as promised, here is the tutorial for my sweet tartan dress from the first week of project run & play! i made the original in a woven plaid, but didn’t take any photos along the way. so i remade it this time in a pink gingham with green sash, since my daughter is currently obsessed with strawberries and this reminded me of strawberry shortcake dolls i used to play with!
if you’ll remember, the challenge was to remix the adorable junebug dress by jess of craftiness is not optional. i honored my scottish heritage by choosing a tartan and made a dress inspired by alexander mcqueen (more on that here). i flipped the buttoned bodice to the back, drafted a wrap front bodice, omitted the sleeves, and added the gathered overskirt. the whole dress is lined, so i’ll also show you how to make a lined bodice. and i got permisson from jess from CINO to offer my 2/3T pattern pieces as a free downloadable file for you – thank you jess! if you’re drafting your own pattern in a different size, follow her instructions here, and then come back to learn how to adapt it. otherwise, i’ve done a lot of the pattern work for you!
okay, let’s get on with the tutorial.
- 1.25 yd outer fabric (it doesn’t have to be plaid, any fun print will do) – if cutting on the bias, better get 1.75 yds or more to be safe
- 1.5 yd lining fabric
- 4 buttons
- 20″ length of ribbon for optional attached sash
adapting the pattern (if you aren’t using the download provided):
first, take the bodice flap and square off the top so it’s a true trapezoid shape. create the side bodice pieces as instructed by CINO, i didn’t change those at all. then take the back bodice piece and create the wrap pattern as shown:
1. trace and then reflect the back bodice pattern. trace around the other side so you have a full-sized back bodice piece (pattern instructs you to cut on fold but we need the full piece).
2. draw a gentle curve from one shoulder to the opposite armpit.
3. cut out the piece, label it (cut 1 outer, cut 1 lining, cut 2 lining right sides facing).
4. add grain lines if desired (helpful if you want the tartan on the bias).
now you have your front bodice pattern!
cut overskirt and underskirt pieces:
for the overskirt, fold the main fabric selvedge to selvedge (if on the bias, fold on the bias). measure 16″ down from the edge (or however long you want the skirt to be from an empire waist plus about 1/2″ for hem) and mark it on the folded edge. cut the top perpendicular to the fold about 22″ from the fold (44″ total). draw a curve from the mark to the outer edge (either to the selvage if on the grain or about 22″ from the fold if on the bias) with water-soluble pen. cut.
this is what it looks like unfolded. the shape is pretty forgiving, because it’ll be gathered at the top.
then cut your underskirt, 16″ length again, selvedge to selvedge.
cut out the remaining pieces as instructed on the pattern. i cut my outer front bodice, back bodice, and overlay pieces on the bias, and the back flap piece on the grain.
*seam allowance is 1/2″ unless otherwise specified*
first assemble the flap. sew outer and lining right sides together along the sides and top, leaving bottom open. clip corners, turn, and topstitch along the sides and top.
matching armholes right sides together, sew front bodice pieces to their corresponding back bodice pieces at the shoulder seams (outer front to outer back bodice, lining front to lining back bodice, etc.).
press seams open. you should have four pieces that look like the one above (one will be all print, this is half and half, and then two that are all lining).
align one side’s outer piece with its corresponding lining piece, right sides together. pin along front curve, back edge, and armhole. do not sew the underarm side seams or bottom seam. repeat for other side.
clip into the seam allowance along the curved front and armholes. clip corners and into the corner of the back bodice piece.
turn each piece rightside out through the open bottom hem (carefully guiding the piece through each shoulder seam), push out corners with a point turner, and press.
okay, here’s the tricky part to explain…finishing the side seams on the lined bodice. line up the bodice as it will look when it’s finished. separate the underarm sides as shown on the left above, and line up the underlapping side of the wrap with the lining side of the front bodice. then pin the lining to the lining of the back bodice, with the underlapping part of the wrap sandwiched in between. then pin the outer fabric side to the outer fabric of the back bodice (see pinned area in the right photo above). be sure your existing hems are aligned with each other. sew along the edge with 1/2″ seam.
