So I have exactly one project coming out of this Kids Clothes Week, but I’m pretty damn excited about it! The (optional) theme for this season was Kid Art and while this dress was probably the last thing I needed to make, I got really excited by the idea of getting Yuki involved in creating a one-of-a-kind garment for herself. I had all sorts of ideas like fabric painting, stenciling, iron on transfers, etc. But I knew I didn’t have much time so I could only pick one thing. If you know me, you know that I looooove fabric painting (like this cardigan, this hat and bag, and this dress) and I thought Yuki should have a go at it since she loves painting too!
I’m so excited to be posting as part of Melly Sews’ (30) Days of Sundresses Series for the THIRD time (see my previous tutorials here and here)! A new sundress tutorial every day this month! Keep up with them all on Melly Sews.
I’m pretty excited about sharing this project because it was one of those things that I had a vision of, but didn’t know if or how it’d work. But then it ended up exactly how I pictured it and I’m thrilled!
The dress is a halter-style dress with two ties in the back, a skirt that is gathered in the front and elastic in the back and, of course, pockets. It’s super summery and perfect for the beach or picnics or parties, or whatever else you’ll be up to this season! Just be sure to slather on the sunscreen because this baby shows a lot of back (but not that kind of back).
This is currently Yuki’s favorite dress and she requests to wear it as often as possible. We’ve also gotten tons of compliments on it, which is due in great part to the adorable fabric. It’s part of Cloud9’s Lotus Pond Collection by Rae Hoekstra and it’s called Fluttering Fields, which is where I got the name of the dress (thanks Rae)! I love this fabric – high quality, organic, lovely to sew and lovely to wear (I basically live in my Lotus Pond pajama pants).
Here is Yuki cracking herself up after sticking her tongue out at me. She thinks she’s hilarious . . . :P
Do you want to make a Fluttering Fields Sundress!? It’s really not very difficult at all! Full disclosure here though – when I sew, I kind of make things up as I go and hope it comes out ok. I often make changes along the way and later wish I did things differently or wonder if I did them the “right” way. Luckily, things worked out pretty well with this project, but it certainly isn’t perfect and I’m going to tell you what things I discovered along the way or would do differently if I were to do it again. It’s all about learning here, right?
Ok, here’s what you need:
- Fabric (1-2 yards depending on the size)
- Basic front bodice pattern
- 1/4 inch wide elastic
For your fabric, I recommend a light to mid-weight woven fabric like quilting cotton, shirting, chambray, linen blend, double gauze, etc. I’m pretty sure you could even use a stable knit, but I haven’t tried.
I started from a basic bodice pattern that I already had (from the Geranium Dress), but you can also draft your own from a shirt or dress that fits your child or use a different dress bodice pattern.
Taking your front bodice pattern piece as a starting point, I’m going to show you the edits I made to form the new bodice pattern for this halter style dress. Some of this will depend on personal preference and the specific bodice pattern you’re starting with though.
First I dropped the neckline slightly and created a new curve to meet the original neckline.
Now here is where what I did and what I wish I did start to differ. I lowered the bottom of the armhole by about 1/2 an inch. In hindsight, I probably didn’t need to do that. What you need to know here is that whatever the measurement of the side of your bodice is (marked in turquoise), is going to be the width of your ties plus your seam allowance.
Mistake #2: I used a 1/4 inch seam allowance, which works out fine, but I do find it easier to work with at least 3/8 of an inch seam allowance. So in all the pictures and directions, I’ll refer to a 1/4 inch seam allowance, but at the pattern drafting stage, I recommend you work in a larger seam allowance. It’ll make the construction a little easier and when you construct yours, remember to substitute your seam allowance measurement whenever I say a 1/4 inch. Got it?
So measure down about 2 inches from your armhole and if you need to shorten your bodice, do so. The Geranium bodice is quite short as is, so I didn’t adjust the length.
That measurement you took (the turquoise line), that is going to be the same as your shoulder seam measurement (magenta line). It just makes it easy to have all of your ties be the same width. Rather than angling down, the shoulder seam needs to angle up so that your neck ties will point inwards. Make a slightly curved line from the outer tip of your shoulder to the bottom of the armhole to create a halter shaped bodice. The other thing I would change here is the depth of this curve. You can see in the finished dress that the bodice cuts in quite a bit, so if you want more coverage, make the line straighter.
