How to Make a Long Twirly Dress: Picture Tutorial


The dress size featured below is 5T. I use B5707 Butterick pattern for the bodice and part of the skirt (I just make a half circle, but you can make a full circle and REALLY twirl). Then I made my own collar pattern, sleeve pattern and ruffles. The actual pattern uses a crazy amount of fabric and is fully lined. I don’t do any of the darts any more, but have in the past. The thing about little girl dresses is they don’t have to be perfect. Not like an adult garment. :)

Let’s begin.

Cut skirt fabric (3 pieces). If working with a repeat fabric pattern, as shown below, then additional fabric may be needed to extend your fabric to make it large enough for the pattern. This can be avoided if extra fabric is available/purchased, which was not an option for me.

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Sew skirt together, press seams:

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Close skirt back using a french seam:

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Serge bottom and top edges of skirt and finish bottom edge by folding over 1/4 inch and sewing in place:

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Make the Bias Tape (135″ should be plenty for skirt and sleeve trim):

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Add bias tape to skirt (bottom edge, just above the hem line)

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Cut ruffle material.

To make a double ruffle you’ll need one ruffle cut at 6″ wide and 220″ long, and one ruffle cut at 5″ wide and 220″ long. Sew material sections together, press seams (and serge joined edges if necessary). Serge entire length of the bottom edge on both ruffles. Line up top edges of the two ruffles, shorter ruffle on top, and serge edges together. Ruffle the fabric with your machine. (I created a ruffle/gap/ruffle pattern using my small ruler to push the fabric under as it sewed. I like to make 6 ruffles and then leave a 3″ gap, then repeat the entire length of the ruffle).

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Measure the skirt bottom (around the finished bias tape) and then finish your ruffle to match length (enclosing edges to make full circle of ruffle). This is a tricky step, and the pictures don’t help at all. Basically you need to rip the seam at the top of the double ruffle, separating the two. Then close each ruffle separately. Press and finish any edges that are cut (by surging or folding over with a 1/4″ hem). Fold over and tack the seam in place at the bottom, then sew the two ruffle back together at the top.

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Add ruffle to skirt edge, folding the bias tape over the top of ruffle to enclose edges.

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Cut (and piece together any additional material needed to continue the repeat of the pattern) material to make the Bodice, Bodice Lining, and Collar.

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Make the Sleeve and attache them to the Bodice.

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Fold and firmly press the bottom edge of the bodice where the skirt will be attached. The bodice lining should be about 1/8th” lower than the bodice front (see picture). This will ensure that your stitch will catch the bodice lining when sewing the skirt in place.

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Run a gathering stitch across the top of the skirt edge (using the longest stitch possible on your machine). Gather material and then pin in place in between the bodice front and bodice lining. Leave a space at the back of the dress to allow for the button overlap (the side with the gap will be the the side of the bodice that the buttons are sewn in place. Pin really well here and hold the dress up to make sure it hangs properly. If one side is pinned high it will hang at an angle. You want it to hand straight up and down. It will take a little adjusting to get it perfect.

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Now make the button holes and attache the buttons.

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Your dress is finished! :) So cute!

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