On Monday, I shared the tutorial for making a Cinderella dress for a child. My little one, obsessed as she is with her doll, of course wanted one for the doll. It’s actually really simple to do. We made ours out of the leftover fabric from the first one. Because I didn’t want to do as much sewing with the light pink fabric, we used satin ribbon for that part instead. We also made this one so that it closes with Velcro in the back. That way she can get it on and off the doll more easily than pulling it over the doll’s head. It only added about two minutes of time for me — hemming both sides of the back of the dress — and it will save me tons of time later as she changes the doll’s clothes at least five times a day!
Like the Cinderella dress from Monday, you’ll need two pink rectangles for the bodice, two white rectangles for the sleeves, a pink strip for the skirt, and a couple of white strips for the ruffle. Since these pieces will be basically the same for any 18″ doll, here are my measurements:
Bodice rectangles: two pink rectangles, each measuring 7″x5″
Sleeve rectangles: two white rectangles, each measuring 6.5″x4″
Skirt strip: one pink strip, measuring 8″x width-of-fabric
Ruffle strips: two pink strips, measuring 3″x width-of-fabric
Once the rectangles are cut, you’ll need to cut curves in the top corner of each of the sleeve and rectangle pieces. My curve measured one inch wide, and it was three inches deep. Be sure that the curve you cut on each of your pieces is identical. After that cut ONE of the two bodice pieces in half. This will be the back, where you’ll close the bodice with Velcro.
It’s time to start sewing. I didn’t finish the seams on this doll dress as I took photographs, but I strongly recommend that you do, so that the fabric doesn’t fray. After each seam, be sure to zig-zag, serge, or pink the seam. Start by aligning the curve of a bodice piece with the curve of a sleeve piece, and stitch in place using a 1/4″ seam allowance. As you begin this process, start with a bodice back piece and a sleeve.
Next, you’ll use the bodice front piece and align it with the opposite side of the same sleeve and stitch in place. Now, align the other sleeve piece with the opposite side of the bodice front and stitch in place. Finally, you’ll stitch the other bodice back piece in place. When it’s finished, it will look like the picture at the right.
Now it’s time to add the embellishments to the bodice front. Lay the ribbon you’ve chosen over the front of the bodice, beginning with the two diagonal pieces, then put the bottom piece about 1/4″ above the bottom of the bodice piece (that way it won’t all get lost in the waist seam). Top stitch each of the pieces down. On the back of the bodice, put the ribbon at the waistline and stitch in place. Again, you’ll want the ribbon about 1/4″ above the bottom of the bodice piece so the ribbon doesn’t get lost in the seam.
At this point, we need to sew the casing for the neck elastic. Press the top of the bodice and sleeves under 1/4″, then press under again 5/8″. Top stitch the casing closed. Because the two ends of the casing are still open, you don’t need to leave a gap through which to thread the elastic.
Now it’s time to thread the elastic. Cut a 9″ length of 1/4″ elastic and thread it through the neckline casing, being sure to stitch it securely in place at both ends of the casing. In this photo, you’ll also notice that I folded the sleeves under a half inch to make a casing for the sleeve elastic. The sleeve elastic should be 6″ long, stitched on both sides just as the neckline elastic was stitched in place.
After that, we get to turn this long strip of fabric into a bodice. Fold a sleeve piece in half, aligning the two raw edges that will form the underarm seam. Stitch down the sleeve and then then down the side of the bodice. Repeat on the other side.
Fold the raw edges at the bodice back under 1/4″ twice and hem them closed. You will be placing Velcro over these hems after the skirt is attached. Your bodice is ready to go! Happy dance!!
Align the short (selvage) edges of the two ruffle strips and stitch together. Use enough allowance that your selvages won’t show at the front center of the skirt! Stitch them together. Now turn one of the long edges of the strip under 1/4″ twice and hem it. It’s so much easier to hem this ruffle before it’s attached to the dress!
Along the top edge of the ruffle, sew a long gathering stitch. Use your seam to mark the center of the ruffle and match it to the bottom center of your skirt piece (I just used the fold, since I hadn’t pressed it out yet). Spread the gathers evenly, then stitch the ruffle to the bottom of the skirt. I turned my skirt the right side and top stitched. You can do that in the next step when you attach the ribbon, but I did it first so that there was no chance of the fabric moving while I was getting the ribbon in place.
For the embellishment at the bottom of the skirt, I just top stitched the ribbon right over the top of my top stitching in the previous step. That way it’s easy to keep the ribbon straight.
Now it’s time to make the scallops at the bottom of the dress. I made four. Divide your skirt width into five. My fabric was 45″ wide, so that gave me a scallop every nine inches. Mark where your scallops will hit with a washable marker (or if you’re fancier than I was today, a fabric pen!). Pleat the fabric a couple of times on each marking and stitch the pleat in place. Don’t worry about this being pretty — it’s going to be covered with a bow!
The next two steps don’t have photos. Somehow the files got corrupted when I moved them from the phone to the computer (sigh!). Fortunately, the steps are easy. First, turn the raw edges on each side of the skirt piece and ruffle under 1/4″ twice and stitch in place so that both sides are hemmed. The whole back of the dress is closed with Velcro, since it’s easier for my girls to dress their dolls that way than when they have to negotiate the partial seam in the skirt. You could do it the other way, however, if that’s your preference.
Next, stitch a long gathering stitch at the top of the skirt piece and pin it in place, right sides together, against the bodice bottom. Stitch this seam in place, then turn it to the right side and top stitch.
Finally, tie five bows from the ribbon. You’ll be stitching one bow on the top of each of your four pleats at the bottom of the skirt, and the fifth at the top of the bodice where the ribbon embellishment meets. If you want the dress more perfect, hand stitch your bows in place. I wanted both the speed and the super-strength of machine stitches — it is, after all, a little girl’s toy! — sew I stitched right across the middle of my bows. That way they won’t come untied, nor will they be able to be pulled off the dress. I stitched right across the middle of each bow.
Cut a 1/2″ wide x 8″ long strip of Velcro in half (unless you already have 1/4″ Velcro, and if so, I want to know where to find it!). Stitch the soft side on the outside of the left bodice back piece and down the skirt as far as it reaches. Stitch the scratchy side on the inside of the right bodice back piece.
Ta-da! It’s time to play!