Learn How to Sew a Little Girl's Dress From Knit Fabric With This Free Printable PDF Sewing Pattern, Tutorial, and Video. Sizes Preemie Through Girls Size 12. This Tutorial Is Easy Enough That Even a Beginner Can Make This Dress!
If you've ever wanted to learn to sew a girl's circle skirt dress pattern with knit fabric and make an adorable little girl's dress, then this is the pattern for you! Looking for a girl's dress pattern that's free? You'll love this one!
When my daughters asked me for super twirly dresses and I couldn't find high-quality ones at an affordable price, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I spent under $20 to make each dress and the best part is my daughters both got to pick fabrics they loved and options to customize their dresses.
This pattern is SO much fun to make and any little girl who loves to twirl is sure to be obsessed with it! The best part is it comes with tons of different options so it can be worn year-round depending on which sleeves and neckline you choose.
Professionally drafted, graded, and color-coded sewing pattern. Step-by-step detailed photos and written instructions are also included.
Scroll down to the supply list to download the printable tutorial and pattern.
Skill Level: Confident Beginner
This pattern is great for beginners all the way to advanced sewists.
New to sewing with knit fabrics? You’ll love my video tutorial where I walk you through every single step of this project in detail.
This dress is sure to be an everyday wardrobe favorite! This pattern features two different style bodices, 5 sleeve styles, 3 skirt options, and the choice of a collar.
Sizes Preemie, Newborn, 0-3, 3-6, 6-12, 12-18, 18-24, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, & 12.
Light to Medium Weight 4-Way Stretch Knit Fabric
For this pattern, I recommend using a light- to medium-weight knit fabric with a content of 95% Cotton, 5% Lycra/Spandex. Having at least 5% Lycra or Spandex allows the fabric to have elasticity and bounce back to its original shape without getting stretched out over time.
Other suitable fabrics for this pattern are Double Brushed Polyester, French Terry, and Rayon Spandex.
It’s essential to use a fabric with at least 50% stretch. Not sure what that means? A 4" piece of fabric should stretch to at least 6". Fabric must have stretch both horizontally and vertically. Look for fabrics labeled as 4-way stretch.
Make sure to prewash and dry your knit fabric before cutting and sewing it! This will prevent your fabric from shrinking after you've sewn it.
When sewing this pattern you can use a variety of different techniques to finish the seams.
First, you can use the stretch stitch on your sewing machine. This looks like a lightning bolt and allows seams to have more give so the stitches don’t pop when stretched out.
My personal favorite way to sew with knit fabric on a sewing machine is using Eloflex thread which is specifically designed for sewing with knit fabric. This results in a seam that will not pop when it is pulled on.
The final option is to finish the seams with a serger. The serger creates a seam that is cut and finished in one step. This option creates a more professional-looking finish.
Print the Pattern
Download the pattern to your computer and print the pattern at 100% with no scaling.
Immediately check the 1” x 1” square to ensure the pattern has printed off correctly. If the 1" square measures larger or smaller, the pattern will need to be reprinted for accuracy.
To use the layers option, click on the "paper" icon on the left-hand side of the PDF. Unselect the sizes you don't want to print leaving only the size you wish to print selected.
- 1-2.5 Yard 4-Way Stretch Knit Fabric
- Sewing Machine
- Scissors or Rotary Cutter & Mat
- Thread (Optional Eloflex)
- Sewing Pins
- Iron & Ironing Board
- Ballpoint Needle
- Printer Paper
- Heat N Bond Soft Stretch Lite (optional)
- 1-Inch Elastic (optional)
- Starch Spray -Or- 4pck Starch Spray (optional)
Choosing the Correct Size
Measure Chest and Height. This will give you an idea of which size will fit best.
You'll want to base the size on the chest measurement and shorten or lengthen the pattern based on the height. *Instructions for shortening or lengthening shown below. If in-between sizes, size up for the best fit.
This pattern features a close fit. 7/8 sleeves hit above the wrist. Hem falls right at base of knee.
The Madeline Dress pattern is numbered 1-40. Align the circles and black lines together as you are piecing the pattern together. You can connect the pieces of paper with tape or a glue stick.
Feel free to trim off the excess from each piece of the pattern or hold the pieces up to the light and align them together without trimming.
This pattern is sewn with a 3/8" seam allowance unless noted otherwise.
Place the Pattern on the Fabric
Lay the fabric out in front of you and fold it in half to align the selvage edges.
The selvage edges run vertically along the fabric. The greatest amount of stretch should be going horizontally across the pattern.
Place the pattern piece on top of the fabric and pin it in place.
*Scroll down for instructions on cutting the circle skirts.
Cut out the Dress
Using scissors or a rotary cutter, cut around each pattern piece. If a pattern piece says "cut on fold," be sure to align it with the fabric's folded edge.
Check the Pieces
Lay all pieces of fabric out in front of you.
Check the direction of the fabric on each piece and that you've cut out all the pieces you need for the style you chose.
How to Cut Circle and Gathered Circle Skirts
Sew Collar & Baste Collar To Bodice
You will have 4 collar pieces. Place two collar pieces right sides together and sew using a 3/8" (1cm) seam allowance. Use pinking shears or scissors to trim curves.
Turn collars right side out and press with an iron.
*Optional: You can leave collars as is, or you can sew 3/8" along the outer edge.
Place collars on the front bodice, overlapping by 1/4" in the middle and pin in place. Set the stitch length at the highest possible setting and baste collars in place.
Prepping Sleeves & Armbands
Cap, Elbow, Long Sleeve - Press hem of sleeves 1/2" (cm) up towards the wrong side of the fabric and sew in place for the cap, elbow, and long sleeve options.
