Monday, September 15, 2014

Minnie Mouse Inspired Dress Tutorial

If you didn't already know, I love, love, LOVE planning for trips. My mind is never too far from planning our next getaway which may account for all the trips we go on. Not only do I enjoy the process of pinning down logistics, I also love planning outfits accordingly. For this year's Disneyland trip, I decided to make a dress for Isabelle. With Minnie Mouse in mind, my goal was to make something with lots of ruffle in the back and this is what I came up with. Keep in mind that this tutorial is going to be more about eyeballing things rather than a detailed tutorial. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments.

WHAT I USED After looking for the perfect fabric, I settled on this pink and white polka dotted print. Since I originally was going to make a skirt with this fabric, I only bought half a yard which ended up being just enough to make the dress. For the contrasting fabric used in the bib and the back ruffle, I used a smaller scale pink and white polka dot fabric that I already had on hand. The black used for the other ruffles was also another I had on hand. The straps and the bow were leftover satin ribbon from another project. I also used elastic for the back. All were originally bought from Joann's.

Cut the front and back dress pieces

Step 1: You'll want to use a dress as a pattern. Fold the fabric and dress so that you end up with two symmetrical sides. (For reference, the dress I used was a size 5. Next time around, I wouldn't have made it fitted like I cut it here. Also, if you want to simplify this dress, making it a straight rectangle would be a lot easier when finishing.)
Step 2: Cut 2 pieces. One for the front and one for the back.
Step 3: With the front piece, cut an angle out for the ruffle in the back. I cut mine with a slight curve. (You can keep the cut out curve to help measure out the back ruffle panel later.)

Front bib and ruffle

Step 4: For the bib, cut out a U-shape from a contrasting fabric. Use the front piece to gauge the size you want. (In retrospect, I would have made the big smaller than what I did here.) Cut a long strip for the ruffle. I used black fabric which was roughly 2.5 inches in width. Fold it in half, ruffle it, and pin it along the edge of bib with right sides together. Sew in place.
Step 5: Fold over ruffle and iron flat. Pin bib in place on front dress piece. Sew in place along bib.

Completed back ruffle piece

Step 6: Cut a piece of fabric the width of the dress and long enough for the back opening. (Alternatively, you could use that back curve piece you cut out before to cut out a slightly larger piece. I decided to do this because it seemed like a good idea at the time.) This is where your back ruffles will go. Cut out strips for your ruffles. The longer the strip, the more ruffly it'll be. My strips were about 4.5 inches wide. Fold strips in half, ruffle, pin in place, and sew. Start with the bottom ruffle and work your way up, making sure each row of ruffles overlaps the bottom ruffle.

Add ruffle to the hem of the back and front dress pieces

Step 7: Cut out more strips for the hem of the dress. I made these the same size as the bib ruffle. Do the same ruffle thing as before: Fold in half, ruffle, pin with right sides together, and sew. Fold ruffle over and iron flat. Top stitch the front dress piece.

Attach the back ruffle piece to the back dress piece

Step 8: Pin your back ruffles in place with the back dress piece. Top stitch.
Step 9: If you made your back ruffle piece too large like me, this is the time to cut it down so there isn't too much unnecessary fabric there. I used my zigzag scissors so the fabric wouldn't fray too badly back there.

Finish off with straps and elastic back

Step 10: I don't have pictures of the rest of the steps so hopefully this makes sense. At this point, you can decide to add elastic to the back or leave it. If you decided to cut straight rectangles, you would just need to sew the sides together, add an elastic casing at the top (again, this is optional) and add ribbon for the straps.

If you want to do what I did, I decided to add a lining with the contrasting fabric. I pinned the ribbon in place before sewing the lining in. After that, I added an elastic casing to the back dress piece where I fed the elastic through before sewing the sides of the dress together.

Add the ribbon bow to the back

Step 11: For the finishing touch, I hand sewed a bow to the top of the back hem. Again, this is totally optional, but I found it to be a cute addition.

Action shots in Disneyland

As you can see, this dress would work well over a black shirt too. I originally had Isabelle wear a cap sleeve shirt underneath, but then it got too hot so I took it off. Because I didn't have Isabelle around when I sewed the ribbon on, the straps ended up being too far apart and kept slipping off her shoulders. In the end, I just tucked the back straps into the dress and tied the front straps halter style. This dress was a fun one to make and it ended up being the perfect dress for our Disney vacation.
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