Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dress for Winter II- The Pleated Pinafore

Thank you all for the comments on the last post. I know there is a lot of sewing on this blog but I never know how many readers are actually interested in garment-making. So it is nice to find out that not everyone falls into a coma when I do one of those long drafting tutorials.

The next few winter garments were all made from this combination of fabrics:

When sewing for kids, I like to include a bit of print with my solids, but just a bit. Especially if the print is in-your-face unsubtle like the hearts one above. This next pinafore, however, is all print. I can't even believe it myself. Maybe in the fabric-organizing department of my brain, unbeknownst to me, dots and checks are filed under "solids".

This pinafore simply builds on the pleated skirt from the last post by adding a sleeveless bodice and straps. Like one of those shirred summer dresses but without the puff of all those gathers. It's made big enough to be pulled on up over the hips.

Here's the pattern for the bodice, waistband and straps, for a tall, slender 5-year old. The front and back are cut from the same pattern (so yes, the child can wear it back to front and no one will be the wiser!). There is NO seam allowance in the pattern pieces, so add your own.

If you want to adapt it for a smaller or bigger child, the most important dimension of the wearer is the hip, not the chest of the child, because the dress pulls on over the hips (i.e. the child steps into it; it's too snug to fit over the shoulders without a buttoned or zippered opening). So make sure the widest part of the pattern is at least a quarter of the child's hip measurement.
Q: Why a quarter?
A: Because the pattern is a quarter of the full garment.

Then adjust the length of the pattern accordingly - shorter for a smaller child or longer for a bigger child.

There is no need for this to be a long, detailed tutorial - I will just make some notes to explain the photos.


  1. The main bodice piece is cut along the grain of the fabric.
  2. The waistband is cut on the bias, simply for contrasting aesthetic effect.
  3. If are planning to bind the edges with a bias strip like I did, you can leave out the seam allowance when cutting out the pattern and bind flush with the actual edge. You can also omit the facing (aka inner lining layer).
  4. If you plan to make a facing, use the same pattern and include seam allowances.
  5. To make the facing pattern, tape the waistband pattern to the bottom of the main bodice pattern. The facing should be the same shape as the outer bodice-attached-to-the-waistband.
  6. The skirt is a rectangle (shown folded in half vertically) whose width is about twice the circumference of the waistband.
  7. Pleat and pin to reduce the width to match the circumference of the waistband:

The straps are cut on the bias so that they naturally curve
and stretch to accommodate the shoulders' own slant: see?

Attach them with the folded edge closer to the neck.

Q: Why?
A: See the picture - the edge closer to the neck needs to stretch more than the edge along the armscye. The edge with the stitched seam will not stretch as much as the folded edge.

I was crazy and used both a facing and bias strip edging.
So I had to attach the strap to the inside of the bodice like so:

Attach the skirt to the waistband of the bodice+facing
the same way as with the pleated skirt.

Sew on decorative buttons

and layer over a basic tee or turtleneck:

Next up: a very simple jumper - check back soon!


  1. Oh yes, polkadots belong to the solids. Polkadots belong everywhere ;-)

    Really cute little dress! And I like the fabric combination. Even though the colours and prints are bold, it's not too loud together. Nice!

  2. I love your jumper! I'm going to make one for my granddaughter. I love to sew and this looks like a fun project! You can't do to much sewing! Stop by and visit me sometime!

  3. Very cute though I think I will pass on making one for me. (I really need a little girl to sew for!)

  4. Here's a question: How long does that take you to make? I may try one, but I'd at least double the time when making it myself. :) I'm a practiced sewer, but definitely not as experienced as you! LOL
    (tinshee at hotmail)

  5. Beautiful! I love the hearts with the polka dots.

  6. This is great! I am totally done with buying patterns for my girls' Easter dresses! (Of course, I have been cheaping out and using the same two patterns for the last several years!) I definitely need to make the long trip to a decent fabric store! Thanks!!!

  7. You've almost got me convinced this is something I could do. Scary thought! :-D

  8. hi lier,
    i am new here, and i really enjoy your blog! i'm a working mom of one delicious baby, and G-d willing, another on the way, so i really appreciate these draftless clothes tutorials - quick and easy!
    though, i really hope to get good at real drafting someday, would be nice to make myself something fitted (after the baby, of course :-)
    thanks for all your effort, and please keep them coming!

  9. Beautiful dress, and excellent tutorial! If I made this for Emma, she would definitely try wearing it without the shirt underneath, which doesn't really work for wintertime...

  10. Oh, I just LOVE your drafting posts! They are completely inspiring and I have become a much more brave sewer because of you. You're so talented, and your blog is just great; thank you so much for sharing with us!

  11. Tinshee: Just emailed you but forgot to add in the answer to your question - I'd say it would take about 2-3 hours to make, less time if you just did the facing without the bias strip edging.

  12. Hello there

    I am from South Africa and desperately want the pattern (article) of the Pleated Pinafore - the pic's are not visible. Is there any way you can mail it to me

  13. I love this dress. But I can't find the pattern-Download-link? There's just the picture. Please help :)


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