For the past couple of weeks I have been working on perfecting this pattern that I have named The Perennial Dress. You may have seen my first attempt here. I have made some alterations since then, including a longer hemline, adding pockets and perfecting the sleeves. See my second trial here. This is the first pattern that I have drafted from scratch and I am very excited about it. It comes in sizes - 6 months to 6 years. I have named it The Perennial Dress because it can be made as a summer dress in light weight cotton and a winter dress in a heavier fabric such as soft cord or soft denim. The pattern is hand drawn.
PATTERN ACCESS: You can download the pattern for free HERE.
The pattern includes fabric requirements, height conversion chart, pattern pieces, fabric layout recommendation and shirring/elastic placement instructions.
Here is the tutorial on how to make the dress. I hope you like it!!
The Perennial Dress Tutorial
*It is advisable to pre wash your fabrics*
1. Print out pattern and charts and tape together as indicated on page layout chart.
2. Measure your child/check height-age chart and determine best size.
3. Trace pattern size (I use baking paper and greylead pencil) and transfer pattern markings for sleeves, pocket placement and back opening.
4. Cut out pattern pieces.
5. Pin pattern pieces to fabric - be sure to allow space for seam allowance as instructed.
6. Using taylor's chalk, draw around pattern pieces using seam allowance instructions. The hemline seam allowance is a little different - a picture demonstrates this below. Using a slightly angled hemline at the side seams provides a flatter hem without tucks or puckering underneath.
7. Cut pieces. Your layout will look something like this.
NB: I did not use both strips of bias I cut. Since this pic I have adapted the pattern piece and you only need one strip of bias binding.
8. With right sides together, sew shoulder seams and overlock/zig zag.
Neckline and centre back seam:
9. Overlock outer edge of neck facing, press and pin (with right sides together) to flattened neck opening. Sew around neck opening as shown.
10. Clip neck seam as shown to allow for a nice smooth curve.
11. Cut button loop cord/elastic/ribbon and fold and pin as shown on back centre seam (I recommend you pin the loop 1.5 cm from neck seam). Allow enough cord to fit your button. My cord is 10cm long to allow a 22mm button.
12. Fold facing down and pin. Sew from top of neck facing to bottom of neck facing (remember, this is a larger seam - 1.5cm)
13. Fold your facing right side out and press. Your loop will look something like this (please note, my seam here looks a little small - I adjusted this to allow for a bigger seam but forgot to take pics. Following the measurements in the step above, your loop will also be a little further down which allows for a nice button placement).
14. Repeat the short seam on the opposite centre back seam and neck facing.
15. Sew centre back seam from top down. Leave gap for neck opening as indicated on pattern.
16. Overlock and hem curved sleeve seam as shown - remember this is a smaller seam (0.5cm). Press.
Optional: If you would like to add trim to your sleeves, do that now. I used a zipper foot for the bobble trim, but if you are using ric rac or lace, just use a regular foot. Ease your trim around slowly and sew about 2mm from the sleeve edge.
Your sleeve will look like this
17. Adjust your stitch length to the longest stitch your machine will allow. Sew two lines of gathering stitch along straight edge of sleeve (first seam approx 2-3 mm from sleeve edge and second seam a foot width in from first seam). Sorry I forgot to take a photo of this step.
18. Gently pull top threads of both seams to gather up sleeve. Use sleeve placement marking to gauge how much to gather your sleeve. Pin sleeve to sleeve opening as shown.
19. Readjust your stitch length for regular sewing. Sew sleeve seam and overlock entire sleeve opening (including beyond sleeves).
20. Fold seam in toward dress and top stitch along sleeve seam approx 1-2 mm from seam. Do not top stitch under beyond sleeve - this will be done later when you use the bias binding.
21. Fold pocket in half length ways with right sides together. Sew around curve of pocket, leaving a 4cm opening along straight side edge.
22. Clip seam.
23. Turn right side out and press - carefully pressing opening under.
Optional: If you are adding trim, do this now. Use same technique as sleeve edge. You will need to use fray stopper for edging on cut edges to prevent fraying.
24. Line centre of pocket up with pocket markings on dress and pin pocket around curved edge.
25. Sew pockets unto dress approximately 1-2 mm from pocket edge. Press. (You will notice in this photo that I sewed pockets on after elasticing bodice. However, I think it will be slightly easier if you sew the pockets on first).
The steps relating to elasticing the bodice depend on the weight of fabric you are using. For heavier weight fabrics, shirring elastic does not give a good effect. I used 5 lines of 3 mm elastic on the underside. For regular quilting weight cotton or lighter, shirring elastic wound onto your bobbin is more suitable. I will show you both here and will relate to the steps as Option A (using thicker elastic and heavier fabric) and Option B (using shirring elastic with lightweight fabric).
Options A & B
26. Use elastic placement chart to mark out position of seams as shown. You will need to mark this on the right side for Option A and the wrong side for Option B. Use the placement chart to measure down from the centre of the front neckline and chalk a vertical line down as directed. Then draw a horizontal line the lenth of seam instructed, using vertical line as a gauge for centre of horizontal line. Sorry this pic is a bit blurred. Pic is for option B.
27 A. Begin first seam along line horizontal line drawn on right side of fabric. Make sure you backstitch approximately 1cm at each end of seam to prevent elastic from coming undone. Run four more seams parallel to first seam at a foot width apart. Stretch fabric out as you go so that you are sewing on flat fabric. Your wrong side will look like this.
And your right side like this.
27 B. Pin 3 mm elastic to top corner marking you have made. Stitch about 1cm through centre of elastic along chalked line and back stitch the same distance. Your seam is now secure enough for you to pull the elastic. You need to pull your elastic to approximately 3/4 of the full amount of stretch possible and sew slowly using chalk line as a gauge. Back stitch securely at end of seam and cut elastic. Repeat four more times using a foot width between each seam.
Wrong side will look like this.
Right side will look like this.
Use a wet cloth to remove chalk lines.
Side seams and armholes:
28. With right sides together, sew and overelock side seams and press. The bottom of your side seam will be slightly angled.
Optional: If you are making your own bias binding, fold and press bias into the centre horizontally and then as shown.
Fold your bias again as shown so that the previous folded edges are hidden.
29. Turn armhole edge under as shown and press.
30. Pin bias as shown.
31. Sew on wrong side along top edge of bias binding.
32. Repeat along bottom edge of binding. Sew these seams slowly - making sure you hold the dress flat so that it does not pucker.
33. Turn right side out and press well.
Hem and button:
34. Overlock hem edge and turn under approximately 2.5cm and pin evenly around. Sew around hem from wrong side and press.
35. The last thing you need to do is to sew on a button and you are all done!!! Hooray!!
One gorgeous dress ready to wear!!
The dress also looks sweet with long sleeves and tights for winter.
I would absolutely love to hear what you think and later if you have used the pattern. Please comment and include your link if you have used the pattern and I will have a look!! Also feel free to ask me any questions about the pattern in the comment section. I have a little flickr pool if you would like to share photos of your version of The Perennial Dress!!