Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Toddler Peasant Dress Tutorial

I'm in love with sewing. I have no time, but I try to make time for this hobby. My only problem is that my project to-do list is ten times longer than I could possibly complete in the short time I have. These dresses were for Evelyn's second birthday party. I wanted to create a cute, 3/4 sleeve dress for the girls to wear.

My friends don't believe me, but I'm a very amateur seamstress. I don't know how to follow a commercial pattern, so blog tutorials are my saviors. There are so many blogs out there that detail almost any project in layman terms. With these tutorials, I don't need to figure out all the jargon on the pattern... I just cut my fabric and sew according to the pictures and easy directions. I think that once pattern companies figure this out, it will open a door to all of us amateur seamstresses to be able to really put together some fun projects.

I suppose my one redeeming quality is that once I do something one time, I usually figure out how I can change it to create what I want. This dress is basically my Valentine's Pillowcase Dress with sleeves. The best thing about this dress is that I already had the fabric cut out from the extra fabric squares I had from my cloth napkins from my sister's bridal shower.

Here is how I did it...

Supplies for a 4T dress. Adjust your size accordingly

1 yard of fabric- I used three different coordinating fabrics to make up this yard. 
1/4" elastic about 30"
coordinating thread
safety pin
rotary cutter and cutting mat

Step 1: Cutting the body of the dress

Take your fabric and cut a rectangle 19" long by the width of the fabric (approx 42"). Now cut in half so you have two rectangles that measure 21 x 19.

Place fabric on top of one another and fold in half. Place onto a cutting mat and line up the fold with the edge of the mat.
 Cut on a diagonal starting at 6" at the top and ending at 10 on the bottom. You now have two pieces of fabric that are the shape of a trapezoid.

Cut the arm holes with the fabric still folded. Start 6" down from the top and cut in about 2.5 inches- rounding the corner as you cut up to the neckline. The Cut should look like a backwards J.

2. Cutting the arms for the dress

Cut two rectangles 14 "x 10"

Fold in half and place fabric under the dress on the cutting mat with the fold towards the center of the dress and the raw edge lined up with the outside of the dress. Cut the arm holes by running your rotary cutter along the backwards J that you already cut into the dress. 

3. Shaping the arms

Cut 2 pieces of elastic 7" long for the elastic elbows of the dress. Measure where you'd like the elastic to go. I measured Elsie from her shoulder to her elbow and placed it there. It was 9" from the top. 

Using a zig zag or elastic stitch, sew the elastic to the fabric, pulling the fabric as you sew. I like to put a pin at the mid-point of the elastic & the mi-point of the fabric, so I know that I'm on target to not over or under stretch the elastic. 

Once you have the elastic sewn, finish the ends of the sleeves by folding over twice and top stitching. 

4. Adding Pockets

I love adding pockets to dresses. This is probably Elsie's favorite part of the dress. If you don't want to add pockets, skip this step.

First cut out your pocket fabric by hold the dress wearer's hand and cutting 2 inches around the hand. Make sure you double up the fabric and have it right sides facing each other so you are cutting both pieces of the pocket at once. I cut my pockets a little small, as you can see by the picture. It made for small pockets. 

Pin the pocket where you'd like it to go and sew a 1/4 inch seam with the right side of the pocket to the right side of the dress. Finish the seams by using a zig zag stitch.

Do this to all four pieces of the pocket. Be careful to place the pockets at the same place on each side of both dress pieces so the pockets line up and the dress is symmetrical. 

5. Assembling the dress

Line up the arm hole to the arm hole of one of the dress pieces. Sew a 1/2 inch seam. Finish the seams by zig zag stitching the edge. Repeat on the opposite side of the dress. Next sew the second dress piece to the arms. It now is starting to look like a dress. 
If you want to add any applique or embroidery, do it at this point. 

Turn the dress inside out. Start at the end of the sleeves and start pining the seam down the arms and the side of the dress making sure that all the seams line up. Pin the pockets so that the two pockets line up. 

Starting at the end of the sleeve, sew a 1/2" seam up the arm and continue down the side of the dress. 

For the pockets: Sew down the side of the dress until you hit the pocket. Sew 1/2" into the pocket and pivot the dress to sew around the edge of the pocket until you get to the dress again; pivot and continue sewing down the side of the dress. Finish the seam by using a zig zag stitch along the edge. 

Do the same for the other side of the dress. 

Hem the bottom of the dress at this time. 

6. The neckline

Fold the dress in half ad make the neckline straight but cutting along the top of the dress. 

Turn the dress inside out and fold over the neckline about a 1/4" and press. Then Fold over about 1/2" and press again. 

Top stitch along the bottom of the fold, leaving about a half inch opening. 

 Take 14" of elastic and attach a safety pin to the end. Feed through the casing you just sewed. Once through, sew the elastic together and finish sewing the opening. 

 Add a size tag if desired. I just used my machine's embroidery stitches on a 1" wide white satin ribbon.

And now you have an adorable peasant dress fit for a birthday princess!

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