Rosamund has just the sweetest, simplest little pink dress that was a hand-me-down from my aunt’s grandbaby. It really is super simple, but I just LOVE the way it fits Rosamund….so I decided I want more just like this one. Rather than rummage through pattern books (knowing full well that I’ve got something in my pattern hoard stash), I decided it would be faster to just copy the dress itself. So I did. And I love it. She wore it to her Baby Dedication at church last Sunday.
Since I like it and I like the process, I kind of think you might too…so here is a tutorial on how to do it. It is easy breezy because I used a dress that is simple. Note two things – 1. it would not be as easy if the dress I was copying was not as simple, and 2. I’m copying a baby dress but it works exactly the same with a “grown up” dress!
Here's what I'm talking about ... started with the dress on the left, copied it, made another one!
So to get started, pick your dress. Duh.
Fold your fabric and fold the dress - both down the center. I should note that for this dress, both the front and back were almost identical, so I was able to cut them out almost identically. You'll see the only difference in a little bit. (You'll need to do this step separately for the front and back if your sides are different.)
You can see if positioned the fold of the dress about 3 inches away from the fold of the fabric. This is so that my dress will be gathered at the bodice. You can see the gathering on the pink so i want that on the green, too. Also, you'll see that as I cut the curve of the skirt I created a seam allowance.
In addition to making sure to create a seam allowance, I cut the new pattern quite a bit longer than the original so that it's a dress and not a tunic. I totally guessed on this measurement - feel free to measure your little munchkin if you're into that sort of thing. Be sure to cut 2 of these skirt sections.
Now that you have your front and back skirts, it's time to make the front and back bodice sections. Lay out a double layer of your fabric, and cut around the dress - again leaving a seam allowance. For the curved portion, I just carefully tucked my scissors in between the dress and the fabric and sort of guessed where the curve is. It's much easier and much more accurate than you'd think.
Here is where you have to make the change for the front and back. The front section of the bodice needs to come down lower to get over the head. So, I just cut it down lower. I didn't trace the dress or anything, I just guessed ... as long as you cut carefully, this will work out nicely. The left photo shows 2 identical sections, the Right photo shows how I cut the front section.
Disclaimer … Warning… Whatever you want to call it. I did make a mistake here. The dress I copied is made out of stretch knit fabric. I cut my new dress from quilting cotton. What’s the big deal?? Well…this dress, if made just like the original will not fit over her head because there is no stretch to the new dress. I should have caught this and extended the shoulder sections about an inch at the top to accommodate snaps or buttons. I was still able to do that, but the dress won’t fit her very long because it’s tight at the arms. Anyway, let’s move on!
Run a basting or a gathering stitch along the top of both skirt sections. Pull to make the gathers.
With right sides together, attach the skirt to the bodice. Repeat this for the other skirt and bodice pieces.
Press your seams, and you'll end up with 2 sections like this...by now it's getting exciting!
Sew your side seams.
You're going to attach bias tape all the way around the top of the bodice sections including the shoulder sections. To make this easier, I suggest curving the shoulder straps. Bias tape works gorgeously around curves!
Cut a long strip of bias tape (or use purchased bias tape). I suggest beginning at an underarm seam, but it's your dress. Start wherever you want. I'm not that bossy!
You can attach bias tape from the front first or the back first. I wanted my tape to be a design element, so I first sewed it to the wrong side, pressed it to the front, then sewed it down with a topstich. Here you see how I used my tailor's ham to help the pressing process. I don't have a photo, but once I finished pressing, using about a 4.5 stitch length, I sewed along the edge of the bias tape to attach it to the front of the dress.
Then I attached snaps to the shoulders and hemmed the dress. Almost done! Hollah!
I felt the dress was lacking a little something schnazzy, so I added a little yoyo. Love it!
And of course I added a matching headband!
And then I put a baby inside! It was IMPOSSIBLE to get a non-blurry photo of this little darling of mine, but hey - you can still tell the dress turned out! Look at the armholes - you can tell that I got lucky that my oversight turned out okay. Those armholes are tight, but perfect for about a month! Okay, maybe 2 weeks!
Truthfully, this is not a project for novice … unless you’re okay taking it slow and/or making a few mistakes. I would say this is really more along the lines of an intermediate project…as much as I HATE saying that! It’s still cheap though, so give me some props!
Here’s the breakdown:
Time: realistically, about an hour, depending upon how comfortable you are with bias tape. Some of you will need 2 hours for this dress if you need to take your time cutting and applying the bias tape.
Cost: I calculated right at 1/2 yard of fabric for the whole dress, so you’re looking at about $5!!!
Go ahead y’all…sew yourself up something that you already have!!! I dare you!!!
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