How to Sew a Jersey Knit Dress 2 Ways (Free Pattern)


I mean, really? Could these be any cuter? Vanessa, from LBG Studio, sewed up these comfy jersey knit dresses for her daughter and is here today to show you how. Her version of a jersey knit dress comes with two different variations – with pockets, and with a tiered skirt (like our Layer Cake Skirt). The free pattern is a big help too.

For more sewing inspiration, check out Vanessa’s Party Dress Remix. We have a project in store with the same fabric! Sew a divided basket to keep your sewing supplies in order, and an idea pouch to keep your thoughts in line. These would also make wonderful Mother’s Day gifts.


Here is the tiered dress version.


And the jersey dress with pockets.

Don’t shy away from jersey knit if you haven’t worked with it before. Start with a rundown of Sewing with Jersey 101 and check out the Beginner’s Jersey Dress.

Learn How to Sew a Jersey Knit Dress 2 Ways after the jump…


I really love these little dresses! The idea came from a top my daughter has that I thought would translate really well into a dress. I wanted something that would be quick and easy to throw on – these dresses can be pulled on over the head…no need to unbutton the buttons. I cheated and sewed my buttons on through both layers of the bodice and skipped buttonholes. I made two versions of the dress, one with a flouncy, twirly 2 tier skirt and one with a less full single tier skirt with side seam pockets. Like the original top, I made these dresses using knits because they’re so soft, stretchy, and comfy. This tutorial includes printable bodice pattern pieces to sew a size 2T-3T dress {plus tips on how to make other sizes} and step by step directions for making 2 skirt variations.

Show off some pretty buttons!

This pink and white striped dress was a women’s t-shirt in it’s former life. The kiddo’s favorite part: the pockets, of course! My favorite part…using the existing hem and saving myself a step. I’m kind of lazy like that ;)

Fabric I used:

A few notes on knits…

Materials:

Read through the entire tutorial before beginning…it will make more sense that way. I promise.
This tutorial is for personal use only, please! Thank you.

Download pattern pieces here. When printing, make sure your printer is set to no “scaling/scale to fit” and that it’s printing at 100%. As mentioned, the pattern pieces and measurements provided are for making a size 2T-3T. To make a dress a size larger {or smaller}, try the tips below…

  • To go up a size, trace the pattern pieces on paper and then extend the strap ends and the bodice sides by  approximately 1/4″ {shown in blue}.

 

cutting fabric

Press fabric well before cutting anything. Cut 4 bodice front pieces {2 main fabric and 2 lining} and 2 bodice back pieces on the fold {1 main fabric and 1 lining}. If you opt to add pockets, cut 4 of those. I chose to do a contrasting lining and pockets but you can use all the same fabric if you want. If using a directional print or fabric that has a “wrong side” keep that in mind went cutting your pieces out.To make a 2 tiered skirt {above knee length}, I used the following measurements:

top tier – cut 2 on fold 11.5″ wide x 7″ tall {cut pieces will measure 23″wide by 7″ tall}

bottom tier – cut 2 on fold 19″ wide x 9.5″ tall {cut pieces will measure 38″ x 9.5″ tall}

If you want to lengthen/shorten the skirt, add/subtract equal amounts of length to/from both tiers. You can also make the tiers less full, but I probably wouldn’t add much more width to them.

To make a single tier skirt {knee length}, I used the following measurements:

cut 2 pieces 20″ wide by 16.5″ tall

*For reference, my daughter/model is about 40″ tall and all legs.

sewing the bodice {seam allowance is 3/8″ unless otherwise noted}

Match up the shorter sides of the front bodice pieces with the back bodice piece, right sides touching. Pin and sew along the short sides {underarm area} as shown in photo above. Press seams open. Set aside and repeat with the bodice lining.

Next, place the bodice lining face down onto the main bodice piece, right sides touching. Pin well and sew as indicated by the dotted lines in the photo above. Note, start and end your stitching about 1.5″ from the top edge of the bodice when sewing the u-shaped armholes. Use the photo above for reference. Don’t sew across the tops of the straps or across the bottom of the bodice.

Trim the seam allowance down to 1/8″ and clip the curves and corners except for the spots on the straps that you left unsewn. Leave those areas intact. I like to use pinking shears which makes this a quick, one step process.

Close up below:

Turn the bodice right side out through the open straps. The next few steps are a bit tricky but you can do it!

First, press the tops of the open straps flat. Starting with one side of the bodice – line up the tops of the straps, right sides touching. Make sure not to twist the straps around. Line up the center seams and pin. Sew the straps together as shown in the photo above. This will create the shoulder seam. The fabric will want to curl up so go slowly and make sure the fabric stays flat. Repeat process to finish the other strap.

The bodice is almost finished! You just need to sew closed the open areas on the straps. To do this, fold under the seam allowance and press. Double check to make sure both straps are even in width – you don’t want one wider than the other. Pin in place and using a hand sewing needle and ladder stitch, close up the openings. Press the entire bodice well. At this point, I like to switch back to a regular sewing machine foot to topstitch. Since you’re sewing through two layers of fabric, things are pretty well stabilized and a walking foot is no longer necessary. I prefer the stitches I get with my regular foot but do whatever works best for you.