Phew! Are you still with me? Trust me, that was the hardest part!
Next, we need to create the pattern for the ties.
You will use the same tie pattern piece for both the neck ties and the back ties. In my second version of this dress, I followed the formula, but the back ties were too short. I’m updating the directions, but I haven’t tested it out yet. If I make a third dress, I’ll let you know if this works.
To determine the length of the neck ties, I calculated 3/4 of the total bodice width. To do that, first measure the bottom edge of your bodice pattern then multiply that in two, since that pattern is only half a bodice. For example, say your bodice pattern measures 6 inches across the bottom, that means the entire bodice will measure 12 inches. Take that number and multiply it by .75 to calculate 3/4 of the width. In my case, that is 9 inches.
For the back ties, take the length you just calculated (9 inches, in my case) and add 2 inches. So your neck ties will be 9 inches long and your back ties will be 11 inches long.
*I have not tested this formula with any other sizes than this one, so I can’t guarantee this will be the right length, but I’m fairly certain that it should work.*
The width of your tie pattern will be the same measurement as that turquoise and magenta line up there, somewhere around 2 inches (mine is narrower because of the small SA). Cut out a strip of paper with your measurements, fold it in half lengthwise and taper one end starting 2 inches from the tip. I drew and cut one side, then folded it in half to trace the other side so that it is symmetrical.
Here’s what my pattern pieces looked like. Ignore that middle one because it ended up being too short :P
Did I tell you that I was working things out as I went along?
Skirt pieces! You’ll need two rectangles for your skirt front and back. To determine the width of a gathered skirt, I usually take the child’s waist measurement and then use that for one skirt panel. For example, if the waist measurement is 20 inches, then my skirt panels will each be 20 inches, for a total of 40 inches, that will then be gathered to just the right amount of fullness (in my opinion). You can add or subtract width according to your preference. The length will depend on the desired length of the dress. Be sure to leave room for seam allowance at the top, hemming at the bottom, and I throw in an extra inch just in case (you’ll need to trim the skirt front to match the back in a later step). Set one of your skirt panels aside.
For the back skirt panel, I added a slight curve along the top edge. Fold your fabric in half (so the side seams are lined up) and cut a subtle curved line from the raw edge (side of the skirt) toward the folded edge, 1 inch down from the top. I wanted to create a slight opening in the back, but knew that the weight of the elastic and fabric would pull the skirt down, so this cut can be very minimal and possibly eliminated altogether.
So here are my cut pieces. You need:
- 2 bodice pieces
- 4 pocket pieces (I just drew this shape to create my own pocket pattern)
- 8 ties
- 2 skirt panels (one rectangle and one with a lowered top edge)
In this lovely picture you can see another X. I accidentally cut my first set of ties too long. I used them anyways, but I would have been better off using a shorter tie (in the pictures, the back ties are triple knotted and still too long for my taste). So ignore the different length tie pieces – all 8 of yours should be the same length.
We’re finally ready to sew!!!
Pin the ties to the bodice sides and shoulders, right sides together.
*VERY IMPORTANT* When you sew the sides, do NOT sew all the way to the bottom. Stop a 1/4 inch from the bottom (If you are using a 3/8 seam allowance, stop 3/8 inch from the bottom). Be sure to back stitch at each end.
Sew shoulder seams all the way across.
Press your seams open.
Your side seams should look like this, with a little opening at the bottom. Repeat with the other bodice and tie pieces.
Place your two bodice pieces with right sides together and pin all the way around starting from the side seam (pink arrow) and going all the way around all four ties and the bodice, back to the other side seam (other pink arrow) and sew. Do not sew the bottom of the bodice during this step.
This is what it should look like, with your stitching beginning and ending at each side seam.
Cut notches in the curved sections of the seam allowance and cut off the excess fabric at the tips of each tie so it will look nice and flat when you turn it right side out.
