Grow and Gather Dress

6 strips from jelly roll ( 2 for shoulder ties, 2 for waist belts, 2 for bottom ruffle)

2 squares of layer cake ( for bodice front and lining)

2 fat quarters ( for bodice back and skirt)

20 inches of Elastic (1/4 inch wide)

I used Deb Strain’s Meadow Friends collection from Moda Fabrics for the dress. Can I just take a moment to tell you how much I love the prints in this collection? Thanks for the awesome prints Deb, you rock!

Lets first assemble the pieces for bodice.

Shoulder Ties and belt on waist:

Fold the jelly roll strips in half and sew along both long edges.

Snip the corners. Turn the tubes inside out and iron flat. I have only shown 3 but you should get 4, 2 of each print.

Sew the bottom ruffle strips into one continuous strip by sewing along the shorter edge (right sides together).

Bodice Front:

Fold a layer cake square into half along the width


Fold it one more time (again along the width).

Iron. You will get 3 creases.

Now sew two rows of seams along each crease.

Pull the bobbin threads on each of the three sets of seams to gather. Set aside.

Bodice Front lining: Keep one layer cake square for front bodice lining. Cut it into half along the length.

Bodice Back:

Cut a 17 inches wide and 9.5 inches long fabric from a fat quarter.

Fold it in half along the length.

Sew a seam 1 inch below the fold, parallel to the edge. The seam is kind of hard to see but it is along the pins I have placed to show you the seam. This will be the elastic casing for the back of bodice.

Take a 1/4 inch elastic and insert into this casing with the help of a safety pin.

Assembling the bodice:

Place the shoulder ties on the gathered bodice front such that the ties are positioned on the two gathering seams on the side and raw ends of belt are aligned with raw end of bodice. Now cover with half layer cake square that you picked for lining. Now sew along the raw edge where raw ends of shoulder ties are placed. Make sure you catch both layers of fabric and both the shoulders ties in the seam.
Turn out. Do NOT top-stitch yet. Here you can see that my lining piece hasn’t been cut into half yet. I skipped doing it earlier, I cut it at this point. You can do it at any point up until this step.

Now lets join front and back of bodice, as well as waist belts.

First open the front piece and lining apart.

Place one waist belt on the gathered bodice such that its raw end aligns with raw side of gathered bodice piece.

Now place the back piece on the gathered bodice, again line up the raw sides of both pieces. Make sure a little bit of elastic is sticking out.

Now cover the whole thing with the back of the bodice. And sew along the raw side.

Snip the corner at the top, turn out.

This is what you will get.

Now pull the elastic at its free end to gather the back. Keep the final width of front plus elasticized back of bodice to be a little less ( ~3 inches less) than the chest of the child. This will make sure that the bodice is snug on her body.

Now make the sandwich again at the other side. Gathered bodice front (right side), waist belt, bodice back. All raw edges aligned, elastic sticking out, cover with the front bodice lining. Sew along the raw side, snip corners, turn out.
Here’s your bodice, all done.

The back of bodice.

Now lets work on skirt:
Fold the fat quarter into half along the length. Cut on the fold.
Join the two pieces by sewing along the smaller sides (Right sides together).

Now sew two seams close to one raw edge for gathering the skirt. Gather by pulling bobbin threads. Adjust the gathers such that the width of skirt becomes equal to the width of bodice.

Adding the bottom ruffle:

I prepared the bottom ruffle by setting my machine’s tension to the highest, stitch width to longest and sewing at highest speed. You can choose to do the same or you can sew a straight seam at regular settings and pull the bobbin thread to gather.

Now align it with the un-gathered edge of the skirt and sew a seam along ( with right sides together).

To finish the raw edge of the ruffle, serge the edge and then turn inside and sew a seam along the edge. If you don’t have a serger you can also turn it in twice to make sure no raw ends are visible.

Joining skirt and bodice:

Align the raw edge of bodice with the gathered raw edge of skirt, sew along the edge to join both. Make sure you catch both the lining and the front pieces of bodice. Serge or sew a zigzag to finish this seam on the inside.

Turn out.

A little dressy dress for your mini diva. The sizes I showed above work for 12-18 months old.

The elastic in the bodice makes sure that there’s room for her to grow. The shoulder ties give you some flexibility with the length. Wear it with a t-shirt in the cooler months or wear it as is during the summer.

No matter how she wears, she will surely stand out in the crowd!

The front

And the back.

Put it on the little one and admire!

Anshu Jain

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