Clowning Around: Part Two: Making The Dress

With my patterns measured, drawn up, cut out and ready I ran straight out and got my fabrics. I found the most perfect multi-coloured spotty on white cotton print fabric for the main dress, a couple of funky big red buttons and some beautiful silky bright red for the trim. I already had a couple of fat quarters in yellow and blue lying around that I knew would work. For a full breakdown of all the materials needed for this project please see below to navigate all the parts of this tutorial.

I started by cutting out the panels for the main body of the dress (front, sides x4 and back), I pinned these together leaving one side open and sewed.

I pinned in my zipper along the side starting at the waist just before the skirt flares out and finishing about an inch below the armpit hole.

I stitched it in place and finished the rest of the main body: tops of arms, side panel around zip and trimmed excess thread.

At this point I got my daughter back on her chair and tried it on for size, it’s best to make any necessary adjustments at this stage.

Fortunately in this case it was a perfect fit and so we continue…

Next step is to add the sleeves of which two pieces have been cut out suing my pattern.

To achieve a poofy sleeve effect, I pinned each sleeve like this:

  • Points 1 and 4 at the base of the armpit opening.
  • The dotted line between points 1 and 4 left open for the sleeve opening
  • I folded points 2 and 3 over to fin the centre point and pinned this to the top part of the armpit opening
  • what I had left was an excess of material from the sleeve in relation to the pieces left on the opening I was pinning to: this allowed me enough excess to fold over the sleeve piece to create a gathered effect.

Take your time with the pinning of this piece until you have it just right, it may be subject to some re-adjustment until it’s gathered equally on both sides. It’s not an exact science and doesn’t have to be perfect however so don’t fret too much.

Once you are happy with your pinned piece stitch together remembering to leave the opening at the bottom.

Repeat with the other sleeve.

I now have the basic dress complete, it’s time to add trimmings.

Firstly I added a yellow strip of fabric to trim the sleeves.

Here’s how:

I cut out strips from my yellow fat quarter 1.5″ wide(since I was cutting from a fat quarter my strips were 22″ long – I found that one strip of this length was enough for a dress the size I am doing).

(The blue piece of fabric you can see on this picture is a piece I’ve cut in preparation for the breast panel – the yellow strip will be added to this aswell as the sleeves so you may aswell do them both at the same time)

What I need to do with these yellow strips of fabric is create a long piece that’s like bias tape (of course you are welcome to just skip this step and simply buy bias tape but I’m all about saving money and doing what you can yourself from what you already have).

Using an iron, iron the strip in half lengthways:

You can now use this centre line to fold each side into

Iron out the first centre line you created using a spritz of water if needed and you have your bias tape effect

Pin a hemline around the sleeve openings

attach your yellow strip as pictured

and sew…

You should have enough left over to attach to your breast panel piece which you can pin and stitch like so

Now my yellow trimming has been dealt with I am going to add some red silky ruffles around the neckline, sleeves and skirt.

To achieve this rather than using yards and yards of ribbon instead  bought one meter of a red mock silk fabric and cut out 3″ wide strips using a cardboard template I’d made.

I then pinned the strips together in half lengthways (not sure of exactly how many strips I would need, I simply made them as I went along)

To add the red ruffles to the neckline, I first pinned the hem all the way around (note how I’ve marked the centre point at the front so I can attach the fold of the ruffles in opposing directions from this point).

I began attaching my red fabric using folds at around every 2″ to create this pretty gathered and ruffled effect.

before stitching this trimming I popped in the breast panel like this

Using red thread I stitched all the way around to attach the trim and the breast panel.

It’s all coming together rather nicely now isn’t it!

I did the same with the sleeves, attaching the red ruffle to the yellow strips

and again all along the bottom of the skirt

Adding a New Red Strip to the Ruffled Trim: My long strips were not quite long enough to go all the way round the neckline or skirting on one go so there were instances where I had to add a new strip as  went along.

To do this I simply pinned and stitched my next strip along the inside

and incorporated the area where the stitching could be seen into one of the folds in the ruffle.

After another quick fitting I tweaked the edges of the breast panel which  discovered to be a tough baggy.

and the dress component of this costume is finished!

Isn’t it pretty!

I’ll add the buttons to it before the final photo shoot.

Now we really need to go for it with the accessories which will really “clown-it-up” – more parts of this tutorial can be navigated below.


Clowning Around: Part One: The Pattern

Clowning Around: Part Two: Making The Dress

Clowing 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.)


Pictures from Our Alice in Wonderland Themed Tea Party!