Turn the bodice and ties right side out (I like to use a mechanical pencil or chopstick to get those ties turned and the tips nice and pointy). Give it a gooooood press. Fold the bottom edge of one of the bodice pieces towards the wrong side by a 1/4 inch (or whatever your seam allowance is) and press. This side is now your bodice lining.
Take your back skirt panel, the one with the curved edge, and create a casing for the elastic by folding it a 1/4 inch and pressing, then 3/8 inch and pressing again. Pin and sew along the folded edge.
To determine your elastic length, take the waist measurement and divide it in half and subtract one inch. So if the waist measurement is 20 inches, divide that in half to get 10 inches, then subtract 1 and your elastic length is 9 inches. You don’t want to err on the side of excess length here. If your elastic is too long then the back of the dress will gape open and hang too low. You want this to be nice and snug against the back.
Thread your elastic through the casing (a safety pin is super helpful here). As the end of the elastic is about to pass through the opening, pin and sew it in place so it doesn’t slip into the casing. Continue to pull the elastic through to the other side and pin and sew it in place. Trim any elastic that is sticking out of the ends of the casing.
If desired, finish the curved edge of each pocket piece. On your front skirt panel, place one pocket, right sides facing, 2 inches down from the top edge. Pin in place. Repeat on the other side.
You’ll do the same for the back skirt piece except you’ll place your pocket pieces a 1/4 inch higher (or your seam allowance measurement) lower. So while my front pocket pieces are placed 2 inches from the top, my back pocket pieces are 1 and 3/4 inch from the top.
Sew the pocket to the skirt (you can finish the edges of the skirt here if you want) and press the pocket out. Repeat with the other 3 pocket pieces.
Place the skirt front and back right sides together with pockets lined up. The front skirt piece will extend a 1/4 inch higher than the back.
Sew the sides of the skirt together going around the pocket (pink line). Press the side seams toward the front of the dress. Turn right side out and press.
Next we’ll gather the front of the skirt. With a basting stitch (set your stitch length to the longest setting, do not back stitch and leave a tail of thread at the end), stitch two rows along the top edge of the skirt from one side seam to the other. I find that I get the nicest looking gathers when I have one row of basting stitches above the seam allowance line and one below. So I stitched my basting rows about 1/8 inch and 3/8 inch from the top.
Pull one thread from each row to gather the skirt until it is the same width as the bodice. Distribute the gathers evenly.
Pin the bodice to the gathered front skirt piece, right sides together. Be sure the bodice lining and back of the skirt are pulled aside when you sew. The seam allowance from the sides of the skirt should be folded inwards toward the gathered skirt and will be sewn during this step. Sew bodice and skirt together.
Press bodice and seam allowance up and remove thread from the basting stitches. Woohoo! It’s looking like a dress!
You can attach the bodice lining one of two ways. The first is to hand sew the lining in, enclosing the seam allowance and stitching the lining to only the top layer of fabric. This takes more time, but creates a clean look with no visible stitching.
The second method is to pin the lining down so that it covers the previously stitched line and then, from the right side of the dress, top stitch along the bottom of the bodice. While you’re at it, you can top stitch along the bottom and all the way around the ties and neckline, if you want to. It’s purely up to your personal/aesthetic preference. I opted for the hand sewing.
Now all you need to do is hem! The front of the dress is going to be a little longer than the back because I didn’t take into consideration the difference the casing would make. Yeah, oops again.
Even out the lengths and fold twice towards the wrong side to your desired length and sew along the folded edge. And you’re DOOOOONE!!
Gahhhh! Love this little sun-kissed back!
Yuki’s worn this dress a bunch already and I’ve had to wash it a few times. The only problem is that the ends of the ties have come out of the wash wrinkled, but luckily it’s just that part of the dress and it’s very easy to press (it takes one minute).
I realize that this tutorial is long and possibly hard to follow along, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you! I really hope that some of you give this a try because I’d LOOOOVE to see your versions! Be sure to share them with me via email or load your pictures into the you & mie flickr pool!
Thanks so much for stopping by and be sure to check in at Melly Sews for a new sundress tutorial every day of this month!
