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Ruffled Dress/Top Tutorial (w/ 2 pattern sizes: 9/12 mo and 4/6)

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Ruffled dress tutorial

I have a friend with an eight month baby girl.  (They are actually fostering her with a chance to adopt, that is why I can’t show photos of her…) The baby is just the sweetest thing, smiling and laughing all the time!  I have been wanting to sew up a few items for her.

I had this pink and blue fabric in my stash and thought it would be perfect for a little baby dress.  This dress was very easy to make.  If you leave off the ruffle, it could be made in less than 2 hours.  (The ruffle adds another hour.)

Find out how to make the dress after the jump:

Materials needed to make the baby dress:

  • about 1 to 1 1/4 yard for main fabric (depending on the size you make, I had 1 yard and was able to make a diaper cover too.)
  • scissors 
  • ruler
  • disappearing ink fabric marker
  • Shirt to trace and paper to trace it on.  (or you can print my size 9/12 month or 4/6 pattern)
  • 1/4 yard each of contrasting fabric for ruffle (optional)
  • ribbon or other trim for ruffle (optional)
  • iron
  • fray check
  • basic sewing supplies
Step one:  Create pattern and cut pattern pieces. (The size I made was a 9/12 month and you can print the pattern piece and shoulder tie pattern here. Size 4/6 pattern here.)

 *** 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 or portrait option.  (I just printed a pattern directly off Google docs and notice it printed slightly smaller.)

Measure the child from top of shoulder to desired length of dress. (Write this down somewhere…)

Fold the shirt you will be tracing in half and lay on the tracing paper.  Trace around the top and armholes, bringing the line below the armhole down about 2.5 inches.

Move the shirt out of the way.  If you used a knit shirt, add an additional 1/2 inch to the side of the pattern as shown below, then add in a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Cut out the dress/top pattern.

To create a pattern for the shoulder tie, draw a draw a long skinny rectangle, rounding one end to the measurements below:

12 months and under:  7.5 long by 1.5 wide
12 to 18 months: 8 long by 1.5 inches wide
24 months to 3 yrs: 8.5 long by 1.75 inches wide
3 to 4 years: 9 inches long by 1.75 inches wide
4 to 6 years: 10 inches long by 1.75 inches wide

Cut the shoulder tie pattern out.

Fold your fabric and line up the edge of the dress pattern on the fold as shown.  Use your ruler and fabric marker to draw a generous a-line shape to the desired dress/top length.

Cut out 2 pieces for the front and back.

Cut out 2 bodice linings using the same pattern

This is what you should have:

The photo only shows 4 ties, but you need 8.
Step two: Sewing the shoulder ties.
Place two shoulder ties right sides together and sew around the edges, 1/4 inch from the edge.  Trim excess fabric, so you are left with about 1/8 seam allowance.  Flip the strap right side out and press.  
Do this with the other three shoulder ties.
Step three:  Create the ruffle.  (Ruffle is optional, you could leave it off and dress will still be adorable!)
Cut the bottom ruffle fabric 6.5 inches wide by 2 times the length of the dress front.  Fold in half longways with right sides together and sew a straight stitch along the bottom and side edge, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Flip the tube right side out and iron flat.
Cut the top ruffle fabric 4 inches wide by 2 times the length of the dress front.  Repeat the folding/sewing/flipping/ironing steps listed above.
To gather the ruffle, change the stitch setting on your machine to the longest setting and stitch straight down the middle of your fabric strip.
Grab the bottom thread and pull on the fabric, moving the fabric down the thread until your ruffle is a about 1.5 inches longer than the dress front, spacing the ruffles evenly.
Repeat on the 2nd ruffle strip.  Don’t forget to switch your machine back to the normal stitch length.
Line up the two ruffles.  Pin and baste them together.  Press the ruffle strip lightly with the iron.
Grab your ribbon trim and cut a piece equal to the length of the ruffle strip.  Use fray check or a lighter to seal the edges.
Step 4: Attaching the ruffle.
Place your dress front and back pieces right sides together and sew the side seams.  Finish the edges with pinking shears, zig zag stitch or serger.
Hem the bottom of the dress by folding the bottom up 1/4 inch, press,  fold up another 1/4 inch and press.  Sew a straight stitch all the way around the folded edge.
Turn the dress right side out and pin the ruffle strip to the center front dress panel, lining up the bottom of the ruffle (the finished edge) with the bottom of the dress.  You should have an inch or 2 of ruffle hanging past the top of the dress.  Attach the ruffle strip to the dress panel, sewing a straight stitch down the middle of the ruffle.
Line up the ribbon down the middle of the ruffle strip, covering the basting and ruffle stitches, and pin.  Leave about half an inch of extra ribbon at the bottom.  Fold the bottom edge of ribbon under and pin in place.  Sew along the edges and bottom of the ribbon as shown below.

Step 5:  Assembling the dress.
Grab the two bodice lining pieces and hem the bottoms by folding the bottom up 1/4 inch, press, fold up another 1/4 inch and press.  Sew a straight stitch all the way across the folded edge.

Line up the bodice pieces, right sides together and sew the side seams.  Press these seams open.
Next, line up the raw edges of the four shoulder ties with the raw edges of the dress front and back, 3/8 inch from edge as shown.  Baste the four shoulder straps in place, by sewing just a tiny bit less than 1/4 inch from the edge.

Sew along the arm holes and across the top of the dress, font and back.

Trim the curves and shown below:

Trim excess ruffle and seam allowance along the top to about 1/4 inch. (front and back)

Flip the dress right side out and press.  Finish by top-stitching along the top edge of the front and back.

And you are done!

If you wanted to make a diaper cover too, here is the link to the tutorial I used:  Diaper Cover tutorial.

If you use this tutorial to make a dress or top, be sure to come back and share it on my Facebook page or Flickr group!

Leave me a comment or send me an email if you have any questions or problems with the tutorial.  I’ll do my best to help!

If you like this type of sewing project and want to see more, you can follow along using the Google Friend Connect widget, through a reader, or signing up via email.  Just click on one of the icons below:

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  1. tinkerbell11 says:

    Love this! Thanks for all the fantastic tutorials & Patterns!

  2. abbeydabbles says:

    This is so adorbale! Must try this out!

  3. Justine of SewCountryChick says:

    This is so cute Jamie! Did you make two dresses? It looks like one has a seperate bodice and one is all in one. I'd love to make this.

  4. Michaela @ coveredinmodpodge.blogspot.com says:

    Very cute. I'm sure the foster momma will love it. Thanks for sharing the pattern. It's very sweet of you.

  5. Heidi Fowler says:

    Adorable! Thanks for the great tutorial. I hope you’ll link this up today (or anytime this weekend) at One Creative Weekend on OneCreativeMommy.com.

  6. Kirstin @ Hello Kirsti says:

    So cute, love the ruffle detail and the ties, they really make it unique!

  7. So cute!!! Thank you for sharing the tutorial! 🙂


  8. Where the Heart is says:

    This little dress is gorgeous! I can't wait to make one for my little girl. Thanks for the easy to read tutorial 🙂