Flutter Sleeves - Sew two basting lines across the straight portion of each flutter sleeve. Gather to fit the armscye. *Flutter sleeves require the armbands.
Armbands and Neckbands - Fold armbands and neckbands in half lengthwise and press well. Open up and fold band in half with right sides together. Align the two short ends and sew together. Turn right side out and refold. Press well.
Sewing Sleeves to Bodice
Sew Bodice - Place front bodice to chosen back bodice right sides together. Make sure the shoulder seams line up and sew along both shoulders.
Sewing Sleeves onto Bodice - Open bodice so that the wrong side is facing downwards. Take your sleeve of choice (flutter, cap, elbow, long sleeve) and place right sides together on the bodice. Match up the middle point of the sleeve to the front and back bodice seam. Align the edges of the sleeve with the edge of the armscye. Use plenty of pins to evenly distribute the sleeve. Sew.
Sewing Flutter Sleeves to Bodice
Sewing Flutter Sleeves onto Bodice - Open bodice so that the wrong side is facing downwards.
Take your flutter sleeve and place right sides together on the bodice. Match up the middle point of the sleeve to the front and back bodice seam. Align the edges of the flutter sleeve with the edge of the armscye. Pin in place.
Attach Armband - Attach the center of the armband to the shoulder seam and pin the entire length of the armscye. You should have 4 raw edges aligned.
Press flutter sleeve seam allowance towards the bodice. Top stitch 1/4" from the seam if desired.
Sew Bodice Sides
Sew Bodice Sides - With right sides together, line up the sleeves and the bodice. Pin them in place and then sew. Press seams and turn right side out.
Neck and Armbands
Armbands should be applied to sleeveless and flutter sleeve.
Neck and Arm Bands - Divide the neckband into quarters and mark each point. This will make it easier to distribute it evenly when pinning it to the bodice.
Fold the bodice in half and mark the center front and back of the bodice. With the center front and back aligned, finish dividing the neckline into quarters.
Pin Bands to Neckline or Armbands - Align the quartered points of the neckband with the neckline. The neckband seam should be positioned at the center of the back bodice. The right sides should be facing together. Pin fabric in place.
Sew Neckband and Armbands, Press - Sew the neckband in place gently stretching the neckband to fit the neckline. Flip the neckband upwards and press the seam allowance downwards away from the neckband. If desired, topstitch along the entire neckline 1/4” from the seam.
Press the seam with plenty of steam to shrink it back to size and remove any waviness. Repeat this process on the armbands.
Sew Circle Skirt Side Seams
Sew side seams for fabrics smaller than 58" - 60" wide. - Lay one skirt piece out on the table in front of you. Take the second skirt and place it on top with right sides together.
Now you can pin the skirt front and back together along the sides leaving the rounded opening unpinned. Sew along pinned edges with a 3/8" seam allowance.
Prepping Gathered Circle Skirt
Gathered Circle Skirt - Run 2- 3 basting stitches along the top opening of the gathered circle skirt. Pull on the top threads to gather the skirt to fit the bottom of the bodice.
Hemming Circle Skirt
Circle Skirt Hem Method #1
For the first method, increase the stitch length to the highest setting the sewing machine will allow.
Sew a basting stitch 1/4 inch from the hem's raw edge all the way around the skirt.
Carefully pull the top thread to gather the edge of the fabric slightly. The hem should begin to curl up as it eases in the fullness.
Pin the hem up 5/8" evenly and then sew it from the front side using a 1/2" from the edge.
Circle Skirt Hem Method #2
Turn the skirt inside out, unroll the Heat N Bond Soft Stretch Lite tape, align it with the skirt's edge, and iron it in place. Gently pull on the tape to curve it around the rounded edge of the skirt.
Fold the skirt over along the edge of the tape and press it in place to create the hemline.
Remove the paper liner from the hem tape from the entire skirt. Press the skirt's hem with the iron to activate the heat and adhere it to the fabric.
Sew Hem - Sew around the skirt from the front side 1/2" from the edge.
Press all seams well with plenty of steam to remove any waviness.
Sewing the Gathered Skirt
Gathered Skirt - Place gathered skirt pieces right sides together and pin along both short sides. Sew both sides.
Hem (1) - Turn hem up 1/4" (cm) and press well. Spraying your hem with starch can add stability to the fabric making the step easier.
Finish Hem (2 & 3) - Fold hem up 1/2" (cm). Press well and pin in place. Sew hem in place.
Gathering (4) - Run 3 basting stitches at the top of the bodice and gather evenly to fit the bottom of the bodice.
Sew Skirt to Bodice
Gathered Skirt to Bodice - Place bodice inside gathered skirt, making sure right sides are together. Align side seams of the bodice with the side seams of the skirt. Make sure gathers are evenly distributed. Pin in place. Sew.
Circle Skirt to Bodice - Place bodice inside circle skirt, keeping right sides together. Align side seams of the bodice with the side seams of the skirt. Pin in place. Sew.
Gathered Circle Skirt to Bodice - Place bodice inside gathered circle skirt, keeping right sides together. Make sure gathers are evenly distributed. Align side seams of the bodice with the side seams of the skirt. Pin in place and sew. Turn your dress right side out and press well.
Press All Seams - Turn dress right side out and press skirt seam upwards towards bodice using plenty of steam.
Enjoy your finished Madeline Dress!
Don’t want to forget about this free template? Save this project for later! Click here to save this project on Pinterest.
Check out the incredible dresses our testers made! I love seeing all the different options and how customizable this dress is.
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This is a personal use only pattern and it may not be shared or resold. You are welcome to sell dresses made from this pattern from home production only.
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Do you have any questions about this circle skirt dress pattern? Let me know in a comment below!