Jan 29, 2013

Disney Princess Dresses

Have you ever pinned something based on the caption and then found out later that the caption didn't represent the website's actual content?

It happens to me on a regular basis. In fact, it just happened to me a few days ago when I saw a pin with the caption "one pattern, all the princesses." I thought to myself, "Awesome! You can make all the Disney princesses with just one pattern!" When I clicked on the link, it took me to an online shop that had closed.

But it got me thinking. And planning. And researching. Can you really make all of the princess dresses with just one pattern?

Yes. Yes you can. And I'm going to tell you how!

As I searched the internet for homemade princess dresses, I came upon a common theme: the peasant dress. The peasant dress has an elastic neckline and loose waistline, so it's easy for a child to put on and will fit longer than a fitted garment would. There are also a lot of free peasant dress tutorials and patterns available for free online, so it seemed like an obvious pick to me.

I decided to use the free pattern from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom. I modified her pattern a bit, as my nieces are tall and skinny, but her tutorial is excellent and includes measurements for sizes 12 mo.- 4/7.

For this tutorial, I chose to share how I made Tiana's dress. If you're not familiar with the newer Disney princesses, Tiana is the princess in Princess and the Frog.

{image source}
Tiana's dress was by far the most difficult and required the most creativity, so if you can make this one, you can make them all!

You will need:
1 fat quarter of lime green for the bodice and sleeves
3 fat quarters in seafoam green tones for the leaves
1 yard of lime green for the skirt
1/4 inch elastic
matching thread

I like to begin by cutting the fabric for my smaller pieces- the bodice and sleeves. Cut out two bodice pieces on the fold.

You can see where I modified the bodice to be a little more snug below the armpit.
I chose to make flutter sleeves for Tiana's dress. For the pattern, I folded a piece of paper in half and free-handed a scalloped edge. You can see the dimensions below. I'd recommend making the sleeves bigger by about an inch around the scalloped side. Hindsight is 20/20...

Finish the edges of the sleeves with a blanket stitch to prevent unraveling.

blanket stitch
With right sides together, sew the bodice pieces together ONLY from the armpit down to the waistline. You can use the blanket stitch here as well for a more finished seam. Fold over the seam from the armpit to the neckline by about 1/4 inch and press. Technically, you should probably fold it over again as you would for a hem, but I wasn't sure if it would affect the bodice size. I just sewed along the raw edge with a straight seam. This is a play dress, after all.

Now you are ready to attach the sleeves. Pin the sleeves to the bodice with about an inch of overlap on each side. Sew the sleeves in place with a seam about 1/8 inch from the top edge.

Fold and press the neckline edge just over 1/4 inch all the way around. Repeat to create a casing for the elastic. Sew along the casing edge, leaving about 1/2 inch to insert the elastic.

Attach a safety pin to one edge of the elastic, and work the elastic all the way around the casing. Stitch the ends of the elastic together with a zig-zag stitch, and sew the casing closed.

The top part of the dress is done! Now for the fun part...

The skirt doesn't really have a pattern. The waistline can be a minimum of the bodice width and a maximum of... whatever! The wider the waistline is, the fuller the skirt will be. For Tiana's dress, I wanted a really full skirt. The fabric, once again, was cut on the fold. That made the waistline 28 inches (or 56 if you're counting the front and back) and the bottom of the skirt 40 inches. Yes, it's huge. No, you really don't need to and probably shouldn't have that much difference between the top and bottom of the skirt. Actually, you'd be just fine cutting a straight line. Like I said, hindsight is 20/20. It worked in the end.

With right sides together, sew up the sides of your skirt. Fold and press the bottom edge 1/4 inch all the way around. Repeat, pin, and hem.

This is where your creativity comes in. To make the leaves, I folded over three fat quarters and free handed a fat, leafy shape.

I liked how it turned out with two different patterns, but of course, you could make them all the same or have three different patterns. You can also make them skinnier, longer, etc.

