Last week I told you about the rainbow dress I would be making and also talked about the process of making what ended up being a wearable (muslin) sundress. Here is the end result - a maxi length rainbow dress. Today I'll show you how I made the rainbow dress and how you can make one, too.
It's an understatement to say that Little Miss, her Mum and I are all thrilled with how the rainbow dress turned out. When I was asked to make a rainbow dress like this one on Etsy, I was reasonably confident I'd be able to make one. It looked easy enough to make without a pattern, but it wasn't until the dress was tried on and I knew the fit was good, that I breathed a sigh of relief.
The muslin was only a knee length sundress. I didn't see the point in making two maxi dresses, as they're not something that's worn very often. I figured that the bodice was the part that needed to be a good fit, so that's what I concentrated on with the muslin. The skirt didn't need to be as exact. The rainbow dress bodice is exactly the same as the sundress bodice, except for the colours.
We used quilting cotton in the colours that we had on hand, so, strictly speaking, they're not the correct colours for a rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). We're still calling it a rainbow dress, though.
Once the bodice was made, it was simply a matter of doing the Maths and adding slightly gathered layers. At this point I realised I had nothing to go by, to know how wide I should do the bottom of the dress. (Little Miss, at that point, didn't own any maxi dresses or skirts). Too narrow and it would be difficult to walk. Too wide could make it too heavy and bulky, as well as the fact that the skirt would get in the way.
I had Little Miss try on a couple of her skirts, wearing them so they hit just above her ankles. She then skipped around (laughing at how funny she looked), so I could try and gauge a suitable width.
Working from measurements is sometimes easier said than done. Nothing beats trying a garment on, just for reassurance to know that you are on the right track. No such luxury if the child doesn't live with you. Two nights before the deadline, I finished the dress and drove down to check the fit. PERFECT!!! Both the length and width were spot on.
To make your own rainbow dress, follow the sundress instructions for the bodice. The specific measurements mentioned, both for the bodice and skirt, are for a child with a 22" (56cm) chest and a height of 3'7" (110cm). With a tape measure and a little Maths, you can fairly easily alter these measurements to fit your own child. Even if your child is the same height, I would still suggest measuring, just to make sure.
For the skirt, I made the width of the first back layer (orange), the same as the width of the back bodice (before shirring) - 19" (48cm). The front was cut to the same width. This made the total width of the first layer (orange) 38" (97cm), which is roughly = 1.75 x the chest measurement.
Each subsequent layer is increased in width by 9" (23cm) - (total for the front and back). The width of the bottom layer (purple) ended up at 74" (188cm) minus seams. You will need to check that this measurement allows your child to easily take large strides.
We decided the dress should fall just above the ankles. The longer it is, the more likely they are to trip. The length of the skirt measures 23.5" (60cm), with measurements taken from the bottom of the bodice to the hemline. Add in 2" (5cm) for the bodice and the skirt measures 25.5" (65cm) from the underarm of the bodice. This measurement is taken from the garment, not the child's underarm, as there will be variation as to how closely the dress sits to the underarm. On Little Miss, it's sits quite snugly.
Here are the measurements as I cut them. I do my measurements in inches and then convert to metric, using an online calculator. I have tried to make the height in cm reasonably precise, but the width measurements have been rounded up or down. Please let me know if you notice a mistake in any of my calculations. Also, please note that I have given the measurement 5¾", as I couldn't work out how to type six/eighths as a fraction. Three/quarters = six/eighths.
|orange||cut 2||5¾" x 19" - (14.6cm x 48cm)|
|yellow||cut 2||5¾" x 23½" - (14.6cm x 60cm)|
|pink||cut 2||5¾" x 28" - (14.6cm x 71cm)|
|blue||cut 2||5¾" x 32½" - (14.6cm x 83cm)|
|purple||cut 2||6⅜" x 37" - (16.2cm x 94cm)|
- Sew the shorts sides of each layer to form a tube.
- Neaten edges.
- Gather and attach each layer to the one above it. If you are unsure how to gather, follow the how to sew ruffles tutorial.
- Hem to the desired length. My hem was turned ¼" then 2¼".
Our rainbow dress ticked all the boxes:
- rainbow effect
- shirring and sundress style bodice
- the all important twirl factor
And it should last a long time as the dress will grow with Little Miss. The straps allow the bodice to be lowered as needed, the soft shirring will expand, the hem can be let down and the dress will still look good as it changes from maxi to calf or even below knee length, assuming the bodice still fits.
If you make a rainbow dress following these directions, I'd love you to share pics in the Threading My Way ~ Sewn by YOU Flickr group, leave me a link in the comments, or add it to the ongoing Dresses for Girls link party, here at Threading My Way.
Thanks must go to my daughter, Little Ladybird, for the awesome photos. She's captured the dress exactly as it looks in real life; something I find difficult to do. I had 52 wonderful photos to choose from. Sewing's my thing. Little Ladybird's is photography. We make a great team!!! And credit must go to Little Miss, who came up with some of the styling ideas for the photos.