Princesses and More from Belle and Daydreamer Patterns

I just remembered how much fun it is to SEW! That may sound funny, but most of the time I am sewing quick, crazy test-muslins for new pattern ideas out of plain white fabric or mixed up ugly scraps, or else I am sewing samples for pattern covers where I am not allowed to wing it at all! As a donation to my preschool's annual auction, I sewed up these four dresses from my patterns, Belle Peasant Twirl Dress Pattern for Girls and Ruffled Neck Daydreamer Dress Pattern for Girls, making a lot of it up as I went along!

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.
For this cowgirl dress, I split and re-joined the bodice in a similar way, but I cut a slice off the top instead of the center, and then added rickrack over the seam. I also mixed up the lengths of the tiers to feature the top two and minimize the bottom one (again, just add them together so you know how long they should be overall, then switch them around as you wish. If you make a 7" tier 5", add that 2" to one of the other tiers.) I also thought that a proper cowgirl might not want a puffy sleeve getting in her way while she roped cattle, so I used the tapered, long sleeved pattern piece and cut it to the length of the short sleeved piece to make a less full short sleeve and turned a casing for the hem.

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.

I put the normal length of elastic in the neck, but I am thinking I might go back and make it a little longer because I know the owner of this is going to want to wear it off her shoulders!

Remember, you don't need a bazillion dress patterns, only a few good ones and a little imagination! Happy sewing.

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