Sincerest Form of Flattery guest: Susan from Crafterhours

 Meet Susan from Crafterhours, if you don’t know her already. 

If you don’t, you should! Together with Adrianna, the other half of their fabulous blog, they have quite the site full of inspiration and tutorials.  One of my favorite parts of their blog is their conversations back and forth on the sidebar-they are usually pretty random but always funny! lol. A few of my favorite Susan projects are her Maypole Dress (love the piecing!), her awesome drawer stickers, her Pretty Pleats? tank, and her upcycled puffer shrug. Did you not die from laughter seeing that on April Fools Day? I know I did.

Take it away Susan!

Hi Craftiness and Kojo readers! You may’ve seen Crafterhours on the Sincerest Form of Flattery Series already once this week, but here we are again. This time it’s me, Susan, throwing my copycat idea into the mix. Here’s my version:

Get the full tutorial after the jump!

I was inspired by this Gap dress. It’s still available and as dresses go, it’s not second-mortgage-on-the-house expensive, but it’s money. And I was looking for something to do anyway, what with the two kids I have being so independent and self-sufficient at ages almost 2 and 4 1/2.  I studied it. There’s no photo of the back… so I used my imagination. To make it in a 5Tish size, you’ll need:
– about a yard of fabric
– 48″+ of 1/2″ double-fold bias tape
– thread to match the fabric and thread for your contrast embroidery
– a sewing machine with decorative stitches OR willingness to do some hand embroidery
– lightweight interfacing
– 2 buttons
I really like it as is. I think chambray is a great fabric. It just happens that I didn’t have enough of it in my stash to work with to create this dress, so I decided to work with a pink stretch sateen. ‘Cause I had a whole pile of it ready to roll.
There’s only one pattern piece that you’ll probably want to make a paper version of. It’s the bodice side panel. The others are all square-cornered and easy to measure out. I’ve drawn them here, and they’re even to scale. (Pats self on back.) We’re using a 1/2″ seam allowance throughout unless otherwise noted.
Here are all of the dress pieces cut out, with the side panel pieces that were cut on the fold opened up.

We start with the back of the bodice, where we’ll make button plackets. Press one side in 1/4″ onto the wrong side of the fabric.

Folded that over 1/2″ and press.

Edge stitch that.

Repeat for the other piece, pressing and stitching on the opposite side so that the pieces can then overlap each other like so. Here the left is over the right and I’ve put a few stitches in at the bottom to keep this in place later.

Pin the side panels in place, right sides facing the back’s right sides, and stitch.

Here’re the back and sides sewn together and pressed. And the skirt underneath. But the skirt is too wide for the top. We need to gather it.

Since I am a miserable failure at using the supposedly simple basting stitch and pull method of supposedly even gathering, I used the widest straight stitch length my machine would allow and turned the tension 3/4 of the way up. My tension is usually at about 4, could go as high as 9, but I set it at 7. I didn’t need a LOT of gathering. Just enough to shrink this edge up a bit to match my bodice pieces so far. Use a 1/4″ seam allowance so that these stitches can be hidden when you next use a 1/2″ allowance to attach the skirt.

With just a bit of pulling from me to match it up evenly, here it is.
Flip right sides together and pin. Stitch.

Now we have this.
Time to insert the center panel. Place right sides together on one side and stitch. Flip it to the other side and place right sides together and stitch. Turn it inside-out and you’ve got this.
Run a quick line of stitching across the top edges to finish them and keep them from fraying much.
Then fold the front and back top edges down. 1″ in the front and 1 1/2″ in the back. Press.
Take a 24″ length of bias tape and fold it in half. Pin the center to the center of your armhole, and then pin outward from there. 
Repeat for both armholes. Then stitch the bias tape shut, starting at one end of the strip and continuing around the armhole and back to the other end of the strip. You’re doing your best here to catch both sides of the bias tape and the edge of the arm hole all in one pass. Go slowly and carefully. And then we have this. I chose to knot my straps. If you’d like to tie them in a bow you might want 30-36″ strips of bias tape.
Now is a good time to fold the bottom edge up 3/4″ and hem it. Or you can do that later. You can also go ahead and add your two buttons and buttonholes in the back if you like. Or that can wait. I’m not going to show you how to do either one of those. You’re a smart cookie. Even if you haven’t done it before, you already know that you can find how-tos for buttons, buttonholeshemming and creating your own bias tape. After those steps, really, you have a whole dress. You could stop there. But I can’t. The next part is the fun part, if you ask me.

