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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Easter Dress Tutorial


Sorry it's been a while. Those of you with kids probably know that some weeks you get to craft, some weeks you do not. Since this blog is just for fun, I only post when I get the chance to craft and lately that has not been happening!

So how many of you have been thinking about Easter? I decided I wanted to make an Easter dress for Evie this year, mainly because I wanted to try my hand at a button down bodice (not an official term...more of a Taylor-ology).

Would you like to make one too?

You need:

1 yard of outside fabric
1 yard of lining fabric
3 coordinating buttons
A scrap of fabric for flowers
And the usual sewing stuff (machine, thread, seam ripper etc.)

*We are going to be making buttonholes in this tutorial. Don't be scared! Even manually, they are not that hard! There are tons of Youtube videos that show you how to make a buttonhole on your machine manually if you do not have the settings on your machine. I am going to show you how I do it with my machine so if you have a fairly new one, this will probably apply to you!

 First we will do the lining. Grab a shirt or dress that fits right now to make a pattern from. I used a dress that Evie is wearing right now and traced around the top. Our dress will be empire waist, so you only need another inch or two below the sleeve. This is of course, totally up to you. You can add a little more to drop the waist if you'd like.

Cut out your piece on the fold and use it to trace your back pieces. You may be tempted to just trace a second front piece for the back and cut it in half. DON'T!! Use your front piece but make a separate left and right piece. Your left piece will need to be another inch wider for the buttons.

At this point you should have 1 front piece, 1 back left piece and 1 back right piece.

Now use your lining pieces to trace pieces out of your main fabric and cut them out. Now you should have 2 front pieces (a lining and outer fabric), 2 left pieces (a lining and outer) and 2 right pieces (a lining and outer).

Put your lining and outer fabric right sides together. 

 Pin it around.
 Do the same for all your pieces. Lining and outer fabric with right sides together and pin.

 Now take your front bodice piece and sew around the edges. Make sure you leave a hole (about an inch wide) at the bottom of the piece (when we sew the skirt on it will close up the hole).

 See the hole at the bottom? Now turn it right side out.

 It will look like this. Make sure you stick your finger in and poke all the corners and sleeves out.

Grab your iron (groan! I know!) and give it a quick press. Aren't you glad you did? It looks so much better!

Now it's time to sew your left and right back pieces. See how the left side is a little longer (or wider if you prefer) than the right? 

 Sew around your left and right pieces again leaving a hole at the bottom so you can turn it right side out.

 Again, stick your finger into the hole and turn it right side out, making sure to poke out the sleeves and corners.

Press each side. 

 See how it fits now? The left side is a little longer so the buttons can go on the bottom and the buttonholes on the top.

Now it's time for the buttonholes. Stay with me!

Take out a ruler or measuring tape and decide where you want your first buttonhole. Make sure you measure an equal number between each button. For example, there was 1.5 inches between each button on mine. 

I grabbed my washable marker and put a tiny dot where I wanted each button. See the tiny purple dots? 

This is a buttonhole foot. It's not nearly as scary as it looks. 

Attach your buttonhole foot in the place of your standard presserfoot. It has the same metal bar across it as your presserfoot and attaches in the same place. 

This is the button I'm using. The cool thing about a buttonhole foot is it has a little slider that tells the machine how big to make the buttonhole, based on how big the button is. 

 Place the button into the slider and squish it in so it's tight around the button. Notice the slider is at the back of the foot.

I know this isn't the greatest picture of it but my thumb is on the needle bar. Before you're impressed with me, you should know I looked it up! This is the key to both machine and manual buttonholes. It tells your machine when to stop and go back in the other direction.

Pull the needle bar down making sure it's between the 2 plastic prongs. If you now have no idea what I'm talking about now refer to the picture above.

 This gorgeous piece of artwork is my practice piece of fabric. Before I sew on something I've worked really hard on, I make sure everything is working properly. These are my practice buttonholes.

Make your buttonholes. 

 Grab your seam ripper and gently open your buttonholes.

Pin the shoulders of the front bodice to the back left and right sides. 

And sew the shoulders. Flip it right side out.  

 Sew the buttons on. You can do it by machine but I'm always scared I'll break the buttons so I just did it by hand.
Now button it up to make sure everything lines up well. It's starting to come together! 

