Thursday, March 11, 2010

simple play dress DIY

i made penelope this dress for st. patricks. i love green and i just had to have this print when i saw it at joann's of all places!! the belt is from tuesday's DIY belt.

this dress is one that i have made penelope over and over again. can you remember this one? it STILL fits penelope, but we use it more like a tunic now. it can be worn with jeans, bloomers, leggings. i hope you have fun and are imaginative with it. i would love to see pictures of them all made up too:)!

i am really not a seamstress, so i may not be super skilled at explaining the steps, but if you have questions you can email me and ask & i will help as best as i can! enjoy.

***tutorial is for size 2T (it would be easy to make the length & width shorter or longer.)

1/2 yard - 3/4 yard fabric
extra wide double fold bias tape or you can make your own 1/2 in bias tape, you will need more fabric if you choose this option (a fat quarter should be enough.)
1/4 in elastic

step 1:
cut pieces

bodice: cut 2 pieces 15" x 21" (knee length)
sleeves: cut 2 pieces 10" x 6" (for short sleeves)
cut 13" of 1/4"elastic
if you are making your bias tape (directions below) you will need roughly 25-30" of it.

bias tape directions: take your excess fabric & cut into a square. fold diagonally into a triangle & press. now unfold the square and use a marking pencil to mark out 2" strips parallel to the middle fold. cut strips & sew together by placing them right sides together, matching up and pinning raw angled edges (the 2 strips will form a v-shape.) now sew a 1/4" seem along the matched edges. now press long strip flat with the seems open. fold strip in half lengthwise and press. now fold one of your edges in towards the middle crease and press. there is a good tutorial here.

step 2: fold both bodice pieces in half (measuring 7 1/2"x 21" folded) and both sleeve pieces in half (measuring 5"x6" folded,) press. now measure 3 1/2 in across & 4" down from the top open edged corner & cut a diagonal from one mark to the other.

now we are ready to sew! i used store bought bias tape for the blue & orange dot dress!

step 3: now take one sleeve and one bodice piece & match up their 2 diagonals with right sides together. pin in place and sew with 1/4" seem along the diagonal. now get the other bodice piece and attach it to the same sleeve by matching up, with right sides together, the remaining diagonal of the sleeve with the bodice diagonal. pin in place and sew with 1/4" seem along the diagonal. now one sleeve is attached! take the remaining sleeve and match up corresponding diagonals with right sides together and pin in place. sew with 1/4 in seem along both diagonals.

now BOTH sleeves are attached!!!

finish edges of the diagonals by using pinking sheers, a zig- zag stitch or a serger. press the seems open.
step 4: line up the side of the dress and the bottom of the sleeve and pin. repeat on other side of dress. now sew with 1/4" seem up one side of the dress. when you get to the armpit, put your needle down, lift up your foot and turn, now sew the bottom of the sleeve with a 1/4" seem. repeat on the other side. finish the raw edges and press open.
step 5: round the neck line by folding your dress in half, lining up the 2 side seems and the sleeves. now either eyeball a rounded neckline, or use a larger bowl to create a shallow 1/2 u-shape.
step 6: now we will apply the bias binding to the neckline. leave dress inside out and unfold your bias tape & fold under one short raw edge of the tape 1/2" and press. with right side of binding to the wrong side of the neckline pin the folded under edge first. now align binding's long raw edge along the neckline (leaving the double folded half of tape folded.) pin in place overlapping the beginning of the binding with the end of the binding by 1/2". now sew along the raw edges with 1/4" seem all the way around.

step 7: now turn the dress right side out and fold binding around to the front, pin in place and press. now top stitch along the bottom of the binding fold leaving 1/2"-1" open to thread elastic through. now use a safety pin to thread the neck elastic through the neckline. stitch elastic together at the end and then stitch the rest of the neckline closed.

step 8: finish the sleeves & hem by folding under 1/4" and press, then fold under 1/2" and press again & then pin in place. top stitch 3/8" around sleeves & hem. * for penelope's grey dress found above and here i used the scallop setting on my machine to hem the bottom of the dress!

variations on the dress:

green dress is made just as explained above. blue & orange dress was made with slightly longer sleeves and i put elastic in the sleeves the same way i do around the neckline. yellow springy dress i DON'T round the neckline and i DON'T use bias tape, i just fold the neckline down 2x and leave a bit open for stringing the elastic through & sew 'er up. i also made a little sash for this one. brown dress was made with wider elastic and wider bias tape. i smocked the waist (by winding elastic thread in the bobbin & sewing a few rows 1/4"-1/2" apart.) can really make it anyway you like it.


  1. im so excited about this! im so doing it tonight!

  2. Found you through lullaby lubbock- what a great blog.
    And I LOVE this dress! I don't have a daughter, but I think my nieces definitely need some of this goodness!
    We have a Friday Fun Finds party- if you're interested, we'd love it if you'd link to this!

  3. Thank you for posting this. Can't wait to try this.


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