I managed to take some pictures before the food was demolished by my family. Here’s some snaps that may bring a little inspiration your way if you are planning a tea party of your own…

I put my paper lanterns next to the mirror to make it seem as though there were more of them.

I added hand-written parcel tags to food items with “Eat me” written on.

I filled jars with sweets topped with gingham and ribbon and filled bottles with colourful water and added “Drink Me” tags.

Homemade lemonade is always a family favourite on a summer’s day at my house.

… and of course no tea party is complete without strawberries and doilies 😛

I find that a sliced baguette topped with ham, tomato and cucumber slices go down better than soggy old sandwiches.

I found some fab playing card coasters on eBay which are perfect for the Alice in Wonderland theme!

Teacups and saucers make great decorations if you have enough spare to dot around.

A very merry unbirthday to everyone!

Make Your Own: Alice in Wonderland Costume

To celebrate my daughters and mothers birthdays next weekend we’re having an Alice in Wonderland themed tea party. I needed an Alice dress for my almost 4-year-old quick!

I cut a lot of corners to make this so it’s quick and simple, and I am proud to say that it cost me nothing at all as I was able to use materials entirely from my salvage box.

Here’s how I made the dress:

Fabric Used:

  • Blue Fabric (I used an old ankle length skirt of mine – if I had purchased fabric I probably would have bought a slightly lighter blue but as far as a 4-year-old is concerned blue is blue so it’s all good.)
  • White Fabric (This was one of Daddy’s old work shirts)
  • Elastic (Taken from my older son’s boxer shorts – washed first of course)

I used one of my daughters school pinafore dresses as a template, roughly drawing around the top section to create my basic shape.

From my material I cut two of these pieces and unsure if I would have enough material left over for sleeves I hemmed the necklines and sleeve openings.

To allow enough room to get the dress over her head I created this easy peasy tie-up opening with a short length of white ribbon. Here’s how:

  • Cut a slit along the back.
  • Add another small cut to create a “T” shape slit
  • Pin a length of ribbon along each edge leaving enough at the tops to tie the garment shut when worn.
  • Add a small piece of ribbon along the bottom the keep the edges neat.
  • Sew on the ribbon as pictured.

Pin the two pieces together and sew along the sides and the gap between the neck and sleeve openings. Apologies for the image that shows the piece being pinned in preparation for this step, anyone that owns felines will understand that at some point in any project your cat will decide to do something along these lines.

Ok poser, just one more picture then you’re off so I can finish this dress…

From the biggest piece of full fabric I’d salvaged from my old skirt I cut myself a rectangle, pinned along one edges and hemmed. If you have more material than me you can use much more for a fuller, gathered effect. For a really dramatic poofed out look you could also whip up an underskirt from white netting if you have any lying around.

Sew along what will become the back of the skirt to form a large loop with your rectangle.

Pin and sew to the top part of the dress, neaten any edges, trim any loose threads and turn out.



For the apron I used one of Daddy’s old work heavy cotton shirts.

I cut two sections as pictured above and hemmed where the pieces have been pinned.

Since this was a salvage mission there wasn’t enough fabric to make a continuous sash to form the apron tie so I did the following:

  • Cut myself a selection of strips from the shirt all roughly the same width
  • Pressed each strip in half
  • Folded the strip out and then folded each edge into the centre and pressed again to form a strip of fabric that resembles bias tape
  • Inside the fold I slipped a length of iron on hemming tape (I could have stitched these pieces together but the tape acts a little like interfacing once cooled and creates a stiff feel to the apron tie for a more dramatic bow at the back.)
  • … and ironed it inside.

I stitched the strips together to form a generous length of material (saving a piece for the neck)

attaching the strip to the two apron pieces by sewing as shown by the pinned area.

attached the neck piece…

and we have an Alice dress with apron. As it turns out I didn’t have enough material left for sleeves, you can always add some if you prefer. Instead I popped on one of my daughters school blouses under the dress.

Of course no Alice costume is complete without an Alice Band…

It took me about 10 minutes if that to knock up this quicky one:

  • Fold over a rectangle of fabric, stitch together, turn out and press so that the hem falls along the middle of the back.
  • Do this again with another piece but not as wide.
  • Thread your elastic through this smaller piece.
  • Stitch the fabric and elastic together keeping the elastic pulled tight so that you create a gathered effect on the fabric once the tension is released.
  • Gather together the top piece and stitch the two pieces together.

Here’s my daughter wearing the dress (which, even if I do say myself, she was delighted with)…

All together now… “Not pink, Not green, Not aquamarine, We’re painting the roses red!”


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