My eldest daughter really wanted to be Strawberry Shortcake for Halloween (and also apparently for her birthday in January). She was very adamant that she wanted to be “that Strawberry Shortcake” (the “new” one with the sassy little simple dress) and not “the old one” (the one I liked better, of course, with the prairie styled pinafore and bloomers).
Because I’m not a fan of copying something exactly nor could I find the “perfect” Strawberry Shortcake fabric to use (that exactly matched the new Strawberry Shortcake’s outfit), my daughter and I came up with a unique spin on the costume. It’s very boutique inspired, and it’s even something that she could wear day-to-day (minus the wig… or not!).
The costume consists of an easy dress that starts with a plain white tee, some ruffled leggings and a newsboy hat. Little C had some red shoes that still fit her from last Christmas to finish the look and we found an inexpensive red wig at the drugstore in their Halloween display.
The entire project cost less than $30 and it was about two day’s worth of sewing for me. My daughter loves it and won’t take it off now, which means “success” to me!
I’m going to share with you how I made the little boutique dress with the apron front and applique, the ruffled leggings and the little newsboy (or conductor) hat. It was a lot of fun and these are some basic pieces that could be made into other costume or non-costume looks as well!
- 1 long or short sleeved white t-shirt in your child’s size
- 1/4 yard Michael Miller Ta Dot Lime
- 1 yard Michael Miller Ta Dot Berry
- 1 yard Michael Miller Strawberry Tea Party Blossom Berries Red/Pink
- 1 yard green & white zebra stripe (or regular stripe) knit jersey (the jersey I bought from Fabric.com is no longer in stock, but this one would be cute:Swimwear/Activewear Zebra Stripes White/Green)
- old ice cream pail lid (for hat brim)
- 1″ wide elastic
- applique adhesive paper
Try the tee on your child, and measure where you want to cut it to make the dress bodice (I wanted an empire waist dress, so I cut it so that it was at the bottom of my daughter’s chest, and then added one inch for the seam allowance to the skirt + a little extra just in case). Cut in a straight line with a ruler and a rotary cutter (or mark the line with a ruler and cut with scissors). To make the strawberry applique, iron about a 3″ square of the berry ta dot fabric and a 1″ square of the lime ta dot fabric onto some applique adhesive paper (followig the directions). Cut out a strawberry shape and a strawberry stem shape from the fabrics as shown above (I free-handed the shapes, but you could also find a strawberry image online and use it as a pattern).
Iron the main strawberry shape onto the centre front of the tee and satin stitch around it. Iron the stem on in place, and satin stitch around it as above.
To make the skirt of the dress, measure your child from the point where the bottom of the bodice will be to where you want the hem of the dress to be (my measurement for my 3 year old was 13″). Add 2″ for the top and bottom seam allowance and hem and cut a piece of the berry Ta Dot that is the width of the fabric (about 45″) by the measurement. Cut a piece of the Strawberry Tea Party fabric that is 2″ shorter than the skirt piece and approximately 18″ wide for the apron. Cut the skirt piece in half width-wise, lay the two halves right-sides together and sew the side seams. Hem the bottom of the skirt piece by folding up 1/2″, then another 1/2″ and stitching. Hem three sides of the apron in the same manner, then lay the apron piece over the skirt piece as shown above and stay-stitch them together (centering the apron on the front of the skirt). Seam finish the top edge of the skirt/apron piece (I used a serger, but you could also use a regular machine’s zig-zag stitch).
Cut a piece of elastic that is the length of your child’s waist circumference plus 1 inch. Sew the ends strongly together (I sew a box shape). Pin the elastic circle to the top of the skirt/apron, placing the side seams on opposite sides of the elastic circle. The elastic should be about 1/2″ over the upper raw edge of the skirt so that it covers the raw edge. Sew the elastic to the skirt from the wrong side – you’ll be pulling the elastic very tightly as you sew it to the skirt. This gathers the skirt as you go.
