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Tutorial: Easy Fabric Dress

In the past I've made simple and easy fabric dresses for some of my toys, because I enjoying sewing, and I like the combination of materials. I've put together this tutorial to show how I make them, so you can add easy fabric dresses to your toys' wardrobes. This dress will fit any of my 8-9" (20-23 cm) tall toys. Below is a sweet eyelet gingham dress, worn under the suspender skirt that comes with my Platypus pattern (coming in early November, 2020).

Notes: The measurements are given in inches, because that's the system I usually use when sewing. While this tutorial is fairly simple, you will need basic machine sewing skills. Ironing and clipping threads between steps will make for a nicer finished garment. Always back-stitch at the beginning and end of straight seams to secure the thread.

Materials: 12" x 6" of light-weight cotton fabric, all-purpose polyester thread to match your fabric, 8" length of 3/8" wide elastic or 14" of narrow ribbon.

Tools: a sewing machine, scissors, ruler, straight pins, iron, bodkin or safety pin, fabric pen or chalk to mark fabric.

Step 1: cut your piece of fabric into two 6" x 6" squares.

two squares of printed cotton fabric
Fabric Dress Tutorial | Step 1

Step 2: Mark which edge will be the top. Mark the sides, 4" up from the bottom. Make sure you mark both pieces of fabric.

marking squares of fabric for seams
Fabric Dress Tutorial | Step 2

Step 3: Zig-zag stitch around all four sides of each piece, separately, in order to finish the edges. Then place the two pieces with right sides facing each other, and match up the marks you made in Step 2. Pin the sides together.

pinning fabric together along sides
Fabric Dress Tutorial | Step 3

Step 4: Sew a 3/8" wide seam along one side, from the bottom up to your mark. Repeat for the other side.

sewing side seams
Fabric Dress Tutorial | Step 4

Step 5: Press the seams open, from the bottom to the top of the dress. You will have a slit at the top of each side - these will become the arm-holes.

pressing side seams
Fabric Dress Tutorial | Step 5

Step 6: Top-stitch the arm-holes about 1/4" from the edge. Starting at the top left, sew down the slit on one side, stopping to pivot around your needle when you reach the seam at the bottom of the slit, then sew up to the top edge again. Repeat for the other arm hole.

top-stitching arm-holes
Fabric Dress Tutorial | Step 6

Step 7: Fold down the top 5/8" to make a casing. Pin in place and press. Repeat on the other side.

folding down and pinning casing for neck
Fabric Dress Tutorial | Step 7

Step 8: Sew down the casing 1/2" from the top edge. Repeat for the other side.

sewing casing seam
Fabric Dress Tutorial | Step 8

Step 9: Fold up the hem 5/8" all the way around, pin in place and press. Sew down the hem 1/2" from the bottom edge.

measure, pin, and sew hem
Fabric Dress Tutorial | Step 9

Step 10: Turn dress right side out. Using the bodkin or safety pin, thread elastic or ribbon through one casing, then through the other, ending on the same side where you started. (I've used ribbon to demonstrate, as it's easier to see). If you're using ribbon, you can now place the dress on the toy, cinch the dress around the neck, and tie the ribbon in a bow at one shoulder.

add ribbon or elastic to casing
Fabric Dress Tutorial | Step 10

Step 11: If you're using elastic, cinch the elastic around the neck-opening, until it's the right size to fit around the neck of the toy, but loose enough to stretch over the head. It will help to have a finished toy handy. Tie a tight square knot. Cut the elastic ends about 1/4" long, then tug on the elastic until the knot is hidden inside the casing.

knot and trim elastic
Fabric Dress Tutorial | Step 11

Step 12: Dress your toy! This simple dress looks sweet on it's own, but also fits nicely under a variety of my clothing designs, like a cardigan, poncho, beach dress, or pinafore dress.

put fabric dress on toy
Fabric Dress Tutorial | Step 12


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