Tutorial make play dress

I made this dress for two of my girls. Click HERE to see more pictures or read more!
The dress I made is the equivalent of a 4T (at least that is what I assume given the fact that they always wear that size!) One of my girls has a  chest measures 21.5-22 (she kept moving while I measured) inches and shoulder to knee measurement of 20 inches.  The other has a chest measurement of 21.5 inches and shoulder to knee measurement of 21 inches.  (I decided to make the skirt one length, but I could have easily made it longer or shorter as desired.    You can see on one child it is at her knee, the other it is slightly above her knee).

(update:  get tutorial for matching headbands)

To make this dress in a 4T, I cut the following pattern pieces.   These all include a 0.5 inch seam allowance:

Fabric 1 – main fabric

  • A bodice front = 1x pattern piece A
  • B bodice back  =  cut one 5 3/8″ x 24″ (13.7 cm x 61 cm)

Fabric 2 -contrasting fabric

  • C bodice strip= 1x upper 2.25 inches of pattern piece A (5.7cm)
  • D straps = cut two  9″x 5″ (23 cm x 12.7 cm)
  • E skirt = cut two 12″ x 20.5″ (30.5 cm x 52 cm)
  • F skirt band = cut two 4.5″ x 20.5″ (11.5 cm x 52 cm)

Fabric 3 – very light cotton lining

  • G bodice front = 1x pattern piece A

Other Sewing Notions:

  • ca 5mm wide elastic (10 inches long)
  • elastic thread
  • matching thread, scissors, etc…

If your child is NOT a 4T, then you need to measure the chest circumference and the follow the same logic as below. I will be doing a size 6-8 dress soon and this is the same logic I will be following to create that pattern.  (any issues following this, let me know!)

Assuming 22cm chest, this is how I got the measurements of the pieces I used above:

Pattern Piece A (Bodice Front): 22 cm chest  divided by 2 = 11 + 1 (seam allowance) + wiggle room (I just added 0.5 because back of bodice is elastic.) =  12.5 inches. Because I made a pattern piece on the fold, the pattern piece itself is 6.25 inches wide.

Pattern Piece B (Bodice Back): 22 inch chest +2 inches =  24 inches.

As far as the length of these pieces is concerned, I wanted the dress to come to their “rib cage” area. I didn’t want it to be all the way to their waist, but I also didn’t want an empire dress with a short bodice.  The height of the Bodice Back has to be the same height as the Bodice Front under arm height.

As for the width of the skirt pieces, I choose to take a width of almost 2x their waists =41 inches total (each piece was 20.5 inches total) .  I initially made the mistake of taking even more but the gathering at the top of the skirt was way too bunchy and didn’t look good, and I had to revise!

The straps ,  skirt hem band and bodice band were all based on how I wanted them to look.  The straps and bodice band are the same width of 1.25 inches.  The skirt bottom hem band has a finished width of 1.75 inches (if you wanted more, you would just take the width you want – multiply times 2 and add your seam allowance twice. so for me it was 1.75 x 2 = 3.5 + 0.5 + 0.5 = 4.5 inches.


(everything was sewn with a 0.5 inch seam allowance unless otherwise noted)


The first thing I did was make the straps.  To do this I folded each of the straps in half and press, and open it up and then fold the edges in towards the middle and iron again.  The raw edges should be enclosed in the strap.  Then edge stich (about 1/8 from each of the sides.  (This should be easy enough without pictures. But if not, Lier from ikatbag did a tutorial on straps once-Look at 3.)

Bodice Front

(you ultimately want to have a 1.25 inch strip of fabric across the top, so that is why the patter piece is for the top 2.25 inches.)

Add the piece C to A.  To do this, I folded up A on the bottom edge by the 0.5 inch seam allowance and sewed C to A close to the edge (matching up top raw edge):



Then baste the straps on about 1/4 inch from the upper edge 5/8 inches from each edge.