 Now for the sleeves. You can leave it sleeveless if you want I added little sleeves.

 Lay down the bodice and trace the sleeve insets to make your sleeves.

 Pin it around the curve.

 And sew it in place
 Repeat for the other sleeve.

Iron the sleeve down 1/4 inch and iron it over again another 1/4 inch. 

Sew it in place.  Repeat for the other sleeve.

 I wanted the sleeves to puff a little so I shirred the end but you could also sew a casing and add elastic for the same effect. I personally find it easier to shir but that's just me!

Load your elastic thread bobbin into your machine and sew 2 lines down the sleeve to gather it up. Repeat for the other sleeve.

 See how they have that cute little ruffle?

 Now we are going to close up the bodice. Pin from the end of the sleeves to the bottom of the bodice and sew.
 I went over it with a tight zigzag stitch to really stabilize it.

 The top is all done! Now we just have to make the skirt and w're all done!

Cut a rectangle twice the width of your bodice top. For example, my bodice was 12 inches wide so I cut a rectangle about 24 inches long and 14 inches long. You can make the length whatever you want, but my daughter is tall!

 Cut another rectangle the same size out of your outer fabric.

 Hem the bottom of the lining by ironing up 1/4 inch and then folding and ironing another 1/4 inch and sew.
Do the same for the outer  fabric. 

 With right sides together, sew the edges together for both the lining and outer fabric. You should have 2 large tubes.
 With the right side of the lining and wrong side of the outer fabric together slide the lining tube around the outside of the outer fabric. That way, if you lift up the outer fabric, you don't see the seams of the lining fabric, you want those on the inside. :)

 Line the seams up and pin them together.

 Set your machine to the longest running stitch and sew along the top of the two tubes. Make sure to leave a long string when you finish so you can gather it.

Pull your string to gather the skirt until it is the size of the bottom of the bodice. 

 Sorry, this picture isn't the best. With your bodice right side out, slide it inside the upside down skirt. In other words, the bottom of the bodice should match up with the top of the gathered skirt. Make sense?
 See the bottom of the bodice below the skirt?

 Pin it around.
 And sew over the gathers. I made sure to sew a little to the left of the gathers so they don't show when you flip the dress right side up.

 Now flip the skirt down and your construction is done! If you want to make a flower for embellishment, keep on scrollin'!

 Grab your scrap of fabric

 And fold it in half

 And then in half again

 And then one more time.

Now cut a circle out of your fabric. This is just a quick (or lazy haha) way to cut out a bunch of circles. 

The circles can be any size you want. This was how big mine were.

I cut a few bigger circles for the bigger flower in the middle.

Grab a circle and squish it together. 

 And fold it again

 Now do those same steps over again, squishing and folding in half and adding them around each other.

 After I had 4 of 5 together I grabbed a needle and thread and started sewing through the bottom to secure them together.

 Continue adding to your flower until you are happy with the size.

Decide on the placement of your flower.

 Sew it in place down through the front of the dress. I stitched it through a few times to hold it securely.

 This time I used the bigger circles I cut to make a larger flower. Follow the same steps of squishing and then folding in half and stitching it through the bottom. Sorry, it's not really scientific.

 Decide where you want your big flower and again stitch it through the dress.

To secure it at the end I loop it through itself on the inside and tied a knot. There's probably a better way, this is just how I did it!

 Now add a third flower if you'd like and you're done! See? That wasn't too hard was it?!?

Sorry, she's just so cute i couldn't resist! I hope this inspires you to make an Easter dress of your own! Feel free to add or subtract however you want and make it your own! I'd love to see it if you make one!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have an awesome day!

I'm linking up to Tea Rose Home, Kojo Designs and Seamingly Smitten. Go link up your stuff too!


  1. I like this dress alot. Very cute!


  2. What an awesome Easter dress! Congratulations on making the buttonholes so perfectly. You are so far ahead of me! I have the fabric for my kids Easter outfits but haven't cut into it yet. :) Link up at my linky party today! Show this off girl!

  3. Very cute! And great tutorial!

  4. So cute! I like the dress very much.

  5. Cute cute cute. I've been wanting to make an Easter dress too! I think I could pull this off. Thanks for the great instructions!