The Mouse House Christmas Dress: Sewing Tutorial

Please bear with me during this sewing tutorial…. I have approximately 45 minutes before my kids wake up from their naps and demand my attention :)

Here are some updated pictures of the dress I created as Ainsley’s Christmas dress this year
(inspiration came from a picture I saw as an advertisement for zulily.com) :

And of course, a  matching headband to complete the outfit:
This dress is MUCh easier than it looks and you could make it for all sorts of occasions like birthday parties, Christenings, Easter, the list is endless.
****My daughter is currently in size 2T-3T so that is what this tutorial is showing, but you will adjust your measurements depending on the size of your child (or the child you are making this dress for)****
PLEASE feel free to ask me questions!  Send an email to mousehousecreations (at) yahoo.com
What you will need for this dress (for size 2T-3T):
 
1 Yard of Red Crushed Taffeta
1 Yard of Green Crushed Taffeta
1 Knit Jersey Shirt in your child’s current size 
{make sure it is a shirt you don’t mind cutting into…it becomes the top of the dress!}
coordinating threads
iron
Headband and hot glue, if you decide to make the headband
 
{again, you will need way less than 1 yard of each fabric if you are making this dress for a baby, perhaps only 1/2 yard of each color.  In the same train of thought, you will need more than 1 yard of each if you are making anything for a 6 year old, perhaps 1.5 yards of each)
 
 
The Mouse House Christmas Dress
{instructions will be below each photo in the caption box}
 
Cutting Out and Creating the Skirt:
Using a measuring tape, measure your child from where you want the skirt to start to where you want the  skirt to end and add 2 inches for hem allowance and seam allowances.
 For Ainsley, this measurement was 16 inches long.  (she measured 14 inches and then I added 2 inches to that measurement)
This shows that the crushed taffeta I purchased was 54 inches wide, which is perfect for this project, so keep that in mind when buying your fabric.  Make sure yours is just as wide for a size 2T-3T.  If your child is older, this same width will be just fine, but the skirts won’t be quite as poofy.  If you have a smaller child, you can reduce the width and then adjust the rest of my measurements accordingly!  
Measure down 16 inches on the green taffeta.
Cut all the way across your green fabric You need two skirt pieces, so do this twice.
You will have two green skirt pieces, each measuring 16 in by 54 inches.  Put the green pieces aside for now.
Now, you will be cutting the red taffeta, which is the shorter of the two skirts and I made mine asymmetrical.   Again, you will cut out TWO red skirt pieces.  Measure down 14 inches and cut all the way across, just like you did with the green skirt pieces.  You will end up with TWO red skirt pieces, each measuring 14 in by 54 inches.
Now, here is where you are going to create the asymmetrical skirt.  Lay the two red skirts on top of each other so that you can cut them at the same time.  
Keep the one end of the skirt pieces 14 inches long.  Move down to the other end of the skirt pieces and measure out 8 inches.  Start cutting towards the 14 inch end, slowly angling as you go.
I found that the middle looked best at 11 inches.  So now, you will have one side of your skirt at 8 inches, the middle of your skirt is about 11 inches, and the other side of your skirt is 14 inches.  Doesn’t need to be exact…these are just the measurements that I used!
Here is a really awful graphic I drew up to give you a better idea of what I mean, pictures are not to scale, haha, I crack myself up:)   The first drawing shows the green skirt.  The second picture shows how you will first cut out your red skirt, and the third picture shows how you will continue to cut your red skirt.
Now, put your two green skirt pieces right side together and stitch up both 16 inch sides.  
(crushed taffeta generally doesn’t have a right or wrong side, but I am putting that instruction in here in case you decide to use different fabric)


Do the same with the red skirts, stitch up the 14 inch side and then the 8 inch side.


Put your skirt pieces aside for now.

So, now that you are clear as mud, let’s move on!
It helped me at this point to try them on my “model” to make sure I had the length measurements correct
Cutting out and Making the Sash:
Out of your leftover green taffeta, cut a strip 5.5 inches wide by 54 inches long
Iron your entire strip in half (on a low setting).  Your sash will now be a little wider than 2.5 inches.
After ironing, sew the raw edges together (BUT LEAVE THE TWO SHORT ENDS OPEN so that you can later turn the entire thing inside out!)  You will end up with a tube.
Turn the tube inside out.  Kind of looks like a snake at this point.
Here is the raw edge you will still have at both openings.
Tuck them inside the tube and iron to set.
Iron the entire tube to set, as well.
After ironing, top stitch the entire sash to finish it off nicely.
I tried the finished sash on my “model”.
Putting the top and skirts together:
 
Here is the shirt I used for Ainsley’s dress.  Yours doesn’t need to be exact.  It just needs to be
pre-washed and dried (to ensure proper fit) and it needs to be the right size for your child.  I liked this particular shirt because of the cute ruffles up top (plus, we already owned it, so it was free!)
Now, you need to cut your shirt about an inch below the point you will want the skirt to be attached.   
Let’s Ruffle!
 
