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Free Bell Sleeve T-Shirt Dress Pattern, size 3 to 12

Free sewing pattern alert:  Be sure to grab a copy of this Bell Sleeve T-Shirt Dress!  The free pdf pattern comes in sizes 3 to 12 and makes the perfect addition to any little girls wardrobe.

Free sewing pattern alert: Download a copy of this Bell Sleeve T-Shirt Dress! The free pdf pattern comes in girls sizes 3 to 12 and makes the perfect addition to any little girls wardrobe.

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Bell Sleeve T-Shirt Dress Sewing Pattern for Girl’s (sz 3 to 12)

My missy has had a little t-shirt dress with bell sleeves that she loves and has been begging me for several months to make another for her.  I finally had a few free minute to sit down and work on the pattern.  (It’s really just a mish-mash of my t-shirt pattern and bell sleeve swing top, with a skirt added.)

We are both thrilled how the dress turned out!  She wore it to school on Friday; after she got home, she immediately took the dress off and asked if I thought it was clean enough to wear to a party we have on Saturday or did I need to wash it.  (The dress still looks pretty good- yea black!)

Free sewing pattern alert: Download a copy of this Bell Sleeve T-Shirt Dress! The free pdf pattern comes in girls sizes 3 to 12 and makes the perfect addition to any little girls wardrobe.

I absolutely love this floral fabric!  Nothing screams spring like a bright, pretty floral print.  I’ve had this fabric in my stash for at least a year, if not two, so I can’t remember where it came from,  but I did do a quick little fabric search on Etsy (here) and found tons of gorgeous floral options.

With the right fabric or print, this little t-shirt dress can be dressed up or down and would be perfect for your spring photos or holiday parties.  (I can picture it in a hunter green or poinsettia red stretch velvet for Christmas parties.)

Free sewing pattern alert: Download a copy of this Bell Sleeve T-Shirt Dress! The free pdf pattern comes in girls sizes 3 to 12 and makes the perfect addition to any little girls wardrobe.

Free sewing pattern alert: Download a copy of this Bell Sleeve T-Shirt Dress! The free pdf pattern comes in girls sizes 3 to 12 and makes the perfect addition to any little girls wardrobe.

 

Free sewing pattern alert: Download a copy of this Bell Sleeve T-Shirt Dress! The free pdf pattern comes in girls sizes 3 to 12 and makes the perfect addition to any little girls wardrobe.

Recommended Fabric for the Bell Sleeve T-Shirt Dress Pattern

The dress pattern is designed to be sewn with knits and comes together very quickly.  Of course, one of my favorite aspects of sewing with knits is that it’s not always necessary to hem the edges or finish the seams.  (Though I do admit to often coming back and adding a hem after an item has been worn a time or two.)

And for those who will be emailing to ask if you can sew this with quilting cotton, lol, yes, you probably can if you split the back bodice down the middle and add an extra seam allowance and a button placket.   You might also need to add a bit of width to the sleeve as well.

Free sewing pattern alert: Download a copy of this Bell Sleeve T-Shirt Dress! The free pdf pattern comes in girls sizes 3 to 12 and makes the perfect addition to any little girls wardrobe.

What the Bell Sleeve T-shirt Dress Pattern Download Contains:

The bell sleeve dress pattern is a “paper saving pattern”.

  • You will download the top half of the dress only. I provide measurements (found in the sewing instructions) to cut the skirt out on your own. 
  • The fit information, materials needed and sewing instructions are found below.

Pattern Fit Information:  (Finished length = shoulder to skirt bottom)

  • Size 3:   Height-  38.5 inches,  Weight-  32 lbs, Finished length: 21.5.     Finished chest:  22.5 inches
  • Size 4:   Height-  41.5 inches,  Weight-  36 lbs,  Finished length: 23.5. Finished chest:  23.5
  • Size 5:   Height-  44.5 inches,  Weight-  42 lbs, Finished length: 25.5.   Finished chest: 24
  • Size 6:   Height-  46.5 inches,  Weight- 48 lbs, Finished length: 27.5.   Finished chest: 25.75
  • Size 7:   Height-  51 inches,    Weight- 60 lbs, Finished length: 28.625.     Finished chest:27
  • Size 8:   Height-  53 inches,    Weight- 66 lbs, Finished length: 30.   Finished chest: 28.75
  • Size 10: Height-  55 inches,    Weight- 74 lbs, Finished length: 31.25.   Finished chest: 29.875
  • Size 12: Height-  57.5 inches,    Weight- 84  lbs, Finished length: 33.   Finished chest: 31