Laying a piece of interfacing on top of my dress to match up the width, I cut pieces of interfacing of the size I wanted my embroidered pieces. Some eyeballing. I ironed those onto the wrong side of a scrap of my dress fabric.

On the right side of the fabric I marked the edges with a water-soluble marker. A water-soluble marker makes marks that disappear when water touches it. Different from a washable marker. Those marks give me the boundaries for the decorative stitching.

I started with a row of fancy stitching around the edge, and a straight stitch just inside that.
Then I marked the direction I wanted my vine/floral stuff to go. And started stitching. Here’s a just-getting-started-at-10-pm-this-is-why-we-call-it-crafterhours-terrible-lighting image.
I looked at the stitches my machine will make and played with the various lengths/widths. 
Here’re the stitches I have and arrows marking the ones I used for this project. There’s a marquis-shaped stitch (#54) that I used to make the petals by stitching two in a row and then lifting the needle and stitching two or four more in opposite directions so that they all cross in the center. 
When I felt satisfied with my progress and trimmed all of the excess thread away, I sprayed the fabric with water to remove the marker lines. Then I ironed it and looked at what I’d made. Make sure you remove the lines before ironing, because the iron can heat-set the lines and make them no-longer-water-soluble. 

I carefully folded the edges under and ironed the applique shapes, trimming the excess wherever it was bulky. Turn the steam off for this part or you’ll lose a finger. Not that I know from experience or anything.

Place the two shapes where you’d like them on the dress. Pin the lower shape and stitch it in place.

Then the upper shape.

And that’s it! You’re done! Go frolic!
Wait, are you still looking at this page? Annoyed? Because this is for a 5ish and you want a 2ish? To adjust the size you can adjust the width of the center panel, the width of the side panels and the width and overlap in the button placket.  Well, since I have a 2 yo myself, I may be doing it in the near future. Keep an eye out for the next version on crafterhours.
Thanks for having us, Jess and Kojo girls!

And don’t forget to check out Knock Off Decor– the sponsor of this blog series! There are knock offs of great stuff from Urban Outfitters, Crate and Barrel, West Elm and more- go check it out!


  1. Oh wow!! Too cool! I haven’t tried any of the decorative stitches on my machine. Maybe it is time to try.

  2. Very cute Susan! I think we have the same brand of machine because I have all those same decorative stitches but they have been sorely underused! Thanks for giving me some inspiration!

    I totally dismissed this entirely all like ‘my machine doesn’t do fancy embroidery so I’m going to go sulk in a corner like a big baby’ and then scrolled and read anyways because I liked the shape of the dress. And then here you go showing me that i AM a big sulky baby because hi, I think I have all those stitched, and it has NEVER occured to me to use them this way to make such a pretty design.

  4. Eeeeep!! I’m so in love with this dress. Vie seen it at Gap and I didn’t love the price tag. This would be so cute for my little niece. Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Wow Jess, I didn’t know anybody except me, Susan, and my mom read those conversations on our sidebar! Now I feel like we should step it up a bit! (yeah, most of them probably make no sense whatsoever, huh?)
    🙂 A

  6. Susan, it is GORGEOUS — and I must admit, that I truly like yours more than “theirs.” WINNING!


  7. Beautiful!! I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  8. Love the way you set up the embroidery so you could do it flat! I also like how you have taken advantages of the stitches on your machine. I can’t afford a hoop embroidery machine but love the large embroideries, so this is very inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Wonderful. I really like it! It looks great.

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