Pattern Review – The Party Dress by The Cottage Mama

It is Hannah’s 8th Birthday tomorrow!!! It dawned on me that she had outgrown her party dress.  I have wanted to try out The Party Dress by The Cottage Mama for quite a while now.  It’s so cute, has a large size range and is even free!  Excuse in hand I got to work and got this dress started and finished in 3 hours.  Not too bad considering I had never sewn it before and that I had to print and tape the pattern too (all of 4 pages lol!).

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Free Girl’s Dress Patterns and Tutorials x 6

Nina Makes Dress Patterns and Tutorials Compilation x 6

These gorgeous dress patterns are all from this Nina Makes blog. But I thought I would put them all together for you in a nice little compilation!  It’s making me very jealous that most of you are going into summer now, we’re heading towards winter and are lighting the wood burner!  But I get to look at these lovely summery dresses and remember the warmth.

 

1. Betty Bodice Dress

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This was my first self designed bodice dress with a PDF pattern.  There are a few different versions, including adding capped sleeves.  This is a long line bodice with a gathered skirt and has a tie closure.  This dress makes a great summer staple or can be layered with stockings for the cooler weather.

 

2. A-Line Betty Bodice Dress

Betty Bodice Dress A Line   Collar a

This is a cute little edit on the regular Betty Bodice Dress turning it into a simple A-Line dress.  I used a button closure and added a cute little peter pan collar too!

 

3. Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress

Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress Pattern a

The Hermione dress is my most recent make in the dress department and poor Hannah was freezing for these photos!  This one is a stretch knit with bound neckline (using the same fabric) and arm holes, and a double needle finish.  But you can zigzag too if you don’t have a double needle.  No overlocker needed!

 

4. Stella Summer Dress

Stella Summer Dress a

My take on a pillow case style dress with a contrast hem and an easy bias edge with ties on the shoulders.  The front and back neckline are elasticated so you don’t have to undo the ties to take in on and off.  Nice and easy for those independent little girls!

 

5. Stella Summer Dress V.2

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 resize

Version 2 of the Stella summer dress has a synched in elasticated waist and simple flat shoulder straps that tuck neatly into the neckline.  This gives a quite different look to this pillowcase style dress while being easy to put on and light and breezy for summer!

 

6. Gorgeous Girl’s Dress

Gloria Dress Header

Last but not least is this lovely dress I upcycled from a friends failed project.  From a sack like fit on a petite little girl to a gorgeous bodice dress, with a slight gather on the skirt and a dome closure.  Simple is sometimes just the cutest!

I hope you have enjoyed this compilation!  All these patterns and tutorials are available in my Tutorials Page.  I would love to see any dresses (or other items) you create using my patterns and tutorials, please share and tag me on social media!

Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress + Pattern & Tutorial

Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress Pattern a

Meet the Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress Pattern and tutorial!  Hannah loves her easy on knit dresses, no need to muck around with buttons, ties or zips.  Since I have been wanting to make a Hi-Lo hem pattern for a wee while now, why not combine the two!  This gorgeous fabric came from Hannah’s Great Grandma, she had kept it for years wanting to make a nighty out of it ♥

Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress Pattern (11)

This is a simple single layered knit dress.  I have used the same fabric to bind the neckline and armholes using a double needle.  Don’t panic if you don’t have a double any stretch stitch will work (including zigzag) it just won’t have the same coverstitch style look to it.

Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress Pattern (9)

I have made a PDF pattern to share…yes it’s FREE!  It is in a size 8/9, I love this dress so much that I am looking at making a full size range for you.  I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!

Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress Pattern (71)

 

What you will need

  • Knit (Stretch Fabric) 1m is enough (a little over a yard), in this tutorial I am upcycling a T-Shirt Dress I bought purely for the fabric!
  • Overlocker – Is handy but not essential.  You can zigzag the seams if you don’t have an overlocker.  I like to use a narrow zigzag.
  • Thread, Scissors, Pins etc
  • Double needle for finishing (optional)
  • And of course you will need the Pattern Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress PDF Pattern

NOTE:  All seem allowances are 1cm (3/8”) unless otherwise stated

 

Step 1 – Print/assemble pattern & cut fabric

Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress Pattern (18)

I have made this pattern fit on only 4 pages!  Who doesn’t like to save on paper and ink!  It can be printed on either A4 or Letter size paper, just make sure you select ‘actual size’ not ‘shrink to fit’.  Check the test square as shown above!