It’s June! Can you believe it? Summer is upon us and that means it’s time to bust out the sundresses. Melissa from Melly Sews is running her series, (30) Days of Sundresses, for the second time. All month – 30 sundresses! For girls and women – it’s really quite fun!
Last year I made a beach maxi for my sister (and a matching dress for my daughter), and this time I decided to try make something for me! I’m not sure why but I’ve been really motivated to make clothes for myself recently. I’m not sure if it’s the pregnancy and the fact that I don’t fit into my clothes anymore and the selection at stores seems so limited, or maybe because Yuki refuses to wear anything but t-shirts and sweat pants and that seems boring to me, but I have all these ideas and a sudden urge to try sewing for me! I’ve already made 4 things already and I have plans for a handful more, so this dress is just the start of a lot of maternity wear up in here!
So I made a knit dress that was inspired by this dress from Old Navy . . .
I wanted to try and make a floral neckline like the original version, but I didn’t have any fabric that was suitable, and I didn’t feel like painting any at the time. So I just picked some fun fabric from my stash, On Point in Golden from the Cloud 9 Simpatico line, to add the accented neckline.
So the dress is made to fit and flatter a pregnant body, but I’m guessing this could look good on other body types too, especially if you lower the waistline. I’d love to see some non-maternity versions of this dress too!
Alright, so you ready to start?
What you’ll need:
- 2 yards of knit fabric
- a scrap or fat quarter of accent fabric
- paper backed (double sided) fusible web (I use Pellon 805 Wonder-Under)
- 1/4 inch elastic (about 14 inches)
First you need to draft your pattern for the bodice. So find a knit top that fits well, not too tight, but not baggy either. I used a combination of Kristin’s free Scoop Top pattern and a tank top of my own. Measure where you want the bodice to hit and add 1/2 an inch to the bottom.
To draft the accent neckline, place your front bodice on a piece of paper and trace the neckline, shoulder seam and half of the arm hole (see picture on the left). Remove the bodice pattern piece and decide how wide or what shape you want your accent neckline to be. I made mine a solid 2.5 inches around. Then add a 1/4 inch along the bottom of the curve for folding under.
Cut out your dress pieces – one front bodice piece on the fold, one back bodice piece on the fold and the accent neckline on the fold.
You’ll also need to cut a piece of fusible web from the neckline pattern piece, but without the added 1/4 inch along the bottom curve.
For your skirt, you’ll want 2 pieces of fabric – the length will be determined by the measurement from the bottom of the bodice to the desired length. Make sure to add about 2 inches for hemming and seam allowance. I cut my skirt at a slight A-line, the top of the skirt pieces should be about the same width as the bottom of your bodice.
You’ll also need long strips of your main fabric to finish the armholes and neckline. Cut strips that are 2 inches wide and make sure you cut them in the direction in which the fabric stretches. I like to cut them as long as I can and then trim them down later, but for rough estimates, I ended up needing two strips that were 2″ x 15″ for the armholes and one strip that was 2″ x 28″. Cut them a few inches longer at least to make sure you have enough.
Fuse the fusible web to the wrong side of the accent neckline lining up the shoulder seams and neckline (the bottom curve will have a 1/4 inch without fusible web).
Remove the paper backing. And here’s a trick I learned from sewing from Oliver + S patterns . . . Sew a basting stitch along the bottom 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Press the curve towards the wrong side along the basting stitch. Remove the basting stitch. Fuse the neckline to your front bodice piece following the fusible web directions and sew along the bottom curve close to the edge.
Next we’re going to attach the elastic to the bottom of the bodice pieces. Cut your elastic into two 7 inch strips (approximately). Find the center of the front bodice and pin or baste the center of the elastic strip on the wrong side of the fabric along the bottom edge of the bodice. Because this elastic will be part of the seam allowance, I placed elastic close to the bottom of the bodice.
Sew the elastic to the bottom of the bodice with a zig zag stitch stretching the elastic as much as you can, but being careful not to stretch the knit fabric.
It should look like this on the wrong side . . .
And like this on the right side . . .
Repeat with the back bodice piece.
To attach the bodice to the skirt, line up the bottom of the bodice and the top of the skirt with right sides together. I didn’t photograph this part, so I hope this makes sense. As you sew the pieces together, I like to use the slanted zig zag stitch because it allows for stretch.
