Pattern and Fabric Layout
I started with some very basic pattern pieces for a girl's dress. I would have a full flair skirt, a heart-shaped bodice and two broad shoulder straps.
The skirt is cut out on the fold. The shoulder straps are cut from the off-cuts left by the curve of the skirt.
I then cut a second skirt on the fold to get the full flair.
Both the front and back of the bodice are cut on the fold.
I cut a second front and back bodice on the fold for the lining of the bodice.
I cut the support for the train a little narrower than the back bodice (from shoulder blade to shoulder blade) and 10 cm wide.
This support is reinforced with iron-on vilene.
The train is the full width of the organza by the length of the dress from the top of the back bodice to the hem of the skirt. It doesn't have a shape.
Sewing the train
Sew a rolled hem around three sides of the train.
After I sewed the support for the train, I changed my approach to it so that the photos are slightly different from what I did in the end. Avoid unpicking yours by simply sewing the sides of the support and then turning it right side out.
I had to unpick my sewing to fit my improved approach. Iron the support before continuing.
Tack the unhemmed side of the train (either by hand or with the machine).
We will be doing top stitching, which always looks neater if you lengthen your stitch length.
Tuck the tacked train into the support band and fold the seams of the support band in. Pin it in place. Now sew all the way around all four sides of the support band for a pretty finish as well as to attach the train to the band.
I've used five buttons to attach the train to the dress. Measure the spaces for the buttonholes on the support band.
You measure a buttonhole by placing the button in position and marking the perimeter of the button.
Sew the buttonholes.
Make sure that your buttonholes are all in one straigth line.
The easiest way to open a buttonhole is with a quick unpick.
Test to make sure that all of your buttons fit the buttonholes.
Sewing the bodice of the dress
Fold the shoulder straps over and stitch down the length.
Turn the shoulder straps right side out.
Iron the straps flat.
Lay one of the back bodices flat on a ruler. I use the one on my sewing table. Lay the shoulder straps on the bodice, equally spaced on the ruler, with the straps lining up with the top of the bodice.
Lay the other back bodice on top of this, right sides facing, and pin in place.
Sew the top of the bodice, securing the straps in place.
This is what the back of the bodice should now look like if I fold everything back.
We are now going to repeat the same steps with the front bodice. Lay one of the front bodices flat on a ruler. Lay the shoulder straps on top, spaced exactly as for the back.
Lay the other front bodice on top, right sides facing, and pin in place.
Sew the heart-shaped seam. Drop your needle when you reach the center, lift the foot, turn the fabric. Now drop the foot again and continue sewing.
Trim the rounded bodice so it will make a tidy line when turned over.
Iron the back bodice flat.
Iron the front bodice flat.
The bodice should now look like this, with the back hidden from view by the front.
Open the bodices and lay the front and the back on top of each other, lining up the side seams. Pin from the center (top seams) out.
Sew the side seams.
Fold the bodices back and iron the side seams flat.
Your bodice should now look like this from the front ...
... and like this from the back.
It is easier to sew the buttons on at this stage, than when the wight of the skirt is added. Lay the train on the bodice, lining the support band up with the top of the back bodice. Center the two on top of each other. Mark the spaced for the buttons through the buttonholes.
It is now easy to get the buttons in exactly the right place.
Your bodice should now look like this.
Sewing the skirt of the dress
Lay the skirt pieces on top of each other, right sides facing. Pin and sew the side seams.
Iron the side seams open.
Find the center front and back of the waist.
Line the side seams of the bodice up with the side seams of the skirt. Do not pin the lining of the bodice. Now pin the centers of the bodice to the centers of the skirt.
You may either tack the skirt, or make pleats. I opted for a pleat in the center back and another in the center front. This is entirely your choice.
Sew the bodice to the skirt.
Now fold the seam of the lining in and pin in place.
Sew the lining to the skirt by hand for a tidy finish.
Hem the skirt with a rolled hem, which can be done with either the machine, or by hand, as you prefer.
Attaching the train to the dress
The dress and train are both finished and simply need to be buttoned together.
It is time to find insert a small child into the dress. It is a little too big for her, but we will allow her space to grow into it. Now stand back and enjoy the sheer delight radiating from that cute little face.
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