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Cut the top strip off on pages 2, 3 and 4.  Then you can overlap them in place and tape together.

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As you can see the bottom doesn’t quite fit on the page that is why there are two smaller separate pieces next to the main pattern.

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Cut the two smaller pieces out and match up the letters.

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Trim off the edges and tape in place!

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And do the same for the Back Hemline.

Now you are ready to cut your pattern out.  Cut around the entire pattern, do not cut the front hemline line or the front neckline line just yet.

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You can now use it to cut your back piece.  Line up on the fold making sure the stretch is going across the fabric (same direction as the stripes).

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Note: If you are using a pattern or stripes, line up the front hemline with a stripe or pattern piece so that you can do the same when cutting the front piece.  That way they should match up.

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Now to adjust it to a front pattern piece.  Cut the front hemline from the outside edge, leaving the last centimetre or so still attached.  I like to place a piece of tape over the attached piece to prevent it from tearing.

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Now you can fold the excess over and out of the way…and it saved you printing an extra 4 pages of pdf pattern!  If you wish you can just print the pattern twice and cut out two separate pieces.

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Use the same method for your front neckline.

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Now you can cut the front piece just the same as the back.  Remember to line up with your stripe (or pattern) on the hemline at the fold.

 

Step 2 – Sew side seams

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Pin the two side seams together with the right sides of the fabric facing each other.  Note: Line up those stripes!  If your pieces don’t quite line up at either end don’t panic we can trim them up at the end.  It is more important to match up your pattern/stripes.

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Sew using your overlocker or regular machine.  Since the stretch goes across the fabric it doesn’t even need to be stretch stitch.

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While the dress is still inside out pin the two shoulder straps together and overlock or sew together.

 

Step 3 – Bind the Neckline and Armholes

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First of all your will need to cut your binding strips (or use bought ones!).  I made mine 4cm (1 5/8”) wide, by 52cm (20.5”) for the neckline and 38cm (15”) for the armholes (x2).  You are better off cutting them a little long as the amount of stretch and thickness of your fabric will make a difference to how much you use.

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If you are using stripes make sure to cut each strip with the same pattern placement, that way your edges will all have a stripe in the same place.

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Start by turning your dress the right way around, and pin your binding 1cm (3/8”) overlapping the underarm seam.  With the right sides of the fabric facing each other.

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Then gently stretch the binding as you pin the whole way around, lining up the raw edge.

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Match up the two ends of the bias so that the line up with the underarm seam and mark with a pin.

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Sew with a straight stitch.

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And then trim the excess down to about a quarter inch.

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Sew using a narrow zigzag stitch and a 1cm (3/8”) seam allowance.

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You will need to pull gently as you sew to keep the underneath layer flat.  Sew right the way around back to the start.  Don’t forget to lockstitch or reverse over a few stitches at the beginning and end.

Repeat this step for the other arm and neckline too.  For the neckline I like to start at one of the shoulder seams, I think the join is less visible there than in the back of the neck.

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And now you should have something that looks like this!  Time to change to that double needle!

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Fold the binding over the raw edge and pin in place.

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I like to do one at a time, pin and sew then move onto the next one, it saves pins moving and getting in the way on the narrow shoulder pieces.

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Sew on the right side with your double needle.  Line up your needles so that you are near the edge of the bias closest to the main body of the dress (as in photo above!).

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Trim the excess fabric from the inside (carefully!), I find small scissors easier and less likely to cut the wrong layer.

Now repeat for the the remaining arm hole.

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The neckline is sewn in the same way but don’t forget to pin in a tag if you want!

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Woo hoo!!!  That’s all the binding finished!

 

Step 4 – Hem

Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress Pattern (65)

All that is left to do is hem!  You can overlock the edge first but I don’t like the bulky look it gives and it distorts the stretch fabric a little too.  I just fold over the raw edge by a little over 1cm (3/8”) and pin in place.  It pays to be fairly accurate as you will be sewing it from the right side so will have to rely on your machine guides to keep you on track.  Sorry for the photo quality here!  I didn’t notice the hazy area till after I had already sewn it!

Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress Pattern (66)

Sew the hem using your double needle on the right side of the fabric.  Check as you go to make sure you are catching the raw edge.  You can leave your raw edge a little longer and trim as you did with the binding.

Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress Pattern

I like to live on the edge and didn’t trim this one…only just caught it all!

Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress Pattern b

And there you have a gorgeous and very easy to wear Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress!  Hannah loves hers and I’m sure she’ll like this stripy one too ♥

Stella Summer Dress Version 2

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 a

Don’t like tying ties?  I find it a bit of a hassle as they cant tie them themselves if they come undone.  Also not great for school swimming etc.  So I have made a tie-less version!  Since the front and back neckline are elasticated it will go on and off easily.

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 b

You can also choose to an elastic waist…or not for a loser fit.

What you’ll need

  • Fabric – Extra Piece for straps, you will need two at 5cm (2”) wide, the length is adjustable for the best fit.  I used 20cm (8”) for a size 7.
  • Extra elastic for waist (optional)  I used 3mm elastic x 53cm (21”).

 

Step 1 – See Stella Summer Dress Post

First up you need to check out my original Stella Summer Dress post.  It has all the details you will need to get started.  While cutting your fabric don’t forget to cut the extra two pieces for the straps.  Complete up to Step 5 and head back over here to finish in this style.

 

Step 2 – Finish Armholes

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 (2)

Since we don’t need to make the ties we won’t need to use bias binding for the armholes.

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Start by overlocking the armhole, overlock with the right side of the fabric facing up.

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Head over to that trusty iron and press the seam over a little larger than the width of the overlocker seam.

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 (5)

Pin in place on the right side of the fabric.

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Sew in place with a small seam allowance.  Making sure you are catching the overlocked edge underneath.  And that is the armhole finished! 

Note: By folding over the seam the arm hole is larger than if you finished it with bias binding.  This is good as it leaves the extra needed to fold over the neckline in place of using bias there (like in the original version).  So if you want to bias edge the armhole you will need to bias the neckline too or add extra seam allowance to the neckline.

 

Step 3 – Create Neckline

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 (7)

Fold the neckline over by 1cm (3/8”) and press in place.

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 (8)

Fold over again by 2.5cm (1”) and press in place.

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Sewing on the right side of the fabric use your machine guides to sew just under an inch from the top folded edge.

 

Step 4 – Prepare Straps

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Press the pieces in half lengthwise with the right sides facing each other.

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Sew with a small seam allowance (approx. 1/8”) turn around the right way and press!  Then you should have two like above!

 

Step 5 – Attach Straps and Elastic

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Feed you elastic into the neckline, making sure you leave a good tail sticking out.

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Insert this tail into the strap you just made.

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Tuck in about 1cm (3/8”) and sew the elastic in place.  You can see the white stitches on the dark blue polka dot fabric.

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Feed the elastic through a bit further until the end of the strap is inside the neckline by about 1cm (3/8”).

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Sew in place using a straight stitch, sew close to the edge of the neckline on the right side of the fabric.

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You can go over a couple of times for extra strength.

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Repeat with the other side of the same strap.  Attach the elastic and feed it through, sew in place just like the first side.

And again for the second side.  Tip:  use a pin to hold the elastic in place in the neckline to prevent it pulling the end inside.

 

Step 6 – Adding Elastic Waist (optional)

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 (24)

If you you want to add an elastic waist you will need to measure the child’s waist or go by an average size, plenty of charts online.  Sew this measurement into a loop, making sure it is not twisted!!  I like to sew the join in zigzag.

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Find the middle of the elastic and mark.  Hold the seam end folded together and the other fold will be the middle.   This post has all the details on finding the middles of the elastic!

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Place in a pin in the seam on both sides at the height you want the waist band.  For my size 7 this was 14cm (5 1/2”).  Next time I would like to try it a little higher up to give more a of a princess style…what do you think?

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Pin the elastic in these two points in the seam.  Use the elastic join on one seam and the pencil mark you made earlier on the other seam.

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With all the gathers it is impossible to measure accurately from the top so measure from the bottom!  Start at a pin  and check the measurement, mine is 33cm (13”).

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 (31)

Then with the dress laying flat measure the same amount up from the bottom in three places and mark with a pin.  Once all measured stretch the elastic from the side seams and line up the stretched elastic with the pins and pin in place.  This makes sure the gathers are spread evenly.

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 (32)

Time to sew it on!  Start at the side seam without the elastic join, sew and reverse a few stitches.

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Pull from the next pin (you can see it sticking out from under the front of my thumb), and sew with a straight stitch.  When you get near the pin stop and remove it and pull from the next pin, until you have sewn all the way around.  Lastly reverse a few stitches to lock in place.

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Here is the finished inside view!  A synched in waist the easy way!

Happy Sewing!

