Clowning Around: Part One: The Dress Pattern

How exciting, my 3-year-old daughter is going to be on a carnival float with her dance troop. They want all the little kiddies in circus themed outfits so I’ve decided to make her a pretty little clown outfit based on this quick sketch:

To post the entire tutorial on one go would prove to be too lengthy so I’ll separate it into parts. This is part one:

Making the Pattern:

I stood her on a chair and asked her to hold her arms parallel to the floor while I did a few quick measurements. (She’s tall like her Dad so she measures larger than the standard length for a 3-year-old).

I measured down her back and front, around her waist and what drop of the skirt I’d like from her waist downwards making notes of these measurements as I went along.

The Fiber Gypsy has a great little online chart with standard children’s measurements here which you may find useful.

Then I quickly sketched out the basic shape of each of the dress panels like this:

The aim is a 1950’s style fitted dress with a poofy skirt and sleeves – it’ll be the fabrics and embellishments I choose that make it “clowny”.

Then I sellotaped pieces of A4 paper together and began measuring out my pattern (course if you have paper larger than A4 sellotape wouldn’t be necessary)

There is no allowance for hems on the patterns I have made here so when cutting out fabric I shall allow around 1/4 – 1/2″ all around for my hemlines. If you prefer your pattern to include hem allowance you’ll have to consider this when drawing them out.

If you prefer, dressmakers tracing, pattern and carbon paper is available to buy at most good haberdashery shops. Personally I don’t see the need for such a simple project but for more complicated projects paper like this would be very handy indeed.

This is probably the most basic pattern in the history of all mankind but I really don’t see the point of over complicating things if there’s no need.

Boring Measurements Info:

This is all based on exactly what you see above – measured for my daughter and will of course be subject to your own adjustments, hopefully these measurements should give you a general idea of where to go.

Front Panel:

  • Across Waist: 5.5″
  • Down Chest: 6″
  • Skirt Drop: 10″

(The angle of the skirt was drawn by sight to give a rough taper)

You will need to cut out one of these pieces.

Side Panels:

  • Armhole Depth: 5″
  • Across waist: 3″
  • Down Sides: 6″
  • Skirt Drop: 10″

(The curve of the armhole was drawn by hand)

You will need to cut out 4 of these – 2 on one side and a further two using the pattern reversed.

Breast Panel:

  • 1.75″ Wide
  • 7.5″ Long at Longest Point
  • 6.5″ Long at Shortest Point

(The curve at either side was drawn by hand and the piece folded in half when cutting out for symmetry.)

You need to cut out one of these pieces.

Back Panel:

  • Across Waist: 5.5″
  • Down Back: 9″ (with a slight curve drawn towards the middle of the back)
  • Skirt Drop: 10″

You will need to cut out one of these pieces.


Use the side panel pattern piece to draw the curve of the sleeve sides, cut straight along the bottom and a domed curve across the top

  • Across the Bottom: 11″
  • Width (from widest part): 7 1/4″


Now I have my pattern cut and ready I’m off to buy some fabric!


Clowning Around: Part One: The Pattern

Clowning Around: Part Two: Making The Dress

Clowning Around: Part Three: The Underskirt

Clowning Around: Part Four: Knitted Leg-Warmers

Clowning Around: Part Five: Knitted Armbands

Clowning Around: Part Six: Bow Tie

Clowning Around: Part Seven: Hair Ribbons

Clowning Around: Part Eight: Baton with Swirly Ribbons

Clowning Around: Part Nine: Full Materials Needed Breakdown

Clowning Around: Part Ten: Final Full Outfit Images

Clowning Around: Part Eleven: The Carnival Parade Goes Live!

(Please Note: This tutorial is presently still a work in progress and not all of the parts are available yet, please either bookmark the homepage or follow us through Networked Blogs, the WordPress RSS Feed, hit the email subscription box on the right column, or add us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates. Thank You.)