If you already own the Big Bow Dress and Top pattern, you know it’s originally designed to be a beginner level pattern. I believe it’s very satisfying for those brand new to sewing to be able to create a dress and not just a pillow cover or tissue holder. To make it easy, the front and back of the dress were designed to be constructed flat – no gathering in the round – and then joined at the sides. But I was not quite happy with the seams showing when it was constructed this way and have upleveled the skill level required to advanced beginner with enclosed bodice construction. If you already have the pattern, and are ready to take it up a notch and enclose all the interior bodice seams, here is how to do that with just a few changes.
Change #1. After you cut, press the bottom edge of both bodice liner pieces under 3/8” to the wrong side.
Change #2. Don’t topstitch after you join the bodice and liners and turn them right side out.
Change #3. Don’t hem or add the ruffle yet. But do gather and join the unhemmed, unruffled skirt to the bodices per the pattern.
Change #4. Here’s where we go a different way. After your bodices and skirts are joined, lay the dress front right side up with the bodice liner pulled back out of the way.
Beginning 3/8” below the armhole seam, pin the bow pieces in place on each side of the dress front, with the wrong side of the bow against the right side of the dress. Do not catch the liner in your pinning. Baste the edges into place.
Now lay the dress Back right side down on the dress Front, lifting the bodice liner away from the dress Back just as you did with the Front. Match bodice liners and raw edges, and pin down both edges, aligning carefully at the seams. Sew all the way down both edges, from the still-folded bodice liners to the hem. Finish these seams.
Fold the bodice liner down into place, covering the line of stitching between the bodice and skirt. This encloses the skirt/bodice seam and the side seams of the bodice. Press well.
Pin or use sewing tape such as Wash Away Wonder Tape or Stitch Witchery to keep the liner in place.
From the right side of the dress, start at one side seam and stitch along the bodice about 1/8” from the seamline, ensuring you catch the folded edge of the bodice liner on the inside. Stop at the opposite side seam, move the bow out of the way and continue and finish topstitching the seam all the way around the dress.
Change #5. Now you can topstitch the bodice. Hem the skirt if you are hemming, or join the ruffle strips into a loop, gather, attach and topstitch them per the pattern.
Enjoy your Big Bow Dress or Top!