Sew a Simple Gathered Dress for girls : Free Sewing Pattern & Tutorial

This is a post giving you all the steps to make a sewing pattern and sew a simple gathered dress for your little angel. This one is lined, with button/hook placket in the back as opening.

kids gathered dress sewing pattern

How about sewing a super simple cute gathered waist dress for your kid. It has a button placket in the back.

To make this dress you can use the fabric of your choice. Here are some criteria you can consider before buying a fabric and tips for sewing for kids and options of fabric choices for making kids clothes.

So here is the tutorial

Step 1. Make the pattern

You need to take a  number of body  measurements on the little girl. Take chest round, length of the full dress, Bodice length (Length from shoulder tip to waist or where the bodice should end), length of the skirt from where bodice ends, shoulder tip to shoulder tip. Mark the pattern on a paper before marking on the fabric so that you can use this again.

Pattern for the Front bodice

Pattern for the Front bodice of the kids gathered dress


Pattern for the back bodice

Pattern for the back bodice

You will need two fabric pieces for the back bodice as it has an opening- which is why 1 1/2 inches is given extra for the two pieces by the central opening.

For the skirt follow the dimension given below – you need 2 of these skirt pieces from the outer fabric and 2 from lining. The lining need to be cut 1 or 2 inches shorter in length and if you do not have enough fabric the width can also be reduced. 

Skirt pattern for the simple gathered frock

Step 2. Cut out the fabric pieces.

You will need to cut these patterns from the outer fabric and the lining.

Remember that for the front bodice you will have to Fold the fabric to mark the pattern. Back bodice consists of two pieces.

The front bodice.

Cut out the front bodice on the folded fabric

You may add a small fabric strip to the bottom edge of the front bodice as a decoration. 

opened front bodice

Back bodice

2 pieces of back bodice

And all the pieces together after you have cut the lining too.

3 bodice pieces of the dress

Step 4. Finish the skirt pieces

By ‘finish’ I mean join the two fabric pieces for the skirt to form a tube ( your skirt) and then hem the bottom edge.

sew the skirt piece for gathered dress into a tube

Do this for the lining pieces of the skirt too.

Now insert the lining skirt inside the main skirt and pin in place. Or baste stitch in place. 

Step 5 Make a placket on the skirt piece

You need a small placket opening in the top edge of your skirt on the back – this is made so that the child has no difficulty getting into the dress. – this will be continuous with the placket you make on the bodice.

placket for the skirt back
Placket for the skirt back opening

Make a long cut of 3 inches along the center of the back of the skirt (outer and lining piece together). Cut out a 2 inch wide fabric piece 6 1/2 inches in length

Keep the piece along the cut you have made.

Keep the placket fabric on the slit

Stitch together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. As you reach the end of the cut, stretch it so that the other side is straight and join the same way.

Sew the placket facing straight on the slit

Now the whole piece is joined.

Now straighten up the cut and tuck the fabric to the inside.

Fold and stitch in place.

The whole placket will fall in place. You can now top stitch along the edge to neaten it.

Turn the plackets to the back and sew in place

Step 3. Gather the skirt pieces

Now you need to gather the too big skirt pieces to fit the fitting bodice.

Keep the two skirt pieces together  and gather the top edge – you can use any number of techniques. I have used the zig zag method over string – just use a loose zig zag stitch over a string kept along the top edge some 1/4 inch down.

gather the skirt fabric top edge with cord and zig zag stitches

Pull the string to gather the top edge to  a measurement equaling chest round of the child + 4 inches. This will (or should) match the bottom edge of your bodice  bottom edge.

top edge is gathered fully

Step 6. Finish the front bodice

Keep the outer fabric and the lining of the front bodice rightsides together.

Sew the lining to the outer fabric like a facing

Stitch along the neckline and the armhole with a 1/4 inch allowance. Remember not to stitch 1/2 inch from the top edge – this is for shoulder seam joining later.

Clip the seam allowance along 1 inch or so

Turn the whole thing rightside out.

Turn the bodice right side out


Step 7. Finish the back bodice pieces

Keep the outer fabric and the lining right sides together. Stitch along the neckline and the armhole with a 1/4 inch allowance.

Sew lining to the back

Remember not to stitch 1/2 inch from the top edge – this is for shoulder seam joining later.

Clip the seam allowance along 1 inch or so

Turn the whole thing right side out. Do the same thing for the other piece as well

FInish both back bodices this way


Step 8. Make the button plackets

Turn under the edges of the center edge of the back bodices, twice – first 1/2 inch and then 1 inch to the inside and stitch in place.

Turn the open edges at the center to the back and sew as placets

Do the same for both the back bodice pieces.

Step 9. Sew the shoulder seams of the bodice

Keep the bodices right sides together.

Join at the shoulders

For an easy way out you can simply join the shoulder seams (in which case you should fully stitch the sides in the earlier step) – but this will leave the seam outside (it is really inside the dress,but a better way is to get the seams all inside the lining as well)

For this You will need to take the outer fabric top edges at the shoulder and join that alone.

Seperate the shoulder edges and join the outer to outer
You have to seperate the shoulder edges and join them to each other – lining to lining ; outer to outer

Leave the lining as of now.

Now turn the dress right side out. It will look like the following photo from the inside

Join the outer seams from the inside first

Adjust and arrange the lining to come over seam.

Overlap the lining from the inside and hand sew in place
Hand sew the lining in place

Hand stitch the seam in place. You can use a ladder stitch or any invisible stitch for this.

You can top stitch along the neckline and armholes at this point.

Completed bodice of the gathered skirt dress

Step 10. Sew the side seams of the bodice

Join the side seams of the bodice. Keep them rightsides together and join the sides -simple.

As you sew the side seams you can add a sash to your dress.

Make sashes

To make the sash cut out 2 fabric pieces 3 inches or so wide and 20 inches or so long ( depends on your requirement).

Keep it some 1 inch up from the bottom edge on both sides, ensuring that the seam of the sash will be facing the back of the dress.

Keep the sashes inside and sew the sides

You can learn more about making a sash and  tying a sash bow properly on a dress here.

sash joined - get frock rightside out

Step 11. Join the bodice to the gathered skirt 

Now join the bodice and the skirt together. Start joining from the plackets.Adjust the gathers to fit the bodice edge. 

Step 12. Sew the fasteners on the back

Attach small hooks and make thread loops or make buttonholes and buttons. You can follow tutorials to make a buttonhole by hand, make a buttonhole by machine, sew buttons, sew hooks and threadbars or  buttonloops.

You can add small fabric flowers, ribbon roses, or cute little fabric bows to your dress

Related posts : Dressmaking tips for perfect sewing ;  Frock designs  – different types of frocks;  children’s dress patterns

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

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