*All seams are 1/4″ unless otherwise noted.
Note: I made two different dresses at the same time, so pictures are from both dresses.
1. First we need to get some measurements. Measure child’s chest/waist. Use whichever measurement is bigger and add 6″. My daughter’s was 22″, so my measurement is 28″. Next decide the desired length of the dress. For my 4T dress, I wanted it 27″ long. Select 5 strips from the jelly roll. Next we need to do a little math.
Here’s the formula: Desired length – 10″ + 3.5″ / 6.
Explanation:Each jelly roll strip is 2.5″, so with seam allowances and five strips, we will get 10″ of our desired length (27″), leaving 17″ we need to get from our five coordinating fabrics. We need to add in hem and seam allowances of the coordinating strips, so add another 3.5″. I used my top color twice, so divide by 6. ex: 27 – 10 + 3.5 /6 = 3.416. I rounded to 3.5″. Did you make it? Now we are ready to cut.
2. Cut your top piece 3.5″” x 28″”. (28 from chest/waist measurement, 3.5″ from above formula). Cut your first jelly roll strip so it is 28″ long. Cut 3.5″ strips from all 5 coordinating fabrics. Cut two strap pieces 2.5″ x 10″. Lay out all your pieces in the desired pattern.
3. Take the two top pieces (the shorter ones: 28″). Sew right sides together (RST). Finish seam with either a zig-zag stitch or serger. Press, making sure to press the bulk of the seam towards the topmost piece. Topstitch.
4. Fold in half RST, lining up the two short raw end sides. Mark in 1/4″ from the raw edges where your seam will be with pins, then line the pins up at 0″ on a ruler. Find halfway and mark with pin. Mine was 13.5″, so I marked 6.75″ with a red pin. Go left 1/2″ mark with a pin (mine is white), then add 3″ from there and mark with pin (mine is another white pin). Draw a scoop between the white pins. Click on image to enlarge. Cut out the scoop. Unfold and you should have two cut-outs. These are for the arms. Now we need to hem the top. Make a few small clips in the arm holes (this will make it easier to fold for the hem).Fold the top raw edge (the one with the scoops), down 1/4″ towards the wrong side of the fabric and press. Fold down another 1/4″ and press. Stitch down. Set top piece aside.
5. Grab your very bottom piece and hem it with a 1/4″ hem like we used above.
6. Stitch remaining pieces (all the 44″ length jelly roll strips and coordinating fabrics) together in desired order. Finish seams. Press and topstitch, switching threads as necessary if doing multiple colors. You should now have a top and bottom piece.
7. Fold bottom piece in half RST, lining up the seams and pinning in place. Stitch. Finish seam. Do the same with the top piece.
8. Sew a gathering stitch along the raw edge of your bottom piece. Divide both the top and bottom pieces into 1/4’s and mark with pins. Place the top piece inside the bottom piece RST, and raw edges lining up, and match up the pins. Pulling on the bobbin thread, gather the fabric between pins and pin frequently to hold the gathers in place. Make sure to change your stitchlength back to a regular stitch and stitch. Finish seam. Press and topstitch.
9. Next we are going to do some shirring. Lay your dress facedown. Mark about 1 1/2″ in from each side with pins. Handwind a bobbin with elastic thread. You don’t want to stretch it as you are winding or it will be too tight. Load the elastic thread in your bobbin and keep regular thread in the top. Starting 1/4″ down from the hem stitching, sew between the two pins, making sure to backstitch really well at the start and stop. Continue the next row 1/4″ down from the row you just made. Sew about 10 rows or so, just enough that you have sewn down the top two strips of the dress. Press those rows and watch the fabric shrink up to create the smocking.
10. Let’s get those straps done. Fold in half lengthwise and sew RST. Turn inside out and press with the seam in the middle of the strap. Topstitch the long sides of the straps. To figure out where to attach the straps, I grabbed my daughters and slipped the dresses on them, then pinned the straps in place. Stitch the straps in place by going right over the hem stitching. Trim excess fabric on straps, if necessary, and finish the raw edges. Guess what?! You are ALL DONE!!! Back view: Add a cute matching fabric flower using this tutorial and you have one springy, happy, little lady (or in my case two)!
One jelly roll will be enough for multiple dresses, you will just need to buy extra yardage of the solid coordinating fabrics. I was able to make two dresses with the amounts listed.