Time to ruffle the skirt pieces!  Many people have various methods of ruffling…. 
 
I prefer cranking up the tension all the way…
 
And then turning my machine to the longest stitch available (or basting stitch)…
This creates and automatic ruffle…. 
BUT DO NOT do a backstitch at any point or this method won’t work!
After you have done your “ruffling stitch”, you need to gently pull the bobbin thread to create an even fluffier ruffle.  Gather the fabric as you go, continuing to pull the bobbin thread.  This is why you can’t do a backstitch!  You need to be able to freely pull the bobbin thread for this to work.  Keep evenly gathering until your skirt opening is about the same size as the shirt opening that you just cut.  Do this for both the red skirt and the green skirt.  
Once both skirts have the same size opening as the shirt, layer them together and pin.  Look at the next picture for more detail.
Make sure to do this exactly or you will have an inside out dress!  The shirt goes in first (upside down), then the red and then the green skirts go on the outside (right side up).    You will attach the right sides of the skirt to the right side of the shirt.  So, in the picture above, you see the wrong side of the skirts facing outward.  The right sides of the skirts are touching the shirt.

Confusing, right?  If you understand basic garment construction, you should be fine, but otherwise, this might trip you up.  If you need to contact me at this point, please do!  OR youtube is your friend…. search “attaching skirt to bodice” or “attaching ruffle”.  These should all clarify what I am talking about!  I hope!

AFTER pinning and BEFORE you stitch the layers together, it would be wise to just make sure you pinned it together correctly.  It should look like the above picture once flipped right side out.  If it looks like this, you are good to go!
Stitch the three layers together carefully, making sure you are catching them all.
Once your dress is stitched together, just check everything out to make sure no alterations need to be made before hemming.  You can always adjust your length at this point, if needed.
If everything is okay, go ahead and do a hem around the bottom of each skirt.  I turned my hems under 1/4 inch, ironed, and then turned under another 1/4 inch and ironed again.  Then, pinned and hemmed.

At this point, you are finished OR you can attach the sash to the dress using a few blind stitches, but I chose not to do that because I want it to be removable and adjustable.

Here is what your finished product will look like from behind:

You can also make a headband with your leftover scraps, if you wish!
I purchased a sparkly red headband from the craft store and I simply used some of the taffeta scraps to create a rosette and a bow.  I won’t bore you with a rosette tutorial because there are a TON of them in blog land.  So, if you don’t know how to do one, just search “how to make fabric rosettes”.  Super easy and I attached it to the headband using hot glue!
 
 
 
I truly hope that this sewing tutorial is helpful and not too confusing!  PLEASE feel free to let me know if there are any steps that I should clarify or change…. I will NOT be offended, I promise!  This is a fairly easy dress and there are so many variations possible.  I would LOVE to see your finished products, either through email (mousehousecreations {at} yahoo.com)  OR on my Facebook Page:  www.facebook.com/mousehousecreations 
 
 
Thanks and Happy Sewing!!
 

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Hayley

Hayley Crouse is a wife, mother and multifaceted designer. Her love of sewing, crafting, cooking and interior design infuses her daily life and naturally spills over into her online presence. She pushes the envelope of her creativity and hopes that others will be inspired to do the same. She currently authors the Welcome to the Mouse House Blog, is the pattern designer behind Mouse House Creations and is a collaborative designer with Willow & Co. Patterns.
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37 Responses to The Mouse House Christmas Dress: Sewing Tutorial

  1. Rebecca December 7, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    Thank you for the tutorial. :)

  2. Cheryl December 7, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    I love the tutorial and the look of your dress!

  3. Ashley December 8, 2011 at 1:42 am #

    This little dress is so cute! I wish I had a little girl to make it for. Awesome tutorial by the way.

  4. Rosanne December 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    Wish I had a little girl to make this for, my 7 year old granddaughter is more into leggings and pretty tops and even my 1st great-grandchild is going to be a boy :-/

    But I am keeping the tutorial (you did GREAT, BTW) for this because who knows? And I am passing it along to my friends : )

  5. The Mouse House December 9, 2011 at 4:46 am #

    You guys are wonderful! Thanks for the comments!

  6. hokiesmile December 9, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Wow! This is fantastic! Never knew it could be that simple! Thanks for the great idea and instructions!

  7. Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom December 10, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Gorgeous! I have already made my daughters holiday outfit this year, but I think I will try this with pink and red for Valentine’s day. I have not seen crushed taffeta before, where did you buy yours?

    ~JamieS

  8. The Mouse House December 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    Jamie, that would be so cute!

    I found several websites that sell the crushed taffeta and the one I got it from is onlinefabricstore.net. They had the exact colors I wanted. The other place I contemplated was fabric.com but they were out of the red!

    Good luck!

