Monday, March 19, 2012

Polky-Nots Dress Tutorial

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 I'm pretty excited about this dress for two reasons: 1) it has pockets, and my girls looooooove pockets.  And 2) it has a super-fun elasticized waist, made by using elastic thread.  If you haven't cinched your fabric up with elastic thread, you really need to try it now.  It's fun and very rewarding. :)
When I told Noelle I made her a new polka dot dress, she exclaimed, "Polky-Nots!?"  Thus, the name. :)

Let's get going, shall we?

Materials:
about 1 yard of fabric
1/4-inch elastic
elastic thread
fabric marker
other sewing gear
pattern pieces, if you want 'em! main piece, sleeve and pocket

Instructions:
    **Use a 1/2 inch seam allowance throughout.

First, you need to make your pattern.  The dress is really a modified simple peasant dress.  The nice thing about peasant dress patterns is that they are super forgiving.  I'll give you the general idea, so you can easily draft your own.  If you want to use my pattern, print off what's above.  It also contains notes on how to edit it. :)

I like my chest to measure about 10 inches larger than the wearer.  Noelle has a 20-inch chest, so I cut each piece 15 inches wide (7.5 inches out from the fold).  You can also see the basic shape for the top of the main piece (below).  This is why the peasant dress rocks-- those little curves don't have to be perfect.  They should just look roughly like this.  You're going to gather in that neckline, so it will seem uber-big.  The armhole will also gather in as you gather the neck, so that will appear sizable, too.  

From the bottom of your armhole, cut straight down 2.5 inches.  From there, cut it out on an angle for an A-line.

Here's what you'll have for your main body piece.  Cut two of these.

Your sleeves will actually look similar to your main piece, just smaller.   I place the top of my main piece on the fold of the fabric I'm going to cut for the sleeve, but I place the top of the armhole about 3.5 inches from the fold.  Then you'll cut the same curve that you did for your armhole but flatten out the top line a little (you can see my faint tracing of this below).

From the bottom of the armhole, cut straight down (parallel to the fold), 1.5 inches.
 That was really wordy.  I hope it was clear.  Let me know if you have questions.

Anyway, last but not least is the pockets.  Again, the shape just has to be close.  Mine look like this:

Now we are done with cutting (I hate that part).  We get to assemble!  This is much more fun!

Measure down 3.5 inches and place your pockets, right sides together, on the front and back main pieces.

Sew the pockets on.  Then zig-zag stitch just where you sewed, to finish that edge.  I forgot the zig-zag, doggone-it!  Learn from my mistakes.

Press the pockets out, so they look like this.

Now we focus on the neckline.  Pin one sleeve piece to one main piece.  Stitch and zig-zag.  

Then attach the other sleeve to the other side of that main piece.  Stitch and zig-zag.

Stitch the sleeves to the other main piece and-- from the wrong sides-- you'll have this:

Now you're going to turn your neckline in 1/4 of an inch then 1/2 inch and press.  I intentionally took a picture of the part below where it got a little wonky.  Again, the peasant dress forgives me.  See, this is all going to be gathered in, so you won't even be able to tell.  If you're a crazy perfectionist (I'm a recovering one), here's what I want you to say to yourself: "It's not perfect, but that doesn't mean it's crappy.  If I think my dress is crappy, I'm also saying that Heather's dress is crappy.  That's not very nice; that will hurt Heather's feelings."  Then you forgive your imperfections and get on with your life.  Whew.  Glad that's over. :)

Sew close to the edge, leaving a gap through which to run your elastic.  I put my elastic in right away, but you should WAIT!  Trust me.

You'll have this, though you're waiting to gather the neckline.

Put right sides together and sew up the sides, around the pockets and under the arms.  Finish with a zig-zag.

Now finish the arms but turning in 1/4 inch than another 1/4 inch.  You'll see it comes right up to the seam. Stitch close to the edge.

Then hem the bottom.

You have this, but again, your neck isn't gathered (like mine).  Man, your life is going to be way easier than mine was at this point.

Using a straight edge and a fabric marker, draw a straight line across the main piece, starting one inch from the armhole. This is easier for you since your neck isn't gathered yet.  This is the line you'll follow to cinch your waist.

With the elastic thread in your bobbin and your coordinating thread on top, stitch around that line.  Then stitch another line, using your presser foot as a guide.  You may have to pull your fabric a little, so it stays flat while you make your second line of stitches.  Then do it again for a third line.

If your elastic isn't as cinched as you'd like, place a hot iron on it, and it'll gather in for ya.


Then you have a cute and feminine waist on a lovely spring dress! :)

NOW finish that neck by threading 1/4-inch elastic through it (mine is about 14 inches long). Done and done! Woohoo!