EDIT: this is a good place to try the bodice on your child to check fit – if you like, you can baste the side seams, baste the back bodice flap on (see below) then have her try it on. if the neckline is gaping, unpick and trim the front bodice sides, then sew the front and back together as shown above.
press open, clip to 1/4″ to reduce bulk.
turn rightside out, press side seam flat. you may now topstitch around the armhole if desired (you can also topstitch along the back bodice edge, stopping at the shoulder seam, if you want to. i did that for the original dress but not this one). repeat for the other side.
flip the dress to the back, align top of the flap corners with the corners of the back bodice side pieces. if the flap overhangs the bottom, measure and trim it to fit (mine overhung by 1/4″). make sure flap is centered between the side seams, and baste into place along the bottom with 1/4″ seam.
hem the curved edge of the overskirt using a 1/4″ double folded hem. sew two rows of gathering stitches along the top (straight) edge, keeping both within a 1/2″ seam allowance.
gather the overskirt to match the bodice width, then let a little of the gathering out to allow you to overlap the front of the overskirt over the back (the photo above is actually the opposite – sorry about that!) the part on the left (at the front of the dress) should be on the bottom. sew overskirt to the bodice with a 3/8″ seam.
now you have this! it looks pretty finished, but unless you want your preschooler to bare more leg than angelina jolie at the oscars, let’s attach the underskirt…
sew the short side of the underskirt with 1/2″ seam, forming a tube. finish the seam as desired. sew two rows of gathering stitches along the top, and gather.
insert the skirt up through the bodice of the dress, so the bodice is sandwiched between the overskirt and underskirt and the wrong side of the underskirt is facing the right side of the overskirt. align the seam of the underskirt with the longest part of the overskirt, so it’ll be hidden when worn. distribute gathers evenly and pin. sew with 1/2″ seam allowance. if you have a serger, serge the raw edge where the bodice and skirts attach. if not, clip the seam to 1/4″ and zigzag the raw edge.
flip rightside out and press both skirts down away from the bodice (be sure to pull the underskirt down enough before pressing so that it hangs below the already-hemmed overskirt and gives you room to hem). the raw edges of the skirts are enclosed where they won’t touch skin, as shown here (dress is shown inside out). i figured that would be more comfortable for little gals to wear.
hem the underskirt to match the longest part of the overskirt (1/4″ double fold toward the wrong side, adjust if necessary).
now add the four buttonholes, two on each side. if using plaid/gingham, work with the fabric to decide where to place your buttonholes, just making sure they’re even with each other, equidistant from the edges, and catching the back bodice underneath so you have somewhere to sew on your button! mark positions with water-soluble marker, then sew. sew on buttons.
optional step, but a sash does help hide plaids that don’t quite match. 😉 double fold the ribbon with as small a hem as you can manage. pin it to the edge of the back bodice, so it will be hidden under the flap. wrap the ribbon around the front, trim, fold, and pin the other side so it matches the width of the bodice.
stitch the ribbon to the bodice. if you notice your overskirt not wanting to lie down, you may also stitch a bar tack on the overskirt using coordinating thread (becomes unnoticeable when worn). this also helps hide the raw-looking top edges of the skirts.
WOOHOO, YOU’RE DONE!
Em loves her pink “strawberry shortcake dress,” but her favorite part was the little felt strawberries i made to go with it, which she has been carrying around everywhere (ikat bag tutorial here, i just hot glued the tops on).
so there you have it! my most involved tutorial to date. PHEW! now i’m kind of glad i didn’t win that week of PR&P, because the tutorial took me way longer to make than the dress did! ha! anyway, i hope you enjoy it and please let me know if you make one. you’re also welcome to upload photos to the skirt as top flickr group and the “your craftiness definitely was not optional” flickr group!
let me know if you have any questions, and happy sewing!