Drop Waist Toddler Dress

I bought this bright pink Jersey knit for a summer maxi dress for myself. When I started pattern drafting, I realized I already had a maxi dress in almost the exact same color–how does that happen? My back up plan was a drop-waist pleated dress for myself, but all of the sudden it was November and there’s just no way I’m wearing hot pink in Winter!


I debated what to do with the fabric. So  it has become another project for Biddi. The jersey knit is nice because it is a little heavy and warm and color is perfect for a toddler in winter! For the silhouette, I wanted to knock this out quickly, so a drop-waist dress with a little pleated skirt fit the bill. 7 seams and 10 pleats? Yes, please!

I began with a basic bodice sloper front and added 3″ to the hem, based on her measurements of where her hip is in relation to her waistline(left photo). I did the same to the back bodice pattern. Next, true the side seams so that they are exactly the same length. If the dress were a different style, with a curve at the waist for example, it would be good to lay the two pattern pieces on top of one-another and make sure the side seams are exactly the same.

For the skirt, I used the cross-wise grain so that the pleats lay flat with less give. The rest of the dress is cut with the grain. I patterned a rectangle that was 16″X 3.5″ and cut 2. Finally, I used the same sleeve pattern as I did in the Catwoman Halloween post.

In terms of constructing the garment, it’s critical to use a Jersey knit needle on the machine. Also, I prefer French Seams and used them on the side seams, shoulder seams, skirt side seams, and sleeve seams. I do not have a serger machine to overcast the raw edges, so using French Seams encloses all the raw edges so they lay flat and do not unravel. I love using theses seam finishes because the inside of the dress is as beautiful as the outside.

At this point, finish the neckline by turning two times and topstitching, a typical finish for a tee-shirt style dress. For the hem, I turned two times and used a simple ZigZag. (Inside-out view of hem is shown in photo above).

inside-dress-2The pleats are the next step and involve a little bit of math. Each 16″ panel is now 15″ because the seams are finished. I measured the pleats every 2″ and made them 1″ deep around the back. That means there are 5 pleats at 3″ each. Also, the 15″ fabric has been reduced to 10″ The front is slightly smaller than the back, so I reduced it to 9″ by making 5 pleats that are 1.75″ apart and are 1.25″ deep* Again, the photo above is inside out, but notice how each 1″ pleat is actually 1/2″ folded twice.

*These pleats are pretty shallow and far apart, for a more literal school-girl style skirt, they would be 1″ apart and 2″ deep–or 1″ deep, doubled.


Once the pleats are marked and they match up to the measurement of the bodice hem, do a small vertical topstitch at a length that looks right, mine are 1.5″ long. Next, use the longest length straight stitch to baste the pleats down and the side seams towards the back, so they lay correctly. Next, I laid the skirt to the bodice, wrong sides together and stitched them together using a straight stitch.


I like the look of the raw edge on top of the seam, but otherwise a French seam or mock French seam would work to hide the raw edge, but those would make the look more polished/less quirky. It is a little below her actual hipline, so it should fit her into Spring.

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