Gorgeous Girls Dress!

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This is a ‘it didn’t turn out’ fix up, which turned into a start over!
A friend of mine had found a simple pattern for a dress with a tie around the neck.  The pattern called for 1m of fabric and claimed to fit all sizes as the neck tie made it adjustable.  Her daughter chose some orange and pink fabric and she followed the pattern…and as you probably guessed one size does NOT fit all!  You get a dress that fits like a potato sack on a very petite little girl.
I think my friend was more disappointed than her daughter but none the less I thought I’d try and make something out of it for her.  Since I’ve procrastinated a wee bit it will be just in time for her birthday!
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Here is the dress as I got it, I decided the best thing to do was start over!  So I got out the un-picker (seam ripper) and set to work.
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Now my least favourite part!  I am not the most patient person and I knew I had to wash it (since I had no idea if it was done the first time) and I really didn’t want it to not fit after the first wash! But I really don’t like waiting in the middle of a project.  So I created the Baby Doll Nappy while I was waiting!
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It was finally washed and dried, so time to iron.  I found a nice bodice pattern on the Burda Style website.  The original came from www.freshlypicked.blogspot.com
I did not make the dress the same as the pattern I just wanted to use the bodice piece to get the sizing right, as I didn’t have her here to measure.
What you will need,
  • Fabric (I had 1m x 110cm) with a few pieces cut out
  • Domes x 2 (or buttons etc.)
  • Thread to match/contrast your fabric
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I printed and cut out the pattern.  As you can see I left the bottom edge of paper on for added length.  I did not want it as short as the original.
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Draw around and cut out your pieces, placing the marked edge on the fold.  Make sure the fabric pattern is up the right way, and lines up.  I managed to cut these pieces out of the the two top pieces of the dress leaving enough for the skirt part of the dress.
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You will have two pieces like the folded one on the left.  I cut one in half as this will be the back.  I wanted to be able to undo the dress for easy on and off.
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Now you can do the same steps all over again (Yay!) with the lining.
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I have pinned the right sides of the fabric together, the neckline and the lower half of the under arm.  The back piece will also be sewn up both the middle sides,  Sew where the pins are 3/8” (+/- 1cm)seam allowance.
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Once you have sewn the pinned areas, turn the right way round and iron flat.  Iron the un-sewn arm edges to match the rest.  Below is a photo of one of the back pieces.
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Now it is time to join the tops of the shoulder straps together.  This is why you left the gap in the arm holes!
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Match up the seam in the middle and pin the right sides facing.  I will keep the next few photos large to show it clearly.
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Here it is sewn
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Straightening up the new join.
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Here it is again after ironing.  Repeat for the other side, and layout as in the right hand picture.
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I have folded the two sides open, right sides facing.  Sew together.  Make sure to line up the centre seam, this is what you’ll see from the outside.
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All sewn here!
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Now back to your best friend the iron, and it should look like this after that!  As you can see it is fraying quite a bit at the bottom so feel free to overlock/zigzag the edge.  I did mine a few steps later but now would have been fine too.  Make sure you overlock/zigzag the fabric and lining SEPARATELY!
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Time to top stitch.  Top stitch (sew close to the edge with the right side of the fabric facing you) the neck line and arm holes, this will give a nice edge and secure the seam.  You can also top stitch the middle sides of the back pieces leave about 2.5cm (1”) at the bottom for the skirt part to tuck into.
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Time for the first dome!
Line up where you want the dome to be, and use the pointed tool to make the hole.
Place the dome piece through the hole.
Place the second half of the dome on, and use the tool to set the dome.
Repeat the above steps for the other side.  Taking care that when the dome will  be done up that the top of the neckline matches.
Lovely looking dome all ready to go!
Time to measure up for the skirt part of the dress.
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Lay your bodice out with the dome done up and the middles at the back overlapping evenly the whole way down.  I wanted a little ruffle on the skirt but not too much.  So I went for 1 1/2 times the circumference of the top.  To work this out measure the bottom of the bodice 33cm or 13”, and multiply by 3.  So I needed 99cm or 39” for the width of my skirt.
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Cut that out and iron if needed.  Overlock or zigzag the two shorter sides.  Then fold in half right sides facing to make a tube.
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Sew with a decent seam allowance 1cm (3/8”) to allow you to fold out the seam and iron it flat.  See the next photo first!
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Notice the pin, it is 5cm (2”) from the end and you need to stop sewing at that point, and lock stitch/reverse a few stitches and back.  This leaves a little gap so that you can tuck the skirt part into the bodice back pieces, and also allows you to sew the gathering after sewing the side seam.
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Iron the seam open the whole way along, including the gap at the top.
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After ironing this is what the gap part should look like!
Now it is time to gather the top edge of the skirt.  I used to dread this bit till I learned a little trick.  Getting the machine to do the work for me!  No double lines just one row.
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Set your machine to the longest stitch setting and the tightest thread tension (usually the highest numbers for both).  Starting at one side of the little gap sew a single line all the way across the top of the skirt (I sewed over the top of my overlocking).  Do NOT lock stitch or reverse over at the start or end.  Make sure you leave a generous length of thread at either end to be able to adjust the gather.
For another look at gather check out my Superhero Cape Tutorial.
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This is what it will look like after the gathering!  Remember to set the tension and stitch length back to normal!
Leave those threads on until you have pinned it in place, as you might need to adjust the length to fit.  To adjust hold onto just one of the threads and push the fabric in the direction you want.  If the first thread isn’t working well try holding the other one.
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This is how it will all go together.  Make sure you have all the right sides facing out.  But first we need to fold over and iron the bottom of the bodice and lining.  You can see the results of that in the photo below.
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Time to pin it in place.  I find it easier to pin it with a few pins on the inside and then once I have the gather right I will use A LOT of pins on the outside, the photos will show you Smile!  Start at the centre of the front of the bodice and pin centre of the skirt to it.  Make sure to push it in far enough to cover the overlocking on the gathered skirt.
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This is one of the middle pieces of the back, the gathered piece is the right length now so I tied the two threads together, and continue pinning in place.  Once I have done that I pin from the outside of the dress, removing the internal pins as I go.
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Here is the pinned front & back.
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To sew it in place I am going to use a double needle.  You can use just one row, or go around twice if you want to.  Sew on the right side of the dress so you can line the stitching up carefully with edge of the fabric.
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It is a A LOT of pins but I like to make sure I catch all three layers of fabric evenly.
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Here is is all stitched up, now time to put in the second dome.  Follow the steps from above and put it into the bottom of the bodice, to keep the gap closed.  This is optional but I prefer the more slim fitting look it gives.
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Ironing time!
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Iron from the bodice down the top of the gather, this will reduce any puffiness and smooth the dress.
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While you are at the ironing board, iron in the hem.  You can make this as wide or narrow as you like, you can always let it out later as the child grows.  As I had a patterned fabric I had to make sure that the pattern lined up with the edge.  Sew you hem in place.
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Again I used the double needle as I like the finish and it was still in the machine!
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All done!  I see a few more of these in my sewing future!  So cute and simple.  Could mix and match the bodice and skirt colours and a waistband too.  So many options!!

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