Anshu from Blooms and Bugs shows you how to make today’s Stars + Stripes Dress with knits. Learn more about Anshu in her introduction, and check out her Blooms and Bugs Etsy shop too. Today’s dress pattern is offered in a size 5T. Print the pattern, check out the construction and you can easily adapt the design for smaller or larger sizes.
For Dress Base:
- Knit Fabrics White, 27 inches or 1 XXL size t-shirt
- Red, 5 inches
- Navy Blue, 5 inches
For Trims Near the Hemline:
- Red Swiss Dot 3/8 inches grosgrain ribbon, 2 yards
- Blue Ric-Rac, 1 yard
For Star Prints:
- White Fabric Paint
- OR: White Acrylic Paint + Fabric Paint Medium
Download the four-page Stars + Stripes Knit Dress Pattern here (size 5T). Print it on A4 (8.5 X 11 inches) paper with margins set to 0.
3/8 inch unless otherwise stated.
Sewing with Knits, Sewing Ruffles, Binding the Neck/Sewing Bias Tape
Assembling the Pieces:
Cut the pattern from your base fabric. This will make the front and back of the dress.
Cut the ruffle and binding pieces from coordinating fabrics according to the following measurements:
- Red Ruffle front and back: 4.5 inches X 40 inches
- Navy Blue Ruffle front only: 4.5 inches X 20 inches
- Navy Blue binding: 2.5 inches X 40 inches
Painting the Stars:
I used Martha Stewart White Acrylic Paint with Martha Stewart Fabric Medium to paint the stars on my navy ruffle. You can also use a fabric paint.
It would be better to use freezer paper for stenciling the stars but I just cut out a star shape from a construction paper and taped the slit to use it as my stencil.
I placed the navy fabric on a construction paper and kept stenciling the stars with white paint.
I had to stop a couple of times to wipe the color that seeped below the edges of stencil. I just wiped it with a scrap of fabric and went on.
Let’s work on ruffles while the navy fabric dries…
Set your machine’s tension slightly higher. I set my machine’s tension on 7 (default is 5.2 and highest tension is 9).
Set machine speed to highest and stitch length to longest. Turn off auto back-stitch option if your machine has it. Pull both the bobbin and upper thread to leave a five inches or longer tail at the beginning and sew along the edge. This will cause the fabric to ruffle slightly. Also make sure you leave a five inches or longer tail after you reach the end.
Once you have your ruffled piece, adjust the ruffles by hand until the red fabric is about 2 inches longer than the neckline. This is the reason you need threads at both end; without them it will be very difficult to adjust the length of the ruffled piece.
Repeat this for both red strips.
If the navy fabric has dried, ruffle it as well.
Draw an arc 2.5 inches below the neckline in the front. Sew the navy ruffle along this line. As you can see, you can even use a graphic or logo tee for these dresses as long as the graphic doesn’t extend more than 6 inches below the neckline.
Now set the machine tension to highest, stitch length to longest and speed to highest. Sew the red ruffle along the neckline.
This will cause the neckline to gather slightly. Since the ruffle and the dress fabric together become bulky, the gathers will be light even at the highest tension. Leave a long tail of thread at the end to adjust the gathers.
Repeat this step at the back as well.
Finishing the Hemline:
For this dress I used the original hem of the t-shirt so I didn’t have to hem it. However, if you are using a fabric to sew this dress you could finish the hem whichever way you want or even leave it raw since knits don’t fray (although I usually prefer hemming for a finished look).
I embellished the hemline by sewing red swiss dot grosgrain and ric-rac in an alternating fashion. To do this I used a ruler to draw three lines parallel to the hem line and about 1.5 inches apart.
Then I used these lines as my guide to sew ribbon and ric-rac.
Now sew the sides seams (right sides together).
Binding the Neck:
To bind the neck fold the binding strip in half and align the raw ends of binding with the raw edge of neckline on the WRONG side.
Now sew a seam with ¼ inch seam allowance.
Now fold the binding to the right side and sew a seam near the edge. Repeat for the other side.
Binding the Armholes:
Spread the ruffles such that they lie flat. Now follow the armhole arc and cut out the extra fabric as shown. Pin the ruffles to the armholes so they don’t slip away.
Sew the armhole binding the same way as neck binding; just be sure to leave five inches of extra binding on each end.
There! We are getting there, aren’t we?
This is a good point to try it on your little one and check the fit, etc., and also to determine a good length for the shoulder straps.
I usually make the shoulder straps about 2.5 inches long. Through trial and error I have found that this measurement works well for a wide range of sizes. You could choose whatever length you think is right for your kid, however keep in mind that the knit fabric usually expands when we try to sew it into narrow straps. A good rule of thumb would be to make the strap ¾ inch smaller than what you need. Also add 3/8 inch of seam allowance.
Now cut the extra binding and sew the straps right sides together at the top.
Now fold the straps, following the fold that you made for the armholes. Sew along the inner edge to hold it in place.
Voila! Your Stars + Stripes Dress is ready!