 

Supplies Needed to Make the Bell Sleeve T-Shirt Dress:

  • Pattern (download found here)
  • Amount of fabric needed (2 yards needed of 58 inches wide knit fabric for the size 12.
  • Ribbed binding (usually has 50 to 70% stretch) or other stretchy knit for the neckline (you don’t want to use anything with less than 30% stretch-see notes under pattern tips and tricks)
  • Ballpoint/jersey needle
  • spray starch/iron
  • basic sewing supplies

 

Products used and recommended in this post:

  1. Floral knits on Etsy, another favorite fabric shop for knits:  Funkalicious Fabrics.
  2. My Sewing Machine: SINGER 9960 Quantum Stylist, my coverstitch: Janome Cover Pro 1000cpx
  3. My Serger: Brother 1034D 3 or 4 Thread Serger or you can just use Pinking Shears
  4. Rotary Cutter
  5. I love my large ruler and large cutting mat, but you may prefer to start of with a smaller Cutting set
  6. Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen and Fray Check
  7. Ball Point needles
  8. Singer walking foot or universal walking foot  (helps when sewing on very stretch fabric.)
  9. Cordless iron and spray starch
  10. Wonder clips (I didn’t use these in the post, but they are just awesome!

Bell Sleeve Dress Pattern info:

  • Navigate to the pattern download page. (here) Add the pattern to you cart and check out by entering your name and email. 
  • A copy of the pattern will come via email. Click the download button and save the pattern to your PC.
  • Open the pdf document in adobe reader. DO NOT print from google’s online version of adobe. (It will sometimes cause the pattern to print too small.)
  • Make sure to choose ACTUAL SIZE and auto landscape/portrait when printing.  Line up the pattern by matching up the colored dots, tape together and cut out pattern.
  • Seam allowance on this pattern is 3/8 inch with a 1/2 inch bottom and sleeve hem.
  • Since this dress is made from knit fabric, I did not include instructions for finishing seams.  This is an optional step.

Tips for Sewing with Knit Fabrics:

  • Use a ballpoint/stretch needle
  • Sew seams with either a serger, stretch stitch,  narrow zig zag or a straight stitch with a longer stitch length and a slightly loosened tension. (Make a couple of practice stitches on your fabric to see what works best.) I also like to use this “lightning bolt” stretch stitch on seams that need strength but a little give. (For my project I used a combination of straight stitch and serger for seams and zig zag on the hems.)
  • Use spray starch when pressing hems.  Sew hems with a zig zag, twin ball point needle, narrow zig zag with a long stitch length or a straight stitch with a long stitch length and a slightly loosened tension or leave raw. (also helps to use a walking foot.)
  • If you find your fabric keeps getting pulled inside the needle plate, place a small piece of tissue underneath the fabric so the feed dogs have something to grip.

Binding tips:

  • The pattern for the neck binding is designed for a ribbed knit with 50 to 75% stretch with good recovery (Fabric Fairy has a lot of good quality ribbed knit choices.)
  • If using a binding fabric with less stretch, you have two choices: 1st choice: Measure the neckline and cut a fabric strip 15% less than the measurement (multiply the neck measurement by .85) and follow the instructions in step 4. (This is the “in the round” method– and it never hurts to do the finger stretch test before sewing…)  2nd choice: The “flat” method– Sew only one shoulder closed, fold binding in half and attach the binding from one end of the neckline to the other.  Trim excess binding and sew the other shoulder closed.  (The only downside to this method is the seam will be on the side and slightly bulkier.)  (Similar to what is done in this tutorial.)

 

SEWING INSTRUCTIONS FOR FREE BELL SLEEVE T-SHIRT DRESS PATTERN

Step 1:  Print and Assemble pattern, cut out pattern pieces.

Save pattern to your desktop, open in adobe reader.  Printer settings should be set to print actual size auto portrait/landscape.  Print pattern.  Cut out each block around the outer gray edge and align the gray boxes, edge to edge (don’t overlap) matching up colored circles. Tape pattern together and cut out size needed.  (You can print the bodice twice- one for the front and one for the back or print once and use a tracing wheel and paper.)

Step 2: Cut pattern pieces from fabric.

Fold the fabric so the stretch is running side to side.  Follow cutting instructions on pattern pieces for the bodice, sleeve, and neck binding, lining up pattern pieces on the fold when directed.

Skirt Pattern piece cutting chart:

Note: If you do not have enough fabric width to cut larger size on fold.  Add .375 to the width #, cut 2 pieces and sew together.  (measurements in inches)

You will have:

Step 3:  Assemble sleeves.

