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How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

This free tiered baby dress sewing pattern has subtle gathered ruffled tiers and a classic pillowcase-dress-inspired neckline with ribbon ties that’s perfect for late spring and summer. And it’s super easy to sew.

This sewing pattern was totally inspired by a piece of fabric; specifically, the Texas Modern Strips Coral fabric at Spoonflower by Jacinda from Prudent Baby. When the fabric arrived in the mail I swooned, dreaming up in my head a free sewing pattern with elegant, subtly gathered tiers that would showcase Jacinda’s hand painted watercolor coral stripes in a classic yet modern way.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

And well, I have a little secret to tell you. This pattern didn’t start as a baby dress pattern. Oh no. It started out as a tiered toddler tunic shirt pattern for my 2-1/2 year old daughter, Elise. I made it at night while she slept, not trying it on until the morning. And I realized too late that I had designed a super cute free pattern ….that was was waaay too small under her arms. And I was crushed.

But then came the lemonade! I realized that the free pattern I made was not only a super cute tiered ruffled BABY DRESS pattern but also THE PERFECT SIZE for Dagny, my downstairs neighbor Jamie’s adorable 6-month-old baby girl. Yippee!

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

The final free baby dress pattern size measures 10″ from underarm to underarm, 12″ across the bottom of the front panel, 16″ across the bottom of the middle tier, 20 inches around the bottom of the lowest tier, and 13.5″ from top to bottom. You could increase it as needed to fit larger sizes, details below.

Such amazing fabric. Such a cute combination of ruffled tiers with a classic pillowcase dress top. Lemonade it is.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

WANNA MAKE IT? Free sewing pattern, step-by-step tutorial and supply list for making a tiered ruffle baby dress –>

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern
How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern


Supplies for making my free tiered ruffle baby dress free sewing pattern:

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How to make a tiered ruffle baby dress free sewing pattern:

Cut your baby dress pattern pieces:
2 pieces from my free tiered ruffle baby dress pattern – size 6 months (PDF) (one for front, one for back)

Now a quick note about the next two pieces, the middle and bottom tier pieces. For Jacinda’s coral watercolor striped fabric I wanted subtle gathers (not quite so poofy of ruffles). So here are the tiers I cut:

Middle tier: 17 x 5 (cut 2)
Bottom tier: 21 x 6 (cut 2)

BUT if you’d like to have fuller tiered ruffles for your baby dress pattern, use these measurements instead:

Middle tier: 20 x 5 (cut 2)
Bottom tier: 30 x 6 (cut 2)

And here’s a quick and dirty way to size up the pattern: Increase the front pattern piece on a copier until the width of the bottom edge is 1-1/2″ – 2″ wider than your model’s underarm to underarm width. Now measure the bottom width of this larger front piece pattern. Multiply the front piece bottom width by 1.5″ to get the middle tier width (for the fuller ruffles version). Then multiply the middle tier width by 1.5 to get the bottom tier width. Height-wise, the bottom tier should be 1″ taller than your middle tier to account for the hem, so measure your model and increase the middle and bottom tier heights as needed.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

OK, so now that everything is cut, you’re going to take one of your second tier pieces and gather it until it fits the bottom width of the front piece, then sew the gathered middle tier to the bottom of the front piece. Let’s break it down…

First set your machine to a really wide straight stitch width (or basting stitch). I set mine to 4 which is the highest that my machine will go.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Now this is very important: You’re not going to backstitch when you start sewing this basting-slash-gathering stitch. Sew a straight gathering stitch about 1/4″ from the top edge of the middle tier.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Remember not to backstitch — instead leave a little tail on the end.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Sew a second gathering stitch just shy of 1/2″ parallel to your first row of stitching.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Starting on the left side, gently pull the two front threads, leaving the threads on the back alone (the wrong side) and gathering up the material as you pull. When your gathers reach the middle, shift to the two front threads on the right side and repeat.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Gathered the middle tier to the exact width of the front piece. You can see from the photo below that I put the gathered middle tier on top of the front piece to make sure it was the exact same width. Now starting on the left side, tie the two front gathering strands together into a knot.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Trim the threads.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Now repeat on the right side for the front and back threads. So why did I tie these off before making sure that my gathers were even? Well, if you first can constrain it to the proper overall width, then you can more easily wiggle your gathers around using your fingers to spread them as evenly as possible. This tie-off method also helps you flatten out the areas that will be inside the side seams so the fabric will lie flat there rather than catching part of your ruffle in the seam (keeping the frilly on the front instead of wasting it in the seams).

