I actually wrote this tutorial a really long time ago, when Lil’ Miss was a lot younger. It had really tiny pictures and was generally disorderly, so I decided to write a new one and spiff it up.
These dresses are super adorable on little girls. I especially love to pair them with my Truly Scrumptious Almost One Size Pants sewn as big girl bloomers (only leave off the elastic for an even cuter look with this apron top). The dress can be worn over a t-shirt for additional warmth and modesty. Here in Oregon, it can really only be worn like this, without a shirt underneath, during late July and August. The rest of the time, it’s too cold!
Note: This is pictured on a 7year old. The pattern, as it’s designed will fit down to 3 or 4, but the back will meet more. Then as the child gets older, it won’t meet in the back. It’s still cute on the little girls! If you want it to not meet for a younger girl, just cut some inches off the back of the pattern and don’t use as many strips of fabric for the skirt. For an older girl, add some length onto the back of the pattern and add in some more strips to the skirt. The total number of strips equals about twice the finished length of the bodice, so use that calculation when adding or removing strips.
- the bodice pattern piece – download here
- 4 different fabrics for the bodice and skirt
- 60 inches of extra wide (double fold) bias tape – see my tutorial here or use purchased
- 6 – 3inch long pieces of 1/4inch wide ribbon
This tutorial is told in 3 parts – Making The Bodice, Making The Skirt and Attaching The Skirt and Bodice. They’re all in this post, but you can click on the links to get to your spot faster.
Make the Bodice
Print out the bodice pattern and cut it out. Place the pattern on two folded layers of your bodice fabric, as indicated on the pattern.
Cut it out and mark where the straps go on the top, and where the loops go on the back. Set aside for just a second.
Now, grab your 60 inches of bias tape and cut it in half. On one end of each piece, open it up a little, fold the raw end down about 1/2 an inch, fold it back together and stitch that end closed. Now fold and stitch along the entire length of the bias tape. These are the straps.
On one of the bodice pieces, pin the raw edge of the straps in place on the right side of the fabric where directed on the pattern. I put the folded edge facing toward the neck and the sewn edge facing toward the shoulder.
Take your lengths of ribbon and fold them in half. Pin the loops in place on the back of the bodice, as directed on the pattern piece, with the raw edges toward the seam allowance. (I actually used thin double fold bias tape, which I sewed closed in the same manner as the straps.)
Place the second bodice piece on top of the first, with right sides facing. Pin in place. Carefully transfer the pins from inside to the outside if you wish. Sew along the side, through the arm and across the bodice, all the way to the other side with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Leave the bottom open.
Clip seams through the arms, and on the corners.
Turn the bodice right side out and top stitch 1/8 inch away from the edge.
Set the bodice aside for now.
Make The Skirt
Cut out the strips to patch together for the skirt. They should be 5 inches by 16 inches long. I cut 3 strips of 4 different fabrics – meaning 12 strips. If you use more fabrics in your skirt, you’ll need to adjust. This photo is showing how I used the pink fabric as a pattern piece once I cut it out and then I just folded over the end of blue fabric to cut out those pieces.
You need a total of 12 strips of fabric for the skirt.
With right sides together, sew together the long ends of the strips to make one really long patchy strip. I used my serger so the seams would be nice and clean. If you don’t have a serger, you might consider using a faux french seam to keep those seams clean, since they’ll be exposed.
Here are all my strips sewn together.
On each end of the skirt, fold the edge over 1/4 inch and press. Fold over 1/4 inch more and sew in place.
Attach The Skirt
Gather one of the long edges of the skirt. I gathered on my serger.
Another method for gathering is to sew a line with your longest stitch length about an inch away from the edge of the fabric. Leave long tails on both ends. Sew another line about an inch away from the first one and leave long tails again. Pull the bobbin strings to gather.
Here are some pictures from the old tutorial, showing the two threads gathering:
The gathered skirt and the bodice. (I actually made a mistake on this one, and didn’t add enough strips in. Your skirt will have more patchy strips and will be more gathered.)
Mark the centers of the bodice and the skirt. Put the pieces together with right sides together (decide which will be the right side of the bodice). Match the centers and pin in place. Spread the gathered fabric out evenly over the length of the bodice.
Pin in place and then stitch with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
After the skirt is sewn in place, you can clean up the raw edges of the bodice (plus I always seem to undo the gathering serging) by serging over it. I don’t cut any fabric on this go over, just making sure the raw edges are encased in the threads.
Other options to clean up that edge are to sew a zig zag stitch along it or to sew bias tape over the seam.
Lastly, fold the raw edge of the skirt up 1/4 inch and press. Fold up 1 inch more and sew in place to hem the dress. (I actually serged first and then folded up the one inch)
And you’re finished! What a lovely dress for a sweet little girl!
Lace up the back by crossing the straps and then zig zagging back and forth through the loops.
And there you have it!
Here’s another one, sewn by Kerri of Little Moon Originals. She did an awesome job and it turned out so adorably!! Thank you so much for sharing, Kerri!! I love it!
Here are two others that I made before- this first one was from the original tutorial:
And this was made a while later for Lil’Miss. She was 5 in this picture, I can’t believe how much older she is now!