What little girl doesn’t love a birthday dress? If you do a search for “little girls birthday dress” you will find the current trends. I saw many onesies with the year or a quote scripted on the top and tulle skirts sewn to the bottom.

A client asked me to make a little girl patchwork dress for her daughter’s birthday. I knew it would be a good amount of labor although the rewards would be heartfelt.

My client left the design up to me. I searched little girls patchwork dresses online and could find very little other than a sundress.

If I could make a dress that could be worn in all seasons and also be adjustable in size to fit for a few years, what a bonus! This could be a smocked or shirred dress. We went with this online commercial dress design as our inspiration.

This really is a simple basic pinafore dress. The straps could be adjustable for growth and with an extra buttonhole we could take it in or let out the back of the dress at the ties.

My client picked out a few cotton fabrics from Little Shop of Stitches. I was so happy. There was one problem – one of the fabrics had medium sized cat motifs that would be hard to showcase in the patchwork. I chose to use that as the main part of the pinafore.

With the child’s measurements I cut strips for the patchwork, circle flounces for the shoulder ruffles, straps, back and front pinafore.

I made four groups of five, all of which were 3″ strips in different sequences. And then I serged them all together and cut them into 3″ strips again.

Once I had my strips I matched up groups of five making sure each group did not repeat directly next to another. I pinned and serged again.

Even though I ironed each strip really well and like a mad woman I got a little fabric tuck. Another sewing four letter word. I had to rip out that strip or it would have thrown off the entire dress.

Once I had all of my squares I played color Tetris, a very addictive puzzle game. The bottom row was to be the ruffle and the top the main skirt of the dress.

The construction was a breeze and once I had the quilting finished I had extra quilted pieces left. I was able to use the flounce ruffle as the lining and added quilting to the straps and ruffle.

This was fun to play with and I also loved raiding all of my button stashes for the perfect buttons.

The best part was when she came to the studio for a dress fitting. She had the biggest smile when she wore the dress out.

Bonus, with the scraps I made her mother a couple of matching masks.

Behind the scenes~

Just a handful of one of my favorite past times.


Sewing Machine Basics class is this Wednesday night at Rosewood Art Centre in Kettering.

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!