Peasant Dress Quick Cutting Tutorial and Pattern.

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Hi! Things have been going pretty well here for the last 9 months or so. I have still been sewing and crafting a lot, mostly for friends and family. We are also making dresses for Project Yesu again this year. Each summer, Mallory goes to Uganda and she has a pillowcase dress drive to take dresses along with her for the girls. We actually make peasant dresses, which are just a little easier, in my opinion, but they require a little more fabric for the sleeves. Here is what the finished dresses look like:

We have made many of these dresses over the years (the ones pictured above are from last year) and have worked out a few shortcuts for making the process more efficient. Today I am going to share the method we use for cutting these dresses out efficiently.
Set up your cutting table. We use plastic folding tables. Take a standard 18" by 24" (or bigger) rotary cutting mat and lay it on the table with the long edge parallel to the short end of the table. Measure 20" from the edge of the table to the 0" line and use masking tape to affix the mat to the table. (Masking tape works best, but I didn't have any this time so I made do with packaging tape.) Now you can add 20" to whatever the bottom edge reads when cutting the length of the front and back of the dress and you don't have to worry about the mat slipping on the smooth table. 
Start out with 44-45" width cotton fabric, folded in half. It usually comes this way off the bolt, but you need to make sure everything is straight and keep the selvage edges lined up. (The selvage edges are the ones that were not cut at the store that may have tiny holes or be white with printing.) You may need to straighten up the cut edge of the fabric with your rotary cutter and plastic ruler before you start. With the folded edge toward you, slide the cut edge out to the end of the table. (I have also marked a set line with masking tape instead of using the end as a guide if that is easier for you to see.) Now, cut the main dress pieces to length. These are the approximate lengths that we use. 
4-6: 28"
7-9: 32"
10-12: 36"
Throughout this tutorial, it is important to pay attention to the way the fabric is folded for cutting. It ensures the stretch of the fabric is in the correct direction.
Fold the piece you just cut in half widthwise or hamburger style, bringing the cut edges together on the left side. Mom and I do this together and she does the folding and I do the cutting. It goes really smoothly with both of us working together. 
Trim the selvage edge off the top and trim a tiny bit from the fold at the bottom. This picture is taken from the end of the table.
Now you have two pieces that are the desired length by about 22" or so wide stacked together. Open it back up and fold it in half lengthwise or hot dog style.
Here is a very unprofessional pattern to use for the arm scythes. I should get points for effort, though. You should be able to print it as a full page photo. I labeled the measurements so you can double check it.
Use the guide to cut the arm scythe out of the corner with all cut edges. Make sure the short side of the pattern is along the short side of the fabric. Not that I have ever done it the wrong way or anything... ;)
The front and back pieces of the dress are all cut and ready. Now, on to the sleeve. Cut a strip of fabric the needed length. Here is what we use:
4-6: 9"
7-9: 9.5"
10-12: 10"
I didn't have much left over from this piece. You can also do contrasting sleeves. We do that a lot, especially if the main dress print is really busy- a solid fabric for the sleeves looks really nice. Take note that the folded edge is along the bottom.
Trim the selvage edge from the top (not shown- blurry pic) and slide the cut edge to the top line on the mat. Cut the sleeves to the correct width. This is what we use:
4-6: 17"
7-9: 17.5"
10-12: 18"
There is a small piece left over on the bottom, but it is folded in half, so it is actually twice as wide as you see in the picture. It is a decent size scrap and could be used to make a pocket on the dress if so desired. 
At this point, the sleeves are two long rectangles stacked together. Now, fold the sleeves in half widthwise, or hamburger style with the cut edges down.
Now, cut the arm scythe out of the bottom edge with the cut edges as shown. Make sure to have the straight side of your pattern piece parallel to the fold. One year we sewed a whole dress together before realizing it was cut the wrong way. That was a lot of seam ripping...

If you have any questions, just let me know. I know this is kind of long, but I went in to detail and tried to break it down and explain really well. I would like to do a video sometime to show just how fast this really is. My mother and I cut most of these out in a few hours (with many kids to watch)
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You can see the directions for assembling these dresses with a lot of tips for making it faster on my post HERE.
If you have any questions, please ask. You can e-mail me at pacountrycrafts at gmail dot com or find me on facebook. I would love to see any pictues of dresses you make with my tutorials and I would really, really, REALLY love if you could whip some up for Project Yesu!
Link Parties where I sometimes hang out if I get a minute...

