I'm Erin. I love to sew pretty things for my children. I haven't bought an actual pattern in over ten years now. Read more...


"Your information on flat pattern drafting has been pretty much the best and most straightforward I've seen!" -Cindy J.


linen lattice dress

The really lovely thing about the yoke dress style is how many variations there are on it.  Seriously, I think you could make a hundred yoke dresses and none of them would look alike.

That is not to say that they wouldn't be very similar in construction, because they would.  The pattern and most of the construction of this dress is the same as the Roman arch dress (although I could have sworn I made that dress longer.  How is it that so much of her leg is sticking out beneath the hem now?)

Exceptions to it being precisely the same as the Roman arch dress are:  this has petal sleeves, instead of double-puffed.  Both the skirt and bodice are double-layered, with a tan lawn layer and a white handkerchief linen layer.  There's a waistband that attaches the bodice to the skirt. 

So we'll skip the pattern design step in this tutorial, because it's covered in that tutorial.  Draft a petal sleeve, not a double-puffed, and allow for the depth of the waistband when considering the length of the skirt. 


We'll need these pieces:

1 bodice front 
1 bodice front lining
2 bodice backs
2 bodice back linings
2 sleeves (unless you're  making a petal sleeve with an underarm seam, then make sure you have both pieces for each sleeve)
2 sleeve linings
1 skirt (mine was one width, selvage to selvage, of 45" wide tan lawn fabric)
1 skirt overlay (one width of 56" wide lightweight linen)



Each of my skirts was just one width of fabric.  So I sewed the one seam in each one to make two tubes, one white and one tan.  Then I turned up the hem and made a double-fold hem on the tan skirt.

Not much to see yet. 

Then I did the one seam in the linen layer.  Then I wanted drawstrings, and there are a couple of ways to do this.  You could attach a casing to the inside of the skirt at the waist and leave it open near the hem.  Then, when you had the drawstrings drawn up and tied, you would be able to see them.  That would be lovely if you had a ribbon that was presentable and matching.  

I, however, did not, and wasn't about to go to town and muck around looking, so I did my drawstrings the other way around, attached at the hem and coming out just up under the waistline seam.  No strings to see that way.  

The way I did this was this.  First I attached a piece of grosgrain ribbon and a wider piece of twill tape to the first turn of the hem:

Then, on the second turn I just made sure they stayed flat and got caught in the straight stitch hem. 

I placed four of these on the skirt, halfway between the center front and each side seam on the front, and halfway between the center back and each side seam on the back.  I did use my one seam as a side seam, so that when I went to put a placket in later the seam wouldn't be in the way.

Then, after marking the waist hem of the skirt at the same places, I carefully edgestitched the twill tape (which was, by this process, becoming the casing) from just above the hem to just below the waist seamline.

When I got near the waist seamline, I turned the twill tape in on itself to finish the edge.  Here's that end of the casing with one side edgestitched:

And with the other edge done, and the ribbon sticking out:

Then I pinned both layers of the skirt together at center back and put in a continuous bound placket, through both layers:

Because the (white) linen fabric was originally wider than the (tan) lawn, the skirt waist seams were now not the same size.  So I put gathering threads in the linen waist seam to gather them to fit the lawn.  The gathering threads began close to the placket on one side, went all the way around the skirt, and ended near the other side of the placket.

After gathering the upper layer to match the lower layer, I put in another set of gathering threads, this time to gather the whole skirt unit to match the bodice waistband.  I made sure that I didn't catch my ribbons and casings in this seam:

Now I could pull up the ribbons and hang up the skirt:

Yes.  Quite nice. 


Now I needed something quick to do with the last few minutes before I had to go make dinner, so I put together the petal sleeves.

I love making a pair of sleeves.  It's a little block of work you can get done and feel good about fairly quickly.  And when you get to the armholes, if the sleeves are already done, well, you're that much farther ahead.  And they're just cute.  


Now I had to give that skirt and sleeves something to hang on to, right?

