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Crafts for summer: Sew a Tiered Pillowcase-Style Dress, kids craft ideas

Dress, Sewing  |  August 16th 2011  |  0 Comment

Crafts for summer: Sew a Tiered Pillowcase-Style Dress,

kids craft ideas

Materials needed:
Sewing machine
1/4 yard for bodice
1/2 yard for the 2nd tier
5/8 yard for the 3rd tier
1/8 yard for the tie
+/-28 inches of coordinating single fold bias tape
coordinating thread

First thing to do is create a bodice pattern.  Don’t worry, it is not hard at all and this type of dress is very forgiving.  The measurements I am giving you could probably fit a 3 to small 7 year old.  Any taller than that and you would just need to add an inch or two on the bottom tiers and an inch or so to the top side of the bodice.  My daughter is 4 1/2 and wears a 5T.

We are just going to draw the shape out on paper using a ruler and a few measurements.  I used freezer paper, but you could use tissue paper or a paper sack.  You just need something slightly larger than regular printer paper.

Start by drawing a vertical line 8.5 inches long.  Then at the bottom, a horizontal line 8.25 inches, then a 5.5 inch line at the top.  These lines are all at a 90 degree angles.  The 4th line, on the right, is 4 inches long and has the tiniest slant towards the middle.

Next, you will have to free hand the armhole.  Once you are done, cut it out the pattern.

Fold your fabric in half, put the long side on the fabric fold and cut 2 for the bodice.

Next, we will cut the tiers.  Fold your fabric in half.  The second tier measurements are 13 1/2 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches tall.  Cut 2 and when you open it, your fabric pieces will be 27 inches wide.

For the 3rd tier, fold the fabric in half and cut 2 pieces, 21 1/4  inches wide and 10 1/4 tall.  Here is what you will have.

Lets start sewing…  Right sides together, sew up the side seams of the bodice.  All seam allowances are 3/8 of an inch.  Finish the seams with your preferred method. (Pinking shears, serger, or zig zag stitch on your sewing machine.)  Press the seams flat.

I like to finish my armholes with single fold bias tape, so I am going to show you how to use it.

Cut 2 pieces of single fold bias tape 13 1/2 inches long each.  Turn fabric right side out and open bias tape up.  Align the edge of the bias tape up with the edge of the armhole like this:

Pin securely.

Sew along the crease removing pins as you go.  Do the same for the second armhole.

Fold bias tape over to the inside of the bodice, iron down and sew.


Now we will sew the top of the bodice.  Trim away any uneven bias tape.  Fold the top edge over 1/4 inch and press.  Fold over one more inch and press again.  Sew as close to the folded edge as you can, creating about a 1 inch casing.  This is where the tie will go.




Next, sew the short sides of the 2nd tier together to make a circle and finish the seam edges.  Do this for the 3rd tier as well.  Press the seams.

Time to gather the tiers.  Set your sewing machine to the longest stitch length.  (Mine goes to 7.)  Sew a straight stitch all the way around, 1/4 inch from the edge.  Leave the ends loose, no backstitching.  Do this on both tiers.  Go ahead and move the stitch length back to the normal length.

To gather the tier pull on the top thread while holding the fabric, you should see the fabric start to gather up.

(For an excellent tutorial on how to gather and make ruffles, go here.  It is where I learned to gather and make ruffles.)

Ok, gather the 2nd tier to approximately 16 inches.  (That is how wide the bottom of the bodice is.)   And Gather the 3rd tier to about 23 inches.

Hold the 2nd tier to the bottom of the bodice and make any adjustments in the width of the gather.

Then, right sides of the fabric together, match up the side seams and pin the gathered part of the 2nd tier to the bottom of the bodice.  When you are done it will look like this.  You can lift up the 2nd tier to see how it will look…

Place the gathered edge under your sewing foot and sew just to the left of the gathering stitch.  When I sew gathers, I usually leave my pins in, but you are risking broken needles and pins…

Remove the pins and finish the seams.  Repeat for the third tier, lining up the bottom of the 2nd tier to the gathered edge of the 3rd tier.  This takes a while…  sorry!

Now lets make the tie.  Cut your fabric pieces to 3.5 inches tall by 62 inches wide.  Depending on your fabric width, you will probably have to sew 2 pieces together.  (I had to piece together scraps for mine, so I sewed together 4 pieces to get the length I needed.)

Once you have the width needed, fold the fabric in half lengthwise and iron.

Then open up and fold both edges to the middle crease and iron,

Then fold in half and iron again.

Sew along all the edges.

Now, the only thing left is to hem the bottom.  Fold the bottom edge over 1/4 inch and press, then fold over another 1/4 inch and press again.  Pin if needed and sew along the edge.

Using a safety pin, pull the tie through the bodice casing.

Now sit back and admire your work!

It is even more satisfying to find a sweet little princess to model your outfit…