I made this dress as a Christmas gift for a special little girly girl that loves Fancy Nancy books. I did some research to better understand Nancy and her fancy ways and came across this beautiful purple dress. I have never worked with ruffles before but I figured, why not just jump right in! This dress is actually quite simple. The base fabric is a rectangle turned into a tube with an elastic band at the top to create an A-line appearance.
So…. drum roll please….. Here comes the tutorial!
1 to 2 yards of base fabric (varies based on chest measurement)
1 roll of 6” tulle (I found mine in the wedding section of JoAnn’s)
Small scrap of felt
1. Take the chest measurement and double it. This will be the width of your dress.
2. Take the length measurement from under the armpits to the ankles (or wherever you would like the dress to fall). Add approximately 2” for seam allowances. I based the final length of the dress on the tulle layers. I wanted the tulle to cover the entire dress, only leaving 1 1/2” at the top for the elastic. I would recommend planning this out before making your final cut, working in tulle height increments.
3. Cut your base fabric into a rectangle based on the measurements you’ve taken.
4. Sew a zigzag stitch (or serge) the bottom and top edges of your rectangle.
5. Take the bottom edge and fold over 1/2”, press, and sew to create your bottom hem.
6. Take the measurement for the width of the dress and double it. This is the measurement for the tulle strips. Note: you may wish to triple the measurement of the tulle to get even more ruffles.
7. Cut your strips of tulle to the length you’ve just determined. You will need to lay the tulle on the rectangle dress piece and estimate how many strips you will need to cover the dress. I allowed for about a 1/2” overlap between my strips. You will also need to allow space for the 1 1/2” casing at the top of the dress.
8. Ruffle time! Use a ruffle foot on your machine OR place your machine on the longest stitch length. Create the ruffles by running the fabric through the machine on a straight stitch (do NOT do a backstitch at the beginning or end of your work). Now, take your fabric and pull on the bottom thread. This will begin to pull the ruffle. Some feel that it is best to do two sewn lines spaced closely together, allowing you to pull from two places to get a more even ruffle. Practice this on spare fabric and choose whichever method works for you.
9. Once you have the first ruffle layer complete (ruffled to match the width of the dress), pin the ruffle in place and sew it onto the base fabric.
10. Continue this step until you have all of your layers sewn onto the rectangle.
11. Pin the two ends of the dress together (width of the dress), with the wrong side facing out (the ruffles are all hidden inside). Sew a 1/2” seam. Now you have a tube!
12. Now you will create a casing for your elastic. Fold over the top edge 1 1/2”, press, and sew next to your zigzagged (serged) edge leaving a 1” to 2” opening at the back of the dress for the elastic. The seam for your dress will be centered at the back. Create the opening at this spot.
Next it’s time to create the straps. Cut a strip from the base fabric that is 4” wide by the desired strap length. Allow plenty of room to tie a bow. Cut the ends off at a diagonal to create the angled tips of the straps. Fold the fabric over, right sides together. Pin, press, and sew to create a 1/4” seam. Leave a 1” to 2” gap. Pull the fabric right side out through the gap that you’ve created. You will need to use a pointer of some sort to get smooth, crisp edges (a knitting needle or chopstick will work great). Hand sew the gap closed.
Pin the strap to the inside of the dress as shown above to the front side of the dress (The seam of the dress should be in the back), aligning the bottom of the strap with the bottom edge of the casing. Sew the strap onto the dress along the same line used to the casing.
Cut your elastic to fit snugly around the chest. Attach safety pins to both ends and pull it through the gap of the casing. Now pull the elastic ends tight and push the fabric back away from the elastic ends. Pin the elastic ends together (I like to overlap the elastic) and sew to create a tube.
Now, it’s time to close up the casing opening. You can use your machine to top stitch or, for a cleaner look, hand sew this closed.
The dress is finished!!
The first step is deciding how large you want the flower. Use scrap fabric from the dress that is slightly larger than the desired circle circumference.
There are many great tutorials out there for creating fabric flowers.
Try this one here…
Use the base of a cup, dish, lid, etc. to ease the process of tracing the circles.
The next step is completing the veil. Take excess tulle from the dress cut to your desired length. Run a gathering stitch along one long end. Pull to gather and shape into a circle. Hand stitch the tulle onto a felt circle sized slightly smaller than your fabric circle. Gather the two short ends of the tulle and take a few stitches to secure the ends discretely under the felt circle.
Now, take a hair clip and attach to felt circle (I stitched mine onto the felt). Lastly, attach your fabric flower on top of the tulle.
Below shows a picture of how a traditional birdcage veil is supposed to be worn, tilted to one side.
(image from fashpages.com)