Stella Summer Dress

Stella Summer Dress a

This really is a Stella summer dress…I know but I love a good pun!  After seeing a multitude of ‘pillowcase’ dresses I thought I better do my own take on these simple yet stunning dresses.  My main gripe would be the lack of sizing information being available in one place, and that it actually makes any sense!

Stella Summer Dress (44)

I thought I would save you all the trouble and scour the internet finding all the details, checking and editing them to my taste of course, then compiling them here for you.  So this time there is a PDF pattern for the armholes, which also has the sizing chart for the dresses!  I have even converted it all in metric (cm) and imperial (inches), so everyone can work in their preferred units!

I will write this tutorial for a Size 2 as an example!

What you will need

  • Fabric – Use chart to work out dimensions for a Size 2 you will need two rectangles of 46cm x 56cm (18” x 22”)
  • Elastic – 1.25cm (1/2”) wide by 18cm (7”)
  • Bias Binding
    • Single Fold 2.5cm (1”) wide (while folded) same width as the fabric so 46cm (18”) for Size 2.  This is optional you can just fold and turn the neckline
    • Double Fold 1cm (3/8”) – 140cm (55”) cut in half
  • Thread, sewing machine, pins, iron.  An overlocker is optional you can use French seams or zigzag instead of overlocking.
  • PDF Pattern you can print and cut out the armhole guides sizes 6 months through to 9 years.  Click this link to download the Stella Summer Dress + Size Charts PDF.

 

Step 1 – Cut Fabric

Stella Summer Dress (2)

As you can see I have added a contrast hem, you can add one any width you like.  You just need to allow an extra inch for the extra seam.  For example my Size 2 is 56cm (22”) total length.  I added a 5” contrast hem, so I had to take 4” off the main fabric measurement, which worked out at 18” main fabric + 5” contrast hem = 23” total.

 

Step 2 – Attaching Contrast Hem (Optional skip to Step 3)

Stella Summer Dress (4)

With the right sides of the fabric facing sew the two layers together using a 1cm (3/8”) seam allowance.  Overlock or zigzag the raw edge, then press the seam over with your iron.

Stella Summer Dress (3)

I then topstitched the seam to keep it sitting flat and I like how it looks!  I haven’t shown all the steps, so if you need more help check out my Contrast Hem Skirt which has all the steps!

 

Step 3 – Sew Sides

Stella Summer Dress (6)

You need to pin with the right sides of the fabric facing each other (inside out).  If you have added a contrast hem then match that carefully!!!  You can adjust the top or bottom edge if they don’t quite line up but the contrast hem seem will be obvious.  Sew with a 1cm 3/8” seam allowance, and overlock or zigzag the edge.

Stella Summer Dress (7)

Repeat for the other side, and press the seams flat.

 

Step 4 – Hem

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Press the hem over 1cm (3/8”) half an inch is fine too a couple of mm here is not going to make too much difference.

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Then fold over again and press with a 2.5cm (1”) fold.

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Sew in place.  This would be a great time for a decorative stitch or a blind hem too!

 

Step 5 – Cutting Armholes

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Now you should have a tube with a nice hem at the bottom and a raw edge at the top.

Stella Summer Dress b

Print out the PDF (link above) and cut out the size you need.  Place the long straight side on the seam edge and cut around it.  This will make the armhole.

 

Step 6 – Bias Neckline

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Time to pin the single fold bias to the neckline.  Pin on the right side of the fabric with the edge of the bias just slightly short from the raw edge of the fabric.

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Sew in the crease closest to the edge.

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Press flat with your iron.

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Fold over so that the aqua fabric is just visible and press again.  Not the best photo sorry, I should’ve moved the back layer away from underneath!  But you can see how the aqua polka dot fabric is visible next to the bias edge.

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Topstitch the top edge.  I sewed approximately 1/8” in from the side using the guides on the machine.  You can get a special quilting foot for this I have recently found out, but I don’t have one and I have other things I want more!  But if you have one by all means use it!

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Repeat with the other edge of the bias binding.  I prefer to sew on the right side of the fabric as the machine stitches are tidier on the top.  It may not be noticeable on your machine so d whatever works for you!

 

Step 7 – Add Elastic

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Feed the elastic part way through the tube created by the bias using a safety pin.  Just so far that the end of the elastic sticks out by half an inch.

Stella Summer Dress c

Sew in place between the two seams and trim off the excess.

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Feed the elastic through the rest of the way.  Make sure it is not twisted!  Leave the same half inch of elastic sticking out and pin in place about an inch away from the edge (leave this pin in!).  So that you can sew without removing pin!  Sew the same as the other side.

