Friday, February 22, 2013

The Perennial Dress - A free pattern and tutorial

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.

UPDATE:  Sorry, this pattern is no longer available.

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.

Start sewing!!

Shoulder seams:

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).

Elasticised bodice:

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.

Option A.

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.

Option B

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!!


Leanne M said...

Thanks for the free pattern, and I love the new blog header, its stunning!

Mezz said...

what a beautiful design,you're a clever lady!i'm not sure if my sewing skills are up to scratch,but i do love a challenge!will let u know how i go....mezz.

sascedar said...

such a tops pattern- thanks for your generousity! This might be the thing to get me out of my sewing funk. Very kind of you :)sarah

Christine said...

Wow - thank you so much. There is snow on the ground here and my daughter is growing so fast so I will probably wait a while to make it but I'm really looking forward to it. I love the pictures and your new banner.

Crafted by Carly said...

I love it so! The colours of this one are just gorgeous too! I really want one for myself! :-)
Your photos are great, by the way! I love that yellow wall!
Happy Friday!

Amber said...

Great tutorial! Thank you!

Cindy said...

Love the final version! I have it pinned and will be sewing one up as soon as I get started on summer sewing.:) Thanks!

Roslyn@Sew Delicious said...

Love it and can't wait to make it - it was lovely to get a sneak peek of it in real life yesterday!

Suz said...

Awesome! Thanks Cindy !

Suz said...

Awesome! Thanks Christine !

Erin said...

This is adorable! Great tutorial.... Pinning it now!

Karen said...

My goal for my spring sewing is to create dresses that can be used year round (alone in the summer and with a t-shirt underneath in the winter) and this is definitely one i will be sewing for my girls. I love the simple/versatile design and the cute sleeves. And it has pockets! Thank you so much for sharing.

AMCutler said...

This is great! Thanks! I have three little girls too that I love to sew for.

Kayla Ott said...

That is very cute! Thanks for the pattern :) I hope to see more from you!

michelle said...

Such a dear dress and fantastic detailed tutorial as well :-) Thank you for sharing!!

Suz said...

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments. I can't wait to see a creation from my pattern! Suz

Pam @Threading My Way said...

An adorable little dress, Suz!!! I've pinned this and downloaded the pattern.

JL said...

Adorable dress! I'm definitely pinning this one!

Straight Grain said...

Beautiful! I also love your new blog header :-)

{jen} iCandyhandmade said...

So adorable!

Chelsea@getyourcraptogether said...

This is so cute! I'm super excited to make it. I'd love for you to share it at our first ever Pattern Party! Check it out! Thank you again for sharing

Wen from Whats Mummy Up To said...

I love, love, love this, and I think I will be making 2 in the very near future!! Might be a good way to Christen my sparkling new overlocker. Thanks so much!

Suz said...

Will try to remember to link up. Thanks!

OnceUpona Sew said...

This is officially on my sewing list!What a great little dress.

Elisabetta said...

thank you SO MUCH for this perfect pattern and tutorial, this is a dress I am going to make for my little girl, you'll be present here in Italy with this dress for sure ^_^

Maria said...

Great tutorial. Thanks!

Patchwork Mill, Maria said...

Beautiful dress! Thank you for the pattern :)

Laura. said...

This is the cutest thing I've seen in my life. You have such a wonderful eye for color!

Monica Swift said...

Oh, I love this! Thank you so much, I can't wait to try one out!!!

Suz said...

Thank you. Don't forget to upload pics to my flickr group of your creation!

eileen said...

I love this! Can't wait to try it. Thanks for the free pattern and excellent instructions. I already have several ideas for different seasons. THANKS!

Womens Clothing said...

Your description was good. Lovely blog!

Anonymous said...

Wow Suz,
Looks like you've got lots of people making the dress!
Loved Emily's birthday pics. xo

Anonymous said...

This is one cute dress and you are generous to share your pattern. I have been sewing for , mostly using pillowcases. But now I want to use other designs that are a little bit more becoming to a little girl. Your design fits right in. So thanks so much. In the future some little girl anywhere in the world will wear your dress. How can that not make us happy.

Pam @Threading My Way said...

