How To Make A Dress + Free Dress Pattern
In this post, I will show you how to make a dress!
For this jersey knit dress tutorial, you will need just ONE YARD of stretchy fabric (jersey knit or other two-way stretch fabric works great.) I’ve designed these instructions to be easy for beginners with step-by-step instructions and pictures. Don’t worry if this is your first garment or if you have never sewn knits before – with a few simple skills, it is easy! Once you have made one, you will want to make a hundred – it really is quite a fun little toddler dress to sew.
For learning purposes, we will be working with the Clementine Dress Pattern.
To Download the 3T sized free sample PDF pattern pieces for this project, click here.
If you want the full PDF pattern with printable instructions and other sizes (2T – 10 girls,) please purchase the full pattern in my shop.
How To Make A Dress + Free Dress Pattern: Start Here
I. Print & Cut The Pattern Pieces
II. Assemble The Bodice
III. Assemble The Skirt
IV. Sew The Skirt & Bodice Together
V. Hem and Topstitch
Choosing Thread & Stitches
Stitch choice is very important when using stretchy fabrics.
The simple straight stitch you might be used to won’t work for stretch fabrics. Seams may actually break with normal wear. Not what we are going for! 🙂 For this dress, use all-purpose cotton thread and choose a stretchy stitch. Use a wide zig-zag stitch (the stretchiest!) to assemble pieces a stretch stitch for topstitching seams. Selecting Fabric For best results, use a two-way stretch fabric. (It should stretch side to side and up and down.) Choose a fabric that is soft and stretchy like cotton jersey or a cotton spandex, cotton rayon blend or even a knit fabric. If you are brand new to sewing knits, avoid very thin, super-stretchy fabrics the first time. They tend to move a lot when sewing and be frustrating to work with. One of my absolute favorite fabrics to work with is Spoonflower’s organic cotton jersey. You can use a fabric that only stretches one way, but if you do, I suggest choosing one pattern size larger. Essential InfoPattern Keyback of pattern front of pattern center/quarter measurement
ESTIMATE FABRIC For 3T Jersey Knit Dress Pattern
Approx. yardage per garment size:
(I have linked the sewing tools I like and use)
- 24 x 36 cutting mat
- rotary cutter
- metal ruler
- Wondertape stick-on hem tape
- 1 Yard Jersey Knit Fabric or other two-way stretch fabric.
(I love the jersey knits from Spoonflower and the pattern options are endless!)
- All-Purpose Thread
- glue stick
- sewing machine
- jersey needle
- ballpoint pins
- paper scissors
Printing The PDF Pattern & Assembly
The PDF pattern prints in black and white and is designed to print on letter-sized paper (8.5 x 11.) Use the guides to glue the pages together to become life-sized. Print at 100% with no resizing. Once printed, measure the black box with a ruler – if everything printed correctly, it will measure 1 inch x 1 inch. Gluing the paper to assemble the pattern Print all of the pieces of your pattern. Follow the cut guides and trim the top and left sides using a paper trimmer or scissors. Use the glue stick to glue the pieces together. I suggest Elmers Craft Glue Sticks. Avoid washable glues – they don’t always stick well. Once you have assembled the pattern, cut the individual pieces out so you can lay them out on your fabric. Many of the pieces in this pattern will be cut on the fold. I like to fold the same piece of fabric multiple times to maximize space. Using a cutting mat and rotary cutter, cut out your pieces. If your fabric has a pattern, double check the direction of each piece and how front and back pieces will match up before you cut.
Assemble the bodice
Turn edge of fabric under and hem the sleeve as shown (b.) then fold pretty sides together and sew up the bottom. (c.) Pretty sides together, first sew the tops together, then the sides. (e.)
Assembling The Sleeves
Turn edge of fabric under and hem the sleeve as shown above, then fold the piece pretty sides together and sew up the bottom.
Attach the Neckline
The neckline on this dress can be finished in two ways. One is a tee-shirt style neckline, the other is a ballet-style banded neckline. For the Tee Shirt Style Neckline (a.) Fold the neckline piece in half as shown and sew to make a continuous band. Fold right side out to hide that seam. (b.) Stretch neckband evenly inside the bodice, pinning at the center front and back first, then at the shoulder seams. Sew. Once fully-attached, flip this piece up and top stitch to secure the raw fabric edge. For The Ballet Style Banded Neckline Take your neck band piece and iron it in half, the long way. Next, iron each of the sides towards the center fold. You now have a long piece of fabric that looks like bias tape. Using Wondertape, apply this piece (c.) over the raw edge of your neckline. Tuck the end under just before you run out of fabric. Sew close to the edge all around with a zig-zag or stretch stitch to attach and finish the raw neckline edge Pin and Sew Neckline
Attach The Sleeves
Turn the sleeve right side out, and insert into the bodice as shown. (d.) Pin in place and sew all the way around.
Assemble The Skirt
Pretty sides together, sew seams down the sides (a.) then Use your favorite method to gather the skirt. (b.) Sew The Sides & gather the skirt.
Turn the bodice right side out, and insert into the skirt as shown. (a.) Pin in place and sew all the way around using a zig zag stitch and 1 inch seam allowance. (b.) PIN Then Sew.
Sew The Skirt and Bodice Together
This pattern is designed with a 1 inch hem allowance. Try the dress on to find your desired length. Next, use Wondertape (my favorite way to hem!) or pins to position the fabric for your hem. Use a double needle, zig zag stitch, or stretch stitch to secure the hem in place. Hem Skirt. Finish details and overstitch
To enhance the durability of this dress, I recommend reinforcing the following seams by stitching right next to them (top stitching) and sewing the excess fabric flat.
Topstitch for strength
Topstitching helps reinforce seams that will get a lot of stress from wear. Here are the parts I recommend you topstitch:
- Outside of the neckband if you chose the tee shirt style neck
- Above the skirt seam You can also top stitch the seams at the side and top of the bodice to make this dress virtually indestructible!
Look! You MADE A DRESS!
Please share your work with the hashtag #clementinedress so we can share in the fun!