If you plan to hem the sleeve of your top.  Do that first.  (Fold the edge of the sleeve over 1/2 inch and sew with a zig zag or other stretch stitch.  TIP: Use spray starch on the hem to help stabilize the knit fabric for easier sewing.  Repeat on other sleeve.)

Sew a gathering stitch at the top of the bell sleeve ruffle.  (do both pieces.)

Gather ruffle until it is the same width as the bottom edge of the sleeve.

Right sides together, line up the raw edges, pin and sew right above the gathering stitch.

DSC_0890-copy

Flip sleeve over, press the seam allowance up and topstitch if desired.  Repeat for other sleeve.

Step 4: Assemble bodice.

Right sides together, line up front and back bodice.  Sew ONE SHOULDER ONLY, using a 3/8 inch seam allowance.

Step 5: Attaching sleeve.

Right sides together, line up the top of the sleeve with the shoulder seam.  Sew using a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  (Only attach one sleeve for now.)

Step 6: Side seams and hem.

Sew along sleeve and down the side of the bodice.  (one side only)

Step 7:  Gathering and attaching skirt.

Press and hem bottom of the skirt.  (1/2 inch hem allowance included.)

Sew a gathering stitch along the top of the skirt piece and pull on bobbin thread until skirt is same width as bodice.

Right sides together, line up the raw edges of the skirt and the bodice.  pin and sew along the gathered edge.

Turn over, press and top stitch along this seam if desired.

Step 8: Putting dress together.

Line up 2nd shoulder seam and sew together with a 3/8 inch seam.

Line up sleeve as before and sew.

Line up sleeve and dress edges and sew together with a 3/8 seam.

Free T-Shirt Dress Sewing Pattern

Step 9: Attaching neck binding.

Fold and press binding strip  in half.

Unfold binding, sew with a 3/8 inch seam allowance and trim excess seam.

Refold binding and divide into 4 equal sections.  Mark t-shirt neckline and binding into four equal sections.  (Please note since the front neckline is deeper than the back, the shoulder seams will not be the mark of the when the neckline is divided into four equal sections.)

Line up the quarter marks as shown:

Attach the binding to the neckline with a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  Stretch the binding fabric as you sew.  Take care to not let the neckline fabric stretch.  (Go slow and know this my take practice.)

how to sew binding on a t-shirt- free pattern

For a more finished look, you can topstitch along the edge of the neckline.

That’s it, you are done!

Free T-Shirt Dress Sewing Pattern

Don’t forget!  If you make anything with one of my patterns, be sure to come back and share a photo of your finished project on my Facebook page or tag me on Instagram @scatteredmom, with #scatteredmompatterns!

 

Products used and recommended in this post:

  1. Floral knits on Etsy, another favorite fabric shop for knits:  Funkalicious Fabrics.
  2. My Sewing Machine: SINGER 9960 Quantum Stylist, my coverstitch: Janome Cover Pro 1000cpx
  3. My Serger: Brother 1034D 3 or 4 Thread Serger or you can just use Pinking Shears
  4. Rotary Cutter
  5. I love my large ruler and large cutting mat, but you may prefer to start of with a smaller Cutting set
  6. Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen and Fray Check
  7. Ball Point needles
  8. Singer walking foot or universal walking foot  (helps when sewing on very stretch fabric.)
  9. Cordless iron and spray starch
  10. Wonder clips (I didn’t use these in the post, but they are just awesome!

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31 Comments

  1. I am having a really hard time with the neckline. I don’t completely understand the instructions. How do you evenly “measure a neckline” into 4 sections when it is is all sewed together? I have had 2 failed attempts at attaching the binding. Also your dress neckline looks perfectly round in the front….I cut the dashed marks and I have a V-neckline. Any ideas?

  2. I’m confused about the skirt width dimensions. I’m making size 4, so is it 25.25 inches with the fabric folded or with it flat? What is the finished dimension around the bottom hem?

      1. Hello!

        Thank you for fine instructions and pattern. I’m a father, just helping with a school project. A real rookie.
        The width of the skirt is confusing also for me.
        For size 3 it’s 24.25″
        For size 4 it’s 25.25″
        And I am making size 12 which has width 33.875″ + 0.375″ for allowance. But… the Bodice also has the same width. Can’t do Gathering then…

        Thank you and have Wonderful Holidays!

        1. The skirt is cut on the fold, so a 3 is 48.5. (I believe the instructions state this in more than one place, including the cut chart.)

