A Party Dress (A Tutorial)

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

I love this fun, sassy dress style! I made this cute circus style party dress for Lisa’s daughter Elle’s recent birthday:

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

I made a similar dress for Boo last Valentine’s day (click to see the photo shoot for the V-Graffiti dress):

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

The “built in” petticoat gives the bottom of the dress lots of twirl and volume. I used fabric spray paint and fabric markers to do all the graffiti:

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

 

I used my Twirl Skirt pattern but went up a few sizes since I wasn’t using stretchy material:

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

I cut an identical skirt out of a contrasting material but made it an inch longer for the petticoat layer:

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

I cut long strips 5″ wide and connected them together so it was about 8 or 9 feet long…..over twice the length of the bottom of the skirt. I folded the strip in half and sewed the top closed. Then I pulled the bobbin thread to gather the entire length:

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

I placed the ruffle as shown on the right side of the petticoat layer and then I sewed the ruffle to the bottom:

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

To create the cinching in the top layer of the dress bottom I used a ruler to mark 2 places on the seams……one 6″ above the hem and the other 4″ above the hem:

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

Then I used thread to sew through both my markings……

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

……and I tied the thread in knot underneath gathering the fabric into a bunch. I repeated this in several places around the skirt bottom.

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

For the top of the dress I cut about 1.5″ inches off the bottom of a tank top and added a scanned image of a vintage playing card (the same images used on the favor bags). The image was printed onto Dharma Trading’s Super Soft Transfer Paper and ironed on. I sewed the skirt bottom to the tank.

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

To embellish the skirt further I sewed polka dot ribbon and crochet trim on top of the gathered areas:

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

The finished dress!

 

How to make a party dress using a tank top or t-shirt via lilblueboo.com

 

Click on image below for more circus party posts!

Circus party ideas and printables via lilblueboo.com

Comments

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Comments

  1. 1
    christina says:

    What a beautiful dress! I used sewn in elastic for my chinching in the last skirt, but your idea is so much easier. I love the circus party idea, so colourful and would work for boys and girls.

  2. 2

    Oh, how adorable! I want one.. the party and the dress!

  3. 3
    iza says:

    thank you for the tutorial! my 2 yr old is currently in a princess dress phase, i certainly can’t let her walk around in those flimsy costumes from the store… i am so grateful that i can try and make her dresses she can wear out..

  4. 4
    Beth Morrow says:

    I love this dress and Boo is so adorable in it, but I’d like to share a little tip that changed my dread of that broken bobbin thread forever…
    when you need to gather(especially a lot) zig zag stitch over kite string (I keep a roll in my sewing drawer right by my sewing machine) about 1/8 ” in from the seam line. It gives you something substantial to hold, and the gathering goes very quickly. Then just place your gathered piece where it needs to go and sew on the seam line. That way the zigzag stitch won’t show when you sew the gathered piece down and if it ever does it’s very easy to remove. This has saved me more time than I can tell ya and I hope it works for you!

  5. 5
    Diana Juridini says:

    This is awesome! I can’t wait to try it thank you.

  6. 6
    michelle says:

    this is super cute. I just suck at ruffles but i might give this a try
    Thanks for sharing

    Michelle

  7. 7
    Stacey K says:

    You are SOOOOO nice to give us these free tutorials. Between the tutorials and the patterns I have purchase from you…. I rarely BUY my girls clothes. I make SO much. Actually, everyday when I take the twins to school, their teachers have started saying… “okay, let me guess…. Did you MAKE this?” I LOVE that they wear things that none of their classmates wear. I am hoping the continue to like things I make. I am pretty sure there will come a day when mom making their clothes won’t be cool. I am dreading that day. Thank you again for blessing me and all your other “fans”. TEAM ASHLEY!!!!!

  8. 8
    Sue S. says:

    Gosh I wish I had a good sewing machine! my thread is constantly breaking (top thread) and I get no where fast. It’s a Brothers machine, not an expensive one but you would think I could do some normal sewing w/out having this issue. Ok enough gripping about my machine.. I wish I could sew like you.. But I would love it if you would put a DIY for your “EASY PJ shorts”.. I think I could do those. if I could get my machine to cooperate!

    This dress is so adorable and your talent is remarkable w/the paint markers and grafitti on the fabric! Great job!

  9. 9
    Stephanie says:

    So cute! I’ll have to give that a go when Emily get’s her free camp tee this spring. I also wanted to tell you I love the Choose Joy bracelets. My favorite tee when I was younger had a big dorking happy face on it and said Choose Joy in big letters. It also had a Bible verse though I can’t remember which one at the moment. I almost always wore it when I was having a bad day to help me feel better. I don’t have the shirt anymore but I do still think of it a lot and try to stick to the life philosophy as much as possible.

  10. 10
    Abby says:

    I love this! So gorgeous!!

  11. 11

    How adorable…says the one with all boys! I have a baby girl godchild on the way-taking notes.

  12. 12
    Linda L says:

    Another cute dress! I really don’t like all that gathering. Mine never looks all that great. My new serger came with a gathering foot. Need to figure it out because ruffles are so cute! Thanks for the tutorial! And I love your new blog pic!

  13. 13
    Lindsay B. says:

    Where did you find those vintage playing cards?

    Thanks so much for another great tutorial!

  14. 14
    Caterina says:

    That’s a great tutorial. Thank you so much. I love reading your posts.

    :-)

    Many kind regards from EUROPE!

    Caterina

  15. 15
    Tori says:

    oh the card is not a playing card, its from the game crazy eights…. cute cute cute dress tho!

  16. 16

    I love this tutorial! Thank you for sharing your creativity with us :)

    Vanessa

  17. 17
    Mandia says:

    Hi Ashley,

    I would like to make this beautiful dress for my daughter, wondering if you can help clarify the sizing for me?

    My daughter is 2.5 and currently is wearing your twirl skirt in a (knit) size 3/4 (a little big, but pretty good). When you suggest to “go up a few sizes” how many sizes is that? Should I make it in 7/8? I am planning to use a 100% cotton with no stretch in it.

    Thanks. I can’t wait to see this on her – it is gorgeous.

  18. 18
    Lisa Hall says:

    Hi Ashley,
    I just LOVE this adorable party dress and am trying to “re-create” it for my Granddaughter’s Birthday.
    Her Mom is doing a “Carnival” theme and saw this and asked me if I could make it.
    I ordered the shirt and iron on from Dharma Trading Co., and have been searching in vain for the carnival fabric. Can you tell me where you got it or who makes it?
    It kind of looks like it could be Michael Miller Fabric, but in my searches so far I haven’t found it. Through a Google search I did find some carnival fabric, but it doesn’t look “vintage” like this one and that is what I’m really wanting, because the theme for the birthday is vintage.
    I know that you are going through a lot right now and I feel bad for even asking. I certainly understand if you can’t reply.
    Just want you to know that I love your blog and you inspire me in so many ways.
    Most of all to live life to the fullest, be a better person and “Choose Joy”!
    I am praying for you daily!
    Thank-you for all you do!
    Lisa H.

  19. 19

    thanks ashley, i made two of these for my little girls this weekend, except I made mine with The Lorax images on the front for some special attire for the theatre. i just love these dresses! always praying for you and love your positive attitude! christina

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Click here to visit the full tutorial to make one of your own! [...]

  2. [...] idea for the skirt came from Lil Blue Boo, she has a tutorial on her blog on how to make a party dress and I used Dana’s tutorial on how to make a circle skirt to draft my pattern. I knew Tasha [...]