First I took a piece of linen, large enough to eventually cut out my bodice front.  I withdrew groups of threads to give me a 1" grid.  Then, using the instructions found in this handy book about hemstitching from the Antique Pattern Library, I did serpentine hemstitch, leaving me here:

After finishing the stitching and pressing it, I traced the shape of the bodice pattern onto the rectangle: 

And stitched a tiny, tight zigzag all along that outline, to hold the embroidery threads when I cut out the bodice front. 

Cutting that out brought me here:

Now it was pretty much the basic yoke dress bodice song and dance.  

Shoulder seams, in the lining and bodice itself.

Lining to bodice, right sides together, I pinned all the way around the neckline and down the center back.  Then I stitched, beginning at the waist seam, center back, up all the way around the neckline, and down the center back to the waistline again.

Clipping the curves and corners, and turning it right side out finishes the neckline:

Now the lining and bodice were basted together at the armhole.

See how the lining ended up slightly wider than the bodice there at the armhole?  That's because when I turned the neckline, I rolled that lining to the inside, and the excess ended up there at the armhole.  

Side seams:

Now we're ready for those sleeves, so I set them in

Now only the waistband remained.  This'll be easy.  No sweat. 


First I took three strips of fabric, 2" + 2 seam allowances wide, and longer than the bodice waist seam.   

Two in the tan lawn, one in a sturdy twill that I had on hand.  The lawn is kinda flimsy, and the twill will stabilize this part of the dress.  The waistband has to take the weight of the skirt, and the twill will make it sturdier.

I sandwiched the bodice seam between the three layers, making sure that when I flipped them downward, the tan would be on the outside and the twill on the inside of the sandwich.

See what I mean?  Here's the seam done. 

The next step is only a little tricky.  

I folded those raw edges at the center back of the waistband up, around the bodice center back, and stitched like this:

The trick being, that this seam has got to be sewn as close to the bodice center back that's sandwiched in there as possible, but we don't want to sew through it.  

Because what we're aiming for is this:

Now you see why we didn't want the seam too far away, or sewn through the bodice center back there. 

Then I was ready to sew the final seam, the waist seam.  So I did that, of course, just like in the adding a skirt tutorial.  Then buttons and buttonholes in the back, and this little piece of goodness was done.

After pictures, she didn't want to take it off.  I couldn't blame her. 



a giveaway for June that is slipping away too quickly

While I'm working on the next project post (you can peek at that on our Facebook page), it might be fun to have a giveaway, don't you think?

Yes, I think so too. 

So today I've got a package of two of our basic alteration lessons, of your choice, for a randomly chosen winner.  To enter do one of the following:

-Like Children's Fashion Workshop on Facebook.  (If you've liked us before, thank you, but we've had to start over, so please, like us again.)

-Subscribe via email or a reader (use the yellow or green buttons in the upper right hand corner of the screen here).

-Mention this giveaway or website on your own website, linking back to here. 

-Send me the link to somewhere on the web where you've seen CFW patterns or lessons used, so that I can pin them on my Pinterest board.  

And then, of course, leave a comment telling me what you've done, and also answering the question, what would you like to see more of on Children's Fashion Workshop?

Best of luck, and happy drafting!



notched peasant tunic


Upon reflection, it seems odd to me that there are two different types of top or dress referred to as "peasant" style.  There's the very blousy, gathered-y type that we've been playing with here and here, and there's this notched-neck, embroidered style.  Why are both of these called "peasant"?  This will require further reflection and exploration.  If you know, enlighten me, would you?

At any rate, this is really a lovely easy style to make up, both design-wise and construction-wise.  There's no closure, although you could attach ribbons or something to the edges of the notch there to tie if you like.  The very basic nature of this style lends itself to dressing up, either with rows and rows of fun embroidery (it's like an embroidery sampler she can wear!) or with a fancy printed or pre-embroidered fabric. 

If I've got you convinced, here's how to swing this style:

Drafting the Pattern:

Begin with a Basic Bodice Pattern.

Follow the steps in "Drafting A-line Styles" to draft a hip-length tunic.  

The example was made with the Basic Bodice Pattern size 6.  The following changes were made:

1)  No additional ease was added.

2)  Total length is 20".

3)  3/4" added to side seam at hem. 

