Hello everyone! I’m Sarah and I have a blog almost entirely devoted to sewing at Lace & Pine Designs. I’m super excited and grateful Megan has let me share my dress hack of the Mini Briar with all of you. When I first saw this pattern, one of the first things I envisioned was attaching a gathered skirt to the lovely curved high/low hem. I love the unexpected in the garments I sew, whether it be in added details or a unique shape. This dress is almost your basic knit dress with a gathered skirt, but the curved high/low waistline adds a special touch. Putting together this hack is fairly easy. The hardest part is creating the pattern pieces for the skirt maintaining the curve of the bodice. If the curve on the skirt pieces don’t match up properly to the bodice, you’ll end up with a wonky hem. Don’t be intimidated by all the steps to create the pattern pieces. I just wanted to make sure each step was very clear, so you can make this dress with confidence.
// Materials Needed //
- Mini Briar Pattern
- Knit Fabric for the Mini Briar, plus extra fabric for the added skirt (about a yard)
- Plenty of freezer paper (or whatever kind of paper you use for patterns)
- Clear Elastic (I used ½”, this will be used when attaching the skirt for extra support and structure)
When creating this dress it is best to sew up the smaller size Mini Briar if your child is in between sizes. My daughter was between a 2/3 and a 4/5 in her chest measurement, so I chose to sew up a size 2/3. Normally, I lengthen patterns for my tall daughter. For the mini briar, she is at the tall end of a 6/7. I chose to keep the length of the 2/3 for the dress. I love where the waistline hits on this dress, so I would recommend going down a size or 2 in the length, unless you prefer more of a dropped waist look.
Once you decide on the right size top for your dress, go ahead and follow the directions for the Mini Briar top leaving the hem unfinished. Now we can begin creating the dress!
Like I said earlier the most challenging part of this dress is creating the pattern for the skirt pieces. It is important the shape of the curve matches up correctly. The curve of the bodice will be reflected in the skirt pieces, but it will be twice as wide, yet the same in height. Let’s get started.
// Creating Your Skirt Pattern Pieces //
*Use the graphic above for step 1-4
Step 1: Start by taking the top front pattern piece and tracing it onto some pattern paper. I use freezer paper. Draw two parallel lines (A & B) down from the bodice. One line (A) will be in line with the “on the fold” line from the bodice and the other (B) 5/8” from the right side. On the front bodice, it is obvious where 5/8” is, as there’s a bit of a point on the bottom of the pattern.
Step 2: Draw a perpendicular line (l) off the point on the outside seam towards the center “on the fold” edge. Make sure the line is truly perpendicular. If you have a cutting board, the grid will be very helpful in this step. You will now have a bit of a triangle shape off the bottom of the bodice.
Step 3: Measure the base of the triangle shape (l). My size 2/3 measures at 7.25” for both the front and back bodice pieces. Your skirt pattern piece will be 2 times this length prior to seam allowances. Jot that number down for the future. For me, that number will be 14.5”. We will call this measurement “x”.
Step 4: Measure the height (h) of your triangle shape. Mine was 2 1/8” for the front and 1 7/8” for the back. Your skirt pattern pieces will have the same rise in the curve. Write these numbers down for future reference, we’ll call them “y” in the skirt pattern pieces.
Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4 with the back bodice. Make sure that line B is 5/8” in from the edge.
Step 6: Cut each sketch you have just created along lines A & B. Cut horizontally anywhere above the curve and below the horizontal line (l). You will now have a little rectangle. Repeat for both front and back pieces.
Step 7: Fold the rectangle in half matching up the two parallel lines. Keep folding in half until you have 8 long rectangles (3 folds in half). Repeat for both front and back pieces. Set aside temporarily.