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Now you will have a nicely gathered front, repeat for the back!

 

Step 8 – Bias Ties

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Cut your double folded bias to length.  I am using knots not bows so I use the smaller measurement 27cm (10.5”).

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Pin the gathers back from the edges a little, this will make it easier to get a nice seam on the bias.

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Fold the bias in half to find the middle and line this up with the side seam.  Pin the bias on in the same way as for the neckline.   That is on the right side a little in from the edge.  Sew in the crease closest to the raw edge starting from the top of the neckline.  Don’t sew past edge of the top of the neckline as this will be visible once folded back up.

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Fold the bias over and pin in place.  Make sure that the underneath layer is at least as far over as the top, that way you will catch both layers when sewing from the top side.

Stella Summer Dress d

Fold over the ends of the bias like above.

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Sew from one folded end all the way to the other, stay nice and close to the edge.  Being careful to catch both layers.  If you are having trouble catching both layers you can zigzag this instead!

And repeat for on the other side!

Stella Summer Dress (44)

And there you have a gorgeous light and breezy summer dress for your little girl!  Looks so cute and comfortable I want to wear one!  Somehow I don’t think the cute factor would carry over to adult sizes!

Betty Bodice Dress A-Line

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I have so many ideas for projects flowing through my head, I had to create a spread sheet to keep them under control!  While creating this spread sheet I saw my note to make an A-Line version of the Betty Bodice Dress.  While I was making another dress I thought I’d better add a couple of collar options too!

Betty Bodice Dress A Line   Collar (75)

This dress uses the same pattern as the original Betty Bodice Dress, you can download the free pdf pattern by clicking that link!

What you will need

  • Fabric 1 metre (a yard will be enough too) – I used a woven cotton but you can use what ever you like!
  • Contrast Fabric for the Collar  – And the Pattern Click Here
  • Button and small piece of elastic (I used 3mm), or you can use bias ties as in the original Betty Bodice Dress.
  • Pattern – Link in paragraph above!
  • Ruler and Pen/Pencil
  • Extra Paper

Step 1 – Prepare Pattern

Betty Bodice Dress A Line   Collar (5)

Print, tape and cut pattern as normal, then mark 2.5cm (1”) from the side of the pattern.  Using your ruler draw a line from the armpit to this mark.  In the photo I have shown two lines, for a regular A-Line and a wider option.  I made the line closest to the pattern piece.

Betty Bodice Dress A Line   Collar (8)

Tape extra pieces of paper to the bottom of your pattern so you can extend the angled line.  I made mine 62cm (24.5”) from the armpit down the angled line.  Extend the straight centre line, and draw straight across the bottom for the hem line.

Betty Bodice Dress A Line   Collar (10)

Now you are ready to cut out.  I didn’t round the bottom of the hem this time, I like the square look but you can if you like!

Step 2 – Cut Fabric

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With your pattern piece on the fold cut out the back piece first.

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Then trim the pattern to the front neckline and cut another piece just like you did for the back.

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And there you have a front and back piece.  Don’t forget to cut the opening out of the back piece.

Step 3 – Sew Side Seams

I have sewn mine using French Seams as my overlocker is out being serviced.  So I pinned mine right side facing out.  Use any seam you like, usually you would pin right sides facing each other.  I’ll show you the steps for a French Seam just in case you want to do those!

Betty Bodice Dress A Line   Collar c

Sew the sides with a small 1/4” seam allowance, with the right sides facing out.

Betty Bodice Dress A Line   Collar d

Turn inside out and press the seam so it looks like the photo above.  Then sew again with a 3/8” seam allowance.  This hides the original seam and raw edge inside the new one!

Betty Bodice Dress A Line   Collar e

Here it is inside and out.  I just love the neat finish!  Sometimes it is nice to be missing the overlocker to try other ways to finish items.

Step 4 – Hem Bottom

To prevent fraying and to get the big parts done before the fiddly pieces, I hemmed before finishing the top.

Betty Bodice Dress A Line   Collar f

Iron the hem over by 1/2” (1.25cm)

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Then fold over and press in a 1” (2.54cm) hem.

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Pin the hem in place.

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Sew with a just under 1” (2.54cm) allowance.  I use the guides on my machine for this.

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And there you have a finished hem, that you won’t have to do at the end!

Step 5 – Attach Shoulders

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Next you need to attach the shoulders.  I have chosen a bias seam for this one.  I did not have enough seam allowance for a French seam and without an overlocker this is a nice tidy way to finish it.

