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Tutorial for Girl's Sundress/Romper

Posted Jun 25 2009 1:28pm

Hazel side front view  

Hazel back view  

Hazel crouching

Because I had so many compliments on the little sundress rompers that I made for Hazel last week, I thought I'd post a quick tut on how I put them together...hooray, just in time for summer!  As you can see in the photo below, I used a pattern for the bloomers.  This one happens to be Simplicity #9784, but there are many many options out there.  I lengthened the legs about 2" so they would fall below Hazel's knees, and instead of hemming them I sewed bias tape to the bottom raw edge before sewing the sides of the legs together.

Fabric pieces of sundress  

For the top, you will need at least 3 coordinating fabrics.  Hazel is a size 3T, so if you're making a smaller or bigger outfit you will need to change the sizing accordingly.  Basic rule of thumb for the bodice:  make it at least 5 or 6 inches wider (bigger) than the trunk (waist or chest, whichever is bigger) measurement of your little girl.  For the bodice I cut a big rectangle measuring 27" x 9 1/2".  The ruffles were cut from a full width of fabric (selvedge edge to selvedge edge, about 43" wide).  The top ruffle is 4", the bottom ruffle is 7".  Make sure the ruffle pieces are exactly the same length, because it will matter later on.  The ruffle strips need to be at least half again as long as the bodice.  (In this case, the bodice is 27", the ruffles are 43").  The straps are 10" x 2 1/2".  If you want to add the ruffled caps to the straps, go here for the tutorial on how to do it.  I cut out 2 rectangles measuring 5" x 10" to make the ruffled cap sleeves for this outfit.

Hems folded under  

Stitch the ends of bodice and each ruffle together (to itself, not linking different fabrics together) to create a large loop or tube out of each rectangle.  Press under 1/4" on the bottoms of the ruffles and the top of the bodice.  Press under another 1/4" so that the raw edge is completely hidden.  Do this while the loops (tubes) are inside out, as shown.  If you need further clarification, click on the twirly skirt tutorial in my sidebar and it will explain this process in further detail.


Turn each loop (tube) right side out and stitch the hem about 1/4" away from edge.


Now that both ruffle pieces are hemmed, place the shorter ruffle on top of longer ruffle, aligning raw edges.  If they are exactly the same circumference, they will fit together exactly.  Using the long basting stitch, baste all along the raw edge of both ruffles at the same time.  Be sure to leave the thread "tails" when you're done so you can pull on the thread later to gather it.

Pinning ruffles to top  

Using the same technique that I explain in detail in my twirly skirt tut, attach the ruffles to the bodice.  The ruffles should be inside-out, the bodice right side out and inside the larger loop of the ruffles, so the right sides of the bodice and ruffles are facing eachother.  Line up the seams on the ruffles and the back of the bodice so the seams will all be in the same place on the finished outfit.

Ruffles to top

Here is another view of what it should look like after it is pinned in place.

Topstitch waist Stitch the ruffles to the bodice, then serge or zigzag stitch over the raw edges, because it will be quite messy by now.  You don't want all those loose threads hanging down and tickling your little one's tummy!

Turn right side out, and make sure that the bulky seam you just serged is pointing up toward the top of the bodice.  Topstitch about 1/8" from seam where ruffles and bodice meet, making sure the stitching catches the underlying bulky seam.  This will make the bulk much flatter and the ruffles more attractive.

Sewing ribbon on waist  

If you would like to sew a band of ribbon at the waist, now is the time to do it.  For tips on how to start and stop the ends of the ribbon, refer to my twirly skirt tutorial.

Establishing area of shirring  

Now you're ready to sew the shirring.  With the seam in the middle of the back of the bodice, place pins or use a washable fabric marker to mark where to start and stop sewing.  I placed my pins just an 1 1/2" from the ends, as you can see.   For details on how to do shirring, you can go to Sandi Henderson's very helpful tut about it here.  The only thing I do differently is that, because I am not sewing around the entire bodice, the stopping and starting is not the same.  I start at the top of the bodice (with a big backstitch action at the beginning to secure the threads), and when I get to the end of that first row I backstitch again, leave the needle in the fabric, and pivot 180 degrees.  I then carefully lift my needle up, move the fabric over 1/4",  backstitch again, and sew the opposite direction.  I backstitch at each stop and start of each line.  Do this 7 to 10 times across the back of the bodice.


Finished shirring  

After stitching the shirring, hold a steaming iron over the stitches to make them shrink and bunch up even more.  It should look like this.

Strap closeup

Sew the little straps together and attach to bodice.  For the straps, you can either sew a skinny tube and turn it right-side out, or turn the raw edges under on each long side, then fold it in half and stitch it shut.  I used the latter method because I wanted to encase the raw edges of the cap sleeve inside the strap.

I strongly recommend that you pin the straps where you think they should go with safety pins first and try it on your little girl before stitching them onto the bodice, just to make sure they are in exactly the right place and that they are the right length.

Ribbon closeup

I always like to add some little button or doo-da to the place where the strap and bodice meet.  It adds a lot of extra interest.

These bows were stitched on by hand.

Finished product

And there you have it!  A darling little summer outfit for your young sweetie.  Happy sewing!

Hazel jumping up


Hooray!  Mommy's about to put the camera away!  I spent an unbelievably long time trying to get a front view of this outfit while Hazel was wearing it.  She doesn't like posing, and would turn around and run whenever I pulled the camera out.  She would even turn around and walk towards me backwards because she knew that I was trying to get the front of her!  I have no less than 20 back shots, and 2 front ones.  What a character!

Hazel running

Run, run, as fast as you can, you can't catch me with a camera in your hand!

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