Step 8: Start with two fresh sheets of freezer paper about 20” long. Create the drawings in the graphics above. Make 2 vertical parallel lines (A & B) that are x amount of inches apart (x= the number you came up with in step 3. Mine was 14.5”). Then, draw a horizontal line (x) that is perpendicular to the two parallel lines towards the top (about 3 inches). Draw another vertical line (C) parallel to A & B, 5/8” to the right of B. This will be your finished pattern pieces edge, including the 5/8” seam allowance. Make a mark on line A (for the Front Skirt Panel) and on line B (for the Back Skirt Panel) y inches above the horizontal line. (y = the number you came up with in step 4. Mine were 2 1/8” for the front and 1 7/8” for the back). You should now have two beginnings of skirt pattern pieces. One for the front and one for the back.
Step 9: Pick up the smaller rectangular folded sketch from steps 1-6 for the front skirt piece. Cut along the folded lines, making sure to keep the pieces in order. Place the long rectangular pieces on your new larger skirt pattern piece, matching up the far left to the mark and horizontal line (x) and the right to where line x and B intersect. Spread the rest of the pieces out equally as best you can, making sure to match up the horizontal lines (x).
Step 10: Make a dot on each side of the skinny piece along the curved line. Remove the long skinny pieces. Connect the dots by drawing between each pair of dots, creating a natural curved line.
Step 11: Repeat step 9 & 10 for the back skirt piece.
Step 12: Create the desired length of the skirt on your pattern piece. I recommend having your child try on the top when you are done sewing it (minus the hemming) and then measure down from the end of the side seam to the desired length. Then add ½” for the skirt seam allowance, ½” for the bodice seam allowance and ½” for the hem; 1 ½” total. For my daughters dress, I measured 13.5” from the raw edge of the bodice to the desired length of the dress. Therefore, I made the skirt pattern pieces measure 15” from top to bottom along the outer side seams (the length of B). Finish off the hem of the pattern piece with a horizontal line that is perpendicular to lines A & C. The bold coral lines in the image above will be your finished pattern pieces. Repeat for the back skirt panel.
You now have your skirt pattern pieces! The hard part is over. All that careful measuring will make the dress come together smoothly and easily. Go ahead and cut out your skirt panel pieces.
// Attaching the Skirt //
Step 1: Place front and back skirt panels right sides together, matching up the raw edges. Make sure the curved sides are on the same side! Stitch up the left and right sides.
Step 2: Prepare the bodice and skirt by marking the front center and back center, as well as the halfway points between the center points and the side seams.
Step 3: Sew two gather stitches along the top of the skirt. The first at 1/8″ and the second at 3/8″ from the edge. Make sure not to back stitch! I prefer to start and finish my gather stitches at the center back. Pull the bobbin threads until the skirt is about the same size as the bottom of the bodice.
Step 4: Turn the skirt inside out and place the bodice inside the skirt, right sides together with the curved edges matching up. Make sure the front of the skirt is connected to the front of the bodice and not the back. Pin the front center first, matching up the marks you applied earlier. Work your way to the back center, matching one set of marks at a time, spreading the gathers evenly. Tighten or loosen the gathers as needed till you have made it to the back center.
Step 5: Pull out your clear elastic. You will be applying it into your waist seam for extra support and to prevent future stretching of the bodice. Place part of the waist seam under your serger or sewing machine foot. Before sewing a stitch, place the end of the clear elastic under the foot lined up in the seam against the edge. I don’t bother cutting my elastic the length I need. I just use the whole thing and then trim later. Have a few inches extra behind the foot before you begin sewing. This extra bit will be trimmed off later. Begin sewing while keeping the clear elastic lined up to the edge of the seam. Do not pull the elastic. I find it helpful to make sure my serger knife is down when I need to stop and readjust. Seems to make it less likely the elastic will break off. Take your time and slowly move all the way around the seam. Before you get all the way around, trim off the excess clear elastic from the beginning of your stitch. When you get to the end, trim the elastic so it’s about 1/2″ overlapping the other end of elastic, and serge over.
And you’re done! Admire your work and go make a little girl happy. I hope you have found this tutorial helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions; I would love to help in any way I can. Come say hi anytime at my blog Lace & Pine Designs or on my Instagram @laceandpine. I’m almost always sewing up something for either my kids or myself and love to meet other sewists.
// Now it’s your turn! //
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