A Year of Dresses: 4 Way Baby Dress

This week for A Year of Dresses I'm sharing a dress that is so sweet for summer!  It is light and airy, soft and flowy, and loaded with options!  The 4 Way Baby Dress fits sizes 0-24 months.  It is designed with an empire waist and multiple skirt options.  The armholes and straps are made from bias tape that ties in cute little bows on the shoulder!   There are 4 skirt options: Simple skirt with ruffled hem, open back, split front with underlay (the version I made), or full Diva style including both front and back splits with underlay!  A sweet bow (worn on front or back) completes the look.

For this dress I had the pleasure of sewing with fabric from the True Blue Collections by Ana Davis for Blend Fabrics (these fabrics were provided to me free of charge, but all opinions are my own!)  I love the pink and navy together and this collections does it perfectly!  The hints of green are just the spark it needs to set is apart.  If you love these fabrics too, you can see the entire collection (including a classic red and blue color way too!) at Hawthorn Threads.

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Let's talk about sewing your 4 Way Baby Dress.  This dress goes together very quickly!  I made it in an evening.  It is an advanced beginner pattern or recommends experience following multi-view designs.  As you know, Jen's instructions are outstanding and if you ever need help there are over 4000 members in the Tie Dye Diva Patterns Group on Facebook that are always amazingly helpful!

I made a size 18-24 month dress for Sweet Pea.  I made just a couple super easy pattern alterations.  First, I cut the skirt just a touch wider, making a slightly fuller skirt.  The pattern instructions for this size call  for 18" of width for each the front and back skirt panels.  I used my full fabric width, split in half for front and back, so my skirt panels were 21". I also added a bit of length to the skirt portion or this dress.  Sweet Pea is getting SO tall (just not any wider)!  Adding length is not difficult but requires a little thought when cutting the curved cut-a-way.  Instead of cutting the curved pieces directly from the pattern piece, I started by cutting an extra skirt panel my desired length and width. I then folded the panel in half widthwise and placed my pattern piece on the fold.  You can see my extra width and length in this picture.

Begin cutting at the top of the curved edge.  Cut a few inches and stop. Now move your pattern piece down so that the bottom edge is aligned with the bottom edge of your fabric, and continue cutting the curved edge.  Easy Peasy!

Because my skirt panels were a bit wider I also cut my ruffle strips the full width of the fabric (minus slevedges) instead of the 36" width in the pattern.

Don't you just love late in the day photos with camera shadows!?!  I try to get my prep pictures taken in good daylight, but sometimes it just doesn't quite happen!

I fussy cut the bodice of this dress. That means that I purposely placed my pattern piece to center or focus on a particular portion of the fabric.  In this case I wanted to center an anchor on both the front and back bodice.  Again, this is super simple, but requires forethought.  Fussy cutting is not the most efficient use of fabric in most cases, but yields beautiful results.  For ease of seeing my fabric placement I started by cutting a bodice piece from transparent interfacing.  I then marked the center front and the 1/2" seam allowance on the top and bottom edge.

I was then able to place this piece on my fabric, choose the best placement. and cut.  I did this for both front and back bodice pieces.

See how pretty it comes out!

The most time consuming aspect of making this dress is most definitely gathering the ruffle on both the under and outer skirt. I most often gather with the two thread method (it yields beautiful results), but it is time consuming. Remember I made this dress in an evening?  In an effort to speed up the process I pulled out my ruffler foot.  I had previously tried it with limited success.  Now I'm not sure what the problem was.  This time I attached to to my machine, inserted my fabric and started stitching.  It ruffled beautifully!  YAY!  Instead of piecing my ruffle strips as directed in the pattern, I pieced all 5 together in one long strip and gathered it all.  I then cut the lengths that I needed from my long ruffle.

Isn't it pretty?
That's it for sewing.  Follow Jen's amazing instructions and you can't go wrong!  Now let's look at wearing your 4 Way Baby Dress.  What is not to love, it is so SWEET!  The shoulders tie in a cute little bow making this dress simple to take on and off (without any buttons or buttonholes) and allow for an adjustable fit.  If you've never made your own bias tape, I strongly encourage you to try it.  It is so much softer and than purchased bias tape and more economical too.  Jen shows you how at the end of the 4 Way Baby pattern.  I used a plain pink for my bias, but it is a great place to use a small print too.  Dots, checks, and stripes are all lovely.

I adore those little bows!
I love the split skirt.  It is great for combining fabrics and adding a little flair!  I couldn't help but love how it blew in the wind during our photo shoot at the lake. 

And finally, that little bow center front, it is a perfect finish to a perfect sundress!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I'm going to let them take you away!

I know you have one final question... What is the versatility of the 4 Way Baby Dress? I am happy to tell you that is easily transforms as the weather changes.  I had never seen this dress layer with a tee, so I decided to try it out.  What do you know, it's adorable!  Simply loosen the shoulder ties a bit to accommodate the tee without being uncomfortable under the arms. 

Now for your 4 Way Baby Dress pattern rundown: