the vintage heirloom dress-a tutorial

Ok, so this photo shoot represents an occasion that’s kind of a big deal. 
Can you guess?
Charlotte is walking! And thus, standing on her own, which makes taking photos so much more fun. 
Love that dimple! Ok, enough gushing about my cutie pants girl, how’s about that dress? I’m calling it the Vintage Heirloom dress, because:
1. It’s made from real, true, vintage fabric. Which makes it already uber cool by association. 😉
2. It reminds me of those heirloom dresses that get passed down in families. Or at least, I hope this one will be! (let’s hope, with not too many stains…it IS mostly white;)
It’s really a very simple dress, similar to my vintage feedsack dress, only with a scalloped collar! woot woot…ca-ute. I also totally heart the pleats I added on the sides of the front and back….
It’s not perfectly made (ie pleat eveness), but it was fun to make!
Want to see how I made it?

Click below for the tutorial!

You’ll need:

1-2 yards of material, depending on the size you’re making.
lining fabric (for bodice only)
coordinating fabric for collar and sleeve binding
thread, sewing stuff…
bit of interfacing
paper and tee shirt to make your own pattern.

First off I made a simple bodice pattern by tracing around a tee shirt. (some more detail here)
I shortened it to come right below the armpits, just make sure there is enough space underneath for seam allowances! The neckline is lower in front.
Then, to make the collar, I laid out the patterns so the shoulder seam was touching, and traced around.
Like so.
Then, I used a spool of thread to draw the scallops. Add seam allowance on the scallops.
For the sleeve pattern, trace the armhole, across, and down where you’d like it to be.
Then I lengthened it a little bit and drew the curve a little more gradual. Like this.

Alright, take your collar pattern piece and cut 4 pieces of fabric, make sure they are paired together, right sides facing so you have 2 sets of 2. Also cut 2 from light weight interfacing.
Then apply the interfacing to two of the pieces.
Pin right sides together to the other set, and pin.

Then sew around the scallops with a 1/4″ seam. Clip around the edge so it lies smoothly, I like using pinking shears, fast, and easy!
Then turn right side out and press.
Now for your bodice. Cut two pieces on the fold of the front, one main fabric, and one lining. 
Cut 4 pieces of the back, 2 of main fabric, 2 of lining. I also added 1/2″ to the “fold” side of the back piece to allow for the zipper.
Cut 2 sleeves on the fold.
Pin and sew shoulder seams together of main fabric and lining, separately.
Press the seams open, then place your collar to the main fabric piece and pin down.
Baste around the neckline.
Then, right sides together, add the lining piece on top, and sew together around the neck.
Clip the seam (pinking shears again for me) and turn right sides out and press. Then baste the lining and MF together along the edge of the armholes.
Next cut a piece of your accent fabric as long as the sleeve edge, and 1.25″ wide.
Press the edges in 1/4″, and then in  half to create your binding.
Then open it up and pin right sides together, to the sleeve edge.
Sew along your crease.
Then fold the “tape” over the back, tucking the raw edge under, and pin. Sew along the edge catching the under side in your stitch.
Then pin and sew your sleeve into the armhole, right sides together. Finish with a serger or zig zag stitch.
Then pin and sew and finish the sleeves and bodice side. I also serged the bottom of the bodice at this point.
Then you’ll have an almost finished bodice!
For the skirt, choose your length (mine was 13″) and then width. My bodice was 20″ around, so I cut it out to be 40″ wide. I ended up chopping off some after doing the pleats, so it ended up being 34″ wide.
Then I made some knife pleats, just folding it under going one direction. I played around with the size and spacing until I liked it, pinning as I went.
I left space with no pleats around the side seam, and for about 4 inches in the middle of the front. Then I sewed the skirt and bodice together. 
Then put in an invisible zipper
and hemmed it by turning the edge up 1/4″, and then another 3/4″, and sewing it down. Sewed on my buttons, and was done!
 Hope you like it, let me know if you have any questions, or if you make one, I’d love to see it!


  1. Beautiful dress! It is soo cute! Thak you for tutorial.

    • This dress is so pretty, I would like to have the downloadable pattern pieces. The tutorial is easy to follow.