Mmmm... green and pink.  Love it. Oh, and feel free to pair it with some sweet shades.  Show the world you're ready for the heat!!

57 comments:

  1. Darling dress I am going to make one for my granddaughter!

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    1. Yay! I love hearing that my dresses will be re-made! Post a picture to the Flickr group when you finish!

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  2. Simply adorable. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to make it for my soon to be two year old daughter!

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    1. I'm sure she'll be a doll! Post a picture to the Flickr group when you're done!

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    2. I'm finally getting around to making this dress. My daughter's measurements are the same as your daughter's in the tutorial. Will I need to cut the material wider than 15 inches to allow for the angle of the A line? Looking at your pictures the bottom of the dress looks wider than 15 inches. Thanks. Looking forward to your reply.

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    3. You will need to cut it slightly wider, but not excessively. At the bottom, it will probably be about 19 inches wide. So, when you're cutting on the fold, angle it out about two inches. Make sense?

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  3. The shirred waist just makes this dress, Heather!!! Looks like it would be very comfortable to wear and easy to get on and off. As always, your tutorial is so comprehensive and easy to follow. A great looking dress which I'm going to add to my ever growing 'To Do' list.

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    1. Thanks! I felt a little wordy in this one. I do love the waist!! I love shirring. It's so fun and looks so cute!

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  4. I just learned to shirr this week (I love it!). And I was thinking that I wanted to make a dress EXACTLY like this next. I just didn't know how. I was so excited when this popped up on my reader. Hopefully I'll have some time tomorrow afternoon. Thanks SO much!

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    1. What great timing! Isn't shirring a BLAST?? I love it! I also just updated to include a pattern if you want it! :)

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    2. So I finally got to the dress today. I love it! When my daughter is happy and the sun is shining at the same time I'll take pictures and send them your way.
      Thanks for the pattern, I used it and only had to add a little bit to the width so it was MUCH easier than trying to figure it out myself!
      Just a couple of things I noted. I couldn't find where you said the seam allowance. Maybe I'm blind, but I assumed 1/2 an inch just based on your pictures. It seemed to work.
      I had a bit of trouble with the sleeves. Not the actual sewing, just when I turned it inside out. The zig-zaged "flap" from the side seams (under the arm) was sitting funny, making a pucker. So I don't know what I was supposed to do that I didn't. It just was laid flat when it was inside out, but once turned, puckered. It wasn't a big deal. I just clipped the corner in a little triangle and it was all good. But I thought if anyone else had the same trouble they might want some ideas of how to fix it. I was just careful to not clip the actual seam.
      Thanks again for the great tutorial!

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    3. Thanks for the awesome critique! You're helping me get better at this! You're not blind... I definitely have no seam allowance on there. But you nailed it with the 1/2 inch. :) As for the sleeve, I'll make another one for my other daughter and see if I have a similar issue. I'm thinking that if you increase the sleeve length just a smidge (like, 1/8 of an inch even), the problem will go away. Does that seem to make sense with the issue you're having?

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    4. I finally got pictures of the dress this weekend. You can see them here.
      It might be that the sleeve needed to be slightly longer. I don't know. If (when!) I make the pattern again I'll let you know. It may have just been when I sewed the "flap" into the arm I didn't account for the curve of the underarm enough. Sometimes problems are hard to duplicate. So if it happens again, I'll let you know.

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    5. It turned out so cute!! And your adorable model doesn't hurt! Thanks for sharing the pics! LOVE it!

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  5. So cute! I love that fabric :)

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  6. Thank you for the absolutely adorable dress! I will be making one for my little one this summer!

    Check out my new blog-

    www.forcraftinesssake.blogspot.com

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    1. You got it! I'm your newest follower! :)

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  7. Love this! What size is your pattern? I want to make some for my Nieces!

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    1. The pattern is for a 2T-4T size. Because of the shirted waist, it expands to a larger size really easily!

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  8. So cute! And I love the name :) Thanks for the tutorial!

    www.bluebirdandtheboy.blogspot.com

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  9. Very cute! One of my favorite color combos right now :) Pinning this and hoping to make it in the near future, thanks for the pattern and how to!

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    1. Yay! Thanks for the pin! I love those colors, too! :)

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  10. This is so adorable! I'll have to give it a try for my girl's Easter dress!

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    1. Awesome! I'd love to see pictures if you do!

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  11. What a great tutorial. My mom used to make my clothes...and they looked homemade. This dress does NOT look homemade, it looks adorable (maybe it has something to do with the adorable model).

    amy @ whilewearingheels.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you so much! That means a lot! I'm headed over to check out YOUR blog now! :)

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  12. I agree with Amy, this does not look homemade at all! I absolutely love it and will be featuring it on my FB page today. Thanks for linking with Sugar & Spice!