When you sew the bodice and skirt together, pull the elastic section of the bodice tightly without pulling the skirt piece so that it’ll gather. The elastic should be within the seam allowance so that it won’t be visible on the finished dress. So right along the inner edge of the elastic. The sections on either side of the elastic should be sewn without stretching any fabric. When finished it should look like this . . .
Repeat with the back side of the dress, sewing the back bodice and skirt pieces together the same way.
Place the front and back right sides together and pin and sew the shoulder seams and the side seams of the dress.
To finish your armholes and neckline, you’ll need your 2″ strips of fabric. To measure the length you need, leave 1/2 an inch for seam allowance and then pin the strip to the armhole. Slightly stretch the strip as you go around the entire armhole and leave another 1/2 an inch for seam allowance when you get back to where you started. It’s important to stretch it slightly because you don’t want a loose, baggy or limp finishing, it should be slightly smaller than the armhole to create a finished band that hugs your body. Once you’ve found the length you need, trim off any access and remove the strip from the armhole. Sew the short edges right sides together with a 1/2 an inch seam allowance to create a circle.
Press that seam open, then fold the loop in half lengthwise wrong sides together, so that raw edges should line up and the seam allowance is hidden inside. Press.
With the dress right side out, pin together the raw edges of the armhole finishing with the armhole. Start by lining up the seams and pin all the way around stretching the band slightly and evenly as you pin.
Sew along the raw edge using the slanted zig zag stitch. Finish edges if desired. Press well and top stitch, again, if desired.
Repeat with other armhole and neckline as well.
Hem the dress and you’re done!! With knits, I like to serge the edge and then fold it up once about an inch and sew close to the serged edge with either a double needle or the slanted zig zag stitch. That way the hem doesn’t get too thick with a double fold.
So here I am at 26 and a half weeks. This is a very comfortable dress with a pop of fun, that I hope will take me through my entire pregnancy.
Be sure to check out Melly Sews every day this month for a new sundress from these awesome bloggers:
So here’s one from July when we went to Kauai. Oh wait, did I tell you we went to Kauai back in July?? Well we did! For a week. And it was the best vacation EVER. We hung out at the beach and ate fresh fruit ALL. DAY. LONG. I mean, I don’t think it can get any better than that. It was our first time going to Kauai and it was soooooo beautiful. Truly truly gorgeous.
Anyways, my mom had brought me some fabric from Hawaii from one of her previous trips (her family is partially from Hawaii so she goes every year) and I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to use some of it. I wanted to make her a little dress to wear on the beach so we could pretend she was a little Hawaiian girl (like a little Hawaiian girl would be wearing a dress like this, while her weirdo mom snapped a bunch of photos of her on the beach – yeah . . . not a tourist at all).
The construction of this dress is a little funky. I made it right after I made my Washi in Blue and I was super pumped about my mad shirring skills, so I was determined to use them here for the bodice. But then I decided I wanted to add a ruffle around the top too and that’s where it all got crazy. If I had planned on doing the ruffle from the beginning, I probably would have just done a simple elastic casing, but since I didn’t really think it through, I tried to shir a bunch of ruffled layers together and let me tell you, it doesn’t work. So that’s why the top of the dress is a bit wavy, but overall I got the little sundress I imagined.
In more current news, I’m starting to nail down my to do list for KCWC. I’m pretty excited about it, but I haven’t even gotten my fabric or done any prepping or cutting yet. I am psyched to hit the thrift store and fabric store today for some material. You getting ready?
Have you been following along the 30 Days of Sundresses on Melly Sews? From June 1-30, there is a new sundress EVERY DAY, even Saturdays and Sundays. That’s inspiration and tutorials for 30 different dresses! For babies, kids and adults too.
Today I’m sharing my Braided Beach Maxi Dress modeled by my lovely sister.
It involves very little sewing and was so easy that I whipped up a matching one for Yuki! But you’ll have to go over there if you want to see it :)
How are you doing? Able to put it any beach time? I am ITCHING for my summer vacation to start!! Just one more week . . .