      • Hello. I would very much appreciate any pattern download you could include please. I’m not that clever on cutting patterns from existing clothes!! Thank you so much for the clear tutorial… it’s just the pattern that foxes me!

  2. oh cute!! i held up a spool of thread just to put things in perspective but tiny dresses (and your baby) are sooo cute!

  3. Another wonderful tutorial Jess – now I just need a little girl to sew for!!

  4. Congartz to the little girl!!!!
    And what a beautifull dress she is wearing… Love to make it when my baby girl can walk!!!:)

  5. Another gorgeous dress! Now what to do for Miss one first…Junebug or Heirloom!! Charlotte is a doll!

  6. yay Charlotte! way to go walker! Love the dress jess, you are such a whiz!

  7. It is absolutely darling!!(And so is your model!!) I love the scalloped collar. And the fabric is great.
    I would love it if you would stop by and link up to my baby themed linky party this week:

  8. Beautiful dress. Charlotte is growing up so quickly… Nothing is safe now she is walking. :o)

  9. Aw, congrats/condolences (LOL) over Charlotte walking! Olivia started walking this past week or so as well! (8.5 months, crazy baby) What a cute little dress.

  10. love this! wishing I had a baby girl of my own to make this for.

  11. It’s so cute when they start waddling around!! The dress is too cute, but she is even cuter. Another dress I want to make along with the June Bug dress!

  12. Adorable, dress and dimple!

  13. Absolutely to die for!!! It’s on my to do list for sure. Thannnnk you!

  14. Adorable! Thanks for the tutorial. I love the scalloped collar!

  15. Adorable dress and crazy adorable kid!!

  16. I just love the dresses you make for your girls! My little one is just a month younger than your youngest but very tiny for her age and I’ve been able to adapt each and every one of your tutorials that I’ve tried so far to fit her!

  17. This dress is so cute love the collar! Also I was glad to see more pics of charlotte because honestly she is the cutest baby I have ever seen. I love her dimple and chubby cheeks!

  18. Charlotte is SO cute!!! I LOVE this dress so much! Would love to make it for my 4 month old! 🙂

  19. Thanks for the tutorial!
    And congratulations for the first steps of the princess.

  20. LOVE IT! congrats on the first steps! I love that stage 🙂 She’s so precious!

  21. Charlotte is such a cutie! Love the way you finished the sleeves and the little pleats.

  22. What an adorable little sweetie! The dress is beautiful as well! I’ll have to find a little girl to make one for! (I have three boys at home!)

  23. I love her little faces!! Oh, yes, and the dress too. Lovely, thank you.

  24. SO adorable, Jess. Both the girlie and the dress. 🙂

  25. your daughter is adorable! and i love the dress especially since you used vintage material! i can’t believe that you just “whip up” these patterns. you are so talented!!


  26. Will you stop making such cute clothes for your girls! I only have so much time to copy all you do and do my own projects, ya know 🙂

    This dress is to die for!

  27. Such a cute dress AND baby girl. I love the way you set in the sleeves. I always put sleeves in before sewing up the side seam. It is so much easier to do that way. I haven’t, however, tried to make my own pattern. You make it seems so easy. ~Jean in NC

  28. Jess, you always inspire me when I pop in on your blog! You are so prolific and I’m glad because I love looking at your sewn clothes.

  29. Basically the cutest little girl dress that I’ve seen in years!

  30. I don’t know how I missed this in August, but WOW! it is cute. Love it. Ruby must have one. 🙂

  31. Charlotte! In the first picture I imagine her saying: “I’m so KYOOOT” 😀 hahaha
    Lovely dress too. ♥

  32. I am having a little girl in May and couldn’t resist making this dress! Mine should fit about a 3-6 Month old I think!
    You can see it here!

  33. what acute dress.. Love it much.. I wanna make it for my daughter.. But I dont have “tailor skil’ how poor I am..
    Ohhhh lmost forget, I’am fro Indonesia. Nice to know and read your blog..

