My favourite make are girl's dresses. My go-to pattern for a very easy and quick sew is "Leonie" by Pattydoo. She is a very popular German pattern designer, some of her patterns are available in English. Her patterns are well thought through with top-notch details at a reasonable price.
I made this dress countless times, it has so many different variations to play with. It is a versatile everyday dress. No zips or closures and made of jersey knit, it is just perfect for wash/wear/play/repeat. With a crew neckline, proper sleeves and a nice skirt length it provides good sun coverage, something I prefer for kids dresses.
I used our fun Bulldog Party collection for this dress, the panel is the perfect size for it and the bright triangle print is a fantastic co-ordinate.
As a beginner, this dress will take you approx. 3hrs to make. If you are more advanced this will take considerably less time, I got it down to 1hr from cut to finish.
Even if you are making any other similar pattern, I hope this guide will be helpful as the construction of every t-shirt dress is essentially the same.
Let's dive in!
#1 Cut out your pattern pieces. This particular pattern includes ample notches and markings for an easy workflow. Make sure to transfer all of them. Extra tip: notch the centre front and centre back of the bodice bottom and skirt top on the fold, this will be very helpful later.
#2 Carefully notch the sleeves, mark the shoulder seam with a disappearing ink pen or chalk.
#3 Fold your neck and sleeve bands in half and steam press. Fold over the seam allowance (2cm/0.8") of both skirt pieces and steam press. Fix the pressed skirt hem with clips if you like.
#4 With right sides facing, clip the front and back bodice pieces.
#5 Overlock or zig-zag the shoulder seams.
#6 I like to top-stitch the shoulder seams. Place the overlock seam towards the back. This provides extra stability and makes it easier to attach the neckband. Use a 3.5 straight stitch.
#7 Unfold the pressed neck and sleeve bands. Align and stitch the short ends to form a loop. Use a straight stitch. You can also overlock the short ends, however you will achieve a smoother neckline using a straight stitch because you can open up the seam allowances of the band. Time saving tip: stitch all bands in a row and clip the thread after to separate.
#8 Fold your bands in half again, set aside. Smile now :)
#9 Turn the bodice wrong side out. Clip the neckband right sides facing to the bodice matching up the notches. Pay attention to clip the shorter distance to the back bodice!
#10 Place it with the neckband facing towards you on your overlocker. Start at the seam like shown. Make sure neckband and shoulder seam align.
#11 Here comes the crucial bit for a neat neckline finish! Lightly and evenly stretch the neckband while you sew but do NOT stretch the bodice. Take your time, match up notches as you go. No need to rush this step. It will become second nature after a few runs.
#12 Your attached neckband looks like this.
#13 I like to top-stitch the neckline, it gives a more professional look and secures the overlock seam. You can skip this step if you wish. Use a 3.5 straight stitch and gently stretch the entire neckline while you sew around. By this, you add a little bit of ease, mimicking the stretch when your girl puts it on. If you have a "rough dresser" use a small zig-zag or even decorative stitch, or omit this step.
#14 Give the neckline a good steam press and set aside.
#15 Using a long straight stitch like 5, set a a double row of stitches between the notches as marked in the pattern. Dial down the tension of the presser foot for this step and leave long thread ends on each side, do not backstitch. I like using two different thread colours for this step.The bobbin thread is always easier to gather, the two colours help me to see whats what.
#16 Pulling the bobbin thread, gather to approx. 7cm/2.8" on the sleeve top and bottom.
#17 Clip the sleeve to the armholes, carefully matching up notches. The marking of the shoulder point will come in handy now as you would not be able to see the shoulder notch otherwise.
#18 It should look somewhat like this, repeat for other side.
#19 With the sleeve facing upwards attach the sleeve to the armhole with your overlocker. Take your time matching up the notches. If you gathered a bit too much/too little you can adjust by gently stretching either sleeve or bodice to even out the length.
#20 The attached sleeve looks like this. One row of gathering should be within the overlock seam allowance. Leave your gathering threads for now.
#21 Right sides facing, clip the front and back bodice together. Make sure to align the sleeve seams properly.
#22 Close the side seams with your overlocker and give it a good steam press.
#23 Keep the bodice as is, wrong side out. Take the folded sleeve band loop and mark the centre. Place the loop within the sleeve, right sides facing. Clip the seam of the loop to the side seam and the centre to the centre of the gathers as shown.
#24 Place the sleeve band facing towards you on your overlocker. Start at the seams and sew around. Stretch the sleeve band (but not the bodice) while sewing so that the centre marking matches up.
#25 Once done, I secure the loose overlock threads with a couple of straight stitches within the seam allowance. Repeat this step later when attaching the skirt. Remove all your gathering threads now.
#26 Your top is completely finished. Time for a coffee break and a pat on the shoulder!
#27 Align and clip the short sides of the skirt pieces. Overlock/zig-zag the side seams, make sure to unfold the pressed hemline first. Steam press after.
#28 Now is the best time to hem the skirt line. Our pressed hem allowance will come in very handy now. You can either overlock the entire hemline first and stitch it in place. Use a zig-zag/decorative or even straight stitch as this part of the dress is unlikely to get any pulling when dressing. I use my coverstitch machine for the hem.
#29 Clip the finished skirt wrong side out to the right side out bodice. Match up the side seams and centre front/centre back markings and place some more clips in between.
Start at a side seam and attach the skirt to the bodice with the skirt piece facing upwards on your overlocker. Take your time and match up the markings evenly. Secure the loose thread ends with a couple of straight stitches like above.
#30 Give everything a final press. Your dress is finished!
Well done for reading this far! If you found this helpful, please leave us a comment below and feel free to share away on Facebook etc. Thank you :)