Monday, August 15, 2011

Sail Away Dress Sew-Along: Day 1

Welcome to the first day of the Sail Away Dress Sew-Along, which is just a long title to say "here's some steps to make a cute dress using 2 old button down shirts and some scraps." 

But doesn't "The Sail Away Dress" sound much better?

 The sew-along will be going on all week, and I'll cover steps from making your pattern to binding your dress. I use 2 men's button down shirts to make my dress, but you can substitute cotton fabric or knit fabric if you like.

Let's get started!


  • 2 men's button down shirts to cut up
  • 3 buttons
  • 2 inches of elastic thread
  • Scraps of knit fabric for the sash
  • Sewing machine and basic sewing supplies
Step 1: Make your pattern.

Using a dress that fits your child well, lay the dress on top of the front of your men's shirt that you want to use for your main fabric, making sure it's centered over the button placket and that the bottom of your dress is 1/2 inch from the bottom of your men's shirt (this is so you can keep the original bottom hem - less sewing you have to do!)

Trace 1/2 inch around the dress for seam allowance - add more if you want it looser for longer wear. Also make sure any sleeves are tucked in so you can trace the armholes properly.

Cut out. This is your front piece.

To make your back piece, trace the piece you just cut out on the back of your men's shirt, but add an additional inch to the top since the back is higher than the front. Cut out.

That's it for your main pattern pieces, seriously.

Step 2: Make your ruffles.

Measure the length of the top of your front piece and multiply times 2. Cut 2 rectangles from your other men's shirt with this length and 3 inches wide.

Fold and press one of  the long edges on each rectangle 1/4 inch under, then fold and press another 1/4 inch. Sew your folded edges down with a straight stitch.

For the other long edge, set your machine's stitch length and width to the highest numbers possible, and sew a basting stitch straight across 1/4 inch from the edge, making sure not to backstitch at the beginning or the end. Keep the tails of your string long when you cut them.

Gently tug on one of your thread tails and push the fabric with your other hand to create your ruffle. Keep scrunching your fabric until the ruffle is the same length as the top of your front piece. Tie knots in each end to secure your ruffles. Cut the extra thread.

Step 3: Attach your ruffles.

Line up the raw edge of one ruffle with the raw edge of your dress's front piece (make sure your ruffle is right side facing up.) Set your stitch width and length back to normal. Pin and sew your first ruffle down.

Next, flip your top ruffle up and measure 1 1/2 inches down from that (if a button is in the way just pin it above or below the button a little), pin your second ruffle, and sew straight across.

Both of your ruffles should now be attached to the front of your dress like so, and the raw edge of your second ruffle should be hidden under the first.


That does it for day 1 of the sew-along! 

Tomorrow we'll cover how to make your keyhole closure and sewing your main pieces together.

Please let me know if you have any questions: myownroad(at)yahoo(dot)com

Check out my sidebar to see where I link up each week!


  1. Can't wait for tomorrow's entry! Good job! I wish I have a little girl to sew for now, I'll definitely sew along if I did!

  2. So cute ideas for little princess. i like it very much . thanks

  3. How cute! I love your originality and creativeness!

  4. What a fabulous blog, full of so many things to try. I'm loving the Sail Away Dress.... a new follower.

  5. Stop by Hannah Handmade and check out the 12 awesome prizes some great etsy vendors are giving away! This includes two bunches of feather extensions and a free wedding hair accessory! New follower too :)

  6. This dress is absolutely adorable! I love everything red, white, and blue. Well done! I found your site at a blog party and am happy to be a new follower. I would love for you to link your post up at my Savvy HomeMade Monday blog party at

    Heading to your FB page now!

  7. adorable! I love thiS! Thanks for sharing.

  8. wonderful I will do one for my daughter


Thanks for all of your wonderful comments! I try to respond to each of them through email so please make sure you leave an email address or have your profile set up to include your email address if you want me to respond :)


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