4)  Armhole is unaltered.  Slightly-longer-than-wrist-length bell sleeves were drafted.  6" was added to the width of the sleeve at the hem, as shown in "Drafting Sleeve Patterns".

5)  Neckline was enlarged by these measurements: 3/8" at shoulder,  1" at center front, 3/4" at center back.  The notch at center front is 1 3/4" long.

6)  No closure.

7)  No additional style lines.

8)  Because the side seam is left open for a few inches at the hem, the seam allowance was widened to allow for a double-fold hem to be made there.  

9)  Facings were drafted for the neckline and sleeve hems, as shown in "Drafting Outerwear".


Pieces needed: 

1 Front
1 Back
2 Sleeves
2 Sleeve Facings (Need to be deep enough to accommodate the slit on the outer edge of the sleeve. The sample has a 3" slit.  The slit is made during construction.) 
1 Front Neckline Facing
1 Back Neckline Facing


1)  Sew tunic front to tunic back at the shoulder seams.  Repeat for the neckline facing shoulder seams.

2)  Finish the outer edge of the facing with a very narrow hem.  

3)  Pin neckline facing to tunic, right sides together, matching center fronts, center backs, and shoulder seams.  Press seam, clip curves, and turn facing to inside.  Press the neckline gently, rolling the facing to the inside.  Edgestitch all the way around the neckline if desired. 

4)  Finish the upper edge of the sleeve facing with a very narrow hem.  

5)  Pin sleeve facing to the lower edge of the sleeve, right sides together.  Mark the slit on the facing.  Sew the sleeve to the facing, stopping 1/4" from the mark.  Pivot and sew to the end of the mark, tapering toward it as you go.  Pivot at the point of the mark, and sew to the other side of the mark, 1/4" from the mark and 1/2" from where you first pivoted.  Pivot again, and sew the remainder of the sleeve/facing seam.  

6) Cut along the mark, to but not through the stitching.  Clip the corners and turn the sleeve facing to the inside of the sleeve.  Press just along the seamline.  Again, edgestitch this edge, through all layers, from the right side, if desired. 

7)  Set in the sleeves

8)  Sew the underarm and side seams, down to the point where they'll be left open and backstitch.  Clip the seam allowance at this point.  Fold the seam allowance under to create a double-fold hem on both sides of the opening.  Edgestitch along each fold to secure it.  

My hem and side slit, embroidery knots included.

9)  Finish the hem with a 1/2" double fold hem.  

Now if you're embroidering, you can go to town with your needle.  

Tell me, how would you make this tunic special?


If you make this tunic, won't you take a picture and send it to me at childrensfashionworkshop at gmail dot com? I would love to show it off here!


purple peasant dress

We've had a lot of fun with our easy peasant dress, but I wondered whether I could dress it up a little, make it look less like a layering piece or a nightgown, and more like a for-real dress.  So I began to dig, and came up with this inspiration piece:

Okay, so the basic elements of this dress are, top gathered at the neckline and under the bust, into a fitted midriff, and then a gathered skirt.  Simple enough, right?

What I had was this lightweight cotton, with the embroidery down both selvages.  So the first order of business was to divide the fabric into two parts:  Enough to make the skirt, and enough for everything else.  I knew I'd need the following parts:

Skirt, 2 layers
1 Bodice front
2 Bodice back
2 Sleeves
Midriff sections:
1 front of purple fabric, 1 of lining
2 backs of purple fabric, 2 of lining

Also, one zipper.  I used an invisible zipper long enough to completely separate the midriff section at the back.  

There are three main sections to this dress.  


After roughly estimating how much fabric I'd need for the bodice, midriff section, and sleeves, I cut the remainder of the fabric lengthwise, at the point where the two rows of embroidery would line up nicely when I layered one on top of the other, like this:  

Then I layered them, basted along the top edge, and put gathering threads in the top edge.  Pulling those up allowed me to hang up my skirt and get excited about the rest of the dress:

The skirt thus has no side seams, and is open down the back to allow us to put that zipper in.  


The only part that really requires a pattern is that midriff section, and here's where I made my big mistake with this dress.  