Now, turn the tee bodice inside out and pin it to the elastic in the same manner (with the top 1/2″ of the elastic covering the raw edge of the tee on the right side. Pin it and sew it from the wrong side. You might have to stretch the elastic a little bit to fit, but not much. Now the dress is done!
The Ruffled Leggings
I followed this method and used a pair of my daughters leggings that she has on hand to make a pattern for these new leggings. I took about 3″ off of the bottom, and then cut out one long (the width of the knit fabric) 4″ wide strip of fabric and one long 2 1/2″ wide strip of fabric out of the knit fabric.
Place the narrower strip of fabric over the wider strip and gather the top edge as you stitch them together (I adjust the tension on my serger and do it quickly this way). Sew the ruffles to the bottom of the leggings, then sew the inseams together, and then the crotch seam. Seam-finish the top of the leggings, fold them down 1 1/4″ and stitch to form a casing (with a 2″ opening). Measure your child’s waist and add 1″ – cut a piece of the elastic with this measurement. Thread it through the casing, stitch the ends together and then stitch the opening closed. The leggings are complete!
The Newsboy Hat
Measure the circumference of your child’s head and add 2 inches (for a little “give” and a seam). Cut out a piece of Berry Ta Dot and one of Strawberry Tea Party fabric that is as long as your measurement and 4″ wide. Cut a circle out of the Berry Ta Dot that has a circumference of your child’s head – I managed to find a lid that had the right measurement, or you can make your own circle (on your computer or by hand old-school style with a pencil and string!). Cut a larger circle out of the Strawberry Tea Party fabric that has a circumference of at least twice your first circle – I found a frying pan that was a nice size and used that!
For the brim, draw a half-moon shape that has the same curve on the inside and outside as your smaller circle – see the shape in the photo above. I free-handed my shape, but you could find a hat you have on hand with a brim you like and trace that. Cut out two pieces of Lime Ta Dot in this shape, and then cut the shape out of the old ice cream pail lid (I like to recycle ice cream pails, apparently). Lay the fabric pieces right sides together, and then the plastic piece on top. Sew a 1/4″ seam on the front curve only, then trim back the ice cream pail lid piece as close as you can to the stitching line, as above (sew very slowly through the plastic and use a strong needle!). Flip on piece of fabric over the plastic, to its right side, and you’ll have a nice brim shape like the picture above. Stay-stitch the opposite raw edges together.
To create the hat lining, sew the short ends of the Berry Ta Dot strip right sides together to form a loop. Pin the loop right sides together to the matching circle and sew with a 1/2″ seam as pictured above. Cut a 3″ piece of elastic, and center it over the back seam of the hat lining as above. Stretch it a little to create a small gather at the back of the hat and sew it in place with a straight stitch down the middle (this gives the hat a little stretch and helps it stay on the head). For the right side of the hat, sew the short ends of the Strawberry Tea Party fabric strip right sides together to form a loop. Gather the large circle of Strawberry Tea Party fabric so that the circumference measures the same as the loop’s circumference. Pin and sew the pieces together as shown above.
Pin the brim of the hat to the outside of the hat, centering the brim and pinning right sides together. Stay-stitch in place. Place the hat lining into the outside of the hat, with their right sides together and the brim of the hat tucked inside. Pin them in place with their raw edges matching up, lining up the back seam and the front centers. Stitch together using a 1/2″ seam allowance and leaving a 3″ hole to turn the hat. Trim the seam just around the brim part as close to the stitch line as possible so that the plastic piece doesn’t stick out. Turn the hat right-side out and stitch the hole together with a small stitch line close to the seam. The hat is complete!
This little ensemble is super cute and my daughter is just loving it! The bonus? She can wear the dress and leggings out as a fun little outfit.
Have you ever sewn any costumes for your kids? Please share them in the comments below – I’d love to see your handiwork!