Allow me to give you a brief history of this dress. Not too long ago my mom and I unearthed a number of baby dresses my Grandmother made for me almost 30 years ago. In the box was this sweet little number:
So, a few things before we get started on this tutorial.
- This is the first time I've posted a free PDF pattern. If you have any trouble downloading the pattern using the link below, PLEASE let me know.
- Sharing in the online community is what this is all about, so please, if you make one of these dresses and post pictures on your blog, flickr, or whatever, I'd love to see them! You can share your link with me in the comments section here or email me at email@example.com. I'll add your link to a list at the bottom of this post so others can be inspired by your work. :)
- This pattern is for personal use only; however, if you are interested in selling some of these hand-made baby dresses, just ask my permission (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll probably say yes.
Okay, ready to get started? First, download the pattern by clicking on the link below. This will take you to another website and you will have to click on the words, "Download Image." When you print this pattern makes sure it prints at FULL SIZE, or 100%.
Next, gather your materials:
- 1/4 yard of fabric (or one fat quarter): light-weight cotton, cotton voile, handkerchief linen or other lightweight fabric (eyelet, lace, or dotted swiss are also good alternatives).
- One yard (36 inches) of 1/4 inch bias tape. This is likely sold at your local fabric and craft store, or you can make your own using this tutorial. The tutorial teaches you how to make 1/2" bias tape, but you can convert this to 1/4" bias tape by cutting your bias strips 1 1/4" wide instead of 2".
- Matching cotton thread.
- Lace or other embellishments (optional)
STEP ONE: Cut out your pattern piece
Lay your pattern piece out on the fabric. The right (straight) edge should be lined up with your fabric's fold.
Cut out your fabric. Here is how it will look still folded in half:
Here is how it looks opened up.
STEP TWO: Bind the arm holes
Bring out your 1/4 inch bias tape.
Now, pin your bias tape around the arm holes. I used the "cheater method" here, but you can also take extra time to do it the proper way.
Stitch the bias tape down. Here, I used two rows of straight stitches: first, I edge-stitched as close to the left side of the bias tape as possible and then added another row of stitches close to the first. This way, I was sure to catch the under side of my bias tape in the stitches. You could also use a zigzag stitch here.
STEP THREE: Hem the bottom edge of the dress
I used a rolled hem foot (6mm) to hem this dress, but you can easily hem by folding the raw edge under 1/4", pressing, and then folding under another 1/4" and edge-stitching it down.
Closeup of the hem:
STEP FOUR: Gather the top
Okay, it's time to gather the top of the dress. This is when it really starts looking pretty!
I've found that the easiest way to gather is this:
- Set your machine to the longest straight stitch and DO NOT backstitch at the beginning or end of stitching. Leave long tails of thread on both ends.
- Set your machine's tension as high as it can go.
- Sew two rows of stitches near the top edge of your fabric. The first row of stitches should be 1/8" from the raw edge, the second row 1/8" to the left from the first.
And after both rows have been stitched, but before I've finished gathering by hand:
Now, gather the far-left top of the dress so that it measures 2 inches. Do this by pulling on the bobbin thread (it should be sticking out from the back of your fabric in a long tail). As you pull gently, the fabric will begin to gather. Stop when this section is two inches wide. Repeat for the far-right side.
Now, gather the middle so it measures four inches.
If you would like to add trim or lace to the bottom hem, now's the time. I added some vintage crocheted lace to this dress from my Grandmother's stash.
Pin the trim to the bottom edge and then edge-stitch it onto your hem, backstitching to secure your stitches at the start and finish.
STEP SIX: Add the tie
Now it's time to add your bias binding ties! First, fold your bias tape in half lengthwise to find the exact middle. Press with your fingers to crease the fabric.
NOTE: In these pictures I used 1/2" bias tape, but I much prefer using 1/4" for this part. It makes the dress look so much more delicate.
Now line the crease up with the exact middle of your dress and begin pinning. Pin from the center out.
When you get to the end of the center section, measure two inches for the arm hole and continue pinning.
Pin the whole length of the dress.
Stitch the bias tape down, beginning at one end and continuing on the the other end. Make sure to backstitch at both ends. I sometimes like to add a knot at the ends of both ties.
STEP SEVEN: Add trim to the top
And finally, you can add some more trim to the top of your dress, right under the bias tape.
And voila! The Vintage-Inspired Baby Dress. I added a little flower to this one because I thought it looked a bit dull without it. You can see it in some of the pictures below.
From the back:
With a little flower to embellish the front:
And there you have it: The Vintage-Inspired Baby Dress! I've found this is perfect for summer babies. Even in colder months this dress is beautiful over a long sleeved-onsie and baby leggings.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can! And thanks for reading! :)