A Year of Dresses: Sweet Summer Halter with a Patchwork Skirt Tutorial

The Sweet Summer Halter.... I seriously do not see enough of these dresses! It is such a sweet, unique pattern, and it's perfect for summer days.  I've had in mind for some time to make a patchwork skirt on a dress using charm squares and this pattern was perfect for that too!

First, a little about the Sweet Summer Halter. The pattern is available in baby sizes from 0-24 months and in girls sizes 2-8.  This dress features contrast straps, elasticized back, gathered skirt, and a hem band.  Sweet Summer Halter is a pattern for an intermediate or confident beginner seamstress. In this pattern Jen will teach you how to piece curved seams to make the contrast straps on the bodice.  As always, you can count on Jen's detailed instructions to walk you through each step of the way.

Sweet Pea wasn't really in a smiling for pictures mood....
But, she is rocking the sunglasses!
Sweet Pea is wearing a size 2/3 Sweet Summer Halter.  The girls version of this pattern has combined sizes because the halter strap makes this dress very adjustable.  The dress is falling just below Sweet Pea's knees right now and will continue to fit for several more inches by loosening the halter strap.  Of course it is easy to adjust the length of the skirt portion of this pattern too.  Want a summer maxi? No problem.  Simply add your desired amount of length.  Looking for a tunic?  That's easy too, just shorten the skirt portion!  

Now, how about making that patchwork skirt?  I've wanted to do this forever and was gifted this sweet collection of charm squares.  They are so summery I knew now was the time to use them.

Making a patchwork skirt is really quite easy.  We are going to begin by making our charm squares into a single fabric.  Look at the cutting chart (or measure your pattern piece) to determine how large a piece of fabric you need to make.  Make sure you account both the front and back pieces.  Charm squares are 5" square.  We are going to join them with a 1/4" seam allowance so each square will be 4 1/2" finished. To determine the number of squares you need divide the width by 4.5; this is the number of square across. Then also divide the length by 4.5 to determine the number of squares down you need.    For example, if your pattern has a skirt that measures 27" wide by 13" long, you need six squares across (27 / 4.5 = 6) and 3 squares down (13 / 4.5 = 2.88). Round up to the nearest whole number as I did for the number of squares down. Remember if you are making a gathered skirt, a little extra fullness will not matter. Now lay out your squares in an arrangement that you like.  You will notice that I offset my squares so that there are no seams to match up when sewing together, this will make your job a lot easier! You can see below, I need to add one more square to the left side of my middle row still.

Here I try out my bodice and straps

Now I'm visualizing the hem band
Once I had an arrangement I liked, I repeated it to account for the back.  Next, sew your rows together, remember we are using a 1/4" seam allowance. I serged mine, but charm squares are cut with a pinked edge, so finishing the seam is not necessary.  I labeled each row so I would keep then in the right order.  Here you can see that I have each row twice as long as above.

After sewing your rows, press all the seam allowances to one side. Now you are ready to sew your rows together.  Match each block seam to the center of the block below it and pin. Sew (again I serged) and press the seam allowances down.

The final step is to trim the extra half a block on each end of the middle row.

You now have your finished 'fabric' for your skirt.  If your skirt is a rectangle measure your patchwork fabric and trim as needed for the correct size.  You can also use your patchwork fabric for other shaped pattern pieces. Simply place your pattern piece on the fabric and cut as you normally would.

Because I included front and back measurements in my patchwork fabric I only needed to sew a single side seam to complete my skirt. If you are adding a hem band as on the Sweet Summer Halter, I suggest waiting to cut it until you have completed your patchwork. Measure your skirt before cutting the hem band to make sure your hem band the right width.  Now simply finish your dress as you would with any pattern!

 We went to the park on this beautiful, spring day and Sweet Pea had a great time playing in her Patchwork Sweet Summer Halter.

Here's your Sweet Summer Halter Details:

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