My 3 year old daughter and I tend to disagree on her clothes. She wants to wear pink and sparkles and princess dresses every day, while I prefer more modern little girl’s clothes that include colors like navy blue, grey, and gold. And sometimes when I make her dresses that I think are beautiful, like the pretty mint green sweater dress I made recently, she’s not as happy about wearing them as I’d like. So I decided to make her a dress I knew she’d LOVE – a pretty polka dot dress with a ballet style skirt. This was a pretty easy project as sewing goes because I started with a long sleeved tee from Target and just added the elastic waistband and skirt. Here’s how:
Gather your supplies: a t-shirt that fits, enough soft elastic to go around the wearer’s waist, 1/2 yard of knit material, and 1 yard of tulle. I used a “jet-set” knit from Joann’s because it’s lightweight and a little slippery, so it won’t get bunched up under the tulle. I got my tulle from Joann’s as well – it was called foiled tulle and was more expensive than regular tulle, but quite a bit softer as well, plus it has a subtle sheen.
I started by getting all my pieces cut out (see photo below). I sliced off the bottom of the t-shirt at my daughter’s natural waist, which was about 4 inches below the armpit. Then I cut a piece of elastic long enough to go all the way around the bottom of the t-shirt, plus 1 inch for seam allowance. Next I cut two underskirt pieces from the knit. At the top the underskirt pieces are the same width as the shirt plus 1 inch for seam allowance, and then I just angled out in an A-line shape. I cut it long enough to reach from my daughter’s waist to just above her knees. (I actually cut the skirt a little short, so she usually wears this dress with tights underneath. Learn from my mistake and cut it longer than you think you need!)
Finally, I cut four rectangles out of the tulle for a double-layer overskirt. The rectangles were each about 36 inches wide, and two inches longer than the knit.
To put the dress together I started by sewing the ends of the elastic together to form a loop, which was the same size as the bottom of the shirt. I slid the elastic up over the bottom of the shirt (overlapping by about 1/2 an inch) and sewed in place using a zigzag. It looked like this:
Next, I put together the underskirt and overskirt as shown below (more explanation after the graphic).
1. Sewed the two underskirt pieces together down the sides, backstitching at the bottom. Press seams open and turn right side out. 2. Sew two overskirt pieces together down the sides, backstitching at the bottom. Press seams open and turn right side out. Repeat with the two remaining overskirt pieces to make 2 layers. 3. Place one overskirt layer inside the other and treat them as one layer. Run a gathering stitch (long stitch at low tension) along the top of the overskirt, then pull the bobbin threads to gather until the overskirt is the same width as the underskirt. Place underskirt inside overskirt and pin together along the top.
Then you can slide about 1/2 inch of the skirts under the elastic and pin it all together VERY WELL. Use a zig zag stitch to sew the skirts onto the elastic. This can get a little tricky, so be sure you use lots of pins and go slow. The good news is once the skirts are on, the dress is done! Neither the knit or the tulle will fray, so you don’t need to hem either skirt.
Here’s what it looks like all put together:
My daughter is convinced she’s a ballerina every time she puts this dress on!