Making Matching Ruffle Dresses

Created By:

Janelle Marie

Skill Level: Advanced

Last month, in March, I got to fulfill one of my lifelong dreams of taking a girls trip to the UK! As soon as the trip was set for springtime, I knew I wanted to make matching dresses for my friend Lauren and myself. I decided on something simple, classic and perfect for running through flower fields and towards castles.  Lauren Brown, an incredible artist herself (@LABIllustration on IG), gave me the inspiration for the off the shoulder puff sleeves and I wanted a ruffled hem for great movement.



I started by drafting the bodice pattern and measuring the skirts and ruffles to calculate how much fabric I would need to buy. The bodice was drafted as a simple strapless shape with bust seams and a center back zipper. I then added slight dips under the arms to accommodate the puff sleeve attachment points. The puff sleeves were patterned as 10 x 26” rectangles with notches cut into the top outside corners to fit the underarm curve.



Once I had everything patterned and measured, I bought 14 yards of lightweight linen. I also bought 2 yd of extra wide cotton fabric to line both the bodices and top portion of the skirts as the linen was a little too sheer on its own. I overbought with a plan to use as much fabric for the bottom ruffle as possible after cutting the bodices and skirt bases. I ended up with less than a yard left and some scraps!



I started by cutting out the half circle skirt bases from both linen and cotton and then hanging them on my mannequin to settle for the night. The linen ended up growing a full inch and needed to be trimmed. That's why it's super important to let your skirt fabric hang and grow overnight every time!



For each bodice pattern piece, I cut out two pieces of linen and four pieces of cotton. Sew 21 pieces of fabric per bodice total. I then basted one piece of linen on top of one piece of cotton to use for the outside layer of my bodice. The other cotton pieces were assembled and used as the lining. These three layers of fabric provided enough stability that I did not need to use any boning or interfacing.



The sleeves were constructed of one-piece linen and one-piece cotton each. I serged the underarm seam closed and then serged the top and bottom raw edges. I then flipped those each inside the sleeve ½” and sewed them down to create channels for the elastics. The sleeves were attached into the underarm dip of the outer bodice fabric. Their raw edges were then hidden when the bodice lining was attached.


Once the linen skirt growth was trimmed, I basted the linen to the cotton fabric, serged the back seams individually and attached the skirt to the outer bodice. I used an invisible zipper to close the back, careful not to catch the lining fabric. Once an invisible zipper was installed, I sewed the remainder of the back skirt seam and a hand whip stitched in the lining to hide all the raw edges at the waist and next to the zipper.



The final step was to add the ruffles at the bottom edge of the skirt base. I saved this for last because I wanted to use every last scrap of linen I had left. I sewed all remaining full width lengths of linen together to create one long yardage then I folded it up lengthwise so I could make one clean cut through the center of all yardages to create two long strips. I folded both long strips in half and ironed them to create fuller ruffles without having to finish the bottom edge. After sewing the ends together to create one giant loop, my MC 9450 QCP with adjusted tension and walking foot helped to gather the lengths into a more manageable size. I marked four points on the gathered loop in even increments to help me line them up with the front, sides and center back of the skirt base. After attaching the ruffle at those four points I hand gathered the remainder to the bottom edge of the skirt. All that was left was to use my serger to create a nice clean attachment and the dresses were done!



I decided to go one step further and dye each of the dresses a different color. I chose yellow for mine and Lauren wanted a soft blue green for hers, so I used a lighter dose of emerald. Rit liquid dye in Golden Yellow and Emerald worked beautifully in the washing machine! Of course, I left this decision to the last second so Lauren's dress was dyed and completely dry before I had to pack but mine ended up needing to be wrapped up wet and dried at our Airbnb in London!



After giving it plenty of time to dry, the weather cleared up and we took some fantastic photos in the daffodil fields at Green Park next to Buckingham Palace. It was a truly magical day and worth all of the last-minute stress.



The dresses traveled with us from London, through the Cotswolds to a few castles and all the way up to Edinburgh Scotland. They were easy to toss on over top of leggings and we got some really great photos and videos in and around beautiful castles. We even got called princesses by some of the local kids on field trips. It was a trip I will remember forever! I hope you enjoy these photos.


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