See, the basic bodice pattern that we offer here has a dart that goes from bust to waist, like this.

And, theoretically, what you would do to make a midriff pattern is cut the bodice pattern, front and back, to the length you want the midriff to be, like this:


The reason I say I made my mistake here is this.  The commercial dress forms from which these patterns were designed taper slightly from bust to waist, as, presumably, do the "standard" children for whom they were designed.  The dart on our basic pattern represents the difference between the chest measurement and the waist measurement on those forms.  Closing the dart on these patterns would give a more fitted look than the boxy basic pattern will if the dart was left out.  

For the most part, my own use of the dart so far has been limited todrafting princess style patterns with it, therefore only using it as a design element and not really using it for fitting.  But as my older daughter gets, well, older, the kinds of dresses I'm making for her are changing to look a little older too.  So I'm beginning to explore using the darts in the basic pattern for actual fitting.  

So, without measuring my daughter, I went right ahead and did the following:

First I lengthened the bodice pattern.  Then, just like I showed you above, I traced the lower 5" of the bodice pattern, and included the darts.  The original pattern I used is the size 7. 

I cut one front midriff section and two backs out of the embroidered part of the purple fabric.  I then cut the same pieces again out of a heavier, white fabric, to help the lightweight purple fabric have some heft and body at the midriff.  

Sewed the darts in the front and back:

in both the purple fabric and the lining, a total of 8 darts in all.  Sewed the side seams on midriff and lining:

Now I had the bones of the dress.  The top of the dress and the skirt would both be gathered and set into this fitted part.  The mistake was in going to all that trouble to put darts in.  Because when I'd completely finished the dress, and put it on her:

It looked a little like I'd put a tapered midriff section onto someone who isn't tapered.  There was extra width at the top seam there.  You can see how it's a little baggy right at the front.  With a dawning realization of the foolishness of what I had just done, I pulled out a measuring tape and confirmed it.  Sure enough, her chest and waist measurements are precisely the same.  Why didn't I perform this simple procedure before doing all this work?  Um, to show you what not to do, of course.  (That must be it.) 

So, lesson learned:  The darts are great for fitting if you need them.  If the child you're sewing for is a tube, putting darts in her dress isn't going to change that, it's just going to look funny.  

If you're trying to replicate this dress, and have gotten to this point and are completely confused, here's my final answer.  What I should have done is make a (much simpler) straight midriff, without darts.  If your child needs the darts, do what I did above.  

What I did to correct this problem was put another dart, upside down, right at the center front (I hoped the dots and embroidery would hide the dart and they did), taking out the bagginess that was left by having created the previous darts.  (The darts that I shouldn't have put in in the first place.)

Here's the dart I made in the lining:

I made one identical to it in the purple fabric, after ripping out a couple inches of the top midriff seam to get to it.  Then I pulled the gathering threads on the gathered part of that seam to fit it to the new, smaller midriff seam. 


The top section is just our old friend, the basic shirrred peasant dress, but it's only 5" long.  I cut the sleeves out of the border embroidery and cut the back in two sections, again because of the zipper.  The angled underarm seam is 4 1/2".

I hemmed the top edges with a 1/4" double fold hem, sewed the underarm seams, and ended up with a rectangle like this:

At the lower right hand corner of this picture is the center back.  

Sewed the side seams.  Here's what it looked like before shirring:

Imagine that the other half is in the picture.  It looks just like this half, but the whole thing was a bit long for one photo.  Just want you to know I'm not hiding anything just outside the frame there. 

The straight neckline we've got here is going to give us, once it's all shirred up, a more-or-less straight neckline.  It's not dead straight, as you can see from the pictures of the finished dress, but it is straight-ish.  If we wanted it to be curved, we'd need to come up with a different finishing option for the edge than a double-fold hem.  A facing, perhaps, or a bound edge.  

I ran gathering threads along the lower edge of this whole piece.  Now I could take the three pieces and put them together. 