Then I put the lining on top of the bodice.  Then using the 0.5 inch seam allowance, I stitched along the curved arm holes and the top.  The sides are not stitched together


Then I cut slits along the arm holes along the curves.  Then I turned it right side out, and  I topstitched along the outside of the armholes and bodice top (where I just sewed):


Bodice Back

(switching fabric here …  Showing these pictures first because when making the purple dress, i used a different sequence of steps, which was more difficult.  On the pink dress, I did it differently and it worked better)

First need to make a casing for elastic at the top.  Fold over 1/4 inch and then again by 3/8 inch and iron.



sew very close to edge to create casing for the elastic.


Insert the elastic through the casing. I usually do this by putting a safety pin on the end and pushing it through:


Now it is time for the shirring.  This is how I do it:

Wind the elastic thread into the bobbin by hand – with just a little tension if at all.  Use normal thread for the top thread.  Use the longest stitch possible on your machine and stitch rows.  The width apart varies but for this dress, I did it 5/8 inch apart from one another.  I also backstitch at the beginning and end.


I stitched 6 shirring rows 5/8 inch from another.

Take the front bodice and lay it out as follows.


After this I took the back bodice piece and laid it right side down on top of the front bodice right side (right side to right side) and then pull the lining over it.





Repeat on the other side.

I sewed two rows just to make sure that the elastic is tight in the seam.


Cut the seam allowance to 1/4 inch.

Turn right side out and the bodice top should look like this.




Put the two skirt pieces (E) right sides together and sew along side seams with 0.5 inch seam allowance.  This creates a loop or tube.  (Since these seams are visible later, they need to be finished with either a server or zig-zag stich.)

Put the two skirt band pieces (F) right sides together and sew along shirt side seams with 0.5 inch seam allowance.


Once again this creates a loop or tube.  Fold out so that wrong sides are together and side seam is hidden and iron.


Make sure the E loop is turned right side out. Take the F loop and put it around the E loop and match up the side seams and pin the raw edges together.  Sew with 0.5 inch seam allowance together. Once again surge or zigzag stitch this all the way around.  Now there is just one loop/tube.

sovanisa: tutorial to sew Playdate Party Dress


I pressed the seam towards the main skirt piece, and topstitched 1/8 inches from the seam.

Next on both the bodice and the skirt, I marked the mid-point (probably even better is to mark quarter-way points as well, in other words the middle b/n mid-point and side seams) on all my loops – between side seams.  Gather the skirt by stitching 0.25 inches away from the raw top edge with the longest stitch possible. Do not back stitch at the beginning or  and end. (depending on fabric sometimes it is good to do the gathering stitches 1/8 and1/4 inch. In my case with my fabric, I only did it once)   When doing this  skirt, I did this twice – once along the front of the skirt and once along the back of the skirt.  So I gathered the front and then the back.  you can also do it in one long stitch, but I prefer twice.   Pull on the bobbin thread to gather skirt.

(I realized I don’t have pictures of all this – but it is pretty straight forward. The skirt is gathered and then attached to bodice. UPDATE:  I added pictures of another dress I just made with the polka dot fabric as main fabric.)

Put the bodice loop inside the skirt loop – right sides together.  Raw edges should be lined up together. Match side seams and mid-point markings.  Adjust gathers to be evenly spread out between the markings and pin together.





With the skirt piece on top, sew all the way around 0.5 inch from the raw edge  (tip!  sew first with a long baste stitch  to make sure all gathers look good before you sew with your normal stitch.)



Then finish with a serger or zig zag edge.


Turn right side out, make sure seam is pressed upwards towards the bodice, and top stitch on the bodice 1/8 inchse from edge:


Now the dress is all done – with the exception of the straps.


what I did for the straps is have my two girls try on the dresses to measure where the straps should be.  Although they are almost the same size, the strap lengths ended up being different for them.

I folded in the edges of the strap (into the strap tube) and top stitched the straps onto the inside of the dress.


And there you have it, the Playdate Party Dress is done! :)

One more thing: I started this blog just one month ago – I don’t even know if anyone else really reads it on a regular basis :)  But in case someone does read it, and does make this dress, PLEASE send me pictures!  cause that would be sooooooooooooooooooo cool :)   Even if it is a year from now.  If not, at least this tutorial serves as a way for me to remember how I made it (which was the original intent for taking the pics) as I will  make it again.  Anyone out there? :)


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