So back to the project at hand: even out your gathers and pin the gathered middle tier to the bottom of your front piece, wrong sides together.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Change your stitch length back to its normal, non-basting length. Sew 1/2″ seam, just to the left of your gathering stitch.

Now I’m going to topstitch this ruffle later — BUT if you aren’t going to topstitch then it’s a good idea to stitch again on top of your 1/4″ gathering stitch because it will help take some stress off of the seam, making it less likely that the gathered seam will break over time.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Flip open the middle tier. Now you have a nice ruffled top edge and a straight bottom edge. Time to attach the bottom tier.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Repeat the gathering step on the top edge of your bottom tier.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Gather until it’s the exact width of the bottom of your middle tier.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Tie off threads, even out your gathers, and pin the gathered edge of the bottom tier to the straight edge of middle tier, wrong sides together.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Sew and open.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

If you’re lucky enough to have a serger and know how to thread it, it’s nice to overlock the edges. I zigzagged mine in lieu of overlocking.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Press the gathered edges.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

And topstitch close to the fabric edge on the straight side of the tiers.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Here it is close up.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Repeat all of the above for the back of the dress. Now pin the back and the front of the dress, wrong sides together.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Sew 1/2″ seams along the sides — but make sure to stop at the bottom of the armholes! You’ll work on armholes in a minute.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Overlock or zigzag the seams and press.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

OK now for the armholes. I followed the instructions for Prudent Baby’s apron dress pattern and will paraphrase here. Take a piece of single fold bias tape. I used white.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Open it up and pin it right sides together along the armhole edge.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Here’s what it looks like pinned on both sides.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Sew the single fold bias tape down by sewing along the folded edge that’s closest to the raw edge. Oof, nighttime lighting is rough…

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Now flip the single fold bias tape to the inside of the dress.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

And sew it down. Armholes are done!

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Now for the top edge that’s going to hold your ribbon ties. Fold the top edge down 1/4″ and press.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Fold down again 3/4″ and press.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Pin from the front side.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

And sew it down – this is a time where I like to use painter’s tape to make sure that I’m sewing a straight line (and catching all the fabric below that I need to catch).

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Cut two 28″ pieces of 3/8″ grosgrain ribbon. Put a safety pin through the edge of one side.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Slide the safety pin through the casing and pull it through. Repeat on the other side.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Get out a lighter to very lightly singe the edges of the ribbon. You could probably do this before you thread the ribbon through, but I forgot so I did it after. Now when you do this, work very quickly. You want to just pass the edge of the grosgrain ribbon through the fire so that it seals off the ribbon from fraying. You don’t want to brown the ribbon. Best practice on a scrap piece first.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Now this step is optional: I decided to sew down the ribbon inside the casing so that it will always look properly gathered in the front. Personally, I don’t really like how apron dresses tend to lose a their gathering look in the casing (with the ribbons shifting and such) so I like to sew it down. So try on the dress, decide how gathered you want the neck to be, and then tack down the ribbon inside the casing on the left and right sides (for both the front and back of the dress).

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Finally for the hem. Turn the bottom edge up 1/2″ and iron.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Turn it up 1/2″ again and iron.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Sew the hem down using the same color thread that you used to topstitch the tiers. Put it on your little one, add sunshine and lemonade.

How to make tiered ruffle gathered baby dress free sewing pattern

Did you make it? Please post a comment and let me know how this craft idea works for you. And share your own photos at the MerrimentDesign.com Facebook page, “I made it!” flickr photo gallery or tweet a picture to @merrimentdesign.

COPYRIGHT NOTE: You’re more than welcome to use free pattern and how to step-by-step tutorial for your own personal use. Contact me for any commercial use – this includes etsy sellers.

 
 




One Response to “Tiered ruffle baby dress free sewing pattern”


  1. Laurie Says:

    So cute! I’m gonna give it a whirl. I’m totally inexperienced, but your directions look pretty thorough. I’ll let you know how it turns out!


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