Beause it's difficult to show this next step in a picture, although it's relatively easy to do and understand, I've got this (hopefully) helpful drawing.  What we're seeing is the side view of the skirt, with the midriff and its lining sandwiching it at the skirt/midriff seam.  The right side of the outer piece and the lining are against the skirt, so that when we sew the seam and fold those two pieces upward, the skirt seam is hidden between them, and the right sides of both are facing outward to the world. 





So that's what I did.  First, I matched the skirt and midriff outer piece at center front and at center back and pinned them all together.  Then I pulled the gathering threads to make the skirt fit the midriff, and sewed that seam.  That ended up looking like this:

See what I mean about it being an uninspiring picture?

Then I simply flipped it over and sewed the lining to the other side, using the same seamline again.


I folded the two layers up, sandwiching the skirt seam in between like we already talked about, and edgestitched through all layers from the front.  Here's how it looks from the lining side.

From the right side it all but disappeared, being purple thread on busy dotted, embroidered fabric.

I did the same thing with the bodice, matching the side seams, center fronts and backs, and pulling up the gathering threads to make the bodice fit the midriff seam.  Sewed that seam.  

Now I was left with the midriff and its lining attached to the skirt, and only the midriff outer piece attached to the bodice.  So I pinned it, carefully, carefully, as in the last picture in our bodice linings tutorial, making sure that it went just over the bodice/midriff seam on the back.  Edgestitched through all layers from the right side to catch that fold and finish the seam on the inside.  And that looked just like the photo above, of the edgestitching on the skirt seam. 

All three portions attached together, and I was here:

Getting closer, yes?  Three things left to go.  Zipper up the back, shirring at the neckline, and shirring around the sleeves.  

If you look at the sleeves at this point, you can see that the shirring around the lower part of the sleeve, to make them puffed and ruffled, is really optional.  If I'd wanted just a straight sleeve here, it would have done nicely to have left them.  











I inserted the zipper, just exactly like it said to on the zipper package, making sure that the midriff seams lined up from one side of the zipper to the other.  Because the neckline edge was already finished, I just folded the tape ends down out of the way and sewed them down when I zigzagged the edges of the zipper:

Put in four tightly-spaced rows of shirring, starting at the zipper, going all the way around the neckline and back to the other side of the zipper, and tied the ends together:

Did the same around the sleeves:

And I was done.  Except for that little fix I had to do, of course.  

As for how it was received by its new owner, I'd say it was a flying success.



lengthening the bodice

Little people grow.  Perhaps you have noticed this?

This:                                                                               Becomes this:


in no time.  But, often, although they grow up, they don't necessarily grow out at the same rate.  Thus, we end up with cases like my older daughter.  Although she's 10 years old, she wears a size 7 in our basic bodice patterns.  We choose the bodice size based on the chest measurement, and hers is 25", making her size 7. 

Because she has grown vertically, though, her trunk has stretched out, and the waist seam in a size 7 pattern is no longer in the right place.  Now, we know that the "right place" for the waist seam is completely arbitrary.  It can be anywhere, from up under the neckline to down below the hip, and how to lengthen or shorten the pattern is outlined in each of the bodice style lessons.

But if we need to use the dart that's printed on the pattern, the placement of the waist (and the dart) becomes more important.  The waist ought to fall at the narrowest part of the torso.  (This is why in children the waist seam is so completely arbitrary, because they don't always have a narrowest part.  My daughter doesn't, as I found out to my chagrin.  More on my chagrin when I post about her purple peasant dress.)

This is the part that I don't think is altogether clear in the lessons, although the beauty of .PDF lessons is that I can change that quickly and future editions can immediately contain the clarification.  

So, to lengthen the bodice and the dart:


a)  Begin with the basic bodice pattern.  The procedure is the same for the back and front.

b)  Draw a straight line, parallel to the waist, that cuts the dart in half.  

c)  Cut the pattern on this line, and spread it to the length you need the pattern to be.  In my latest dress, I added 2 1/2" to the length.  Tape it to another piece of paper.

d)  Redraw the center front and side seams, and redraw the dart.  Draw a straight line from each dart foot to the point to lengthen the dart.  

And that's it.  Your bodice lengthening problem, solved.  

Wish there were something I could do about your children growing up so quickly, but I can't figure that one out.