Tutorial: The Ella Dress {with Free Pattern Download}

Last week I gave you a preview of the dress I made for lil’ punkette.  I had such fun making this dress!  I absolutely fell in love with the fabric and am definitely going to buy some more.  I’m thinking the lining for her winter coat this year might need this wonderful print!

Anywho… I can’t wait to share the pattern with you so you can make one too!  It’s so easy!  I’m beginning to see how complicated they can make commercial patterns…why? I wonder….It doesn’t have to be that hard people!
You can download the pattern for the bodice here or at the end of this tutorial I created a link  

Ella Dress Materials List (2T/3T)
1 yard cotton fabric
1 package 1/2″ pre-made double fold bias tape  (or you can make your own)
Coordinating thread
Step 1 ~ Cut your material
~Cut 2 Bodice (download button at bottom of post)
~Cut 2 Skirt pieces 22″ x 13″ (basically that is the width of the yardage(44″) off the bolt where it is folded…just cut it on the fold and you have 2 22″ pieces)
~Cut 2 Ruffle pieces 18″ x 3″
~Cut 2 Strap pieces 17″x 4″
Step 2 ~ Gather your skirt
Stitch a basting stitch 1/4″ away from top edge along the top of one of the skirt pieces (the 22″ side) and pull to create a gather.  Repeat with other skirt piece
Step 3~ Create the Ruffle
Take one ruffle piece and iron lengthwise WST (wrong side together).  Run a basting stitch along the raw edge about a 1/4″ away from edge
Pull bottom threads to create a gather.  Repeat with other ruffle piece
Step 4~ Sew ruffle to bodice
Pin one ruffle piece to the bodice RST (right sides together). 
Start the seam about a 1/2″ down from the top (see pic below) Stitch with a 1/4″ seam
Please forgive the change in dresses here… I realized with the first dress I did not document this part well, so I made another one

Keep about a 1/2″ free at the top.  In other words, start the stitching down of the ruffle 1/2″ away from the top.  Repeat with other bodice/ruffle set

Now take the two bodices and pin them RST at the top shoulder seam…This is where that free 1/2″ is pinned together. Use a 1/4″ seam. 
Keep the ruffle tucked away so it is not sewn together yet!
Now turn that shoulder seam right side out and you will be looking at the wrong side of the ruffle.  Pin the ruffle together and sew with a 1/4″ seam
So this is the right side of the shoulder and the wrong side of the ruffle showing sewn
Press the seam allowance of the sewn ruffle towards the back of the dress
Turn the ruffle to the right side and topstitch the seam allowance down
Now take and pin the rest of the ruffle to the shoulder strap ( it will only be a few inches that needs to be sewn together now) and use a 1/4″ seam
Step 5 ~ Attatch skirt to bodice
Take your gathered skirt and pin it to the bodice RST.    Make sure to gather/let out your skirt and adjust it to fit the bodice.  Sew with a 1/2″ seam here.
Press the seam up towards the bodice.  Sew the seam allowance to the bodice by edge stitching the bottom of the bodice about 1/8″ away from the seam.  Repeat with the other skirt/bodice pieces
Step 6 ~ Sew Bias Tape to neck
Now take your bias tape and pin it to line up with the raw edges of the neck opening.  Sew it on by sewing right in the crease closest to the raw edge (approx 1/2″)
Now turn the bias tape up and over the raw edge and pin in place.  Make sure to pin it so it is easy to remove the pins as you sew… in other words, the head of the pin is facing you when you have your fabric in the sewing machine).  Sew as close to the inner seam as much as possible, just make sure you are catching the inside of the bias tape on the wrong side of the dress
Voila!….so far
Step 6 ~ Waist straps
Take your waist straps and iron them RST and sew a 1/4″ seam around one end and the long side edge, leaving one small end open.  Turn right side out and press
Pin each waist strap to the raw edge of the dress.  Line up the strap right where the bodice and skirt seam meet.  Baste in place.
Step 7 ~ Sew dress together
Working with the wrong side, turn the bottom hem up 1/2″ and press.  Turn it up again 1/2″, press and pin in place.  Sew in place close to the top of that pressed hem.  Repeat on other dress piece so hems match up.
Now pin the sides together, making sure to match seams and bottom hem and sew a 1/2″ seam.  Repeat on other side.  Turn dress right side out.
Step 8~ Sew Bias Tape to arms
Pin a piece of bias tape to the armhole.  You are working RST and using the raw edge of the armhole as your guide.  Stitch in the crease closest to the raw edge as before.  Remove pins and turn the tape to the inside
Pin in place using method as before, removing pins as you sew and making sure you are catching tape on the underside. And you’re done!
 Pic on the left is sweet girl before we left for the event.  Pic on the right is in full break-down mode (notice cute little matching hair accessory is missing) on the outside church bench in a time-out…but she still looks cute  :)
And here is our family in a rare formal picture…well, as formal as you can get with little missy shoving that dorito in her mouth  :)
Now, go make your punk a few and always post to our Flickr group so we can check out your handi~work
Oh, don’t miss out on this adorable Button Ruffle Scarf for the little too!
Wait!  One more :)  The cautest!  Ruffled Sugar Plum Capris.    

Online Sewing Class

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  1. says

    This dress is so gorgeous, and I have the perfect fabric to make it for my wee girl. Very exciting!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing the pattern – I can’t wait to get started.

  2. says

    I love the fabric you used to make the dress. The doily design in the backgroud is perfect! Thanks for sharing how to make this cute dress!!

  3. says

    Wow!! That is adorable!! I really want to try this one:)
    Visiting from justsewsassy.com
    Come check out a great giveaway I have going on at my blog this week:)

  4. says

    Hi Susan! This dress is so pretty! Fantastic tutorial. I just adore the fabric and I can’t wait to see the coat 😉 I am featuring this today; stop by and grab a featured button if you like. Thanks so much for joining the Sunday Showcase Party. I greatly appreciate it. Hope you have a fabulous week! ~ Stephanie Lynn

  5. says

    I love this dress!! Thank you so much for offering the patter and tutorial!!!

    One question, do you know how much I should modify this to make to 12-18 months? Thanks!!

  6. says

    Just had to stop and leave a comment here when I saw your little cutie in her cute little dress :o) Our girls are grown, but I did sew lots of their dresses when they were growing up…now I am so excited to sew for those future grandbabies…whenever we do get them :o)

    …and this is a cute pattern. Thank you for sharing!
    Am following now at #1889…work has been real busy and late, so not much time for blog stuff this week…but wanted to say so nice to meet you!

    Blessings & Aloha!
    And your family’s “formal” pic is perfect :o) Too cute!

  7. says

    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

    I found your tutorial a couple days ago and downloaded it but I waited to post my comment until after I had completed my dress so that you could see it. Pictures are on my blog at: http://craftilyyours.blogspot.com/2011/06/summer-dress.html

    I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to put the tutorial together and sharing it with us. I think I have found my new favorite go-to dress as it works up so fast and easy and can be made in one afternoon. I love the fact that there are no zippers, buttons or snaps on it too!

  8. says

    I am working on this dress right now. One question…. do you leave a 1/2 inch free on both sides on one bodice. I am doing the ruffle right now. Hope that makes sence and thank you.

  9. says

    You have a beautiful family. Are the boys twins? Thank you for sharing your pattern. I intend to make my dear grand-daughter a dress like the one you made. First I'm making her a "Hello Kitty" skirt with shorts attached .My grand-daughter lives with me and she's as rough and tough as any little boy. She starts school this fall and I'll be sewing several things for her.

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