So I have a small admission to make. I have had this dress floating around in my head for the longest time. So long in fact, that when it first came to me, I was planning on making it for my daughter out of her father’s old jeans. As you might be able to tell, my little girl is no longer the size of a jean leg! I am still entirely convinced that the used jeans option is a viable one, I just need a little baby girl to test it out on (cue husband having a heart-attack at the thought of a third child!).
One of the amazing things about living in Paris is the fabric district in the Place Saint Pierre. Unfortunately one of the less amazing things about living in Paris is that that is the only place to get a great range of fabrics. My local fabric store has a very limited range, but unwilling to drag myself all the way to the base of Montmatre, I ended up instead dragging myself to our neighbouring town. The fabric I chose was a softened denim and was actually not as stiff as I had thought, so I needed to use a little iron-on interfacing to strengthen the bodice.
I love how it turned out, and actually the softer denim makes it a very comfortable dress for Miss Chloé to play in, which is important considering how sticky hot this Summer is starting to feel! I do feel however, that the dress would have looked better if I had placed the bow a little higher on the bodice, but I’m sure that’s something I can fix next time.
Bows & Buttons Dress Tutorial
You will need:
A sewing machine
0.5m – 1m of fabric (I used a soft denim)
2m of broderie anglaise
Using an existing dress as a base, I traced around to find the shape and size of the dress I wanted to make. You should make sure you straighten off the neckline. Cut out two of these dresses (wrong sides facing), then cut the bottom 3-4 inches off of these pieces. Cut out two pieces to line the inside of the dress upper. Cut out 2 long strips approximately 10 inches (26 cm) by 2 inches (this will form our bias tape for the armholes). Finally cut out your front panel. This should be the same width as the neckline, and the same length as your dress (my advice is to play around with it before cutting it to make sure the bow is going to be large enough for you).
Place the broderie anglaise (right side facing up) onto the right side of the base segment of the skirt. Stitch this into place using a straight stitch. Match the skirt base to the top part of the dress, wrong sides together sew this in place. Open out and iron flat.
Iron interfacing onto the two lining panels. Place the lining panel right-side down onto the right side of the dress panel (like on the left in the picture above). Stitch along the neckline. Turn lining panel over to the inside and iron the seam flat.
On the long strips, fold long edges into the centre and iron flat. This creates a bias tape that we will use for the armholes.
Fold bias tape over the armhole edges and pin into place, from the top of bottom of the arm hole on the back panel of the dress to the bottom of the armhole on the front dress panel. Make sure you have measured the shoulder height from the neckline. Stitch along the inside edge of the bias tape, making sure you catch all the inside panel pieces as you go. Repeat on the other side. You should now have a piece that looks like the one above.
Wrong sides facing inwards, sew along the side edges of the dress panels, making sure the ends of the bias tape are sewn inwards also. These can now be trimmed. Turn dress right-side out.
Hem the top and bottom edges of the centre panel. Next, sew the broderie anglaise (right-side facing down) along the long edges of the centre panel. Turn right-side out and iron flat.
Position centre panel by lining up the bottom edge with the broderie strip at the base of the dress. Fold top edge over and back onto itself to create a small rectangular section at the top of the dress. Pinch this in the centre to gather it and hand stitch to fasten. This creates our bow.
Fix centre panel into place sewing buttons along each edge. You could also top sew this panel into place, but I personally didn’t want the extra line of stitching.
Finally hem the bottom of the skirt to your desired length.