At this point, if you plan to sew buttonholes, choose how you want overlap the bodice and place a small piece of fusible interfacing between the main fabric and the lining on whichever half of the bodice  will be on top. Fuse. This will help reinforce the buttonholes. Overlap the front bodice pieces by about 3/4″. Baste over the overlapped area close to the bottom edge of the bodice {just through the top half of the bodice, of course} to hold things in place for the next step.

sewing a single tier skirt with side seam pockets:

Take one of your skirt pieces and place it right side up. Measure down 4.5″ from the top and make a  mark on left and right edge of the fabric. Get two of the pocket pieces you cut. With the right sides of the pocket pieces facing up, line up the straight edge of the pockets to the sides of the skirt pocket and the marks on the skirt {pockets should curve down towards the bottom of the skirt}. Sew the pocket pieces onto the skirt. Repeat this process with the other side of the skirt and remaining pocket pieces.

Next you’ll place the two skirt pieces together right sides touching. Line up the pockets and pin those together first, then the rest of the skirt. Sew along both sides of the skirt/pockets as shown above in the photo. I use my sewing machine for this step and then finish the seams with a serger.  If you don’t have a serger, you can either trim the seams down to 1/8″ and leave them unfinished since they won’t unravel or you can use a zig zag stitch. Sew a few rows of basting stitches at the top of the skirt {front and back}. Tip – use a contrasting thread to make it easier to see and remove basting stitches later!

To attach the skirt to the bodice, place the bodice {right side out} into the skirt {wrong side out}, line up the bottom of the bodice with the top edge of the skirt, and match up the side seams. I used a single pin on each side at the side seam to hold things together while gathering.

Starting with one side of the skirt {either the front or back}, slowly pull your gathering threads to gather the skirt to match the length of the corresponding side of the bodice. Make sure to evenly distribute the gathers and pin well. Repeat this process on the other side of the skirt/bodice.

Using your sewing machine {I find my serger flattens out my gathers too much}, sew around the top of the skirt. Go slowly, use your fingers to help keep the gathers in place, and make sure the bodice straps, etc don’t get in the way of your sewing. I then use my serger to finish this seam. Since this is a bulky seam, that is the best method but you can also zig zag stitch close to the seam, and then trim down the excess fabric. Remove any remaining basting stitches. Turn your dress right side out, sew on some buttons, and tuck the pockets into the skirt and press. To hem, I folded the bottom of the skirt up 3/8″, pressed, and then used an extra wide twin needle to sew things into place.

sewing a 2 tiered skirt:

Use the same steps I described above for the single tier skirt. Start with the shorter, top tier piece. Sew the side seams and finish them. Attach it to the bodice, gather, pin, and sew together. Repeat the process with the longer, bottom tier. To hem, fold up the bottom of the skirt 3/8″, press well, and sew using a twin needle. Attach some buttons and you’re done!


Hope you enjoy this tutorial. If you’d like to share your dresses, feel free to add photos to my Flickr group! If you have questions, either post them in the comments or send me an email. Thanks!

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22 Comments

Free pattern: Simple jersey dress for a little girl · Sewing | CraftGossip.com

[…] You can find a free pattern for a simple jersey dress for toddler girl over at Prudent Baby.  The pattern will make a simple sleeveless bodice that you can use to make two versions of a loose fit sundress – one with a basic gathered skirt, and one with a tiered gathered skirt.  The tutorial shows how to include pockets in the side seams of the skirt.  The pattern is for a size 2T/3T.  If you need a different size, you could make your own by tracing around a tank top that fits your child.  Go to the pattern and tutorial. […]

Reply
Free pattern: Simple jersey dress for a little girl | Sewing Patterns

[…] You can find a free pattern for a simple jersey dress for toddler girl over at Prudent Baby.  The pattern will make a simple sleeveless bodice that you can use to make two versions of a loose fit sundress – one with a basic gathered skirt, and one with a tiered gathered skirt.  The tutorial shows how to include pockets in the side seams of the skirt.  The pattern is for a size 2T/3T.  If you need a different size, you could make your own by tracing around a tank top that fits your child.  Go to the pattern and tutorial. […]

Reply
Mel Todd

I am SO impressed with this ~ and eternally grateful as I have 8 grandchildren ranging from 6 to 3 months. Although 3 are boys the girls all just love pretty dresses and think that Gran is a magician. With your pattern I will be, thank you!

Reply
Jess

You made this look so easy! I must have used the wrong fabric (very stretchy jersey) bc it took me 3 hrs to get just the bodice! Lol!

Reply
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Taylor

This is an excellent dress and I plan to make one for my daughter.

I’m very curious though, would it be all right if I used regular cotton fabric to make this dress? I don’t exactly want to attach zippers but don’t know if the dress could still be pulled on if the fabric is not stretchy.

Reply
Taylor

And also, I have a sewing machine that only sews straight stitches. Unfortunately. Is there a way that I can sew jersey with a straight stitch and avoid any seam breakage?

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Lucille Lever

This is the most fantastic pattern! I have been looking for something I feel would appeal to my 3 year old grand-daughter. Thanks so much for your wonderful work, pattern and photos of the dress. Thanks, L.Lever

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Sherry Kelly

Thank you so much for this adorable pattern! I am new to garment sewing and have a question – shouldn’t the pocket pieces be sewn on RST to the skirt pieces, not “right side up”?

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Claire Potts

Thanks for the tutorial. Have just made a lovely navy striped version for my daughter, she loves it! Roll on the summer….

Reply
Renee

Thanks for your generosity in sharing your pattern. Have pinned it to my Pinterest account for future use.

Reply
Kirsty

excited – just cut the pieces to make the two tiered one, it will be my first ever dress :) the instructions are lovely to understand and I have read them three times ready for getting the machine out tonight x

Reply
Hillary

Thank you so much for sharing this! I think I’m on my fourth one! I love the pattern and my girls love their dresses.

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