Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pinafore Dress Tutorial

Hi everyone! My name is Mae and I blog at The Life Of a Compulsive Crafter where I discuss my many creative outlets, the most elaborate being my love for sewing. .

For this project I chose to share one of the spring garments I created for my daughter. I was really inspired this season by dainty floral prints, vintage clothing patterns, and the color navy blue. 
I chose to share the pinafore dress. It's a fully lined, super simple& classic dress. It's so great for a growing child (the straps = longer wear).

Before we start: Create a Pattern!

To make the FRONT BODICE:
-Take your child's chest measurement & add the ease (this is the amount of excess fabric you want)
1'' for a more fitted bodice
2'' for a less fitted bodice

Example:   Chest = 22 in. + 2 in. for ease = 24 in.  total

-Divide that number by 2

24/2 = 12 in.

This will be the rough or raw width measurements for front bodice your pattern.

-Decide how tall you would like your bodice to be. 
My first pinafore was 2'' tall and my second was much wider at something like 4'' tall.
It's completely preference.

Here's a visual reference point:

First Pinafore

Second Pinafore

-Use your measurements to draw a rectangle. 
Using my example, this rectangle would be 4 in x 12in. 

-Add the "bump" to the top of your rectangle. 
This will be where the straps attach. Keep in mind that you don't want the bump to begin right next to the fold. Leave some space, that will be where your neckline is. 

- Finally, add a 1/4 in. seam allowance on all sides except that of the fold.
I marked mine in blue pen to help you see. 

4 in. x 12 in. 

To make the BACK BODICE: 
-Take your front measurement (for my example it was 12 in.) and divide it by 2. 

12/2 = 6 in.

-Using the same height, take the measurements and create a rectangle. 

4 in. x 6 in. 

-On one side add 1/2 in. seam allowance for overlap of button enclosures. 
You can also use a zipper if you like. 

-Add a 1/4 in. seam allowance to the rest. 
This pattern piece is NOT cut on the fold, so add seam allowance to all four sides. 

For the BOTTOM of the dress:

-Decide how long you would like your dress to be by measuring your child. 
I always eyeball this, call me lazy if you will. 

-Cut either 1x or 2x your bolt length depending on how full you want your fabric to be. 
I chose 1x for both of my dresses. 

For the STRAPS:

-Choose how thick your want your straps to be. Add 1/4 in. to each of the long sides.
I chose 2'' so my straps will be a width of 2.5 in. 

-Measure roughly how long each strap will need to be on your child by putting your measuring tape over their shoulder. 
Since my daughter is 5, I just used the whole length of the bolt. I ended up cutting off 3'' while leaving plenty excess for growth.  (this will be better illustrated later)

Start Sewing!

1. Cut out your bodice pattern pieces. 
Cut 2 of the front bodice and 4 of the back to make it fully lined. 
I used the pattern from my first (shorter) pinafore dress bodice and then added extra length to the bottom. 
*If you feel like your material isn't stiff enough, add a layer of interfacing. I needed it in my first dress because is was linen, the second was a medium weight cotton and I didn't need the interfacing. 

2. Sew the side seams. Repeat with the lining. 

3. Place both main fabric & lining right sides together (RST).  Sew around the side& top edges leaving the bottom open. 

Lily's tiny helping hand ^  :)

4. Clip the curves then turn.
Topstitch if desired. 

5. Press the bottom raw edges in 1/4 in. (not pictured, sorry!)

6. Cut your dress bottom. You may choose to serge the top & bottom to eliminate fraying. 
You can see that I used the whole length of the bolt because each side has the salvage edge. 

7. Hem the bottom 1/4 in.
I use to do this after sewing it into a tube, but I find it much easier to do prior. 

8. Fold in 1/2 and sew together stopping a few inches from the top. 

9. Press the seam open and stitch it down. 

10. Using your basting stitch (there are other methods as well), sew across the top of your skirt leaving long tails at the beginning and end. Do not backstitch. Pull the bobbin thread (I used two different colors to differentiate them easier) to gather the skirt. 

11. Pin to the LINING ONLY and sew. 

12. Turn over your dress, tuck the seam into the bodice and pin the MAIN fabric to the skirt. Topstitch.  

13. Cut your straps.  Stitch the long sides together.
You may choose to serge them like I did, otherwise you can use a sewing machine.
Turn them right side out and fold one of the short end inwards 1/4 in. 

14. Sew your back buttons/buttonholes. Attach the straps to the back of your dress. 
I lined them up with the bumps, but I wish I would have pulled them slightly further in toward the buttons. That keeps them from falling off of the shoulder. 

Outside of the garment. 

Inside of the garment. 
15. Put the dress on your child to measure where the buttons need to be. Mark as needed. Cut the straps to length, fold the raw edge 1/4 in. into the strap, topstitch.

16. Add your front buttonholes/buttons. 


A big thank you to the women at Project Run& Play for allowing me this opportunity. I truly enjoy challenging myself & creating this tutorial was just the project. I hope you are all able to create an amazing pinafore for the little lady in your life.
Mine has gotten much use from hers!

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  1. Great tutorial. The instructions were clear and the photography is great. Well done!

  2. Great job! I was so surprised and happy to see a tutorial from you!


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