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There are all sorts of fabulous shirred dress tutorials floating around the internet, so sorry if this is redundant. I wouldn’t say this is the most low-maintenance dress to make (the fabric straps, pockets and cuffed bottom all add extra steps)… But, gosh darn it, the finished product is just darling. That being said, you could easily eliminate any of the ‘extras’ to streamline the process a bit.
To make this sweet summer dress, you’ll need:
-fabric- I ordered 3 yards of coordinating fabric from Heather Bailey’s Nicey Jane line and made a 3T dress, a 2T dress and two newborn dresses. I think to make one toddler sized dress you’d need 1/2-3/4 yard of your main print, a long strip of your cuff fabric (5″ tall and as long as your main fabric piece), and other coordinating scraps for the pockets
-ribbon for straps (I made a couple dresses with fabric straps and one dress with ribbon straps… in this tutorial, I’ll show you how to use the ribbon)
-thread- elastic for the shirred section and matched/coordinated to your fabric for the rest
1. Measure the diameter of your little one’s chest as well as your desired dress length. Multiply the chest measurement by 1.5 to 2- this will be the width of your main rectangle of fabric as well as your coordinating cuff. The desired length, minus a couple of inches for the straps and a couple of inches for the cuff, are your fabric’s length measurement.
2. Cut a long, thin rectangle of fabric for your cuff. Iron in half with the right sides showing (this is different than usual- usually you’re ironing the right sides in and then turning inside out). Sew this ‘cuff’ onto the bottom of your piece of fabric. For durability, I serged this seam between the main dress and the cuff piece as well.
3. You should now have a rectangular piece of fabric your desired dress length (it’ll gain a couple of inches when you add the straps) with the coordinating cuff sewn on at the bottom. Using your elastic thread and the fabulous shirring tutorial at Prudent Baby (if you have a drop in bobbin), shir the top portion of the dress. I sewed 9 lines for the newborn dress and 12 for the 2T and 3T sizes. When you’ve stitched all of your parallel lines, mist your shirred portion and iron. This will shrink up your shirring so that you no longer have a rectangle, but a scrunched up dress top and rectangular dress bottom.
4. Sew up the inside out side of your dress to make a tube (it’s not really a tube because the bottom is wider than the scrunched up top, but you know what I mean). Turn right side in.
5. Sew ribbon in place as sleeves (I’ll show you how to add the fabric sleeves tomorrow).
6. Add pockets if you please. I loosely followed the pleated pocket tutorial on I Am Momma- Hear Me Roar and then added a top cuff of contrasting, coordinating fabric on one pocket and a strip of coordinating fabric on the others… the newborn baby dresses didn’t get pockets at all.
Now make another one (or three) in coordinating fabrics… and delight in your nieces wearing these little gems to church and birthday parties and eating ice cream on the front lawn, really, anywhere a sweet summer dress might be necessary.
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