Saturday, March 3, 2012

Kai's Curly Ruffle Pageant Dress Pattern & Tutorial

I've gotten requests for the pattern for this dress.  So this post is to share the pattern and information that led to the completion of this dress.

What you need:
5 yards of satin
5 yards of organza
Optional 1 yard of lining fabric.  I used the same satin for my lining and that was included in the 5 yards.
80 lb test fishing line
12 inch zipper
102 glass beads (long ones? I'm sorry I don't know their actual name)
3 rhinestones
4 Sequins
4 silver plated beads
8lb test fishing line
Note:  This dress has a petticoat under it for added fullness.  I made mine by taking the one worn under my high school prom dress and shortening it to fit Kai.  I do want her dress to be more full, so I plan to make a hoop skirt before the county fair pageant by using this tutorial.
Or I may use this one.  I can't decide.  I'll probably do both and pick one.

Use 5/8" seam allowance for a size 5.  If you need a slightly larger size you could use less seam allowance. 
We'll get into assembling the bodice in a minute.  First let's make the circle skirt so that it can stretch out while we assemble the bodice.
For the skirt I followed this tutorial to make a circle skirt, using a measurement of a 23.75 inch waist.  
If you measure the bodice pieces (allowing a 5/8 inch seam) 23.75 inches is the completed waist measurement.
****NOTE****I was not able to make a complete circle skirt without cuts, so you have to add back in seam allowance for each cut you have to make.
I had to make two cuts, (my circle skirt was two halves) and I like to use a 5/8 inch seam allowance, so I added 2.5 inches back to my waist measurement for seam allowance.  So when I did the calculations using the circle skirt tutorial, I did them based on a 26.25 inch waist.
 The Length is 29 inches, for this circle skirt. Keep this in mind when deciding how long to cut your fabric:  You are putting a 1/4" hem in it and if you are adding a petticoat or hoop skirt then the dress is going to get shorter as you add more fullness underneath.  So, take all of that into consideration when deciding.  This is a project where I would prefer to know my model's measurements, if possible.

You are going to cut 8 circle skirts shortening each one by 6 inches.  So when you finish you will have 8 layers of dress, alternating organza and satin.
Go ahead and put all the layers together and matching raw edges, baste them together 1/2" from the edge. Now hang this skirt, using a hanger you might have gotten with a purchased garment that has clips on it, or clothes pins with a regular hanger. The reason you need to do this is because, especially with satin, the fabric will stretch on the bias and so some of it will look longer than other parts once this happens.  It only takes a day or two to get this to happen, tops.  I made a skirt for my daughter one night, the next day she wore it to school and when she got home that afternoon it was noticeably longer in one area.  I had to learn the hard way.  Don't make the same mistake I made.  Going back to fix a project that I thought was finished is one of my least favorite sewing projects to.  In a day or so you'll go back and do a fishing line hem on each layer.  Using this tutorial.

Now, for the bodice: (I didn't take pictures while making the dress, so there won't be any photos.  I'll try to explain in detail.)

1.  Stay-stitch the neck edges of the front and back bodice pieces of both the fabric and the lining.  This means to put a stitch in each piece 1/2" from the raw edge.  This simply makes the seams stronger and keep better over time and repeated use of the dress.

2.  Add your beading to the front bodice pieces.  (The photos are taken from the making of the matching cloak that I made at the same time as the dress.)  I wanted a snowflake design.  So the first thing I did was draw that design on to a piece of index card.  Then I poked holes in the card along the lines that I drew so that I could simply put dots on my fabric showing where I wanted each bead to go.
I used a pencil because I know that it will wash out.  Sewing on beads takes quite a bit of time and I was afraid that if I used a disappearing marker that it would disappear before I got all the beads sewn on.  

I put a rhinestone in the middle, using a beadazzler.  When I lost my beadazzler halfway through my project, :) I finished the job by simply pushing the prongs of each rhinestone through the fabric and bending them down with my pencil eraser and fingernails.

(Click on photo to enlarge.)

In between each snowflake is a sequins with a silver plated bead on top of it. Using 8lb fishing line to sew on the beads I brought my thread up through the center of the sequins, through the silver plated bead, over top of the bead and back down into the center of the sequins.

 The glass beads were sewn on two different ways.  At first I sewed each bead on individually.  By the time I got to the dress I was stringing each line together, putting it on the fabric in place, then stitching over the thread in between each bead.  I like both ways equally, but the latter was a little faster.

3.  Stitch the front to side front sections.  You want to clip the curves so that it lays nicely.  Be sure not to clip too close to the seam.  Stitch front to back at shoulder seams and at side seams.  Do this for the fabric as well as the lining.

4.  Press the bottom of the lining under 5/8".  Put the lining and bodice fabric together (right sides together) matching up all side seams and shoulder seams.  Stitch around the neck.  Clip the curves.

5.  Turn lining to inside, and press.  Baste the armhole edges together.

6.  Sleeves - Do a baste stitch (stitch on the longest length) on the sleeves between the two large dotsat the top of the sleeve and also at the bottom of the sleeve ending 1" from the end of each end. (Sorry, I forgot to put dots on the pattern to show it.)

7.  With right sides together you will pin the sleeve band to the sleeve, matching the edges of the sleeve and then gather the sleeve to fit within the band.  Stitch together 1/2" from the edge.

8.  Now fold the bodice inside out and stitch the whole length of the underarm. 

9.  Fold the remaining edge of the sleeve band over to cover the other sleeve band seam and stitch or slip stitch (hand stitch so that you can't see it from the right side of the dress) it into place.

10. Attach the sleeve to the bodice armhole by matching up the seams.  Stitch from one dot, under the arm to the other dot.  Gather the top of the sleeve to fit into the top of the armhole, pin it and sew it into place.  

11. Zipper - Note: The 12" zipper is actually too long for this dress, but the 9" zipper is too short.   So in the end the extra can be cut off.  
Put a baste stitch (a long baste stitch) in the back of the dress bodice with right sides together.  Press the back of the dress lining down 5/8" on each side.  Place your zipper against the back of the dress lining (wrong sides together) just like it will be when it's finished.  Make sure that the zipper is completely at the top of the back of the dress.  This means that you will have the top of the zipper tape either folded over or you can cut it off.  Open the zipper up and sew it down one side with the zipper centered on top of the seam.  When you get to the bottom zip the zipper up and sew across the bottom (two or three times, if you plan to cut off the extra length of zipper) and back up the other side.  Once you get to the top you'll need to open the zipper back up to sew the remaining amount.  I always leave my needle in the fabric when lifting my presser foot to do this.   Now you can cut off the extra length of the zipper.  
Put the lining against the back of the dress bodice (wrong sides together) and stitch together, around the zipper.

12. With right sides together, match up the side seams (if you have any) of the skirt to the side seams of the dress and sew the skirt and the bodice together, making sure to keep the bodice lining free.

13. Now take the lining and lay it on top of the seam, with the pressed edge folded under and slip stitch it into place.

14.  Now you just need to hem the layers.  If it seems really long to you remember that the more full it gets (with a petticoat or hoop skirt) it will shorten.  Here is my tutorial for the hem

I hope everything makes sense.  Please let me know if you have any questions.  I check for comments several times a day.


  1. This is so pretty! I am definitely going to try and make this for my daughter for a Christmas dress! It's so pretty!