Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Being A Sewing Maniac aka 11th Hour Baby Dress Pattern Hack

Today's sewing project proved that I am a sewing maniac.  As if you didn't already know!  There have been a number of things over the years, fabric hoarding, getting insanely excited about sewing gear notions & patterns and well, this blog, that all pointed in that direction....but this latest one confirmed it for me.  My littlest one's first birthday outfit:

A sweet little dirndl-style knit dress covered in cute colorful ponies and coordinating French terry leggings.
I got the brainstorm to do it the day before her family party.  I realized she didn't have a little dress she could crawl around in for the big day.  The few winter dresses she wore at Christmas are a bit longer so they get caught on her knees and impair her mobility.  This one is just the right length to keep her moving:

So there I was, cake & food were all set, house was decently tidy, present wrapped and I had NOTHING planned for her to wear less than 24hrs later.  
So I did what a sewing maniac does - I quickly found old fabrics in my stash that serendipitously went together, spent 10 minutes sifting through my patterns to find something that could work with her size and my amounts of fabric, decided I'd have to modify one's style a bit and then sewed everything up (while homeschooling two big kids, wrestling with two small ones throughout the day).  No birthday stress for the first time EVER so why not tack a potentially massive stress inducing last minute sewing project on?!?  Crazy lady behavior, that's what it is.   

I used Ottobre Design's Muksis Top/Dress pattern (issue 1/2009) and their Lola Leggings pattern (issue 3/2009).  I'd used both years before, but never paired together.  Here's one of the Muksis tops I'd made over 10 years ago, for my oldest daughter.  My littlest lady also wore this outfit, but got too small a few months ago.

I really like the pattern's fit, but for this one I wanted more to the dress than just an A-line shape.  So I decided to turn it into a build-on-it bodice by cutting across the pattern two inches below the armscye and straightening the sides (since they normal flare).  I cut a skirt section that was a few inches more than double the bodice width and made it 11 inches long.
The top has a lap shoulder design so I followed the pattern directions to attach the neck bindings and overlapped the shoulders. 
The French terry I was using for the leggins was very stretchy and lightweight so it was ideal as my binding & cuff fabric. Especially since the very reason this adorable pony print was still in my stash after a number of years was that I'd been dreading to sew with it.  It was an interlock knit from JoAnn's which means fairly cheap in price and quality.  Even though the fabric weight is good, it sometimes stretches when you don't want it to, thread gets caught, binding can be tricky to stitch, etc.  I've been sewing with knits for a LONG time and have tried almost every trick and have concluded their knit is just okay, so you have to expect it to give you a hard time.

After I attached the sleeves and sewed the sides it was time for the skirt portion.

I sewed up the side seams and then did my easy technique for gathering along the top:

Along the top raw edge I basted a wide zigzag stitch, capturing some thin crochet yarn between the stitches.  I always do a separate piece for the front & the back sides so there are two raw ends at each seam. 

Then it's super easy to pull those ends and create gathers that are easy to even out and adjust. Then all that was left was to pin the skirt to the bodice, stitch them together and do the skirt hem.  The Lola leggings were really simple since each leg was a single piece - just stitched up the inside leg seams, crotch seam, waistband and leg hems & done!

And by some miracle everything turned out exactly right, which almost never happens (especially when rushing to hit an insane deadline).  

I just love how it turned out and she's already worn in several times.  I line dry these sorts of outfits to keep them from shrinking or piling too.  Which works well since the cuffs turn down and the loose fit mean the dress can be worn a long time - even as a tunic top a year from now.  Maybe that means I've got next year's birthday outfit covered already....;)


  1. Replies
    1. I was so happy with how it turned out & feel good I'm not the only one:)

  2. What a gorgeous design. Love that neckline!

    1. Thanks Jo & I do too - lap shoulders seem much easier to sew and put on a wiggly baby and the finished look adds nice detail too.

  3. Sorry, it's not just adorable, cute and gorgeous. It's the fact that you did all of this in the time that you had while still making it your own with modifications. Let that fact not be lost in all of this! (And while giving us a great tip re: gathering; I'm gonna keep that one in my back pocket for when I need it.)

    Do you think that maybe you're not getting older, you're getting better??

    1. Rochelle, you are so kind! I've been sewing for about 12 yrs now and me from back then, or even 5yrs back, would have had some sort of assembly catastrophe or emotional meltdown trying to pull it off. Older, more seasoned me was able to keep my cool and be 100% happy with the results (which isn't easy for a picky perfectionist like myself). Experience and age definitely bring pluses when it comes to sewing & crafting!!

  4. The fabric is perfect! Beautiful little outfit for a beautiful little girl.


  5. You make it seem easy. Beautiful

    1. Thanks so much! Sometimes it works out like a dream - we'll see how it goes the next time;)

  6. I will definitely try to make one

    1. Would love to see it when you do. Just email me a photo at and I'll be happy to add it to my Reader Made weekly feature at the Craftastic Monday Link Party!


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