Belle is a really versatile pattern, I used it for three of these four dresses. While the pattern instructions are for a full, 3-tiered, twirly dress with a full sleeve, it's so easy to change it up. Here are some of the ways I modified the pattern:
To change the Belle pattern's skirt to a single fabric instead of 3 tiers, all you have to do is add up the length measurements of the 3 tiers for the size you are making and subtract 2". Now you have how long you should cut your single fabric skirt. The width is up to you. I used a single boltwidth (42" - 44") for this red-dotted one to keep it simple in case the wearer wanted to wear it on a Disney trip. The bodice and sleeve are per the pattern, with some eyelet added. I shirred the sleeves to give them a little ruffle at the bottom; the neckline is a turned casing.
Here I lengthened the bodice by a few inches and made a corset-type look on the bodice by cutting diagonal slice off the front bodice piece (and adding seam allowances to each side) to make a V-shape in the center. You can't really see it in the photo because I cinched the ribbons up too much. The new center piece is cut on the fold and the side pieces are cut separately, with one reversed. Slip some small 1.5" pieces of folded ribbon (I used a fabric tube - ribbon would have been better but I didn't have any) between the center and side pieces before you join them, press to the center, and lace it up! I also added a slightly longer overskirt with trim. The sleeves are not modified (and they are a really cute and apparently hard-to-photograph pink and white stripe) and have a turned casing hem.
|NOT to scale! Just to give you an idea of the cut.|
This last one I made from my ruffle-neck dress pattern, Daydreamer Dress for Girls. I cut the neck ruffle just a bit wider, at 6" wide, and then ran a hand running-stitch through the front center to gather it - and voila - those princessy shoulder swoopy things. I lengthened the bottom ruffle to 6" (remembering to subtract the amount I added from the skirt length!) I omitted the sash and lengthened the bodice to make up for it. Then I added an elastic-ruched overskirt made from a lightweight, low-wrinkle gingham. I'd detail the process for the overskirt but I really, really winged it and said a lot of bad words along the way. Basically, I started with a piece of fabric longer than the underskirt and the same width around, marked off four stitching lines, and stretched and sewed clear elastic down the stitching lines. Then gathered and attached as usual. While this would work with many kinds of fabric, I think anything that wrinkles in the wash (like quilting cotton) would be a mess to try and press so the fabric choice here was key.
Remember, you don't need a bazillion dress patterns, only a few good ones and a little imagination! Happy sewing.