sweet little dress: pattern review

Sweet little dress, and sweet little pattern as well!  This is the "sweet little dress" pattern by Leila & Ben, priced at $6. (You can purchase the 12M to 5T pattern here.  They also have a pattern for babies under 12M and another for kids age 6 to 10 on their website, all of them downloadable PDF's). 

First let me say that I actually had fun making these.  Yes.  Fun.  Otherwise I wouldn't have hauled off and made three of 'em.  Once I'd finished the first one, the rest came together extremely fast - less than two hours apiece.  And for that investment of time, I'm very happy with the results. 

One day I will rule this Earth...
I think the simplicity of the solid fabric, shot cottons by Kaffe Fassett, pairs beautifully with the understated details of the pattern.  My sister, who has a baby girl the same age as my Lila, saw the picture above and immediately requested one for her Kira.  She actually told me she'd pay money for one.  Which of course I would never take, but I tell you, she was enthusiastic.  Well, I can't have poor Kira going all nakey, can I?  So I made her one too - the pink one.  It's in the mail and on the way as I'm writing this.  (Don't tell!)

These are sized for a 12 month old, larger than our nine month old babies, so there's room to grow.  I modified the pattern on all three to make them more of a short dress, which will later function as a regular shirt.  I thought the shorter length, cut above the knee, was cuter for a baby, and easier for them to crawl, scoot, and pull themselves up in.  The purple one is hemmed very short, so that it fits as a shirt for now.  However, if you look closely, you'll see the hem is set higher, and that's because I have another, hidden hem rolled up and pressed inside there.  So all I have to do when I want more length is undo the outer hem, wash, dry, and press the bottom, and it'll be all ready to go - no more sewing required.  Yay!

see the different hems?
And looking closely at the hem on the blue dress, you'll see that I've added embroidery along the bottom, just for an extra little something (and because I've been searching for an excuse to try that stitch on my sewing machine, truth be told).  

What I Learned:
First, the pattern cut-out.  I had to pay a lot of attention while cutting out the pattern, and do a lot of cutting and taping of different pieces which had printed across multiple pages to form the body pattern.  It was a little confusing there for a second, and took a bit of time.  Looking closely at the pattern, I think it may be more of an issue for the 12M size than the others.  But with a bit of patience it came together correctly in the end - no big deal.  

To modify the length, I traced the bottom hem onto a sheet of paper, cut it out to use as a template, and then placed it over the original pattern, moving it up and down until I was happy with the length.  Then I traced it onto the original, and cut.  This left me a shorter pattern, but the same slight curve along the bottom the original version had.  Make sense?  

When cutting out the fabric, I realized the sleeve pattern was a mirror image just like the body piece, and could be folded in half and placed along the fold of the fabric for cutting, just like you do for the body piece.  Since there are two sleeves per dress this saved me a bit of time, and after making three of these, it added up.  If you have a baby you know what I'm talking about here.  Craft time = nap time - (cleaning+laundry+errand+cooking time) = not a lot of time.  Along the same lines, I discovered that sewing all four of the sleeve seams first, and then going back and zigzag stitching to finish them, saved some time. (Rather than sewing one, switching over to zigzag, adjusting settings, trimming, and switching back again as the pattern instructs).  

And a final tip: be careful when sewing around that neck hem - if your fabric is anything like mine, it will want to unroll itself as you sew that curve, and chaos will ensue.  The seam ripper will pay you a visit.  And you know you don't want that.  So take your time, and make sure those seam allowances are well pressed before you start.  Luckily, the neck is all elasticized in the end, so minor mistakes won't show.  And you know your little darling is just going to puke up all over it anyway, right?

In the end, this was a simple, easy to follow, guaranteed success kind of a pattern.  And because it's basic, I could envision all kinds of sweet ways to make it your own - embroidery, applique, coordinating sleeve fabric, bias tape or rickrack for trim along the bottom, pockets, buttons, golly gee.  I'm starting to want to make another, just so I can try out something from that list.  If you'd like to see some very cute variations of this dress using patterned fabrics, corduroy, and in full length, check out this post from Maggie over at Smashed Peas and Carrots.  Since I have the basic pattern through 5T,  I know I'm going to get a ton of use from it.  So, final review: I'm really happy with this pattern.  

my cutie patootie, with Sukie on guard
See the above photo?  That's Lila, pointing to the end of my blog post.  As in, finish up Mom, and come play with me!  Yes ma'am.

Best wishes,


  1. those are beautiful in shot cotton! i love the colors you chose. i need to get that pattern out again. your lila is adorable!

    1. Thanks! *blushes* It is a fun pattern, isn't it?