Lay the skirt out and pin the leaves to the front. I pinned the leaves on the left and right at an angle.

If you also pin yours at an angle, you'll want to flip the skirt over and trim off the excess.

This next part may be a little tricky, but hang in there! It's time to ruffle up the skirt waist. Set your machine to the lowest tension and the longest stitch. Pull out about three inches of bobbin thread before you begin sewing. Sew 1/4 inch from the edge all the way around the waist. Do NOT backtrack over your beginning and ending stitches.

To create the ruffle, pull those bobbin threads to scrunch up the fabric. Scrunch away until your waist width matched the bodice width. If I totally lost you on that last part, you can find videos for ruffling on youtube.

Turn the bodice inside out, and pin the waistlines together. I like to leave the ruffle side a little longer to make sure that seam is covered up. Sew the waistlines with a blanket stitch.

I added a white rolled fabric flower (tutorial here), but that is completely optional. Rather than hot gluing the flower, I sewed it together and then sewed it on the the dress.

The finished project:

It almost makes me wish I could be a kid again. Almost...

Here are the other princess dresses I've made so far. I'm still working on Rapunzel, Merida, Alice in Wonderland, and maybe more. I'll share pictures when they are finished. The dresses below are listed in the order I made them. You may notice that they get progressively better. I recommend starting with an easy character and working your way up.

Snow White- closer to the peasant dress style
Mary Poppins Jolly Holiday- split the bodice into two pieces (half white, half red)
Belle- bottom ruffle is twice the width of the skirt
Update 01.30.2013
Merida- peasant with a slimmer skirt, no elastic in the sleeves
Update 01.31.2013
If you have questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below. I may not be able to answer them, but I'll sure try! If you use this tutorial to make dresses for your princess, I'd love to see pictures!

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  1. i've been looking for a great tute for princess dresses:) we need more in our dress up stash

  2. do you have the patterns for the dresses?

    1. If you follow the link above to Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom, you'll find the pattern I used as well as the measurements for other sizes.

  3. How fun! Every little girl I know would love these...what is it about being a princess?! I'd be thrilled if you'd share this post at my party, going on now!

  4. Hello!
    Show and Tell Saturday at Sassy Little Lady is LIVE! I’d love to have you share your post!



  5. Thank you! SOOO CUTE!! I can't wait to see your Alice in Wonderland dress!

  6. Great info! I've made some of the peasant dresses that this tutorial is based on, and I love what you've done to enhance them for our little princesses :). One question about the Belle dress... Is the skirt two layers, or did you see the ruffle in the middle of the skirt somehow? How was it done? Belle is my daughter's favorite, so that's where I'd like to start :). Thanks !

  7. Belle is my favorite, too! For her skirt ruffle, I cut a strip of fabric that was twice as wide as the skirt and maybe 6 or 7 inches high. I hemmed one end under, and then I used my machine to ruffle up the other edge. I sewed the ruffled edge to the skirt. I hope that helps!

  8. Thank you! I clicked on the same link with much frustration. I bought the simplicity pattern
    2377 for the basic dress, but I will use many of your tips. Thanks!

  9. Thank you!! I did the same thing with that pin! I was so disappointed!

    1. You're welcome! I'm glad you found this post! :)

  10. Thank you!! I pinned that as well and was pretty disappoited. Our daughter is 1 and I know I will be needing this and hoping to make some for our next Disney trip.

  11. I would love to know what kind of fabric you used for the dresses. Cotton? Satin? I bought the pattern and it only has the cotton fabrics suggested for use.

    1. I used cotton for each of the dresses. I hope yours turn out well!

  12. Can you tell me about how much each dress cost you to make? Just wondering if it would be wiser to buy something premade rather than me attempt to make it...haha not much sewing skills.

    1. I estimated about $15 per dress, and of course I had enough elastic to use for several dresses.