  9. Kelly December 10, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    About a week ago I had seen this dress on the Zulily.com add and thought, I can make that for my daughter for Christmas this year, so I saved a picture of it on my computer. I was very tickled to see a friend has posted this tutorial on pintrest today because you have just saved me all the time of figuring out how to make it myself!!

  10. Anonymous December 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    Wow, I hope the baby in my belly comes out as a girl and I can find this in a year or two. I actually understand how to make it!

  11. Hi, I'm Laura Ingalls Gunn December 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Wow! You are a Christmas crafting genius! So glad I found you via Centsational Girl.

    Please stop by for a visit to my blog. I am currently in the midst of a Gifts to Make series.

    Be Merry and Bright!

  12. The Mouse House December 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    thanks everyone!
    Laura, I just started following your blog :)

  13. Anne December 12, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    That’s so pretty – I *love* a fluffy skirt!

  14. Thendral December 17, 2011 at 6:26 am #

    CUte… the colors are very beautiful!

  15. Simple Simon & Co December 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    What a fun dress—I love full skirts!!! And the fabric choice is great. Thank you for sharing.
    liZ

  16. Sew Country Chick December 18, 2011 at 1:36 am #

    Thanks for a great tutorial! Would you like to post  your project on my Sew & Tell Saturday linky party at my blog this Saturday? Its geared specifically for sewing projects !
    Justine @ Sew Country Chick

  17. The Mouse House December 18, 2011 at 2:11 am #

    DONE! Justine :)

  18. Amy December 18, 2011 at 5:03 am #

    Cute, cute, cute! I saw the ad as well and thought it was such a cute dress. Great tutorial, easy to understand. I’m going to have to file this one away for next year! There’s not enough time to sew everything I want to sew!!! :)

  19. just jayma December 18, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    I have to LOL, because I saw the same picture, and was unable to pin it, so I saved it to my computer under “things to copy!” LOL It looks so much like the inspiration, you did great!!

  20. just jayma December 18, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    I have to LOL, because I saw the same picture, and was unable to pin it, so I saved it to my computer under “things to copy!” LOL It looks so much like the inspiration, you did great!!

  21. Emily December 18, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    Love the asymmetric ruffle and the bow. :) Great job!!

  22. Anonymous December 20, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    wonderful tutorial and superb job on nailing the advertisement dress to the wall! thanks for sharing it…debi nicol at yahoo dot com

  23. BURUNDANGUITAS CS December 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Hi, tks for sharing this great tutorial.
    I am visiting from Tip me Tuesday from Tip Junkie.
    rgds, dalys

  24. Jessica at Me Sew Crazy December 28, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    This dress is so pretty, love your fabric choices!!!

  25. Katie December 30, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    I made the same dress for my girls for Christmas. I saw the dress on Zilily and loved it. The dress you made is adorable!

  26. Jade@How to Sew a Dress February 1, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Whether you do it to save money, for fun, for the self fulfillment, or to be prepared in case of an emergency, sewing your own clothes can be a good idea.

  27. Anonymous July 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    VERY VERY CUTE APPROACH TO A DRESS. I WILL KEEP THIS ONE IN MIND FOR SURE. THANK YOU.

    LINDA

  28. Anonymous July 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    WONDERFUL APPROACH TO A HOLIDAY DRESS. I WILL KEEP IT IN MIND FOR SURE. THANKS. LINDA

  29. Anonymous November 11, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    This will be my girls dress’ this year! Thank you so much! Your tutorial is very thorough!

  30. Mel@Mellywood's Mansion December 8, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    Wow that is beautiful, my sewing skills aren;’t up to that but maybe Nanna. It’s the right sizer too :)

  31. Kristen December 9, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    this is a beautiful dress!!!

    -Kristen-
    Don’t forget to link up to Handmade Tuesdays @ Ladybug Blessings http://www.ladybug-blessings.com

  32. Cheryll Navestad August 26, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    I just stumbled across this site this morning. You are very creative. I am new to sewing after losing my job as a research biologist. Yes, even STEM jobs are going away. Thank you again.

  33. Kim Cady November 5, 2013 at 3:50 am #

    I was a little afraid of crushed taffetta. Thanks for the tutorial!

  34. Kim Cady November 5, 2013 at 3:51 am #

    Thanks for the tutorial. Crushed taffeta looks easy when you do it!

  35. Anonymous November 12, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    I’ve only sewed a few little things and am so excited to do this for my girls Christmas dresses this year. Thank you for explaining so clearly and for the diagram :)

  36. Sheryll Seidel October 16, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    My only question is without a zipper, and as high as you place the woven fabric, is there any trouble with the top area being to tight? Do you suggest putting a zipper in for a 3 year old? I will be using a stretch knit top. Thanks so much.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Puppet Theater Cabinet: Easy DIY | welcometothemousehouse.com - April 4, 2014

    […] this project. The stage “curtains” were crushed taffeta scraps from Ainsley’s Christmas Dress and they tie back with ribbon and velcro, which makes it easy for little kid hands to […]

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