Sew a Princess Dress
by Christina Dennis
My three-year-old loves princesses of all kinds and dressing up like them whenever she has the chance. We’ve purchased a lot of the Disney princess dresses and have had some gifted to us, but the other week my darling girl wanted a very specific princess dress. She’s been watching Barbie’s Princess and the Pauper (*eye roll* – gift from a friend!) and kept commenting on how beautiful Princess Anneleise’s “pretty pink rose dress” was. I told her we could sew one together and she was ecstatic!
The base of this princess dress is a very simple peasant style dress pattern, and I’ve added some fun embellishments like ruffles, ribbons and a rose. This dress is wide with an elastic neckline and sleeves, so it would grow with a child – comfortably from age 2 to age 5 or so. It’s a classic, shiny pink princess dress, so it could work for any type of little princess!
- 1 yard pink satin fabric (I used cuddle satin for a little extra body and comfort – it has a flannel backing)
- 1/4 yard white satin fabric
- a roll of 1/4″ metallic gold ribbon
- 1/4″ elastic
- hand-sewing needle
Print out these four pattern pieces (make sure that you are printing at 100% size; the final pattern piece has to be taped together): The DIY Mommy Princess Dress 1, The DIY Mommy Princess Dress 2, The DIY Mommy Princess Dress 3, The DIY Mommy Princess Dress 4 & The DIY Mommy Princess Dress 5
From the pink satin, cut out the sleeve pieces, back bodice, side front bodice. Cut the center front from the white satin. From the white satin, cut two 5″ wide strips from the entire width of the satin for the ruffles (not pictured). From the pink satin, cut one 5″ wide strip from the entire width of the satin (for the flower embellishment). For the skirt, measure your child from an inch beneath their armpit to where you want the hem of the dress to fall (if you make the dress long, your child will be able to wear it longer!). Add 3 inches to this measurement (for the waist seam and bottom hem), and cut a full width of the pink satin fabric in this length (my fabric was 54″ wide). Cut this piece in half so that you have a skirt front and skirt back piece.
Take the center front piece cut from white satin, and arrange lengths of gold ribbon cut to size as pictured above (I eye-balled my placement). You might prefer three criss-crosses or only one – it’s up to you and your princess! Pin the ribbon, then sew it to the satin piece with stitches down the middle of each ribbon length.
With right sides together, sew one of the front side pieces to the side of the center front piece. (For this dress, I used my serger for an all-in-one seam finish, but if you are using a regular machine make sure to finish the seams with a zig-zag stich after sewing). Repeat with opposite side. Press seam open on low heat. Lay a length of ribbon over the seam, cut to size, and sew with stitches down the middle. Repeat with opposite side.
With right sides together, sew the bodice front to the bodice back at the side seams.
Sew the two long white satin pieces together on one short end of each. Fold in half, wrong sides together and gather along the raw edge. Here, I used my serger to gather quickly by adjusting the tension, but you can also gather with a long running stitch on your machine and pulling the upper thread. Here is an excellent post on gathering techniques.
With raw edges together, sew the white ruffle to the bottom edge of one sleeve. Cut to fit after sewing. Turn to right side, press lightly, and topstitch about 1/8″ close to seam to keep ruffle flat. Repeat with second sleeve.
Cut two pieces of 1/4″ elastic that are approximately 8″ each. On the wrong side of booth sleeves, draw a straight line with a pencil and ruler that’s about 4″ from the bottom of the ruffle. Attach the elastic to the wring side of the sleeve by sewing a straight line in the center of the elastic, pulling the elastic with your hand as you sew to ruffle the fabric and stretch the elastic to the opposite side of the sleeve. Repeat with second sleeve.
Fold each sleeve horizontally in half with right sides together, and sew each of their side seams together matching the bottoms of the ruffles.
Open up the top of one sleeve and pin its curved edge to the curved sleeve opening of one side of the bodice, right sides together. Match armpit seams. Sew together.
With raw edges together, sew the white satin ruffle to the lower edge of the bodice. Start on one side seam, fold the short raw edge of the ruffle to the underside. When you reach the beginning again, overlap the end of the ruffle slightly over the beginning and fold the raw edge under again after trimming to fit.
With right sides together and sandwiching the ruffle in between, sew the front and back pieces of the skirt together at the side seams. Gather the upper edge of the skirt with a serger or regular machine, and pin it to the bodice (pulling or loosening gathers to fit) with the right sides together. Sew.
Turn dress right-side-out and press waist seam lightly. Topstitch about 1/8″ from seam to help ruffle lay flat.
Serge raw edge of bodice neck OR turn over 1/4″ and press. Turn over 1/2″ and press, then stitch close to folded edge to create a casing for the neck elastic. Leave a 1″ opening. Cut a 16″ piece of 1/4″ elastic, and thread through the casing (I use a safety pin on the threading end and a stick pin on the opposite end). Sew the edges of the elastic together securely once threaded and stitch the casing opening shut.
The main dress is DONE! Now, on to the embellishments:
Fold the 5″ wide strip of pink satin you cut earlier in half lengthwise and gather (like you did with the white ruffles before). I used a full width of my pink satin, then cut the ruffled piece in half – one to use for the dress and one for a hair accessory for later!
Start rolling the ruffled strip (you’re making a rose from the center out), hand sewing the raw edges together as you go (I just used random stitches, making sure to secure the layers together as best I could).
Once you’re finished rolling and sewing the ruffled strip to your liking, make sure to secure it at the end with several knots of thread. Leave a long tail of thread and the needle attached to sew the rose to the dress bodice.
Sew the rose to the dress bodice, using the dress picture as a guide. Use lots of hand stitches, and secure it well at the end with several knots.
Tie a bow from the gold ribbon, cut it to your desired length, and stitch it to the center of the bottom of the bodice. I machine stitched the bow on, on each side of the knot (you could also hand stich, but I find machine stitching this way keeps the bow tied securely).
You’re ALL DONE! Share an afternoon tea with your little princess.
Christina Dennis is the creator and designer behind Golly Gee Baby, a collection of unique and colourful baby clothing and accessories that are ethically manufactured.