How To Make A Simple Girl’s Lined Bodice Dress 3


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Sewing Bee Fabrics Tutorial

Make Your Own Lined Bodice Dress

Lined dress free sewing tutorials

I made my daughter a new dress for her first birthday. It's easy to make and works well up until puberty (where you ideally need to work out darts to accommodate the extra shape up top!). It buttons up at the back of a lined bodice but the skirt is unlined so it is still light and summery. Also the skirt is just a big rectangle, so you really can't get any easier drafting the shape of it!

What you will need:

Dress lining fabric (approx. 1/2 metre or less)

Cotton (depends on dress size. This was made with under 1 metre)

Thread

Buttons

 

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How to make it:

I started out with the bodice shape. I picked a top that fitted (if you pick a stretchy one, just remember to add a bit extra to allow for the lack of stretch with cotton). For the front, I simply drew around the neckline, shoulders, sleeve holes and sides, and stopped it at the length I wanted the skirt to start. Add your desired seam allowance around the whole pattern. You will be cutting 1 of these in cotton and again in dress lining fabric).

The back section was identical but I folded the pattern in half then another couple of centimetres in the centre (nearly an inch). This is because you want the back to overlap to do up the buttons. If your putting in big buttons you will want a bit more overlap, and if you want small buttons you can make the overlap a little smaller. You will need to cut 2 of these in each fabrics.

Use a top as a guide to making your bodice pattern.
Use a top as a guide to making your bodice pattern.

First you need to make 2 little jacket shapes from your bodice pieces, so join the shoulders between the cotton pieces with them right sides together, then repeat separately with the lining fabric.

Sew the bodice shoulder pieces together
Sew the bodice shoulder pieces together

Next, join the bodice pieces together under the arms right sides together so you should have a little cotton jacket and a little dress lining one too. I know that my children's clothes tend to get pulled around a lot so I then zigzagged over the edges of those seams with an overedge foot.

I then joined the bodice lining and cotton fabrics together by pinning them both right sides together then sewing around the outer edge. I left a small gap at the bottom for turning. Don't sew around the sleeves or it wont turn if you are doing it this way.

Attach the lining fabric to the cotton right sides together remembering to leave a gap for turning
Attach the lining fabric to the cotton right sides together remembering to leave a gap for turning

Turn your dress bodice right side out through the hole, then top stitch all the way around where you joining the 2 pieces including closing over the hole.

Top stitch around your bodice
Top stitch around your bodice

Tuck the raw edges for the sleeves in on themselves and pin in place before sewing. You may prefer to tack them down if your dress lining is particularly slippery or your not feeling confident.

Tuck the raw edges for the armhole in on themselves before sewing in place
Tuck the raw edges for the armhole in on themselves before sewing in place

Overlap the base the amount you are wanting for your buttons. This is a good time to try the dress on to make sure you aren't going to make it too loose or tight. Sew the overlap together at the base. I find it helps to pin the rest in place so you wont sew them together at an angle.

Overlap the back pieces ready for buttons and sew the base in place.
Overlap the back pieces ready for buttons and sew the base in place.

To make the skirt pattern couldn't get much easier. All you need is a rectangle that is about twice as wide as the bodice total width. Anywhere between 1.5 - 2.5 x will be fine though depending on how full you want the skirt to look. The height of the rectangle is just the length you want your skirt plus 2 hem allowances.

Hem the bottom long edge of the rectangle.

hemming the bottom of the skirt with a wide hemmer foot
hemming the bottom of the skirt with a wide hemmer foot

There's lots of it, so for speed I used a wide hemmer foot.

Rectangle skirt ready for attaching
Rectangle skirt ready for attaching

Join the edges of your rectangle to make a loop of fabric. I wanted it to look neat both inside and outside this dress, so I joined it with a French seam. To do that, sew your seam with right sides facing OUT.

French seam - start with fabrics facing out
French seam - start with fabrics facing out

Trim off the excess fabric so there is only a small amount left next to your line of stitching. I find using a quarter inch quilting foot really helps to keep this type of seam looking accurate and professional. If you want to know more, check out other tips for getting a perfect accurate quarter inch seam

French seam - trim off excess fabric
French seam - trim off excess fabric

Lastly, fold the seam back on itself then re-sew the quarter inch seam with the fabrics rights sides TOGETHER. This seals the raw edge into the centre.

French seam - seal the raw edge inside the seam
French seam - seal the raw edge inside the seam

Hand sew a basting stitch (very wide running stich) around the top of the skirt. I turned the hem as I went so the basting stitches held it in place ready for sewing down all together with the machine later. Gently pull on your thread to gather the fabric until it is roughly the same width as the bodice.

Girls lined dress gathering the top of the skirt to join to the bodice

Distribute the gathers evenly around then pin it just inside the bodice.

Girls lined dress pinning the skirt and bodice together ready for joining with the gathers equally spread

I used a walking foot to help the layers move through the sewing machine evenly to sew the dress bodice and skirt together. You can then remove any obvious bits of basting stitches.

Girls lined dress using a walking foot to joing the skirt to the bodice when sewing the dress

Now all that's left is the buttons and buttonholes. I prefer to sew my button holes first then pin through the centre of all of them to get my perfect button placement underneath.

Get perfect button placement by pinning through the button hole openings
Get perfect button placement by pinning through the button hole openings

If you want more help with this bit, check out our guide for sewing buttons and buttonholes by machine.

Then it's all finished and ready!

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Have you had a go at making your own dresses? What's your favourite skirt shape to add to a lined bodice?

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3 thoughts on “How To Make A Simple Girl’s Lined Bodice Dress

  • Lydia David

    This is great :). I have recently been transforming a dress I wore years ago when I was a bridesmaid – it was a floor length dress and I wanted to make it into a shorter dress, using excess fabric to make a co-ordinating dress for my daughter to wear.

    I have been looking for simple instructions to be able to do this, this is perfect, and means I don’t need to buy any patterns – thank you.

    I would like to possibly add sleeves to it though, would that be easy to do?

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      I am so happy it helped! I guess for the sleeves, that would depend on how used to making sleeves you are. It can be a little tricky getting the pattern shape right unless you have a similar garment or pattern you could copy. Maybe you could try making a muslin mock-up first so you are sure you have sleeves with enough room to lift arms up (learn from a mistake I’ve definitely made and regretted!) or you could try making something like flutter sleeves where the fabric runs in more of a crescent shape to give the appearance of short sleeves while being free under the armpit and allowing for more movement and margin of error!