(Looking for more free patterns? Be sure to check out my free patterns and tutorials page here.)
I like being able to reuse my existing sewing patterns to make new and different dresses, tops and bottoms. That's exactly what I did to make this little halter dress. I used the pattern I created for my sweet spring sundress, gave it the tiniest of tweaks and came up with a new dress.
I know I say this about almost everything I make :), but oh my goodness, I LOVE THIS DRESS! This fabric is one of my favorites that I bought a couple of years ago and have been saving. In fact, it pained me just a little to cut into it since the fabric line is almost impossible to find anymore. The good thing is, I know I made the dress in a way that she will be able to wear it for at least 2 years as a dress and probably even longer as a top. (All I'll have to do is loosen the elastic in the back.)
(The fabric is from Tanya Whelan. I also have a yard of the sky blue and darker pink/red rose print, pink and blue damask print and cream w/ pink dots.)
Items needed to make this Simple Halter Dress:
1 yard of fabric for the main pieces
1/4 yard for the straps and accent piece (of course you could mix it up and use a bunch of different fabrics)
+/- 10 inch piece of 3/4 inch elastic
paper to draw your pattern (if needed) or use my bodice pattern (Click the link for the pattern)
scissors, ruler, iron, fabric marker- (basic sewing supplies)
*** Important pattern printing tip*** When printing the patterns, do not print directly from Google docs. Download the pattern to your computer and open it in your adobe acrobat reader. Choose actual size and the landscape option. (I just printed a pattern directly off Google docs and notice it printed slightly smaller.)
Step 1: Creating, measuring and cutting your pattern pieces and fabric.
Print or create your front bodice piece. If you are drawing out your own pattern piece, please follow the directions found at the beginning of my Sweet Spring Sundress tutorial. Draw or print the pattern, but don't cut it out yet. We need to make a few tweaks. Here are the changes to make to the pattern:
|Right click and open in a new tab to see this image larger.|
To create the bodice back, we just need a couple of measurements from the front bodice pattern. (See below) If you are using my pattern, you can cut the piece to 7 inches tall by 15 1/2 inches wide. Cut out the back bodice piece to whatever measurements you need.
Halter strap: cut one piece of fabric 3 inches wide by the width of the fabric, selwage to selvage. Cut off the selvages and then cut the long piec in half. You should have 2 pieces 3 inches wide by about 20 inches long.
To determine the fabric measurements for the skirt, hold up the bodice piece to your child and measure down how far you want the skirt to go. If you want to add a ruffle, subtract the length of the ruffle and add half an inch for seam allowances. If you don't want a ruffle, add an inch to your measurement for seam allowances and hem.
If you are adding a ruffle you will want to add 1 inch to the height of the ruffle measurement for seam allowances and the hem.
For the skirt: cut the fabric to your length measurement by the width of the fabric. Be sure and remove the selvages.
For the ruffle: cut 2 strips the width of the fabric by your ruffle measurement.
My size 4/6 dress, the skirt was 15.5 inches long by the width of the fabric and my ruffle strips were 4.75 by the width of the fabric
Here is what you should have:
Step 2: Fold the halter tie pieces, right sides together, fold in half longways and sew along the top and side 1/4 inch from the edge. Flip the tube right sides out and iron flat. (Do this for both ties.) You don't have to worry about hemming the other end of the tie.
Step 3: Lay out the front bodice piece right side up. Line up the raw edges of the halter tie with the raw edges of the bodice piece 3/8 inches from the edge as shown.
Sew the straps to the bodice piece, a smidge less than 1/4 inch from the edge. Back stitch a couple of times so the straps are secure.
Lay the bodice lining piece on top, so the right sides are together. pin in place and sew along the armholes and top as indicated.
Flip the bodice right sides out and iron the top and armhole seams flat.
|So pretty, I love seeing these pattern pieces come together...|
Step 4: Creating the casing. Grab your back bodice piece and fold it in half longways and iron flat. Mark 3/8 inch from the top and draw a line side to side. Make another mark 1 inch down from the 1st mark and draw a 2nd line.
To create the casing for the elastic, sew a straight stitch down these 2 lines.
Using a bodkin or safety pin, pull the elastic through the casing and securely sew one end in place.
Step 5: Attaching the front bodice to the back. Grab the front bodice piece and open it up. Iron both side edges over, 1/4 inch.
Line up the top edge of the back bodice with the top seam of the front bodice and "sandwich" them together.
Pin and sew right along the edge of the front bodice piece.
To determine how long your elastic piece needs to be, you can try the bodice piece on your daughter and mark where to cut the elastic.. (You can also just guess-timate based on her chest measurement. I tried mine on my daughter, but the dress was still was drooping in the back more than I liked and ended up having to open the seam back up and take out a little more elastic...)
Step 6: Sewing, gathering and attaching the skirt. Grab the skirt piece and with right sides together, stitch up the side seam. Finish this seam with pinking shears, serger or zigzag stitch on your sewing machine and iron it flat.
To gather the skirt top, change the stitch setting on your machine to the longest stitch length and run a straight stitch along the top of the skirt 1/4 inch from the top. Leave the threads loose and don't backstitch. Pull on the top thread and slide the fabric down the thread to gather the skirt. Keep pulling and gathering until the top of the skirt opening is the same width of the bottom of the bodice. Spread your gathers as evenly as possible.
(Sorry to change fabric on you, I forgot to take pictures of this step so I am using the photos from my last tutorial...)
With right sides together, line up the raw edges of the top of the skirt and the bottom of the bodice and pin securely. (The more pins the better IMO.)
Place the pinned edge in your sewing machine and sew right over the gathering stitch. If you choose to sew over your pins, go slowly and be careful, I have broken a few needles this way.
You will want to finish this seam with pinking shears, serger or zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.
Once you have attached the skirt to the bodice and finished the seam, flip the dress right side out and iron the seam so the finished edge is pointing up. Top stitch around the entire bodice. This top stitch should catch the finished seam you just ironed and help the dress fall prettier and look more finished.
Now, if you aren't going to add a ruffle, you would just fold the bottom edge over 1/4 inch, press and fold over another 1/4 inch. Press again and sew along the hem and you would be done.
Step 7: Adding and hemming the bottom ruffle. Grab your two ruffle strips and right sides together, sew one of the short edges together so you have one long strip. Then hem the bottom of the ruffle by folding the bottom edge over 1/4 inch, press and fold over another 1/4 inch. Press again and sew along the hem.
Line up the other side edges, right sides together and sew them together so you have one big circle of fabric. Run a gathering stitch along the top of the ruffle strip the same way you did along the top of the skirt. Pull on the top thread until the strip has ruffled up to the same width as the bottom of the skirt. You will attach this ruffle the exact same way as you attached the skirt to the bodice.
Finish this seam edge and press the seam so the finished edge is pointing up. Top stitch along this seam.
Just for fun, I opted to add a strip of coordinating fabric along the bottom of the front bodice. I created a strip with the same width and the same method as the halter tie and just stitched along the bottom edge of the bodice.
And as an extra measure, I like to add a little loop of fabric to the back of her halter tops and dressess to help support the fabric over her shoulders...
Perfect for a tea party with the neighbors cat (on your new picnic quilt...)
But maybe don't wear it to catch frogs...
I will be linking up to some of the linky parties listed on this page.