  34. I love this! Your awesome instructions inspire me to make one for my dd who is 5yrs. I bet I could use two king size super nice pillow cases. (I’m on a pillow case thing)

  35. Saw this on SewSet. Don’t even want to make the dress. …. Just want to squeeze that lil punkin face!! What a cutie?

  36. Super cute dress but seriously how adorable is that baby?!

  37. Thanks for the tutorial! I have been searching for a free pattern to make a Christmas dress for MY little Charlotte (great name!:) and this is what I’m going to try! She is only 6 weeks now, so I’ll trace around a 3 month shirt (like a onesie?) I’ll let you know how it turns out!
    Thank you! Ellie

  38. Lindo e inspirador.


  39. I absolutely love this pattern. I have made it twice (first sewing ever) and made the mistake of using old t-shirt fabric for the trim and collar twice- they look fab and are economical but the fabric is a nightmare to work with. I will make it a third time with suitable material, especially now I know I can do it. Thanks for the inspiration! Clare

  40. Anonymous says

    I now will have to try to make one of these cute little dresses! Its sew cute!

  41. Hi Jess,

    Beautiful dress, the model is so adorable!)))

  42. Hallo! I enjoy your blog very much! Thank’s for the great tutorial! Hugs:)

  43. Beautiful dress, I would love to make this for my grand daughter, but I do not have a t-shirt to make the top with. Is there any way I can get a pattern for this.

  44. Great little tutorial. Loved the way you made the collar, will try this my self. Thank your.

  45. Stephanie Baker says

    Your little girl is ADORABLE! Sweet little dimply smile! Love the little dress!

  46. Christine Danneels says

    So, so beautifull and your tutorial is real class ! Thank you very much again.
    Kind regards,

  47. darell gerritsen says

    How do I get the pattern of the little girls red and white dress – the one showing the steps of how to do the dress.

  48. Hi,

    What a beautiful dress!
    Where can i find/buy the pattern of this dress?


  49. I’m new to sewing. Can you tell me how to modify it to make a 3 month size? I would appreciate it! Very cute!

  50. katesnannna says

    Cute dress, absolutely adorable little girl. Love that dimple. Congratulations on the dress but especially the little darling.

  51. T I MARIAMMA says

    so cute. I am going to stitch the dress now itself . I love this tutorial

  52. They are both adorable!! Thank you so much for the great tutorial!

  53. kathleen says

    this is an amazingly clear tutorial, I love it thank you so much!

  54. I made one for my little girl who hasn’t arrived yet 🙂 thank you so much!

  55. I sure would like to have your pattern, I have two great grand daughters that would look nice in this pattern one is 2 years old and the other one is 4 months old and growing fast.
    Thank you,

  56. Such a lovely dress for a cute baby girl.

  57. Carol Phillips says

    Absolutely LOVE the dress but as for the model, well, what a little beauty. She is going to be some shining star one day as she oozes confidence and naturally, like all us girls, she is really owning every moment, feeling so grand in her new outfit. Bless you sweetheart.
    Love and hugs
    All the way from Cape Town, South Africa

  58. What a beautiful baby and fabulous dress. Really clear and specific tutorial. I plan to make this dress for my first grandaughter. Thank you for your expert guidance.

  59. so cute^_^

  60. I have loved it. I will try it out or my two little angles: Jeuel and Geuel. Keep it up.

  61. Amitha Naik says

    I stitched this frock for my 7mo. I tagged you on Facebook in its picture. I hope that is not a problem.
    Thanks for explaining the pattern so well. 🙂

  62. Love this, so cute, will be making a version for my daughter!

  63. Such a darling, sweet baby girl; I just want to hug her! The dress is so cute and you did a wonderful job. Thank you for sharing!!

  64. Kathy G. says

    LOVE this dress. I like all that is vintage when it comes to kids clothing. Your baby girl reminds me of my own granddaughter when she was that little. Adorable.

  65. Linda Felkel says

    Hallo from Germany! 😉

    This dress ist absolutely adorable and the instructions are so well explained and showed – even for beginners like me!
    Please let me know whether it is allowed to sew a few dresses for my online shop?

    Thank you.
    Beste regards

  66. Is it only one size or can it be made large, would love the down load if it does. Thanks.

  67. This is an adorable little dress. Your tutorial says to click below for pattern but I could not find a place to click for it. Do you no longer have it available?


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