How to Sew a Peplum Bubble Dress

If you’ve had the slightest inkling to sew a holiday dress for a little girl, this will have you hooked. An, from StraightGrain, put together this adorable Peplum Bubble Dress tutorial. Sew a capelet to go with it and her holiday outfit will be complete.

Once you’ve started sewing away, learn how to make these pretty Origami Raglan Sleeves, or how to master Gathering the Perfect Ruffles. This Super Simple Skirt with Lining is a great project to do if you’re short on time.

Let’s start sewing up the Peplum Bubble Dress…

How to Sew a Peplum Bubble Dress

Hi Prudent Baby readers! I’m An from StraightGrain, and I’m so happy to be able to share my Peplum Bubble Dress tutorial and patterns here with you!

The bodice of the dress is a very basic model with a blind zipper, and bias at the armholes and neck line. It has a low waistline, and is combined with a short bubble skirt.

I made patterns for ages 1 to 6 (including 18 months), with the help of Winifred Aldrich’s great pattern drawing handbook.

fabric: bubble dresses and skirts look best in thin fabrics such as poplin, double gauze, and lawn cotton. Quilting weight cotton also works, but it’s best to stay away from heavier fabrics such as canvas, heavy linen, and corduroy. Knit fabrics tend to fall rather ‘flat’, and do not give the ‘bubbly’ look you might be aiming for.
fabric for lining the skirt
– a blind zipper, preferably at least the length of the back of the bodice, preferably a few centimeters longer.

The pattern pieces are free. All you need to do to get them is become a follower of StraightGrain (via Google Friend Connect, or email, or Facebook) and download them here.

Make sure you print the patterns on A4-size paper, at 100%. Cut the pieces out, put them together with  tape, and you’re ready to get started.

The pdf-document contains the patterns for the bodice back and front, and the skirt’s lining. It also contains a table with the measurements for the outer skirt, which is a simple rectangle.

About the Sizes
I based the sizes of the pattern pieces on Aldrich’s table with standard measurements for the different ages. But as you probably know, most kids will not conform to these ‘averages’ – that’s why they are averages, right? So it is best to compare the pattern pieces to an existing dress or another dress pattern which fits your child. The bodice gets a bit more narrow towards the bottom; keep in mind that you’ll have to be able to pull the dress over your child’s shoulders!

If you do want to shorten or lengthen the skirt of the dress, it is best to shorten the skirt at the bottom (not the top). You will have to shorten the lining as well as the outside skirt. So for instance, if you want the dress to be 3 centimeters shorter, you’ll have to cut off 3 centimeters from the lining, and three centimeters from the outside skirt.

If you want, you can replace the pattern of the bodice of the dress with that of another dress (e.g., one with sleeves, buttons, …). One thing you’ll have to keep an eye on is that the bottom of the bodice has the same width as the top of the lining(!) of the skirt, as these parts need to be stitched together without any gathering.

Note: all seams are 1 cm (0.4 inch), and are included in the pattern.

Cut all the pattern pieces, and serge or zigzag the following edges:

-the sides of the front and back piece of the bodice (indicated in red
-the shoulders of the front and back piece of the bodice (indicated in red)
-optional: the inside of the back pieces.I like to serge these together with the zipper later on, but if you don’t like this, then now is the time to serge the back pieces. (indicated in green)

1. First, assemble the bodice. Put the back pieces on the front piece, right sides together. Stitch sides and shoulders at 1 cm (0.4 inch) of the edge.

2. Install the invisible zipper in the back. There are plenty of tutorials online for how to install an invisible zipper (e.g., this one).

Important note: if you bought a zipper a bit longer than the bodice (like I suggested above), installing the zipper will be super easy! More specifically, you will not need to ‘close’ the fabric under the zipper (as it runs accross the entire length of the bodice) and you will not need to lift your needle to pass the zipper thingy, as you can just open the zipper all the way until the thingy is under the bodice. You’re welcome.

3. Next, finish the armholes and neck line with bias binding. First, stitch it to the wrong side of the fabric (good side bias on wrong side fabric) and then fold it over and topstitch on the right side.

4. The bodice is finished! Now, let’s make the skirt. Put the pieces of the lining with right sides together, and stitch the sides. Open the seams and press. Repeat for the pieces of the outside fabric (if you use only one rectangle for the outside of the skirt, there will be only one ‘side’ to stitch of course).

5. A little confession: I was so eager to finish this dress that I forgot to take pictures of the next steps. In my defense: this was around midnight. So for the next steps, I will be using pictures of that other bubble dress tutorial.

Anyway, now we’ll put the lining and the outside of the skirt together. We’ll start with the bottom, putting the sides together. First, gather the outside fabric so it is reduced to the same width as the lining. Here is a little tutorial with some tricks on how to do this perfectly. Stitch the bottom of the skirt and the lining together, and turn.

6. Now, we’ll do the same thing with the top of the skirt; only this time, we’ll sew them with the wrong sides together. Very important: stitch them together at about 0.7 cm (0.3 inch) instead of 1 cm (0.4 inch).

7. Now, we’ll put the bodice and the skirt together. Do this with the right sides together, at 1 cm (0.4 inch). If you used 1 rectangle of fabric for the outside of the skirt, make sure that the seam is in the back, right underneath the invisible zipper. If you used two rectangles, make sure that the seams of the skirt allign with the side seams of the bodice.

8. Serge the seam you just created, and turn the dress. Oh la la!



Emily T

I’m so happy to have found another great kids clothing blog! Thank you ladies!
p.s. I’ve now made 6 snappy toddler dresses for my daughter, so this pattern is a good way for me to “move on”. 🙂

Hannah R

how much fabric did you use for the smallest size? i’d like to make this for my four month old for a holiday dress so was going to adapt using guidelines from an existing outfit. do you think 1/2 yard of fabric will do it? thanks

An (StraightGrain)

Hi Jennifer, The fabric is Nani Iro Fuccra, which is not produced anymore. I bought it over at Kicoli on Etsy, and she still has it in other colors than purple…

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