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    1. You are so sweet! Thank you! And thanks for the feature!!! :)

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  13. Pockets in a peasant dress!!! Brilliant!

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    1. Pockets are pretty darn amazing, aren't they? Noelle slipped her hands in and wouldn't take them out. :)

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  14. Found on Sassy Sites and I ADORE this!!!! I have been looking for a simple practical pattern for my two daughters (6&5) that wont feel too babyish for them. I think I have a winner!!!! LOVE!!!

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  15. This is such a great tutorial--how fun!!

    Shannon@SewSweetCottage

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  16. I'm so smitten with this delightful little dress! In fact, it's one of the features on tomorrow's "A Little Birdie Told Me..."!

    Best,
    Jenn

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  17. So cute! Not only the little girl, and the dress, but also the fabric~! All of it together is lovely! I'm featuring it on Topsy Turvy Tuesdays tonight.

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    1. Thanks, Ashlee! I have to say that, of the three, I think the girl is the cutest. And I'm totally impartial. :) Thanks for the feature!!!

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  18. I have been scouring the internet for a cute, easy dress tutorial. Imagine my excitement when I seen this on Pinterest today. I'll be attempting this dress this week. Thanks so much for sharing :)

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    1. Yay!!! Let me know if you have any questions! And I'd love to see pictures when you finish!

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  19. Seriously so cute! I want to make one of these for my niece. Thanks for linking up with Scout's Sweet Sundays.

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    1. Yay! I'm sure she'll be a doll in it! Thanks for hosting the party! :)

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  20. Hi, Thanks for posting this tutorial. I found this the other day on Pinterest. I was wondering what the finished length is. I just got done making one and it's 16.5 inches. I think that it's going to be too short for the 18 month old that I made this for. This little girl lives 3 hours away so I could not measure her. Also you said to use 1 yard of material and cut two body pieces on the fold. I bought 1 metre of material, I'm in Canada, which is 3.5 inches longer and had a rough time measuring and cutting, because I'm dumb like that. I thought that I wouldn't have enough material to make this long enough.
    See, you're not the only one who can be wordy :)

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    1. Oops! See my comment below. I meant to reply but I just posted a whole new comment. Hehe.

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  21. I'm pretty sure I could out-wordy most people. :) Okay... let's see. I usually would make an 18 month dress somewhere between 18-20 inches long, depending on what length is wanted, but I bet yours will still make an adorable top! As for the amount of material, it should work... do you know how wide the fabric is? You should be able to cut both the front and back pieces across the width of the fabric for an 18 mo-old. Make sense?

    Let me know if I can help any more!!

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    1. The material is 42 inches wide and it didn't look like there would be enough material to fold and cut the second piece. I was thinking on pairing it up with a pair of leggings. Thanks :)

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    2. Oh! I don't know if it's a US/Canada thing, but our typical cotton is 48" wide. 42" would make it tight! Sorry about that!!

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    3. That explains a lot lol. Thanks :)

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  22. I love your blog and I LOVE this dress! I found it on Pinterest and just made it for my little girl. You check it out on my blog if you're interested. I linked to your page :D Thanks! http://ellaandharry.blogspot.com

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  23. thank you for sharing your tutorial, I´ve used it for my little girl, it´s blogged:)and I´ve added a link to you:)
    Thanks from Austria/Europe
    Ursula

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  24. Getting started on this adorable dress. I picked up some cute red fabric for my girl. Did I miss something in the directions? Any guidelines for the length?

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    1. I didn't include a length, so you can make it however long you like. What size are you making? If you need help, I can recommend a length for you, depending on the size! Good luck! Post a picture to the flickr group when you're done! I'd love to see the end result! :)

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  25. Thank you for the tutorial. I just made one and my little one is loving her new dress. I loved the way it turned out. It's simple, but beautiful.

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  26. Do you think this would work with ruffle fabric? I'm thinking about making my daughters baptism dress using this tutorial out of white ruffle fabric.

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  27. Muchísimas gracias por le paso a paso.
    Un saludo desde España.

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  28. Adorable! The pattern for the main piece says to angle and cut at desired length. How deep an angle should I be going for?

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  29. Your main pattern piece says to 'cut down at angle to desired length'. how deep an angle are we going for?

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  30. Thanks for the great tutorial and pattern! I have a question...When I lay the sleeves on top of the bodice they are slightly higher at the top. Should they be this way or should the top of the sleeves and the bodice match? Any input will be appreciated and thanks again for the great tutorial!

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I love comments more than I love buying new fabric, and that's saying something. :)