Having three girls means that there are a few things that are abundant at our house. Pink, glitter, and ruffles. (Well, emotions, too, but that doesn’t really fit in with sewing very well).
So today I’m sharing a tutorial on how to make this darling ruffled bustle top for the little gals in your life.
We wore these to a local boutique this past weekend, and I can’t even begin to tell you the amounts of compliments we got on them.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- elastic (I used one inch)
- sewing machine/accessories
- buttons (not shown)
I wanted to have lots of ruffles on the back, but you can change how many ruffles you have. You’ll need to decide which fabrics are going to make up what parts of your top. I chose the green for the bodice, straps, and bottom ruffle of the top. The honeycomb is my favorite, so I put that as the main part of the front of the top. Then I picked some fun coordinating fabrics to make the ruffles for the bustle.
Start off by cutting the straps. I cut mine about two and a half inches wide (for size 5T) and then twice the length of the actual length you want the straps to be. For me, it was 22 inches long, which will make the straps between 10-11 inches long after they are made.
Fold the strap pieces in half, right sides together.
Sew along the long side, across where the fold is, and back up the other long side.
Clip the corners of the folded side, being careful not to cut your seam, and turn the straps right side out. Press and top stitch.
Your two straps are finished now. It’s okay that you have an open end; it’s going to be taken care of in the next few steps.
Now you’ll need to cut the bodice pieces. You are going to have two front bodice pieces and two back bodice pieces. The easiest way to get the measurements for the bodice pieces is to use a pattern you already have. But if you don’t have one, here is how I did it.
I measured across the front of my daughter’s chest for the width. I added on about an inch extra to account for seams. So if her chest is about 11 inches wide, I cut the width to 12 inches for the front. Measure from the chest down to where you want the bodice to hit. I want an empire waist style so I want about 6 inches, and added on another half inch to account for seams. So my two front bodice pieces are 6.5”x12”.
The back bodice pieces are going to be gathered with an elastic to hug the back, so I made the back a couple of inches wider than the front. You can add however much you want, depending on how much you want it gathered in back. The length I did 1.5” shorter than the front. So my back bodice pieces were cut at 5”x14”.
Are you with me???
Now that you have the two back bodice pieces cut, take one back bodice piece, and pin the straps about 3”-4” in from the sides, with the raw edges matching up, right side facing up.
Take the other back bodice piece, and place it with the right sides facing over the bodice and straps.
Sew across the top, securing the straps in between the two back bodice pieces. Flip it right sides out, press, and top stitch.
Take the two front bodice pieces. Again, if you have a bodice pattern already, then you’ll have arm hole cut outs to use. But if you don’t, go in 2”-3” on the top, and cut a curve from the top out to the side, only about 1” long. This will allow the bodice front and back to line up correctly when sewn.
Place the two front pieces together, right sides facing, and sew along the arm hole, across the top, and down the other arm hole.
Clip the corners, being mindful of the seams, turn right side out, press, and top stitch.
Set the bodice pieces aside. Now it’s time to work on the body of the dress. Again, more measuring! Measure from the point where the bodice ends to how long you want the top to be. This is the length. Decide how long your ruffles are going to be, and subtract this from your length. For example, my body is going to be about 12.5” long, but I’m using 4” ruffles, so I’m going to cut the length to 8.5” long. Make sense?
The width can be 1.5-2 times the width of the bodice. For me, it was 22”. So I cut two body pieces of my main honeycomb fabric that were 8.5” long and 22” wide.
Now it’s time to get ruffling!
Like I said, I wanted the ruffles to be about 4” long. So I cut each of my ruffles (two out of the same fabric as the bodice pieces, and then one each of my three coordinating fabrics) to 8” long. The ruffles need to be even wider than the body pieces of fabric so that they can be ruffled, so I made the width 30” long.
I ironed each ruffle in half to make them 4” long.
Run a gathering stitch along the raw edge of the two bottom ruffles. Pin the middle of the ruffle to the middle of the body piece. Ruffle evenly in on one side. Pin in place.
Then on the other.
Sew the ruffle to the body piece, finish the edge, turn out and top stitch.
Do this for each body piece.
Now take one body piece and run a gathering stitch along the top. Pin the middle of the body piece to the middle of the front bodice piece. Gather evenly on each side and pin in place.
Here’s what it looks like turned over, for reference.
Sew the two pieces together, finish the edge, flip out and top stitch. The front piece of the dress is almost finished; it just needs button holes now!
Take the other three ruffles, make sure they are ironed in half. Serge or zig zag the raw edges.
Take the back body piece, and mark up two inches from where the ruffle and body piece meet. Mark with a fabric marker or some sort of pen/marker. It doesn’t matter what it is; it will be covered.
Pin the next ruffle in the middle, according to your markings.
Gather evenly on both sides, and pin in place.
Sew the ruffle to the body, and repeat the process for the next ruffle up.
The last ruffle is going to be attached a bit differently. Make the two inch markings just as you have been. But instead of pinning the ruffle down, pin it with the bottom edge facing up.
This is the top ruffle, and won’t have another ruffle to cover it, so we don’t want that serged edge showing.
Gather the ruffle, pin, and sew in place.
Flip the ruffle down. Now you can’t see that serged edge!
It is a little bit poofy compared to the other ruffles, but that’s okay. It will get held down on the sides once we attach the front and back. You can top stitch if you like; I just thought that would look a little messy. You could also press it down a little bit.
Set the back piece aside, and grab the back bodice piece. Cut a piece of elastic that is about 2”-3” shorter than the width of your little gal’s back. Mine was between 9”-10”. Attach a safety pin to one end.
Take the back bodice piece, measure down 1”-2” from the top, and sew straight across.
Here, you could just sew another line across about 1.5” to create a casing for the elastic.
Or you can try it this way. Line up the elastic flush with the side edge, as well as the first line you sewed across the top.
Pin the elastic in place on the side, between the two layers of the bodice..
Now you can sew the next line, using the elastic as a guide to put your presser foot up against. Granted, the elastic doesn’t go the entire way across the bodice, but pretty close.
Now the elastic is safely tucked in the casing, with a safety pin to help you ease it the rest of the way through when you’re ready to.
Take the back bustle body piece (say that three times fast!) and run a gather stitch along the top, raw edge.
Pin it and gather evenly to the raw edge of the back bodice piece.
And flipped over for reference.
Sew together, finish the edge, flip over and top stitch.
Are you still with me??
Take the front and back pieces, right sides facing, and pin along one side. Sew in place, serge or zig zag the edge.
Feed the elastic the rest of the way through the casing, pin in place, and pin all along the other edge. Sew and finish the edge.
You’re almost done!
We just need to add some button holes and buttons now! Obviously, this is best measured if you can put it on the little gal. But for general purposes, the button holes on my 5T top were about two to three inches in on each side, and the buttons were about three inches up on the strap.
You did it! Aren’t you glad you stuck with it for this cuteness?
Now dress up your gals and show them off to the world!
The top allows room for variations. The ruffles on this top were a little bit closer together.
This one hates getting her picture taken.
You can also make the straps a bit longer, and cris cross them in the back.
I seriously love these tops, and love picking and choosing fabrics to go together. I can’t get enough of the cuteness!