Jessica from Me Sew Crazy started sewing when her first child was born. Her oldest daughter is heading off to kindergarten in the fall and Jessica is still in love with sewing… She created Chloe’s Fall Collection for Kindergarten, full of really fun clothes, and today she shows you how to make one of the pieces. Jessica makes this Back to School Tunic Dress look easy, as she teaches you how to draft your own pattern and sew it up!

Learn more about Jessica in her introduction, and don’t miss her Back to Basics series and extensive selection of tutorials. Jessica will debut Chloe’s entire collection a little later this month, so you’ll want to check that out too!

Have you ever turned around and been shocked with just how fast time flies? Our oldest is starting school this fall– Kindergarten! I mean WOW… How did that happen? Of course as every parent feels when this first happens, I am worried, anxious, excited, and every other emotion in the book about this momentous occasion.

After creating Spring Clothing Collections on a whim for my daughters earlier this year, it got me thinking… What about fall? After all, it is my favorite season– Especially for clothes! And what better way to send my daughter off to school not only in style, but with a little bit of extra handmade Mommy love?

I am please to introduce The Back to School Tunic Dress created for Sew,Mama,Sew! the first of many for Chloe’s Fall Collection…

You will need:

  • Approx. 1 yd fabric (I patchworked various fabrics together prior to making the dress; you can find a good tutorial for how to patchwork fabric here.)
  • 1 yd Bias Tape
  • Approx. 10 – 16″ of Ribbon (depending on child’s size)
  • 3″ piece of Elastic Cord
  • 1 Button
  • Pom Poms (optional trim)
  • T-Shirt that fits well for pattern sizing (not too tight, not too loose)
  • Coordinating Thread and other sewing essentials
To Make the Pattern:

Lay your t-shirt on top of your fabric. We will need to cut the front of the dress portion, as well as the back and sleeves.

With fabric folded in half, and shirt folded in half, cut along the top front of the shirt– Cutting around the neckline and armhole line, stopping approx. 2” down from bottom of armhole (ahem… Armpit). This will be the front bodice.

*Note: I have the fabric I cut on top of my shirt, just so you can see better.

For the front skirt of the dress, we will be cutting a rectangle of fabric. Place the shirt on top of your fabric, both on the fold, starting where the bottom of the bodice ends (where you just cut), down to your desired length. For the width, extend out approx. 3 – 4″ larger than you shirt on each side. For my five year old I cut a rectangle of fabric 17”L x 18”W.

Now, place the shirt once again folded in half on another piece of fabric folded in half.

Cut around the back of the shirt’s neckline and armhole line, all the way down to the bottom of the skirt hem, arcing out and slightly up at the bottom. This is your dress back. I forgot to take a picture of this one, but you will see in the final pattern pieces what it would look like. This will be the back of the dress.

Lastly, we will cut the sleeves. Following the line of the shirt sleeve, with the top shoulder seam being the fold– Cut 2 patterns out of your fabric (with the top of the fabric on the fold). Cut to your desired sleeve length. Mine will be ¾ sleeves, and I also belled the bottom out in an arc for a fuller bell sleeve.

Once all is said and cut, you should have this:

*Note: As stated above, this is the photo in where you can see the dress back pattern piece!

Now, Let’s Get Sewing:
Take the front skirt of your dress (the rectangle of fabric), and sew a line of gathering stitches along the top edge. Gather stitches until the top of the skirt is the same length as the bottom of the bodice. I kept my gathering stitches directly in the center of the skirt fabric, rather than spreading it out along the entire piece of fabric.

With right sides together, pin the bottom of the bodice to the top of the skirt. Sew together. Zig zag stitch or serge to prevent fraying.

You should now have this:

Take your ribbon, and place along the bottom of the bodice seam on the right side of the dress fabric. Pin in place and stitch to secure.

Now on the back of the dress pattern piece, we are going to cut a 3-5″ slit along the back center of the neckline.

For my five year old, I made the slit approx. 4.5” long. Using some bias tape, sew bias tape along slit edge.

Take the front of the dress and the back of the dress and place right sides together. Pin at shoulder and side seams. Sew together, and zig zag stitch or serge to prevent fraying.

You should now have this:

Now, take the sleeves and fold right sides together matching the arm seam. Pin together and sew. Zig zag stitch or serge seam to prevent fraying. Repeat for other sleeve.

Turn the dress wrong side out, and turn your sleeve right side out. Slip sleeve inside armhole, and matching up the side seams, pin sleeve to armhole, with right sides of fabric together.

Sew together and zig zag stitch or serge to prevent fraying. Repeat for other sleeve.

You should now have this:

Take your elastic cord and loop– pin to the top back of your dress, directly on top of the bias tape. Sew back and forth stitches to secure in place.

Now, we are going to sew bias tape around the neckline. When you are sewing the bias tape along the back center slit, fold bias tape under ¼” inside the fold so as not to enclose the elastic loop.

You should have this when done:

Now we are going to hem the bottom of the dress and the sleeves. Turn under ¼” and press, then turn under again ½” and press, enclosing the raw edge. Sew around for the sleeves and bottom of the dress.

Sew a button onto the back top of the dress, opposite the elastic loop.

You can be finished here if you do not want the pom pom trim.

For the optional pom pom trim, simply take pom poms and pin them on the bottom inside of the dress so that the poms are sticking out of the bottom.

Sew around, and voila! You are finished!

I hope you all enjoy this Back to School Tunic Dress, and will check out the rest of Chloe’s Fall Collection premiering this month at Me Sew Crazy.

This week you can win a $25 Gift Certificate to Sew,Mama,Sew! or one of FIVE copies of the Hexiecase Pattern from During Quiet Time. Comment on any post this week to win!