A Theodor drop waist dress hack.

Are you following along with the current season of Project run and play? I am really enjoying following this burst of creativity especially during these difficult times. Last year I was very excited to be one of the contestants, it was great fun being part of the competition.

I opted to make or use all my own patterns for my entries one of which was a simple drop waist dress using the Theodor sweatshirt as a base. I promised to share this as a tutorial:


Generally speaking for kids clothes I do tend to make a size bigger so that they will last a bit longer. My daughter measures up to an age nine on the size chart for my patterns. With a regular Theodor sweatshirt I would make her an age 10 or even 11 depending on if the fabric was heavier weight. For this being a lighter fabric and wanting to achieve a slightly slimmer silhouette I used aged 9. There is still room for a bit of growth too!

If the little girl you are making the dress for already owns a Theodor this is a good starting point. Ask them to try the top on and gauge where they would naturally put their hands in their pockets. This might be 2 or 3cms above or below the seam line where the band is attached. The position is roughly mid hip.

If they don’t own a top you can measure the pattern. Ideally match the sleeve seam to the body seam (pin the pattern together if it makes it easier, taking the full seam allowance) and measure from side neck to hem. Check this measurement against the pattern. You may want to trace the pattern to preserve the original and then alter the length up or down. You can simply add or reduce this to the bottom of the front and back pieces as long as the adjustment isn’t more than around 3-4cms. I reduced the length by 3cm.

To create the skirt pattern make a rectangle approximately 1.5 x the width of the front/back panel. In this example the front/back measures 20.5cm so my rectangle measured 31cm. The depth of the rectangle will be the desired length plus seam allowance and hem turning. In this example I made the length 28cm (3cm turnings). This will be your back pattern placed on the fold of the fabric.

Lastly to create the front and pocket patterns. Mark out another rectangle the same size as your skirt back. Ask your child to place their hand near the top of the rectangle so you can gauge how deep to make the pocket. It is usually smaller than you think. Make a mark along the side seam where the pocket opening should finish. I used 11cm for this size. Mark the top edge of the rectangle approximately 3cm in. Join these two points with a gentle curved line or straight if you prefer. This is the pocket opening on the front skirt.

Before cutting this off draw another rectangle deep enough and wide enough to make the pocket. Again you could ask your child to place their hand on the rectangle to judge how deep the pocket needs to be. In this example my pocket rectangle measures 22cm x 11cm. Cut two of these rectangles patterns. Now cut away the pocket opening on the front skirt panel. Use what you cut as a template on one of the pocket rectangles to create a pocket bag pattern. The piece without the cutaway is the pocket back. You can leave the lower internal edges of the pocket squared or draw a curved line.

Cut one back on fold of fabric, one front on fold of fabric and one pair of pocket bags and one pair of pocket backs in addition to the rest of the top.

Making up:

This dress can be made using an overlocker or a standard sewing machine. If you are using a sewing machine, fit a ball point or stretch needle and set your stitch to a narrow long zig zag stitch. For sewing with an overlocker it is best set up with 4 threads for strong seams. I’ve used a 1cm seam allowance throughout as this is the same as the main pattern.

Start by matching the pocket bag to the front skirt with right sides together (RST), stitch in place. If you are using a sewing machine you might need to trim this seam to approx 5-7mm.

Place the pocket back RST over the pocket bag, matching the raw edges, stitch in place.

Top stitch the edge of the pocket opening. This is also best done with a zig zag or stretch stitch.

Pin and machine tack the pocket together at the side and upper seams to hold in place. With RST pin and stitch the front and back together at side seams.

Make the top up following the pattern instructions, omitting the hemband.

Sew two rows of gather stitches at the upper edge of the skirt. Start the front rows from just beyond the edge of the pocket bag to the same point on the other side. Sew two rows on the back skirt from side seam to side seam. Before drawing the gather stitches up fold the skirt in half matching side seams to find the centre front and centre back. mark these points. Do the same on the lower edge of the top. With these centres matched draw the gather stitches until each skirt section fits to the lower edge of the top. Ease the gathers until they look even. 

With RST stitch the skirt to the top and neaten raw edges if you want to.

Theodor dropwaist dress hack Bobbins and Buttons

To complete turn and stitch the hem. I prefer to turn a single hem on jersey as it is less likely to stretch or be bulky. I stitched a 2cm hem on this dress.

Theodor dropwaist dress hack Bobbins and Buttons
Theodor dropwaist dress hack Bobbins and Buttons
Theodor dropwaist dress hack Bobbins and Buttons

To complete the look I found a coordinating plain jersey to make Frances leggings . I also made two simple scrunchies. Tutorial coming soon for that one too!

Theodor dropwaist dress hack Bobbins and Buttons
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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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