Flutter Sleeve Doll Dress

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When my 5yo got her own "fake American Girl doll" for her birthday, she immediately began nagging incessantly for a doll dress to match her Flutter Sleeve Sundress. Since I made them for her sisters, it was only fair, so I whipped one up as soon as I got a chance.

She loves it! Again, I took pictures this time since I didn't have a deadline and could sew in the daylight hours, so you are getting a tutorial! YAY!

I made a pattern for you (again, this is for personal, non-commercial use only and don't sell this pattern, please and thank you). You can download the pdf pattern HERE

For the bottom ruffle and side ties, cut two strips 2" by the width of the fabric (about 44"). Cut one of those strips in half.  The bottom ruffle will take 1 1/2 strips.  Take the remaining half strip and cut that in half. Those are your side ties.

This is all of the pieces:

Let's start out with the straps. I used a rolled hem edge on the ruffles, so if you don't have a serger, you can cut them a bit wider and do a small folded hem instead. I sewed a long, gathering stitch along the bottom edge.

To make the straps, press the fabric like you are making double-fold bias tape.  Press the long edges to the center, then press again to fold it in half.

Gather the ruffles and sandwich them into the straps with pins. I left a little extra room on the ends in this pic, but the ends of the ruffles should be about 3/8" from the edge of the strap.

Sew about 1/8" or less from each side to attach the ruffle and topstitch. It looks so professional this way!

Pin the straps to the bodice, sandwiching them between the front and back pieces and leaving 1/4" seam allowance to the corners. 

Clip the curves, flip, and press.

Attach the straps to the back pieces the same way.  The strap should be about 1" from the inside edge of the back and angled slightly as shown. (I left one of the back pieces off for the picture so that you can see the angle- they should be sandwiched when you sew it.)

Make the side ties by sewing right sides together, flipping, and pressing neatly.

I topstitched all the way around and hemmed the ends, too. I just didn't take a picture of that. Now, I skipped some pictures here, but all you have to do is pin the straps into the sides 1/2" above the bottom edge and then sew the sides together. I serged them for more stability, too.  Then, I totstitched all the way around the edge of the bodice. Sorry, I know that is a lot at once.

OK, for the skirt portion of the dress... sew the sides together and sew up the back center seam, leaving the top 2" open. Overlock or zig-zag over the raw edges.

Make a button placket to cover the opening. I am not going into detail on that part because I already did that HERE if you need help.

Then, just make your pleats using good ol' trial and error and pin the skirt to the top, right sides together.

Sew and overlock or zig-zag the raw edge and topstitch in place on the bodice about 1/8" above the skirt.

Almost done! Make the bottom ruffle by sewing the two pieces together and hemming the bottom edge.  I was playing with my new machine and made a fancy stitch here.  

Gather and sew it to the bottom edge of the skirt. Overlock or zig-zag stitch over the edge and then topstitch it in place.  

Insert a snap in the back...

...and make a little felt flower for the front.

TADA!

It made her so happy!

It makes me very happy that Grace isn't old enough to ask for a doll and matching dress for her Little Diva Dress though. I loved all those ruffles, but a doll is not worth that much effort to me.  I want to make her a matching purse instead, since she loves purses right now.

So, my 5yo wanted to take a picture of all of the dolls together...

From left to right... Twirly Lace Doll Dress, Flutter Sleeve Doll Sundress, and Boutique Peasant Doll Dress.

If you make a dress using one of these patterns, I would love to see it! If you have any questions, just send me an e-mail. :)

Here are some more doll dress patterns you might like:

Boutique Peasant Doll Dress Pattern

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I was surprised that so many people were interested in the pattern for this dress! So, I redrew it from my scribbled up copy and copied all of the measurements onto the same paper. Here ya' go! The downloadable pdf pattern is available HERE. (Updated 3/20/16)

If you have trouble, please just e-mail me at pacountrycrafts at gmail dot com and I will send you a copy of the pattern.

I hope this helps! The directions are in the original tutorial HERE.  If you make one I would just LOVE to see it! 

Again, this pattern is for your own, personal, non-commercial use. Please do not copy the pattern and sell it yourself. (As my 5yo would say, "Don't you know? That is actually rude!" Kinda' makes me wish I could upload sound on here for you to hear just how funny it sounds coming from her.)

Happy sewing! I hope I can help make some other little girls just as happy as mine were!