Friday, September 9, 2011

Military and Lace Dress Tutorial - guest post from Blooms and Bugs

Hello, Creating my way to Success readers, Jill has such a great crafting blog, and I always look forward to her "A Round Tuit" parties to show off my latest creations. When she asked me if I would do a guest post, the answer was obvious! So here I'm. My name is Anshu, and I write about my sewing adventures over at Blooms And Bugs. I'm blessed with a energetic two year old who keeps me on my toes all the time, and who is also my model and inspiration. In fact, she is the reason I restarted sewing two years back. Whenever I talk to other women about sewing, I hear that sewing is something very complicated and time consuming and maybe not worth the trouble. Since my experience with sewing has been so rewarding, I decided to do a tutorial series called Sew Easy where I show how to make simple ( but adorable ) clothes that are easy to make and do not require lot of sewing skills, time or resources. 

I have also started a new series called 'Bottoms Up" where I'm doing tutorials for pants, leggings and other cute bottoms for toddlers. Feel free to visit or check out the free tutorials and if you like, follow Blooms And Bugs to get the latest updates.

I found this super cheap sweater knit in khaki and bought multiple yards of it. The fabric is so soft and perfect for the fall...only problem..its so uninspiring and boring. When you're sewing clothes with reds, bright greens, magenta, yellow and turquoise, It is very difficult to imagine something with khaki. Last week I challenged myself to do something with this knit and that thing was "Military and Lace Dress". I love the final product, and the best part was that it turned out exactly the way I envisioned, which doesn't happen often around these parts of the world.

I actually made it as a gift and after partially sewing it, I put it on my daughter to check the fit. Well, lets just say that the 'gift' is not leaving our place anytime soon. Little miss wouldn't take it off and since thats also a rarity around here ( most days she would bolt at the mention of new dress) I was more than happy to let her wear it for the day...unhemmed cuffs and all.

Want to make one for your chikadee? Here's how:

There're two ways of going about this, the easy way is to get a full sleeved lap tee in a neutral color ( brown, khaki, gray) and add a skirt to it.


For skirt:

Ivory color Sheer flowing fabric ( I chose georgette)

2-3 inch Wide Ivory Lace 1 yd - 1.5 yd

1 inch wide Ivory Lace 2 yd

Ivory bias tape - preferably satin - 1yd

If you want to make your own bodice as well:

1 yd knit fabric in a neutral color ( brown, khaki, gray)

If you want to make it using an existing lap tee, skip the bodice making and go straight  to making the skirt part.

Making the bodice:


This is a drop waist dress, meaning the bodice will fall well below the actual waist of the child and will hit just above the crotch area. So measure your child from shoulder to the part where thighs join the torso. Lets call this length L.

Measure the child's sleeve from shoulder to just above the wrist ( or whatever length you prefer). Lets call it S.

For the other measurements I just used a Tee that fits her well, instead of taking all the measurements. So thats what I'm going to show you in the tutorial.

Marking and Cutting:


Fold the knit fabric into 4 layers along the stretchy side. Fold the tee in half and place on fold, trace around it. If the Tee is very well fitting, you can add some seams margin while tracing. If the tee is not a tight fit then you can trace it as is. The Dress would look better if it fits snugly.


I traced around the Tee for shoulders and side seams. For armholes, I just marked a few points along the armhole by lifting the Tee up and then  joined the shoulder and side seams with a curve. You may have to eyeball a bit here, or just use an armhole curve from some other pattern. You can also trace the Tshirt armhole on a wax paper and trace it on the fabric after cutting the wax paper.


Now extend the shoulders by 3 inches (as show above) and cut out.


Now separate the two layers from the front layer, cut the neckline, 1.5 inches deeper.


Now extend the neckline to the extra 3 inches at shoulder. Remember that the neckline is concave but we

need to make it convex at the shoulder ( just look at the pic above), do the same for the other ( back) piece.


Cut sleeves of length S by measuring the armholes, but only upto their original mark, do not take the extended part into account that we added in step 3. Separate the two sleeves pieces, sew the sleeve sides by sewing along length S ( Right sides together). Now your sleeves are ready to be attached to the bodice.



Sew on a lace trim vertically at the center of front piece.


Sew on a bias tape on neck front and back. Make sure you catch the trim at the center when you sew the

bias tape on the neck front.

Sew the side seams right sides together. Turn out.

Adding sleeve to a lap Tee ( bodice in this case) is actually easier than a regular Tee because the overlap hides any minor difference in cutting or sewing margins, but its easy to get confused. Here's how I do it.

Turn the bodice inside out, Place the sleeve from inside the bodice such that sleeve right side and dress right sides are together. Now align the side seam of the bodice with side seam of sleeve and start sewing along the armhole joining the sleeve to the BACK of neckline. Its important that you do back first because in lap Tees we want the back of neckline to show a little bit in the front.


Once you finish going over the back of neckline. back-stitch a bit to stabilize the seam. Then start at the side seam again, this time attaching the armhole at front of neckline to the sleeve. The front will overlap quite a bit over the back armhole, that's good! keep at it until you reach the end of front armhole, then back-stitch.


Here's how it will look at the back. Repeat this for the other sleeve.

Turn out.


Here's how it will look after attaching both sleeves.

Now lets finish the sleeve by folding them in twice and sewing at the cuffs.


Take some more trim and sew it along the sleeves to add a pretty detail.


Here's the finished bodice.

Making the skirt:


The skirt is quite simple:
  •  Measure the length you want the skirt to be from the end of bodice, Add half inch for seams. Lets call it L2. 
  •  Measure the total width of the bodice (all around). Double it to account for gathers. lets call it W2
Marking and Cutting 
  • Now cut one rectangle of length L2 and width W2 from sheer fabric. 
  • Cut another rectangle of length L2 -2 and W2.
  • Cut W2 from the wide lace that you have.

  • Sew together L2 sides of the bigger rectangle ( right sides together).
  • Sew together L2 - 2 sides of the smaller rectangle (right sides together).
  • Sew together the raw sides of the lace ( right sides together)

Now align both the rectangles ( now tubes after sewing ) at one raw end such that the L2-2 piece sits on top of L2 piece. And the wrong side of smaller piece touches the right side of bigger pieces.

Now align the raw edge of lace with the raw edge of sheers. Make sure the wrong side of lace touches right side of smaller sheer piece.


Sew two rows of seams along the raw edge where all the fabrics ( and lace) are aligned. Make sure you're catching all the layers. Now pull the bobbin threads of these seams to gather the fabric.

Adjust the gathers such that the width becomes equal to the bodice width. Now attach the skirt to the bodice by sewing the gathered side of the skirt to the raw end of bodice ( Right sides together). Make sure that the seam of all skirt fabrics lines up at the back.


Turn out. Finish the hems of the sheer fabric by rolled hem.

Enjoy the dress.


  1. This is adorable along with all your other cute affordable clothes and my granddaughters will be sporting this dress and skirts as soon as I can figure out how to print the instructions with out all the extra advertisements .. Thank you.. Any Ideas? (


I love comments and try to respond to them all. Thanks for taking the time !