the body of the dress to 15 inches in length by 14 inches in width. Cut two out of your main fabric and two out of your lining fabric.
An easy way to figure out an arm hole is to use a shirt that you already have to measure. Make sure you cut the armhole the same size on all four pieces.
This is what your top four pieces should look like now.
Take one lining piece and one main piece, and put them right sides together.
Find the exact middle across the top. This is where you will make a slit in your back piece only.
On your back piece, sew from one arm hole, across the top, and down 2-3 inches then back up, continuing across the top and around the other arm hole. Leave the side seams open. It is difficult to see in these pictures because of the light thread.
Cut the slit down in your back piece, and cut the corners. Be careful not to catch any of your seams!
Do this same process for your front piece, but do not cut a slit in the back; just sew straight across the top.
Turn your two pieces right side out, push out the corners, and iron.
On your back piece, use your seam ripper to open up a small portion of the seam on the slit. Insert some thin elastic and pin in place. This will be used for the button.
Top stitch from the armholes, along the top and around the slit, and back to the other armhole. Be sure to tuck in the fabric and catch the elastic where you inserted it. Top stitch along the top of the front piece, as well.
Take your front and back pieces, and put them right sides together. Go ahead and sew up those side seams. Zig zag or serge your edges.
Now it’s time to get working on the shoulder ruffles. Cut two strips – the size of dress you are making will depend on the length and width of your strips. I cut them wide enough so that I could fold them in half – length wise – right sides together, iron, and sew up the long side. For a 5T, I cut the strips 5 inches wide and 30.5 inches long. This gave me a 12 inch length ruffle once it was gathered and attached to the dress.
Then I turned them out and ironed them.
Run a gathering stitch along one long edge of each ruffle. Pull the bottom thread to gather the ruffle to your desired ruffle.
Tuck in the ends, iron them, and sew across.
Now it’s time to attach the shoulder ruffles!
For my daughter – 5T – I decided to leave about three inches of ruffle at the top to rest on her shoulder. I found the exact middle of the ruffle, then measured 1.5 inches each way, and pinned that spot to the top of the body of the dress, right at the top of the armhole.
Once you have figured out your ruffle at the top, pin it down in a straight line down the front and back of the body of the dress. Make sure the bottoms of the ruffle line up evenly.
Sew the ruffle to the front of the dress, stopping at the top of the body, and then do the same for the back.
Repeat for the other side, and now your shoulder ruffles are attached!
Let’s get working on the skirt part now!
Measure from where the bottom of the body of the dress is to where you want the skirt to end. I wanted my daughter’s to be about 10 inches, so I cut the length to 10.5 inches to account for seams and hemming up the bottom. The width is also a personal preference for how gathered you want it. I did 24 inches for my daughter.
Cut out two skirt pieces of your length x width, so in my case 10.5” x 24”.
Hem up the bottom of the skirt pieces.
Decide how many ruffles you want on your skirt. This will determine how long your ruffles will be. For my daughter’s 5T skirts, I did three ruffles. I cut the ruffles to 3” long by the width of the fabric. I cut six of these pieces. (Three shown).
You can finish the edges of your ruffles however you like. I wanted a more frayed, messy ruffle, so I just zig zagged along each long edge. Once your edges are finished, run a gathering stitch along the middle of each ruffle.
Sew your ruffles evenly to the skirt pieces. Be sure to leave a little space at the top of the skirt to attach it to the body of the dress. Once your ruffles are attached, take your skirt pieces and face them right sides together, then sew up the side seams. Line up the ruffles! Zig zag or serge your edges.
Sew a gathering stitch all along the top of the skirt. Take the body of your dress, and insert it into your skirt – right sides together – with the bottom of the body lined up to the top of the skirt. Pin the side seams together on each side.
Evenly gather the skirt between pins and pin in place.
Sew the skirt and body together. Turn right side out and top stitch.
Hand stitch a button on to the back of your dress, and you are done!
Admire your finished work.
And then go put your new darling dress on a darling girl, and admire it some more!
I also made a couple of other dresses for my other two daughters.
They all have similar design concepts, and I used a lot of the same measuring techniques; it’s mostly just the various straps that I mixed up.
Do you like to match what your kids wear? Or am I alone in my obsession?