Every night as I'm tucking Abby into bed, she asks the same question. "Mommy, sing my special song." It's kinda funny, actually, how her special song came along.
We sing a lot in this house. If we're making sandwiches, I sing a song about making sandwiches. If we're going on a walk, we sing about the walk. I'm really fond of one song in particular, "We're going crazy, we're going crazy..." to the tune of "He had it coming" from the musical, Chicago. I seem to sing that song a lot.
One night Abby asked me to make up a special song about her as a ballerina, so I did. It's really simple, and silly, and uses some made-up words:
There was a ballerina, her name was Abby-roo. She loved to sing and dance, and spin around the room. With hair as blond as sunshine and a pretty little dress, she was the sweetest dancer that ever you could guess.So when Ann Kelle asked if I would like to play around with some of her fabrics I said YES, and chose this sweet ballerina print called Girl Friends: Slipper, for Abby. Could it be any more perfect, I ask you? (You can see what else I did with some of her fabric in Abby's donut skirt, aka, the Summer Whimsy Skirt).
*As I'm sure you've noticed, this isn't the first paper bag dress tutorial to ever hit the internet. This is my own version. I hope it's a simple and easy one for those of you who are new to sewing!
- Main fabric: For a 3T size you will need 3/4 yard of cotton fabric, or whatever length you want the dress. The instructions below will yield a dress that is approximately 18" long. If you want a longer dress, just add more length to the bottom. In fact, these cutting instructions can be used for many sizes (probably 18 months up through something like size 5), as long as you add or subtract length according to the height of your child.
- Contrasting fabric for elastic casing: A strip of fabric 1.75 inches by 36 inches, OR two strips of fabric 1.75 inches by 18 inches each.
- 3/4" elastic: Take your child's chest measurement and add 1" to determine how much elastic you need. I used 20" for Abby's dress.
Prepare the fabric using the cutting instructions above. Take your 3/4 yard of fabric and lay it down on your cutting table with the selvage edges on the right side and the folded edge on the left. Remove the selvage and straighten the top and bottom edges.
Now measure in 1.5" from the right edge and draw a line straight down 2" long. From the end of that line, angle your ruler to the bottom right corner and draw a line. Now repeat these steps for the left side of the fabric. Your drawn lines should match the dotted lines in the diagram above. Cut along these lines and remove the extra. You now have the front and back pieces of your dress.
Sew the side seams together by placing your front and back pieces right sides together and sewing along the sides with a 3/8" seam allowance. Finish the seams by serging the raw edges, or by using a zigzag or overcast stitch with your sewing machine.
Hem the top edge with as narrow a hem as you can muster. I like to use a rolled hem (Girl. Inspired. has a great tutorial for that), or press the edge under 1/8" and then another 1/8", and stitch it down using a straight stitch. You can also serge, zigzag, or overcast stitch this edge, but I notice that the hemmed edges hold up better to multiple washings.
Hem the bottom edge by folding it under 1/4" and pressing, then folding it under 1/2" and pressing again. Stitch it down with a straight stitch just under 1/2" from the edge.
Prepare the elastic casing. If you are using two strips of fabric 1.75" by 18", place them together right sides facing and stitch the short edges using a 3/8" seam allowance. Press the seam allowances open.
If you are using one strip of fabric 1.75" by 36" you can jump in here. Sew the one short edge together with a 3/8" seam allowance.
Press both long edges under 1/4".
Align the side seams of your elastic casing to the side seams of your dress. Pin these 1" down from the top edge.
Using your clear ruler, pin the elastic casing straight along the dress 1" down from the top edge. Pin all the way around the dress.
Now take the dress to your machine and stitch along the top edge of the elastic casing as close to the edge as you can get, about 1/8" or 1/16". Backstitch at the beginning and end to secure your stitches.
Stitch the bottom edge in the same way, but leave a 1.5" gap for feeding the elastic through.
Secure one end of your elastic with a safety pin and slip it through the opening. Push and pull it through until you bring it back out the opening. Align the raw edges and stitch the together with a 1/2" seam allowance. Then stitch the ends down.
Slip the elastic back into the casing and stitch the opening closed.
Press the top of the dress to set the ruffle.
- Cut one long strip 2.5" by 20"
- Fold the fabric along the long edge so the wrong side is facing out.
- Stitch along the long edge with a 1/4" seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end.
- Using a long tool (like a pencil) push one end into the tube until you can pull it out the other side. Pull the long straps so it's right side out and press well.
- Topstitch both sides of the strap for a polished look. Cut the strip in half to make two straps, each measuring 10" in length.
- Attach to the dress.
- TIP: Attach the straps closer together on the back for a sweeter look. This also keeps the straps from falling off the shoulders. Win win!
You can also use spaghetti straps like I did in the Summer Whimsy Dress Tutorial, eyelet lace like I did in the Ombre Triangles Dress, or ruffled lace like I did in my original Summer Whimsy Dress.
And there you have it: a super fun Paper Bag Dress for your little girlie!
If you're interested in simple dress tutorials, you might also like:
Summer Whimsy Dress (with side panel pockets)
Also for girls:
Summer Shorts (free pattern!)
Vintage-Inspired Baby Dress (free pattern for newborns)