Monday, April 9, 2012

How to Make a Float Dress for a Little Girl

A friend was looking for a float dress pattern with a square collar.  Me, being who I am, accepted this as a personal challenge, even though no challenge was actually issued.  I looked at the dress and thought, "Simple enough! I can make that!"  So, I left a comment on her Facebook page, declaring my ability.  She was appropriately impressed and excited.  I was on cloud nine.  Someone was *IMPRESSED* with me. WOOT!!!  I set out making the dress, I had some white fabric I got on the cheap from Walmart - a dollar a yard! Holla! - and then figured all I would have to do would be to deconstruct the dress and draw the pattern from that.  Easy peasy!

Insert laughter.

The dress was easy.  I took some measurements from a longsuffering three year old, measured, cut, and basted away.  This is what I ended up with.

Rocking the muslin toile!
 I polled my Facebook friends to see what they thought and we came to the consensus that the collar needed to be more narrow and a bit longer.  I made the adjustments, deconstructed the dress, and traced the pieces on to freezer paper.  I traced the pattern pieces onto some really cute fabric and sewed it all together, added a couple of buttons on the back and ended up with this:

I know, she is absolutely adorable.  I think so, too! No! You can't have her! OOOOOHHHHHH... The dress pattern. Sure! I will share that with you. Find the link below and the instructions :)  This pattern is my first that I am actually sharing, so know some rules for using it.
  • This pattern and the resulting product is for your own personal use and not for resale unless I give you permission.
  • Cut around the outer edges of the pattern, not in the middle of the heavy black lines.
  • A generous seam allowance of 5/8" is included, this can be adjusted at any point in the pattern.
  • When you print the pattern, make sure the "page scaling" option is set to "none". 
  • Adding interfacing to the collar would not be a bad idea, but with enough starch it may not be completely necessary.
  • If you are a complete novice to sewing, this dress would be a moderately difficult project, mostly because my instructions may be difficult to understand.
Here is the pattern link: Float Dress size 2T to 5T

Here are your instructions. 

1. Print the pattern and assemble it. 
2. Trace the pattern onto your fabric and cut out pieces.
3. Assemble the bodice by putting the right side of the bodice front and the right side of each of the bodice back together and sew at the shoulders.  Repeat for the other bodice pieces that will serve as the bodice lining. Set both pieces aside.
4. Assemble the collar. First sew the front collar to the back collar pieces, right sides together, at the shoulders.  Iron shoulder seams flat.  Repeat with the remaining collar pieces. 

5. Put the assembled collar pieces together, right sides facing, and sew around the bottom and sides, leaving the neckline open. Clip all corners and turn right side out. Iron flat.

This is the assembled collar. 
6. Baste the neckline together.  Set the collar aside and hunt down the bodice.

7. When you find the bodice lay one piece down, right side up, on a flat surface.  Lay the collar down on top of it, lining up the neckline and (hopefully) the shoulder seams.  The shoulder seams matching is not 100% necessary but they do need to be close.  Lay the other assembled bodice piece, right side down, on top of the collar.  The collar should be sandwiched between the two bodice pieces. 

A Collar Sandwich!
8. Pin the sandwich together at the neckline and sew it all together at the neckline.  Then take the collar and fold it, roll it, or stuff it inside the bodice pieces.

Sew the bodice pieces together at the back edges and the armholes leaving the bottom of the bodice open. Turn it all right side out.

See the collar in there?  Pull it out of the bodice pieces, you may need to use your kid's Nintento DS stylus to help poke out all the corners....
 Now, iron everything again.  Below is my collar, laying flat over the bodice.  The back of the bodice should overlap about a half inch.  The overlapping part is where the button and the button holes will be going.  Overlap the back pieces of the bodice only (make sure the collar is free) and baste the bottom of the bodice together. Set the whole thing aside.

10. Sew the back pieces together.  Baste along the top of the pieces, between the dots. Gather. 
Baste along the top of the front piece, between the dots. Gather. Sew the back and the front together, right sides facing, at the sides.

11. Now let's work on the armholes. Take matching bias tape, either store bought or homemade, and place it on the right of the fabric, on the sides, where the armholes are.  Sew the bias tape in place. Fold the tape over the armhole and iron in place.  On the right side of the fabric, stitch in the seamline of the bias tape and the armhole, catching the back side of the bias tape.  This way you won't have a visible seam. Some people refer to this as "stitching in the ditch".

I made my own bias tape from the fabric of the dress.  You can see the seam on the back side but not the front side.
Repeat for the other armhole.  

12. You should have two pieces now. The bodice with the attached collar and the bottom part of the dress. To assemble them, you need to take the front part of the dress and place the front part of the bodice on top of it, right sides together, and adjusting the gathers as necessary and lining up the armholes.  Pin the outside of the bodice to the dress, leaving the lining free. Sew together.
13. Take the lining of the bodice and fold the raw edge under about a quarter of an inch or sew.  Place the folded edge over the seam you just sewed.  Stitch on the topside of the bodice, in the seam line, catching the folded edge of the lining. Sew in place. 

14. Put the back of the bodice and the gathered part of the back of the dress together, right sides facing, armholes lined up and sew the two pieces together.  Now you should have a whole dress, and no loose pieces. 
15. Mark off the spots for the button holes and sew the buttonholes. Sew on some buttons.

16. Hem the dress.

TADA!!!! Done and done. 

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