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Open out your binding and pin in place, make sure that both layers of the dress line up.

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Sew in the fold closest to the raw edge.

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Fold the bias over and sew close the edge of the bias on the same side as the original seam.  For more details check out my Struggling with Bias? post.

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Trim off the excess and press.  The seam will naturally fold one way so go with it!  There you have your neat finish!

Step 6 – Arm Holes

 Betty Bodice Dress A Line   Collar (47)

Time to finish the arm holes.  Again I am using bias but this time it is single fold only.  Pin an sew the edge just like you did for the shoulders.  This time you will need to join the ends.  You fold over the underneath layer and sew the top layer over it a little.  See photo above!!!  (Or this Finishing an unlined dress post).

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Fold the bias in  and pin in place.

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Sew in place using the guides on your machine.  And your get to have another turn on the other side!

Step 7 – Finish Back Opening

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Again I used single fold bias, pinned in place, sewn in the fold closest to the raw edge, and folded over and sewn in place.  This time you will need to add a piece of elastic for the button loop, or add the bias ties mentioned at the start.

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You can see the piece on the left of the bias will end up on the right side of the dress, so if using ties the long end should be on the same side.

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Fold over and sew as before.  You may need to trim off any excess elastic before doing this.

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All done!  Nearly there!

Step 8 – Collar

You will need to download the collar pattern.

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Might as well cut out the other one and keep it for later too!

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Cut out four pieces (2 mirror), I do this by cutting with the fabric folded so I only have to cut twice!

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Sew the larger curved edge (highlighted in pink) right to the edges.

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Clip the curve (NOT the stitching) so it will sit flat when turned right way around.

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Topstitch the seam to secure it (optional).  And you have two finished collar pieces!

Step 9 – Attach Collar and Finish Neckline

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Pin collar in place, you can adjust the gap at the front to your liking!

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Finish the neckline in the same way as the other single fold bias seams.  Start on one edge of the opening with the bias folded over at the start and end.

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Pin over the collar pieces in the same way.

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Here it is once the bias has been sewed on.

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Trim away any pieces that are too large for the bias to fold over.

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Fold the bias over and pin in place.  Fold the collar up and out of the way.  Sew just the same as the others, BUT go slowly over the thicker parts where the seams fold over.

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Now you can topstitch the collar pieces to keep them sitting flat.  You could do it all in one step when sewing the bias on, but I think that seam allowance is too large and looks better done separately.

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Step 10 – Attach Button (Last Step!!)

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Add a cute little button of your choice and you are finished!!

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Hannah was a little cold on a rather chilly spring morning getting a quick picture before school, mean Mum!  But she loves the dress ♥

I hope you liked this style, I think it is very cute!

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress

What’s better than a twirly skirt?  A twirly dress!  Not having to decide what to wear with it, just pull it on and twirl your way out the door.   Well if you are 7 anyway…the neighbours might think I’m a little odd LOL!

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You just start with any T-shirt you like, you could use a singlet or tank top too.  For fair little strawberry haired girls sleeves are always a good idea, protects the shoulders and one less place to have to put sunblock! 

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It pays for the T-shirt to be well fitting, too loose and the twirl won’t work as well.  But since you are cutting off the hem anyway it’s pretty simple to take in the sides if needed.  You can add a waistband too if you like.

What you will need,

  • T-Shirt top (Singlet, Tank etc) or you can make your own if you like.
  • Fabric for the Skirt Piece – I used a 71cm (28”) square
  • Matching or contrast thread
  • Overlocker is easier but you can use zigzag stitch on your regular machine.

Step 1 – Cut your T-Shirt (Optional)

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As you can see this lovely hand-me-down had a rather large stain on the front.  Luckily it is low down and I can cut it off!  I love the green stripes, and this T-Shirt came from my Oma in Holland (for my Niece originally) so I like to hang on to these things that no one here has.  Trim your T-shirt to the length you want the skirt to start at.  (Add roughly 1cm (3/8”) for seam allowance.

Step 2 – Decide Length of SkirtUpcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress (6)

If you are not sure how long to make your skirt piece, get the child (or adult!) to try it on and measure down from the cut edge of the top.  Or if like me they are at school (and I have no intention of waiting for her to get home!) then you can use an existing dress as a guide!  Lay the dress on top of the T-Shirt lining up the tops of the shoulders, and again measure from the cut edge down.

I want this dress a little shorter than the spotty one, as she always wears tights/leggings under her dresses anyway.

