Monday, March 7, 2011

Toddler Maxi Dress and Shrug - Part 2 of 4 - Sewing the Dress

So, you've created the pattern for the Maxi Dress , now it's time to cut out the pieces and sew it together!

Before you cut anything be sure to pre-wash your fabric using the same method you will use to wash the dress.  That way if it shrinks a lot you won't end up with a dress that's too small.  (Not that I've had that happen to me or anything... ...) Then press it nice and smooth. Lay it out, folded in half and cut your pattern pieces. If you have an obvious directional fabric (like there's an up and a down to the design), make sure all your pattern pieces are laid out in the same direction and in the correct way to make the design appear upright.


We'll start by sewing the bodice. With right sides together sew the back pieces on to either side of the front pieces. You will end up with two sets (either two of the main fabric, or one of the main fabric and one of lining fabric if you chose to use it).


Press the seams flat. (One of the best pieces of advice I have (other than pre-washing) is pressing each seam. It makes it all go together easier and look much nicer.


Do a quick test fit on your child and mark the placement for the shoulder straps. You could also do this for the back, but I'm leaving mine out so I can easily lengthen them later.


Cut your shoulder straps (cut them to length if you know it, otherwise cut them longer than you will need them). It's just a 2" wide strip of fabric. Press in half.


Open it and press each raw edge to the center.


Then fold over and press again.


Stitch close to the edge.


You can also stitch the other side to give it an even look.


Pin the straps at the places marked.


With right sides together place the second bodice piece on top and pin together.


Stitch the sides and top edges together, leaving 1/2" unsewn at the back bottom edges.


Clip corners and curves.


Turn and press.


Press under 1/2" on the bottom edge of the inside layer of the bodice (this would be the lining fabric if you used it).


There's the bodice! Now for the skirt... Get the bottom tier pieces, right sides together, and sew the side seams together so it's one big circle.


Press the seams flat. Along the bottom edge press under 1/2", then 1/2" again.


Stitch to create a finished hem.


With right sides together sew the back top tier pieces to either side of the front top tier. Press.


On both of the sides of the back top tier that were not sewn together, press 1/2" over, then press 1/2" over again to hide the raw edge.


Unfold once, place right sides together and sew along the fold line, leaving 1/3 to 1/2 unsewn.


Refold, press, and sew the folded edges down around the open portion of the seam.


Run a gathering stitch along the top edge of each tier of the skirt. (A long length straight stitch, usually the longest your machine can sew, leaving long tails you can pull). For the top tier start the stitch after the finished edge and end before the finished edge on the other side.


For the bottom tier I ran two separate gathering stitches, one for the front and one for the back.


Pin the bottom tier on to the bottom edge of top tier, with right sides together. Pin side seams together and match the centers of the pieces.


Work from one end to the center, then the other end to the center. Pull the top thread to bunch up the fabric.


While holding the thread taught (be fairly gentle here so you don't break the thread!), pull the fabric towards the center.


Repeat until the gathered section is the same length as the flat section underneath. Even out the gathers and pin in place.


Repeat until the whole bottom tier is gathered and pinned. Sew in place, making sure to keep the gathers straight and even. Turn and press.


Proceed in the same way for the top tier onto the bodice. Match the finished edge in the back of the bodice to the finished edge in the back of the skirt.


Gather as before and sew in place, keeping the inside bodice layer free of the seam. When sewn, turn, press, and place inside bodice layer over the seam. Pin in place.


Slip stitch the layer in place.


Add your desired closures.


If you haven't already, do a test fit to determine the length of shoulder straps needed. Pin and sew in place by hand, catching only the inside layer of the bodice so the stitching does not show on the back. (I left mine extra long so I could extend them as needed.)


Embellish as desired and you have the finished dress!





Be sure to come back for the shrug tutorial!

I'll be linking up to all the fabulous parties on my "Blog Link Parties" tab including Sew Woodsy


  1. Thank you! I should have waited to see how you closed the back. I like the way you did it much better!

    Tomorrow is the big day! I'll send you some photos. I'll also be blogging about it in the next week or two and will, of course, be adding a link to your blog for directions and credit for the idea.

    Oh, and I love the fabric for the dress in this post!

  2. Great set of instructions for those following along.

  3. Just found you from The Creative Itch Link Party. Love the dress.

  4. LOVE the color, the print and the dress too darn cute! Great tutorial too!

  5. Thanks for the tutorial. can't wait for the shrug.

  6. A lovely dress, the colour is fantastic! Thanks for such a detailed tutorial.

  7. I can't wait for the shrug tutorial. I love shrugs on toddlers.


  8. Hi, I found you through the Tatertots and Jello Weekend Wrap-Up Party! You have a great set of instructions for this cute dress!


  9. I might have to try this, great tutorial!!!

  10. What a cute dress and great tutorial! Thank you

  11. Muito legal, eu segui seu tutorial e fiz um vestido para minha filha, não ficou igual pois não tenho esperiencia com costura , mas gostei muito do resultado. vai la no meu blog e veja coloquei um link para o seu blog. beijos

  12. Sim fez sentido o que escreveu, e você não sabe como me deixou feliz por deixar um recado pra mim. beijos
    feliz !!!!!!!

  13. This is so cute! how I wish I can make a tutorial as clear as yours! sometimes, I confuse myself ^^) will be featuring this on saturday! ^^)


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