- A Tank Top in your child’s size
- a scrap piece of knit fabric (an old tee works great)
- A lightweight fabric like seersucker (which is what I used), cotton, or knit
- Ruffled Elastic in the same shade as your fabric (I used this Riley Blake ruffled elastic)
- Elastic Thread (such as Stretch Rite)
- All Your Sewing Goodies
- Ball Point Needle (If you sew your dress with all knits you’ll need this, otherwise I got away with using my standard sewing needle)
First, I cut a 2.5″x16″ strip of fabric from an old white t-shirt. You may need yours a bit longer for bigger sizes. You want the length of the strip 2x long than you want it to end up since we’re going to ruffle it. I made a size 3T.
Iron your knit strip in half lengthwise to create a center.
Now set your machine to high tension and a long stitch length. Sew along that center crease and it will automatically ruffle due to the machine settings.
Now just pin the ruffle to your tee in a curvy shape as below and sew onto your tank, sewing right over the center of the ruffled strip.
Measure the bottom edge of your tank. Mine was 11″. The length of your skirt pieces will be 2x that number + 1″ seam allowance. So, for mine it was 11″x2″+1″=23″. The width of your ruffles will vary depending on your child’s height. You want the longer ruffle to go from end of the tank to the knee and the short ruffle 3″ shorter.
So for my dress, I cut 2 pieces of fabric 7.5″x23″ for the longer layer and 2 more pieces of fabric 4.5″x23″ for the shorter layer.
I finished all four edges of all four strips with a rolled hem. If you don’t have a serger, finish all long edges by ironing over 1/4″ and then another 1/4″ and hemming. The short edges you can zigzag or finish as desired. (If you use knits for your skirt layers, you can totally skip this step and leave the edges raw since they won’t fray.)
Take your two bottom layers and with right sides together, pin the short ends and sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Only sew the short ends. Repeat with top layer. You know have to tubes of fabric. Turn both layers right side out and press seams.
Now get out your ruffled elastic. You’re going to pin it along the bottom edge of one layer and sew in place. When you get to the end fold under a bit and sew in place to prevent fraying (as shown in below pic). Do not stretch as you go. Repeat with top layer.
With right sides our slide your top layer over your bottom layer with top edges and seams aligned and pin in place as below:
Now, set your machine up for shirring. I upped my tension by one more than I usually use (I set it to a 5). Sew a row of shirring 1/8″ from the top edge backstitching at the beginning and end of the row. (Normally, I don’t backstitch for shirring). Then sew a second row of shirring 1/8″ below the first row. Shrink the shirring with a hot iron and plenty of steam.
Aligning your side seams, pin the skirt to the dress just above the tank’s hem as shown below:
Now simply sew the skirt to the tank with one row of shirring right in between your other two rows. Using the elastic thread for the whole skirt top and to sew it to the tank will give it the stretch it needs to go over your child’s head. And that’s it!
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