Hi Suz, I've featured the Perennial Dress today... Threading Your Way Features

laura said...

wow, I just found your lovely pattern via pinterest! Looks so sweet, I will definitely have a go at making this dress for my daughter! laura x

Ana said...

Thank you very much for this lovely pattern and the great tutorial. I am sure I'll do it for my girl for this summer. Xxx

Kate said...

Great pattern, thanks so much for sharing!

Suz said...

Thanks Ana. Let me know Once you have made it! Suz :)

Suz said...

Thankyou elisabetta! It is lively to think a little girl in Italy will be wearing my dress! Suz:)

Anonymous said...

Nice tutorial, cute dress, adorable model
Can not wait to make several of these
Thank you for your generosity

totter said...

Thanks so much! I can't wait to try this out!

Sew Spoiled said...

I have linked to your great sewing tutorial. Thank you for sharing it.

Corinne said...

Does your sewing machine have an over-lock stitch? It looks like you used a serger.

Thanks for sharing your pattern. It is very generous!

Suz said...

Hi corrinne,
No I used my sewing machine and separate overlocker. Glad you like my pattern:)

Toni-Maree from Sew Jereli said...

Hi Suz, just stopped by to say thank you for the gorgeous pattern, I made a cute tiny version for a bub on the way. Blogged here:

Thanks again x Toni

Madame Piepsi said...

Hi Suz,thanks for sharing this great pattern! I absolutely love the perennial dress! See my version here:

AuBouillonLĂ©on said...

Thanks for the free pattern! This dress is lovely!

Childrens Summer Dress said...

Great work, it looks lovely!

kumud satsangi said...

Hi, I loved this tutorial, will sure make this for my daughter.

jtrevena said...

I was definitely going to make this for my daughter and post pictures (made something similar but not as nice this week), and then realised I'd missed the Scribd boat - the second one! Is there any chance of it being posted a third time? Either way, it's very lovely.

sascedar said...

I finally had a chance to use your lovely pattern- thanks so much! Made it into a very cute top, there will be more to come :) Sarah

Anonymous said...

i thought it was free? but its not letting me download or print until i pay((( so upset, was so exited to start working on this dress

Anonymous said...

Having the same problem - can't download it without signing up and paying. Am I doing something wrong or have I just missed the boat? Dress looks lovely, very impressed. You are a talented lady! :-)

Anonymous said...

wanted so much to make this cute dress for my granddaughters but can't download without paying so I guess i am out of luck!
I am getting really tired of this happening so often.
If it is free it should be free.
Sorry, annoyed grandmother

Fran said...

Oh stinkers, I should had downloaded this straight away instead of pinning it till my baby could walk. I'll check back later in the year maybe :-)

Anonymous said...

Having the same problem - have to pay to download the pattern! It is NOT free!

Anonymous said...

Why can't you put the pattern at the end of this tutorial? Would love to make this dress for my great niece! Sadly not to be as it is not free to download.

Can you email me the pattern please?

Anonymous said...

Here is someone else looking for that pattern. I tried to open the link and it does not seem to work. Can you please kindly email me the pattern? Many Thanks.
grovesrus at cwisp dot ca

Nancy said...

Thank you for the free pattern for this adorable dress. I love it. I'm looking forward to making one and then waiting for my grandbaby to grow into it.

Renata Almeida said...

Hello Suz!
What a lovely dress! So cute!
I try to get the pattern but sadly it´s not free on scridb : (
Can you please kindly email me the pattern?
I was looking for a pretty dress like that to make for my little niece, it´s perfect!
I will be very happy If you send it to me!
Thanks a lot!

Renata Almeida said...

My e-mail is

Thanks : )

Anonymous said...

Any chance you can email me the pattern? I don't have a scribd account. Email is

Sia D'Souza said...

Ummm..Quite interesting article. Its very helpful for those who want to learn how to make baby girl clothes. I was also searching to buy Baby clothes for my daughter and I got redirected to your blog. This post is helpful to me. Thanks for sharing.

Karen O said...

Do you have a PDF located somewhere else for this pattern? The link provided goes to Scribd which wants a membership fee of $8.99 for the download. Grrr!

Wish I'd downloaded this when I first saw it 6 months ago!

Linda said...

Hi...are you charging for the pattern now? You stated the download is free, but it isn't. Might be wise to remove the "free" if it is not. Thank you!