 

Step 3 – Measure for Circle Skirt

Cutting a circle skirt can be very easy!  First up measure the bottom of the T-Shirt and multiply by 2.

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So in my case 30.5cm (12”) x 2 = 61cm (24”)

Now head over to this link to use their Circle Skirt Calculator!  This is from By Hand London and is very simple to use.  Here is the screenshot from the calculator.

Upcycled Twirly T-Shirt Dress Chart1

Select Centimetres or Inches, and the Full option.  Ignore the length section, the important part is the waist measurement.  We will measure the length separately.  Select your waist size (the measurement from the bottom of the T-Shirt), and hit ‘Do the maths, please!’.

 

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After that you can scroll down and see just below the ‘Do the maths, please!’ button is the waist radius.  This is the number you need.

Step 4 – Cutting the Skirt Fabric

I find the easiest way to do this is to first cut one large square.  To calculate the size of your square, take your radius measurement 3.5” and add on the desired length 8.5” = 12”.  Then add 2 inches for seam allowance is 14” (*You will use this number for the length measuring soon too!).  The last step is to multiply the total by 2, totals 28” as I like to cut the whole circle in one piece.

 

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Here is my square of fabric it is 28” by 28” (71cm x 71cm).  Fold the square in half once to make a rectangle.  Then fold in half again in the opposite direction to make a smaller square.

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Using a ruler or measuring tape mark the 3.5” arc for the waist.  This is done on the corner with NO raw edges (the centre of the original square).

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Do the same for the length of the skirt.  Measure from the same point and use the figure you calculated before by the * mine was 14”.

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Then you can cut along the dotted line in both places.

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Once you fold it out you should have a giant donut!

Step 5 – Attach Skirt to T-Shirt

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With both fabric right sides facing out lay the folded in half skirt slightly over top of the top.  Using pins to mark the folds.

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Fold out the skirt over top of the T-Shirt.

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Pull the T-Shirt bottom through the opening.

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Pin the side seams of the T-Shirt to the folds you marked with the pins earlier.

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You can lay it out like above to make it easier to pin the rest.  Starting with the centre pin the rest together, all the way around.

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Overlock (or zigzag/stretch stitch) together.

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Step 6 – Topstitch (Optional)

If you’ve read a few of my tutorials you might have noticed I have a bit of a thing for topstitching!  I just love the look it gives and the flatness it brings to a seam.  On a side note my kids are ruffians and any extra strength in a seam is a great advantage!

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Press the seam all in the same direction.  This can be either up or down depending which fabric is heavier.  There is almost always one way that it wants to go.  I just go with it, I like the top stitching on either the skirt or top so it doesn’t worry me!

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Topstitch along the seam using zigzag stitch, any stretch stitch or even double needle.  More on the double needle soon!

Step 7 – Hemming Skirt

Now all that is left is to hem the skirt.  I decided to use a double needle for this, as it is nice and stretchy and a great way to get a professional finish.  I chose to use a green and white line of stitching for extra detail and to tie into the green/white stripes of the T-Shirt.

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First up press (iron) and pin the hem in place.  You can make it any width you want, but mine is roughly half an Inch.

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Sew on the right side of the fabric all the way around your hem.  Make sure you are catching the folded fabric underneath, I used my 3/8” seam allowance marker on the machine as a guide.

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Here is the front of the hem…and the back,

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You can trim the raw edge if it is too long.  This will stop it rolling down.

In hind sight I could have changed to the double needle for the top stitching too, but who doesn’t love a bit of zigzag!  Either way you are all done!  Another easy on summer dress for this crazy monster!

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Any great upcycling hacks you’d like to share?

Betty Bodice Dress – Capped Sleeves

I have finally found the time to get the sleeve pattern sorted for you.  A Busy school holidays and far too much baby sitting taking up my time!  On the upside it makes me sure my decision to stick with just two kids was the right one!  I have two slightly different sleeve options for you.  These are designed to be used with the Betty Bodice Dress Pattern and Tutorial (Free!!).

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A slightly larger elasticated ruffled edge capped sleeve.  In order to go larger I have had to add an elasticated edge to the gathered sleeve, so that it will go on easily and not restrict movement.

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And the original smaller gathered bias bound edge sleeve.

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What you will need,

  • Fabric to match or contrast your dress.  Scraps/off cuts should be plenty!
  • Bias Binding – Width is up to you.
    • 18cm (7”) for the smaller capped sleeve
    • 39.5cm (15.5”) per sleeve for the larger size
  • PDF Pattern – PDF has both styles, page 1 for the smaller capped sleeve, page 2 for the larger elasticated capped sleeve.
  • Elastic – 3mm (1/8”) width.  You can use wider if your binding is larger.  Not needed for smaller capped sleeve.

