How to Sew an Infant Dress

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Whether you are giving a gift or sewing clothing for your own child, an infant dress is the most versatile and simple of all styles. For a sewer with some experience in making clothes, one pattern can create an entire wardrobe. Novices need not be discouraged; a store-bought pattern and attention to its instructions can achieve the same goal.

Things You'll Need

  • Needle and thread (or sewing machine)
  • Pattern
  • Scissors
  • Fabric
  • Embellishments
  • Elastic

Obtaining Your Pattern

Understand sizing for an infant. Patterns and clothing usually cover a range of months, as follows: Newborn; 0-3 months; 3-6 months, 6-12 months. Choose the pattern range that best fits the age of the child you are sewing for. If the baby is at an "in between" size such as 3 months, choose the size that is larger, 3-6 months. The rule of thumb for sizing is to purchase or make clothing that can be grown into. A dress that is too large can easily be layered with Onesies and tights, whereas a dress that is too small cannot be used at all.

You have two options for your pattern. The first is to buy a pre-made pattern. These are best suited for sewers who are inexperienced, or for sewers who are uncomfortable with or unable to make a pattern by hand. Pre-made patterns have size ranges printed on them and are very forgiving. Choose your pattern based on your experience level. Patterns for novices have labels that say things such as "easy," "fast" or "quick."

Your second option is to make a pattern freehand, with a pencil and a paper bag. Cut the paper bag open and lay it out flat. Lay the baby on the bag so that the shoulders and below are on the bag. Gently extend the baby's arms out to the sides and outline them from shoulder to wrist. Next, gently extend the baby's legs and outline from the armpits to the ankles. This outline can be rudimentary, as clothing for infants is generally simple for comfort. When you are finished, cut away the excess paper. Separate the sleeves from the dress portion.

Making an Infant Dress

Lay out your fabric. Fold your fabric in half and pin the pattern to the fabric. For simplicity, you may want to pin the dress so that the length of it lies against the fold. This will mean less sewing for you in the end. Pin the sleeves to the fabric, placing the length of them on the fold if possible. Pre-made patterns will have directions, so make sure you follow those recommendations.

Cut out the dress. For a homemade pattern, following the pattern, allow for 2 to 3 extra inches of fabric. The pattern you made follows the shape of the baby, so you will want excess fabric to make the dress billow and fold properly. Cut out the sleeves as well. For pre-made patterns, you will need to follow the line marked for the size you intend to make. Be careful not to get off track on these sizing lines, or your dress will be lopsided.

Assemble the dress. Turn the fabric inside out and sew the pieces of the dress together. Attach the sleeves by placing them right sides together with the rest of the dress. Stitch the elastic to the ends of the sleeves. Fold the neck piece under and hem it. Hem the sleeves and the bottom of the dress. When you hem the bottom of the dress, you can choose the length of the dress. Again, for pre-made patterns you will have specific directions provided. Make sure you follow them for the best outcome.

Add embellishments. Now that the dress has been put together, you can add details such as ribbon, buttons, zippers and the like. Be careful as you choose embellishments; you don't want any choking hazards.

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