After making my shirred, pocket skirt my prima ballerina begged for me to make her an outfit. Of course, it was always something I was going to do, but she kept at it every day…”Mom!! Make me a dress!!!”
I thought about what would be a good dress to make and explain here, so I’m going to make a simple sundress with buttons on the back and ties to tighten at the waist. This will be an easy dress to make for relatively new sewers. It didn’t take long to make it, and it turned out super cute.
My daughter wears size 6 in girls, so I’ll be going off of that, but here is a link to measurements for all sorts of sizes. The only thing it doesn’t include is the length of the dress, and for that I just measured from her shoulder to where I wanted the dress to end-just below her knee.
- 1 1/4 yard of fabric
- 5/8″ ribbon in coordinating color of fabric
- Double fold bias tape in same color as ribbon
- 2 buttons
MEASUREMENTS AND CUTS
- I took a dress she currently has, and I measured the bodice height. It came out to 6″ finished. I like using current clothing to help me find what will fit my children. Add 1 inch for seam allowance, so I have 7″.
- I took my girl’s chest measurement (from the chart) and got 22″ and added 1 inch for seam allowance-giving me 23″.
- I cut out 2 rectangle pieces at 7″ x 23″.
- I took her waist measurement (26″) and multiplied by 1.5 so that I can have a gathered effect on the skirt part making 39″.
- I measured from her shoulder to just below the knee which was 25″. Because we are doing straps, I subtracted 2″, making the end length 23″.
- Since I will be using bias tape for the hem, I don’t need to add anything for the bottom hem, but I added a half inch for the top seam that meets with the bodice.
- The height of the skirt will be 17.5″ because I took the total finished length 23, subtracted the bodice finished length 6″, and added half an inch for seam allowance = 17.5″.
- Now I measure and cut one rectangle 17.5″ x 39″.
- Cut 1 length of ribbon at 44″. This will be for the waistband.
- Cut 4 lengths of ribbon at 10-12″. This will be for the straps and will be tied like a bow, so if you want bigger bows, cut 12″.
- Pin bias tape on the bottom hem
- Sew hem
- With nice sides facing in (you see bad side), pin sides together so that the skirt is closed and the bias tape hem is on the bottom. Sew side using zig zag stitch.
- Face the nice sides of the fabric towards each other.
- I started in the middle of the pieces on the top. This will be the front center of the bodice. Since I decided to have the top of the front be 6 inches finished, I measured 3 1/4″ on either side (included 1/4″ seam allowance).
- I then went on both sides and measured 3 1/2″.
- With the arm holes, I took a bowl (or you could do a cup if you need smaller circles) and made a semi circle between the two measurements. I repeated the same on the other side to get the other arm hole.
- Cut fabric.
- Pin fabric, leaving the bottom open (this will be attached to the skirt).
- Take the 4@10-12″ ribbons. These will be the shoulder straps. Put them inside the two pieces of fabric because once you sew them on, they will be shown with the “nice sides”. As shown in the picture, two of the strips are in the middle for the front, and one of the strips are on either side that will end as the back straps. Pin these so they are straight up and down and will be sewn into the seam. I like to put the ribbon a little further from the seam so that it gives a square look to the top. You can see in the close up picture of my daughter the squared edges when you put the ribbons further from the seam.
- Sew seams at 1/4″.
- Flip inside out and you will see the straps coming out of the fabric.
- Gather skirt. This can be done several ways. I tend to do these by hand, using a running stitch. This basically means take the needle and thread and go over and under the fabric in a straight line, leaving a length of thread on both ends so that you can pull it to gather it. You can also do this with your sewing machine using a “straight stitch” and just make sure you give yourself a lot of thread to pull it.
- Pin the gathered skirt to the bodice. Match the seam of the skirt with the sides of the bodice (the sides with come together with buttons later). You can pull the thread or loosen it to make sure that it is evenly gathered while pinning it to the bodice. Make sure you pin the skirt with the nice side on the inside so the seam is kidden when you sew.
- Sew in a zig zag stitch to give your skirt more reinforcement.
Waistband and Straps
- Fold the ribbon in half so that you can find the center. Then pin the center on the front of the bodice in its center just about of the seam between the bodice and the skirt so that the bottom of the ribbon is slightly hiding the seam.
- Pin the ribbon to ONLY the front so that you will leave the ribbon loose on the sides and back to tie later. You can do this by lying your dress flat and don’t pin the ribbon down on the back of the dress.
- Starting on the side, sew as close to the edge of the ribbon as possible. Sew in a rectangle on the ribbon. HINT: When you want to turn your fabric, turn the knob to put the needle down into the fabric. This way when you lift the presser foot lever, you won’t lose your spot in your sewing.
- I then took a lighter and finished off all the ribbon edges that I cut. To do this, you hold the ribbon in one hand and take a lighter back and forth across the edge (without letting the flame hit the ribbon so that it doesn’t melt the whole thing). This creates seal to the edges so they don’t fray.
Honestly, I was too intimidated to try to make a button hole with my sewing machine, so for this project I used a technique that I found on the website ysolda.com. She gave a great tutorial, so I want to give her credit for this sewn button loop tutorial. Then I hand sewed two buttons on the opposite side.
THAT’S IT! Here are a few pictures of my cutie pie wearing the dress.
Once I finished the sundress, my daughter immediately tried it on and danced around the room. This is how she gets to be known as my Prima Ballerina. Let me know what you think and if you’ve tried it yourself!