If any of you have been reading this ol’ blog for any amount of time, you know that my favorite thing to sew….is KID CLOTHES! Kids bodies are so simple and don’t need a lot of fussy techniques to create really cute things. And kids are so much less fussy about how things look on their body….so there’s that too! ;) And yeah, sometimes I like to make more intricate things for them (like, Halloween….which is right around the corner—squeeeeal!!!)…..but for the most part, I like making simple things that come together quickly! I’m a sucker for fabric and oftentimes buy fabric ahead of time just because I like it, without any clue what I’m going to make with it.
In fact, I have had this DARLING knit fabric for months (from the cute blogging duo Liz and Elizabeth at Simple Simon and Company designed, called Four Corners) …..and my gosh, I’m so happy I remembered I had it! That’s when I decided that I wasn’t going to buy Chloe another dress for kindergarten (because that’s her top request these days)…and that I would just make her a whole closet full of simple dresses.
And I started with this Super Easy Knit Dress….with Optional Scoop-Back and Bow!
This dress comes together SPEEDY fast if you just keep it plain….because NO zipper, NO buttons, NO fussy neckline, and NO fitting sleeves! But, if you have another 10 minutes, why not create a little scoop back and attach a simple bow to it!! Such a fun little peekaboo surprise in the back! :)
The great thing about whipping up a bunch of these dresses is that she can wear them when it’s warm or add leggings/long sleeved shirt when it gets chilly. And because it’s stretchy knit fabric and the style gives you plenty of room, Chloe can still wear it as a tunic after she outgrows the “dress” length.
There’s a sewn-in elastic waistband that helps cinch it in and give this simple dress more shape….and I added this optional little bow to the front, just for effect.
Yep….loving the scoop back so much, I may have to make her some tunic length tops to wear right now!
Ahhhh…..that knit fabric! We all know it’s not that easy to find such cute knit prints, especially good quality knit that’s easier to sew with…..so, way to go Liz and Elizabeth, I am so in LOVE! (Definitely check out the other knit styles that they designed too….all are equally cute! Their designs also come in regular woven cotton and home decor fabrics too! Super cool stuff!) And I’d have to say…..it’s extra fun sewing kids clothes with really cute fabric!!!
Okay, I’m off to make more dresses because, well, Chloe may only be obsessed with them for so long! ;)
Want to whip up your own dress??
- Knit Fabric (I got mine from the “Simple Simon & Co” Four Corners fabric line)
- optional contrasting knit fabric for bow
- Sewing Supplies (here’s a list of my favorite sewing supplies, in case you need a few ideas)
***Check out my Sewing Terms 101 post, for additional help.
To get started, grab a shirt in the size of your subject….preferably one that’s not too snug….but you don’t want it super baggy either.
Lay the shirt out on your paper and use it as a guide to create the shape of your dress top. You’ll want to follow the curve of the neckline and and add an extra 1/2 inch for a seam allowance. The shoulder angles out in a straight line, about as far out as the existing shirt’s sleeve……which will create the small sleeve look of the dress. Curve the line of the arm hole slightly, dropping it down a little lower than the existing sleeve……and then draw a straight line from the bottom of the sleeve curve, down to the bottom of the shirt, making sure you have added extra width (for cinching in later on). There’s no need for angling the sides like a normal A-line dress….because the elastic will give it an A-line shape later on. Be sure you have added an extra 1/2 inch around the edges for the seam allowance.
***You can stop drawing at the middle of the neck and at the middle of the bottom of the shirt because you only need half the shape for a pattern piece.
Here’s a closer look of the shape of the top of the dress.
Now, fold your paper in half, at the halfway marks at the neckline and bottom of the shirt.
Now, draw another neckline for the front of the dress.
Now, I could have taped together more paper to create the full length of dress that I wanted, but since this dress goes straight down from the arm holes and doesn’t angle out at all, I knew I could just measure down and cut straight lines. But if you prefer adding more paper, go ahead and do so.
Now, if you just want to make the standard dress (without the scoop in the back), cut out your back piece by placing the long straight line of your pattern piece along the fold of your fabric and cut around your pattern piece (adding more length if needed). Also be sure that the stretch of your fabric pulls left to right, so that it will stretch comfortably around the body when worn.
Now, repeat by cutting out your front piece the same way, but use your guide cut the neckline lower.
Now, if you’d like to create the scoop in the back, create another curve on your pattern piece that is about 2.5 lower than the drop of the front neck scoop. (If you’d rather create different pattern pieces for each piece, that helps keep things straight and precise.)
Cut out the back scoop piece, if you’ve decided to create the back scoop version.
Now you should have two pieces….a front and back.
Now, cut a 3/4 inch wide piece of fabric that’s long enough to sew around the neck line of the front fabric piece. (Be sure that the fabric stretches along the length of the strip.) Place the strip along the neckline, RIGHT sides together, and sew around the neckline with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Be sure as you’re sewing, that you slightly pull the strip of fabric, so that it will ease around the curve of the neckline a little better.
Then fold the fabric up and over towards the WRONG side of the fabric and zig-zag in place, 1/4 inch from the inner edge of the neck line. Steam flat. Repeat with both the front and back neck lines.
A little peek at what the back of the neck line looks like.
Now, place the front and back pieces together with RIGHT sides together, and sew together at the shoulders, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
Now, cut more strips of 3/4 inch strips of fabric and attach them to the arm holes, the same way you attached them to the neck hole curves. Steam flat.
Now, it’s time to add some elastic. Place 2 pins down the sides of the dress front, right at the waist of your subject. (Mine was down about 10.5 inches from the shoulder seams of the size 5/6 dress I made.)
Next, measure your subjects waist and then divide by two…and then add 1 inch. Cut a piece of elastic that length and pin each end at the marks from the previous step.
Then, zig-zag your elastic in place, keeping the elastic slightly pulled as you sew, until it’s stretched out just enough to lay flat on the fabric. Then when you let you….the elastic pulls in the fabric perfectly. (Here’s more detail of this technique, when I created this Butterfly Sleeve Tunic tutorial.) Now repeat the last few steps with the back dress piece….until both the front and back have elastic attached.
Now, sew along the dress sides with a zig-zag stitch, and with RIGHT sides together, using a 1/2 seam allowance.
Fold under the bottom edge 1/2 inch, another 1/2 inch, and then zig-zag in place. Steam flat.
If you decided to add the bow, grab your contrasting color (or even use the same color) and cut a wide strip of fabric. Sew into a tube, turn right side out and press flat. Cut another smaller piece of fabric, sew into a tube and turn right side out. Cinch the center of the bigger piece of fabric and wrap it with the smaller strip of fabric and sew the ends flat in the back.
Place the ends of the bow beneath the opening of the scoop back and pin place, just where you want it. Then sew in place with a straight stitch, nice and close the edge of the neck line.
Another option, is to add a little bow to the front of the dress, to give the effect that the center of the dress is cinched in by this bow.
And that’s it! The quickest little dress without the bow….but doesn’t take much longer at all to add the bow. So much cuteness!!!