*I am writing this tutorial for the Larger Elasticated Capped Sleeve.  You can follow the same instructions for the smaller sleeve, but instead of elastic you gather the curved edge of the sleeve using your machine, before adding the bias binding.  The rest is the same.

**For the lined dress insert the sleeve in between the two layers of fabric.  You will need to make sure the gap left is large enough.  You can use your cut sleeve pieces to see how large the gap needs to be.  Only sew the small section of the armhole (not 2/3 of the way up as in the tutorial) near the side seam.  If you would like a full tutorial let me know!

Step 1 – Cutting Fabric

Cut out your pieces.  Pretty self explanatory, but be careful of which way up your pattern will end up if using patters or stripes.

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I cut these two as one piece on the fold then cut in half.  Just a little quicker than cutting the curve twice.  But do what you feel comfortable with!

Step 2 – Prepare your Bias Binding

Cut and gently press open your bias binding.

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You want to just press out the binding lightly, not remove the creases altogether.  It also helps to fold out the bias with your fingers first, sometimes the folds are almost stuck down.

Step 3 – Attaching Bias Binding

Pin the binding on the wrong side of your sleeve piece, line up slightly in from the raw curved edge.  Sew down the crease closest to the raw edge.  You can check out my Bias Binding Tutorial for clearer instructions.

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Step 4 – Inserting Elastic

Fold the bias edge over around to the other side.  You may like to gently iron this if it is not sitting nicely.

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I am inserting the elastic when I fold the bias binding over, making sure to keep it as far to the outside edge (away from where I’ll be sewing) as possible.

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You can feed the elastic through if you are using larger binding, or have a smaller safety than me!

Step 5 – Sew Elastic in place

Sew the bias binding in place.  You will be sewing on the right side of the fabric so use a matching (or contrasting can be great too!) thread.  Secure one end of the elastic, by stitching over it, as in photo below.  You want to be sure you haven’t caught the elastic in the seam before sewing off one end.  Don’t panic if you have caught it, you can still pull both ends of the elastic to even it out!  As long as it isn’t caught in more than one place.  Just don’t pull the elastic through by accident!

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Trim off the extra elastic from attached end.

NOTE: I don’t cut my length of elastic from the spool (reel, card etc.). I leave it attached and cut at the end so I’m not wasting elastic by creating off cuts.

Step 6 – Gather Sleeve Edge

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Pull on your long end of elastic to gather the sleeve, you may need to feed the gather along a bit as you go.  Gather until the sleeve measures 18cm (17”).  Sew the end just like we did for the first side.

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Here you have it right side and inside out.

Step 7 – Attach Sleeves to the Dress (Unlined Version)

Firstly find the centre of the sleeve edge.  Hold the bias edges together to find the middle, and mark with a pin.

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Line the pin up with the shoulder seam on the dress.  This should be done with the right sides facing each other.

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Then carry on pinning till the sleeve is attached.

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Cut your bias binding for the arm hole seam to length, allowing a little for overlap.  ( See this Tutorial for the single fold bias binding I used to finish the seams in the unlined Betty Bodice Dress).  Starting from the underarm seam pin the bias onto the armhole a little way in from the raw edge.  Once you get to the sleeve edge pin all three layers together.  Take care to catch the edge of the sleeve properly.

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Now it’s ready to be sewn together!

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Start sewing on the folded piece of binding, again in the crease closest to the raw edge.  Sew all the way around.  This bit is a little fiddly, so be careful that another part of the sleeve/dress doesn’t get caught underneath!  The overlapping piece of bias will go over top of the folded piece.  By not joining these two first it allows you to adjust it if you haven’t pinned it perfectly flat.

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If you fold the sleeve out it should look like this!

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Turn the dress inside out, fold the binding over (fold the last crease over first then fold over the whole piece of binding).  You can see more on this step in the unlined dress tutorial.

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Sew the bias binding down near the edge, ensuring that the seam is laying flat.

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Again it’s a little fiddly but as long as you go slowly you should be fine!

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Repeat for the other side!

Step 8 – Finished!!

Betty Bodice Dress Capped Sleeves b

Betty Bodice Dress Capped Sleeves c

I still have a few more ideas up my sleeves Winking smile so more to come shortly!

Any requests for other additions for the Betty Bodice Dress?