Sew Your Own Closet| Babydoll Dress
Whew, sorry I’m late! In the last Sew Your Own Closet I said that I’d be publishing a new one every first Friday of the month.
Well…that didn’t work out this time. My toddler was sick with a nasty stomach bug(I’ll spare you the gruesome details) off and on for about two weeks last month. It’s nearly impossible to get anything done(or sleep) with a little guy who doesn’t feel well. Plus I was worried, with him being sick for so long.
He’s just fine now, though 😊 As I’m writing this he is running around getting into everything and pestering big brother.
I think instead of the first Friday of the month, I’ll aim for once a month. It’ll give me more time and be more realistic for my life. But really, don’t be surprised if I skip a month! These posts are quite time consuming, and if I want to attempt a complicated garment in the future it may take me longer to get it on here.
So, let’s learn how to sew our very own babydoll dress!
I’m not sure if “babydoll” is the correct name for this dress, but that’s what I know it as. If you know it by another name, drop it in the comments below!
Here is a board of inspiration I put together on Pinterest:
There are lots of ways you can make this dress your own. I’m going to keep mine fairly simple this time, but I did think about adding a ruffle to the hem. In the end, I decided it would just be too much.
You will need:
4 yards of fabric
How much fabric you need depends on the size of your pattern pieces; Check out this link, Buying fabric-how much you need from fashionfreaks.
I chose a quilting cotton for my dress. It’s from the Keepsake Calico line, I couldn’t find it on their website. Although I did find this cute one with daisies on it.
1 yard of Interfacing
You really don’t need a whole yard, you could probably get away with 1/2 a yard. But might as well stock up, right??
Or something similar, to draft your pattern on.
Sewing machine, thread, scissors, measuring tape…you know, the usual sewing supplies.
First, we’ll get the length measurements of the bodice.
I started at my shoulder and measured to the deepest point that I wanted the neckline to be.
Then I measured from my neckline to the fullest part of my bust.
Lastly, from my full bust to where I wanted the bodice to end on my waistline.
You know, now that I’m writing this out, I wonder why I didn’t just measure from the neckline to the waistline? Why did I break it up like that? I’m sure I had a good reason….at least I hope I did.
Now for the width.
We’ll start at the top and work our way down, ok?
We need to get the width of the shoulder area. For this, I just took a shirt that fits me pretty well and measured how wide the shoulder is. I used that measurement in my pattern.
Now, the bust width. Take your full bust measurement and divide it in half(since we are drafting only half of the bodice piece so that we can cut it on the fold of the fabric) and then add in how much ease you’d like. I used the charts on this site to determine how much ease to add: All About Fitting, Wearing and Design Ease from Quick Need.
I went for the loose fitting option, but that was too much ease. I ended up taking off about five inches on each side.
Now the waist. Measure your waist, at the point where your bodice will be ending. Then divide in half and add in the ease.
Ok, so if you haven’t already, draw all those measurements out onto your pattern paper. I started with dots and connected each one, just make sure you label them so you don’t get confused as to which dot is which measurement!
You can experiment with different necklines. Just connect the neckline dot to the shoulder/neckline dot in different ways. I wanted an elongated vneck.
For the armhole, I used my curve ruler to connect the full bust width dot to the shoulder width dot. Then I took the same shirt from before(when I was determining how wide to make the shoulder) and compared the shirt armhole to my bodice armhole, they seemed to match well.
Now draw in your seam allowance along every seam(side, shoulder, armhole, neckline, waist). Don’t add a seam allowance to the center front!
I just used this piece for the front and back bodice. That worked well I think, so I didn’t draft a separate back bodice piece. Perhaps I should have, as the dress is a bit baggy in the back. I just wasn’t sure how to measure my back, as I don’t have a mannequin. It really doesn’t bother me though. If you’d like to make a separate back piece, go ahead!
For the sleeves, I made the muslin of the bodice and finished the fitting, then drafted the sleeves from the armhole, as shown in this tutorial(step 12). I don’t think this is a common way of drafting sleeves, as this is the only tutorial like it that I’ve seen. But it has worked for me so far, so until I feel ambitious to do it the “correct way” I’ll just do it this way.
If you have a favorite sleeve drafting tutorial, share it with me!
To draft the facings, I just traced around the top of the bodice piece and then measured down about three inches. Then I added a seam allowance to the shoulder seam area.
The skirt is just one big rectangle. To determine the width of the skirt I took the finished width measurement of the bottom of the bodice and multiplied that by three. For the length, I measured from where the bottom of the bodice would be to my desired skirt length. Then I added seam allowance to all four sides of the rectangle.
I didn’t actually make a pattern piece for the skirt as it’s so big. I just drew it straight onto my fabric with chalk.
I highly recommend you make a muslin of the bodice and figure out the fit before cutting into your pretty dress fabric. Getting the ease right is tricky(at least it was for me!)
Cutting it out
You will need to cut out:
x2 Bodice pieces
x2 Interfacing for the facing pieces
Time to sew!
Take your two bodice pieces and sew them at the shoulder seams, right sides together. If you’re drafting the sleeves like I did, you’ll want to do that now.
Sew the bodice side seams, right sides together.
Finish your bodice seams(I like to use either the zigzag stitch on my sewing machine OR this method) and press open.
Before sewing your sleeves onto the bodice, finish the sleeve pieces all around the edges.
Ok, so I’m still kind of a beginner when it comes to sleeves. Instead of trying to explain something I don’t quite understand myself yet and confusing you, here is a good video tutorial from Sewing Parts Online.
Oh my, I didn’t do an ease stitch on my sleeves! That might’ve made things easier….
I have so much to learn still!
Hem the end of your sleeves.
Attach your interfacing to your facing pieces. Finish outside edges and shoulder seams of facing. Sew facings right sides together at the shoulder seams.
Pin facings to bodice neckline, right sides together. Sew!
Clip, notch, and grade your facing/bodice seams so that it will be nice and crisp. Understitch and then flip the facing to the inside of the bodice. Press.
Tack the facings to the bodice at the shoulder seams.
Sew your skirt pieces together at one of the side seams(if you had to cut out two skirt pieces; if you just cut out one loooong piece then don’t worry about this step!)
Sew two basting lines at the top of the skirt, one 1/4″ from the edge and the other 3/8″ from the edge. Pull the bobbin threads of each basting line and gather skirt until it matches the width of your bodice.
Fold your skirt right sides together, and sew the last side seam. Finish the skirt side seams and press open.
We’re almost done!
Sew the skirt to the bodice, matching the side seams of the skirt to the side seams of the bodice. Grade and finish the bodice/skirt seam.
Hem your skirt using the technique of your choice. I finished my skirt edge, then folded it up an inch and stitched it to the skirt.
And that’s it! It’s a fairly simple dress to make.
There is one thing that kind of bothers me. The sides have a little extra fabric at the armholes, and I’m not really sure why. Do you know why?
Besides that, I’m pretty happy with it. I foresee myself making more of them and wearing them often(almost as much as I wear my Cleo dress!).
How did yours turn out? Tag me on Instagram(@theaspiringseamstress) so I can see!