  3. Thanks for this great pattern! I downloaded the pattern and every time I try to click on the link for the sewing instructions, it sends me back to this same page. Help! Thanks

  4. I AM HAVING TROUBLE GETTING A SIZE TO FIT MY GRAND DAUGHTER. SHE HAS OUT GROWN THE SIZE 16-20 GIRL SIZES YET SHE IS ONLY 9 SO MOST WOMEN;S SIZES ARE TOO GROWN UP FOR HER. HOW DO I FIGURE OUT HER SIZE

  5. Hi Lisa,

    When you say Size 3, is that the same as a Toddler size 3? My little granddaughter is 3 years old and wears a size 3, could I use this pattern or would it be too big?

    I’m so excited to put this dress together. So cute and perfect for serger.

    Thanks for your help.

    Vera

    1. here is the fit chart:
      Pattern Fit Information: (Finished length = shoulder to skirt bottom)
      Size 3: Height- 38.5 inches, Weight- 32 lbs, Finished length: 21.5. Finished chest: 22.5 inches
      Size 4: Height- 41.5 inches, Weight- 36 lbs, Finished length: 23.5. Finished chest: 23.5
      Size 5: Height- 44.5 inches, Weight- 42 lbs, Finished length: 25.5. Finished chest: 24
      Size 6: Height- 46.5 inches, Weight- 48 lbs, Finished length: 27.5. Finished chest: 25.75
      Size 7: Height- 51 inches, Weight- 60 lbs, Finished length: 28.625. Finished chest:27
      Size 8: Height- 53 inches, Weight- 66 lbs, Finished length: 30. Finished chest: 28.75
      Size 10: Height- 55 inches, Weight- 74 lbs, Finished length: 31.25. Finished chest: 29.875
      Size 12: Height- 57.5 inches, Weight- 84 lbs, Finished length: 33. Finished chest: 31

  6. Can you please extend this pattern to size 16? I’m a beginner so I don’t know how to do that on my own. lol I love this dress pattern. It’s so cute!!

    1. Hi, I just extended my t-shirt pattern to go up to 16, (by hand, so its not digitised yet.) This dress pattern is based on that one, so hopefully, I can get to is soon.

  7. what are the dashed lines on the bodice pattern piece? are those the cutting line for the front bodice neckline and the solid line is the back bodice neckline?

  8. Thanks for your fabulous website. Do you include seem allowance to this pattern or I should add it to the pattern myself?

  9. I made this pattern for my twin girls for Easter. It turned out really cute! One of my girls refused to wear her sash, and it was still adorable! Thank you.

  10. Made this today for one of my daughters. It turned out so cute, and very true to size. A simple pattern that creates a stylish and easy to wear dress. Thank you!

  11. Thank you for the cute pattern. I agree that it is hard to find modest clothing for young girls. It seems a lot of things are sold nowadays that lean toward the hooker occupation. +

  12. I can’t get the scale right. I don’t have adobe on my Mac. Tried downloading it and was only able to download other PDF reader. Also tried through iBooks on my phone. Is the scale square supposed to be 1 inch? Mine just keeps being 1.5 inches despite making sure there is no formatting. Thanks so much. Jessica.

    1. The only way I know to get the scale right is to use the adobe reader. Sorry I can’t help more.

  13. I’ve printed the pattern and the instructions/pattern for the t-shirt dress but am missing dimensions for the skirt for the bell sleeve dress. Where is it???

    1. The skirt cutting instructions is a little chart included found on the sewing instructions page.

    2. Hi Elizabeth,

      Did you happen to find the skirt instructions? I am having the same dilemma 🙂

      Thanks!

      1. Ok, what I cant figure out is why you are unable to find the sewing instructions. At the bottom of the post it very clearly states, “click here for the pattern download and click here for the sewing instructions”. I keep clicking the links and it takes me right to the sewing instructions.

        The pattern download page also has a link to the instructions, which seems to work fine when I click it.

        Also the the email that is sent with the pattern download link, has a link to the instructions that works on my end.

        Can you please clarify what you are doing, or maybe what device/browser you are using that is making the sewing instruction links invisible?

        Or if you are clicking a link that takes you to another page? Point out that link so I can fix it. Screenshots would help.

    1. about 2 yards needed of 58 inch wide knit fabric for the size 12. A little less for smaller sizes.

  14. Your page is my all time fav! You are so very talented and your photos are beautiful, along with you and your kiddos!

  15. Wow, this is terrific! I’m so thankful for what you do! It is so hard to find modest cute clothes that are age appropriate for my girls. I love many of your patterns that you’ve created and provided. What a blessing! Can’t wait to try this one out!

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