a dress for frankie

On a bit of a whim, I decided to sew a cute little dress for little Miss Frankie, who was turning three. Her mum has remarked that the only dressed Frankie wore, were those princess dresses you can get at Target etc.

I remembered seeing a heap of second-hand sewing patterns at my local op-shop, so one morning I headed over to see what I could find.


BEHOLD! The cutest, and most 1990’s pattern they had (illustration B just pulls at my nostalgic heartstrings!). Even though the pattern was in the wrong size range, all the pieces were there and I just had to get it.


While I was there, I thought I may as well see if there was something I could use to make the dress from. I found this chambray, ladies dress, which was in great condition. I have no idea why it was donated!


Now, the pattern. The size range was 1 – 3, based on measurements, I needed a size 5.

I had to grade it.

I haven’t graded kids clothing before, so I started out by noting the increase measurements between the sizes I did have. Starting at the center front, I increased the neckline up; then added a little to the length of the shoulder; then I walked out the side seam. Initially, I didn’t lengthen the bodice, but after making up a toile, I decided to add a little bit in per size. I repeated these steps for the other pattern pieces (except the skirt panels), and sizes (I did 4, 5 and 6).

The one major change I made was to decrease the amount of fabric in the sleeve head. In my toile, the sleeve was so bulky at the underarm point that I had to take out almost 3cm (from the sleeve head). This did the trick, and the sleeve now sits happily in the armscye.


For the skirt panels, I had to piece together any larger bits of fabric that I had leftover. I love how you can see the darker patches where the original pockets were.


The original pattern only had 3 buttons, but because I lengthened the bodice, I thought it could handle four. I used some beautiful wooden buttons from my stash.


I also had to do a little bit of piece-work on the back. The yoke seam is from the original dress, but I had to add in a triangle of fabric to the top of the armscye. I think it blends in with the sleeve, and it isn’t too obvious.


My favourite part of the dress has to be the lining. I had to cut the facing as a separate piece to save on chambray fabric, so I dug through my stash and found half a meter of this adorable cotton print.


There was even enough to make some bias binding, to finish those raw edges in style!


Frankie’s mum tells me that little Miss loves her new dress, and that makes me so unbelievably happy. It looks a little over-sized on her now, but that means that she will get lots and lots of wear out of it as she grows up.


OMG, that face!!!


  • Pattern brand/name/number: Butterick 3645
  • Style, size: B (sans pocket), graded to a size 5
  • Fabric: Thrifted chambray dress from my local op-shop, lining cotton from my stash
  • Notions: Four wooden buttons, contrasting thread
  • Modifications/alterations:
    • Graded pattern (sizes 4, 5 and 6)
    • Added length to the bodice
    • Slightly changed the shape of the facing
    • Took out 3 cm from the sleeve head
    • Shortened the sleeves to above the elbow
    • Used four buttons instead of three
    • Finished the raw edges (neck edge, sleeve hems, waist seam and skirt hem) with bias binding

I really hope that this dress stands the test of time, I’d love to see Frankie hand it down to her daughter one day (if she has one).

Mitty x

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