Free Princess Dress Pattern & Tutorial
This year for Halloween my daughter decided she wanted to be Princess Sofia, then it was Snow White, then Ariel, and finally by the time she reached Belle it was time to order fabric so that’s what we went with. I’m not sure who was more excited for this dress me or her. I had so much fun creating this, and seeing how happy she was with it was an added bonus.
I found this pretty embroidered gold lace at Stylish Fabric that I used for an overlay on the bodice and the top layer of the skirt. There is a layer of yellow organza under the lace, and under that a layer of white organza. Then there are two layers of light yellow tulle and one final layer of a soft blush tulle.
The back of the bodice is cotton Lycra from Purpleseamstress Fabrics so that no zippers or fasteners are needed. The front of the bodice is one layer of cotton Lycra and one layer of the yellow organza with the lace topstitched on last.
The shawl that wraps around the shoulders and goes down the back is made with the yellow organza. I hand sewed flower petals on this and along the front of the skirt.
A added some rope lights between the layers of the skirt and jus safety pinned them around so I could take them out after Halloween. The battery pack sits inside the yoga waistband on a pair of leggings.
I sewed up a pair of gloves for her since it’s usually pretty cold here in New England for Halloween and hot glued some bling to them. She picked out what to put on them. I glued the same gems to a headband to match.
I also glued flowers to some gold glitter shoes to finish.
Now let’s get down to how you can make one for your princess!
First let’s talk about options. As mentioned above I did three layers of tulle and one layer of organza around the full width of the skirt. Then I added one additional layer or organza that opens in the middle, followed by one layer of lace that I added last to be sure the length was correct. You can also make this dress simple by creating the layers and materials you want. If you are using tulle, you will not have to hem, so that is why the measurements are different from materials that will need to be hemmed.
If using lace on the bodice or straps I would recommend topstitching it on after you’ve created the bodice/straps to hide the seams.
Another note is that since I used a thin organza for the shawl around the shoulders I used a width or 50″. If you are using a heavier weight fabric you could use less width as noted in the pattern.
You must use knit with at least 50% vertical stretch for the back of the dress since there are no closures and also for the gloves. If you will be creating a dress with multiple or heavy layers, I would recommend using woven straps so that they don’t stretch out with wear.
The dress is designed to hit at the ground, which isn’t that practical for play, so you may find that you want to take off some length.
Here’s what you’ll need keeping in mind what I’ve just mentioned above:
The size 3 Princess Dress pattern. (Designed for a 21″ chest, 20.5″ waist, and a height of 38″.) See notes on the pattern for cutting information.
1.25 yards of tulle/organza/satin/etc for each layer you plan on using.
1.5 yards of lace (optional) I cut my lace as one piece with the border edge along the bottom so there was no seam.
3/8 yard of cotton jersey or similar with good stretch. If you are not making the gloves you will only need 1/4 yard.
2 yards of fabric for the shoulder shawl. This will create a 50″ x 72″ piece of fabric. If you would like you could cut the fabric in half and create a 25″ x 72″ piece by sewing them together and use less fabric.
Two 4″ pieces of ribbon for the gloves.
Gems, flowers, etc for embellishments.
Let’s get started.
With right sides together, sew your front and back pieces together with 3/8″ seam allowance for the main body and also for the lining. Press your seams to the back being careful if you are using a delicate fabric. (I used a see-through material here for my front bodice, but I wouldn’t recommend this as you can see your seams through it. Instead I would add it as a topstitched layer later.)
Turn your lining right side out and place inside the main bodice piece so right sides are together. Make sure your fronts are together and your side seams match.
With right sides together, sew two of your straps together with a 1/4″ seam allowance along both long sides. Leave the short sides unsewn. Turn your strap right side out and press. Repeat for the other strap pieces.
Place your strap between the front bodice main fabric and lining with the right side of the strap against the right side of the bodice. Pin the strap so the inside edge meets at your notch.
Repeat for the other strap.
Now take your strap and bring it between the main and lining fabrics at the bodice back.
Pin so the inside edge meets at the notch and repeat for the other strap. Your straps should now be sandwiched between the lining and main bodice at both the front and back.
Sew around the top of your bodice with a 3/8″ seam allowance.
Turn your bodice right side out and press around the top seam. If desired you can topstitch or understitch. If you are adding a lace overlay, line up the edges with the side seams and sew up both seams. Then stitch across the top of the bodice as well. Set your bodice aside.
Working with your skirt now, place two pieces with right sides together and sew down both short ends with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Repeat for each layer of your skirt except for the lace overlay if you cut it as one piece as I did.
If you will be making the top layer so it opens in the center, find the center front of the skirt piece you plan on having on the top. Cut down the center front and hem both center edges with a rolled or small hem. Also hem both front edges of the lace overlay if including.
Sew a row of gathering stitches (a straight stitch set at the longest length) 1/4″ from the top of all layers. If desired sew a second row, 1/2″ from the top. For the tulle under layers, you can layer two or three of the layers together before sewing your gathering stitches.
Start by adding your top opening layer. If you are adding a lace overlay on top of this layer, you can add this first, or you can add it at the end as I will explain below. Find the center back and front of your bodice and your skirt. Match the fronts, backs, and side seams of the skirt and bodice. The front edges of the opening skirt will meet at the center front. Pin in place and baste the skirt in place. Continue adding the rest of your layers and basting to the bodice. When you are finished adding your layers, finish your seam by serging or using a zig zag stitch. Try your dress on your child and hem as needed. You will need to hem the front of the skirt a bit higher due to the V at the bodice.
If you are adding a lace overlay, I find it easier to add this piece last, especially if it has a border edge on the bottom you don’t want to cut off. This way you can be sure the dress is the correct length before adding this layer. With the right side of the skirt against the right side of the bodice, match the center fronts, backs, and sides of your skirt and bodice. Place the raw edge of the skirt so it is about 3/8″ below the bodice. Then sew just above the skirt on the bodice portion of the dress so you won’t see the underskirt when the top layer is folded down.
Tack your top layers of the skirt that have the opening back by hand stitching at the bottom as desired.
To make the shawl portion of the dress, fold the piece with right sides together and sew along the top long edge with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Turn right side out and press the seam open.
Place the seam at the back of the shawl and pinch the layers of the shawl together at the center, creating a pleated look. Hand sew through the layers to hold them in place.
Hand sew the shawl to the center of the dress. I also tacked the shawl in a couple places to the straps so it would sit where I wanted it to when worn.
Bring the shawl to the back of the dress, leaving about 8″ from the fold to the center back. Hand sew at the center back and also at the strap if desired. Repeat for the other side. Hem the bottom of the shawl at the desired length. Your dress is now done. If you are making the gloves, continue below.
With right sides together sew along the long edge of the glove with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Turn the glove right side out and press the seam to the side.
Press the top of the glove 3/8″ to the wrong side and sew close to the raw edge using a stretch stitch, twin needle, or using woolly nylon in your bobbin.
Repeat for the bottom edge of the glove.
Attach your ribbon and apply a liquid fabric sealant such as Fray Check to the raw end of the ribbon to keep it from fraying. Another option is to finish the ends of the ribbon before sewing it on.
Add any flowers or gems as desired and you’re dress is done! If you have any questions, join the Sew a Little Seam Facebook group, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.