sewing :: the day I made my own dress pattern

We recently decided (read: my husband generously decided) to turn one of the bedrooms in our house that was being called the “office/guest room” into a usable art space that our daughter and I could use for crafting.  In other words, it was a solution to all of the projects (ahem … crap) that constantly would take up half of the dining table.  We recently actually had guests stay over at our house so that meant I needed to clean up the room, and it ended up being the big push I needed to really organize and sort things out.  I went through some bins of fabric from shopping excursions of the past and came across this cute mermaid fabric that I bought from somewhere I can’t remember.  Of course, the second our daughter (now 5.5 years old — what the what?!) saw it, the demand for a dress was made.

But then the dilemma of “which dress pattern should I use?” came up and I spent a few hours going through my library to see if anything would be enticing.  It’s generally humid here during the summer so I wanted it to be sleeveless so she could enjoy it despite the heat.  And I’m a wuss when it comes to trying to sew with anything other than cotton fabric (knit fabrics give me the heeby jeebies!).  Plus I wanted it to be a simple project without any complicated details.

And then here she comes, leaping down the hallway wearing a simple tank top sort of dress with a fluffy skirt (everything is so fluffy and sparkly at this age) and I had an “aha!” moment: why don’t I make something based on that dress?  That’s what I did folks … I kind of came up with my very own pattern.

Basically all I did was lay the dress flat across a large piece of butcher paper and then traced around the top bodice part.  Since I knew I was working with cotton fabric (i.e. non-stretchy fabric she could easily pull over her head), I had to figure out some way to open and close the top.  If you know me, you know that I despise buttons and button holes!  (I think it’s this hate thing going on between the sewing machine and my brain.  Can never get it done correctly.  NEVER.)  And zippers?  I like to skip those too unless I’m making … well … a zippered pouch.  So I went with the idea of using a small snap as a closure.

A few hours later, voila!  The completed dress was approved by the little lady of the house.  Whew.

So mistakes … let’s talk about mistakes!  First of all, this dress fits her perfectly.  Like, too perfectly as in she’s not going to fit into it in about a month when she grows.  Sigh.  I should’ve allowed more room all around the bodice and lengthened the area on the shoulders to make it roomier.  And then I wish I had more fabric to have added pockets.  But alas, this was a good learning experience and I know what to look out for when I try to make dress #2.

She currently wears mostly size 5/6 in kids (more towards the 6 range though).  The bodice is 10″ tall from the shoulder to the waist, 8″ tall from the neckline to the waist, 11″ wide across the front, and the skirt is 14.5″ in length from the waist to the hem.  The skirt on it was made of two pieces of fabric that were 42″ wide and 16″ tall.  I scrunched them up to sew to the bodice and it has pretty good twirlability.

She said, “It’s perfect!”  She is happy.  And that is all that matters.  🙂

Happy crafting, friends!


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