A Tutorial! The Stargazer Dress

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What you will need:

  • a pattern for a bodice that fits your model (there are several awesome blogs out there who do a really great outline of how to draft your own, here or here. I will make a good one eventually!)
  • depending on the size of your child, 1-2 yards of fabric (I needed about 2 for my almost 4 year old, plus we like our skirts long)
  • fusible interfacing, med-heavy weight (you don’t want your star to be floppy!)
  • a star template (I just drew a star the size I wanted and cut it out)
  • about one inch or an and a half of 1/4″ or 1/8″ elastic.. I had 1/4″ and cut it to about 1/8″.
  • coordinating buttons
  • sewing machine and usual sewing notions (needles scissors coordinating thread etc)

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First iron your fabric to get all those pesky wrinkles out. then cut out 2 front pieces and 2 back pieces of your bodice pattern.

Right sides together, sew the 2 front pieces at the arm holes and the neck line. Do not sew all the way up to the shoulder seams! Leave about an inch on both sides before you reach the shoulder. Please excuse the shaky white lines, I am a mom and had a nursing baby on my lap while doing this :)

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For the back, you’ll want to sew the arm hole seams, but this is where it gets fun. Don’t sew the neck yet! You want to get out your star template and see exactly where you want to put it. Fold the piece in half to see exactly where the center is and then make a mark. Get out your fusible interfacing piece and fuse it on the wrong side of one of the back pieces. Then take your star template and trace around the star to see exactly where you need to sew. Don’t forget to account for your seam allowances (I used 3/8″) and leave room for a button :)

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Also, very important! I actually forgot this part and had to unpick seams and do this when I thought I was all done, which is why there are no good pics.. get your elastic out and fold it up, sandwich it between the two back layers where you want to to be so the needle will catch it and sew it in. Pin it in place. When stitching, back stitch it a couple times to really keep it secure.

Now with right sides together, you’ll want to sew starting about an inch past the shoulder line down to 1/4″ before the center, then down to the star where you will trace around your drawing exactly with your needle, pivoting around the corners, then back up 1/4″ from the other side of the center, pivoting at the neckline and then back up to about an inch before the other shoulder.

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And now the scary part! Cut down the center between your stitching lines and then cut the star out about 1/8″ away from the stitching, clipping into the corners almost to the stitch line, but NOT cutting any stitches. I am SO mad at myself for not taking pictures of this! But I was just so excited I guess to see how it came out that I had it all turned and done before realizing I should of taken some!

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Cut notches into the arm hole  and neck areas, again close to the stitching but do not cut the stitches.

Turn the back pieces inside-in, and use a knitting needle or a chopstick or any pokey thing (without a real point) to push out any corners and make them perfect. Now press it all flat. I of course didn’t take a proper pic of this, either lol.

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Keeping the front pieces inside out, lay the inside-in back piece down, make sure the outside of the front piece is facing up and the outside of the back piece is facing up. Now put the back piece inside of the front piece putting the shoulder of the back inside the shoulder of the front.

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You should now have the 4 shoulder pieces all together. You will sew 2 lines, the front 2 and the back 2. Right sides together, take one side of the shoulder seams and pin them together. Sew them with your seam allowances. Then take the other part and pin and sew them, right sides together again.

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Now pull the strap sleeve thing even more through so you can finish the sides.

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Now pin the sides together and, back stitching at the beginning and end, sew the sides, finishing the stitch line from front to back. It would be less bulky if you opened the shoulder seams, which is not what I did :)

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Do the exact thing with the other shoulder. Then pull the back out of the front and turn the front inside-in. Press everything nice and flat.

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Now you have gorgeous perfect shoulder seams! Easy, right? ;)

Next, open the side seams on the front and back pieces and put them right sides together. align center seams and pin. Sew these together and open seam allowances. Then fold it back down on itself. Do the same with the other side.

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You are all done with the bodice! Stare at you masterpiece for a minute :)

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Now onto the skirt! Measure your kiddo to see ho long you want your skirt, adding for hem. Decide how much gather you want. I wanted double the waist so I measured the bottom of my bodice, which was 13 inches per side and made the skirt 26 inches across for both sides. To do this. I folded mt fabric in half and cut 13 inches across then I cut down on an angle reaching my length, which was about 22 inches. make sure you are measuring the length down the center and not angled side! I have accidentally made this mistake before, ending up with a very immodest skirt length for Millie, oops! (I had her wear it anyway lol)

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I then took that piece and traced it onto the fabric with my rotary cutters to have 2 identical skirt pieces.

Take those 2 pieces and sew the side seams down, right sides together. Finish the edges either with a zigzag stitch or a serger. Sorry no picture for this!

Then sew 2 gathering stitches about 1/4″ from each other on the top edge of each side, leaving long tails on your thread for pulling. To make a gathering stitch, set your machine’s stitch length to the longest you can, usually 4.5- 5.0 mm.IMG_2483

Now pull the threads and gather! make the skirt top the same width as the bodice bottom.

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insert the bodice piece into the skirt right sides together.

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Pin all the way around, aligning the side seams together.

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Don’t forget to set your stitch length back to normal after making those gathers! Now sew it all together :) I like to sew with the gathers up to make sure I’m catching them properly.

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Finish these edges with either a zigzag stitch or a serger.

Fold the bottom up about 1/2″ and press, and then again by about in inch or so and press. Now hem it up :) You could do this by hand or machine, I used my blind hem foot (love it!) but I used to do it by hand all the time.

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Now just sew a button on the back and some buttons down the front for embellishment and you’re done!! I just used a black fabric belt and tied it around her waist to make it look more dressed up, but that is totally optional :)

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If you have any questions, please ask and I will do my best to explain!! I wouldn’t be surprised if I left something out, I am pretty new at this tutorial writing thing! And if you make one of these, please share it with me, I’d love to see it!!

27 thoughts on “A Tutorial! The Stargazer Dress

  1. What a very cute little dress! I bought the sweetheart dress pattern, and after I made the dress I was like “gaw, why didn’t I think of that!” I wish I would’ve found this post sooner:)

    1. Thank you! I’ll admit, I thought of the star because of the dresses I’ve seen with the hearts cut out :) I just like stars better! Now I’m thinking you could do whatever shape you want.. Fun!

  2. Found your tutorial on pinterest last night and today I made one for my daughter, lovely explained tutorial, (despite the pictures) I still understood what you meant, I tried to put a heart on the back of mine but I have lost the top curved due to the slit down the back, but it still looks fab! I also enclosed the skirt inside the bodice as I didn’t want the raw edge against her body!! Love it, I will post a pic if I know how!!

  3. Hi Michelle, The new creation of star looks amazing on this dress. Believe me this type of Back I have seen first time on dresses. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us and also many thanks for demonstrating for “Free motion foot onto Pfaff Ambition sewing machine” . I would like to request to you that, if possible could you please show us how to cut and sew the Tunic. Because it’s a summer time and it’s very easy going dress. Thanks once again, safia

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