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Special occasion dress hack for the Dorothy pattern.

This is a tutorial to show how to add a circular skirt to the Dorothy pattern. Adding a circular skirt gives this simple style that extra swish and twirl power, making it perfect for a special occasion dress. It could easily be transformed to pretty bridesmaid dresses, a party dress or a dress for any other special occasion simply by your choice of fabric and print.

As there are currently no weddings pending or upcoming parties I decided to take the opportunity to create a celebration for these dresses. It’s only one short school year before my daughter leaves primary school. (They say it goes quickly…it really does).

From her first year at school she has had a lovely friendship with her classmate Agnes. The two have a wonderful bond, fondly dubbed the terrible twins at school and always working together on projects. Their teacher even let’s them work together because they do support one another and work together so well. Their friendship has always impressed me, they know the personal traits, likes and dislikes or each other. When squabbles occur they always work them out in such a mature way. What better excuse for a celebration and a girly day with new dresses than friendship?

The girls had a lovely girly day selecting fresh flowers to hold during the shoot. They had their hair styled at Amaryllis who curled, pinned and added extra sparkle with glitter to their pretty hair.

How to adapt the Dorothy dress:

For this hack I used Lady McElroy blossoms reflection cotton lawn with deep rose Kona cotton for the sash and bodice lining. I made a simple underskirt from soft champagne bridal net adding a waistband in the blossom fabric for an elastic channel. This way the dress can be worn with or without the underskirt.

The Maths:

This looks a bit scary but hopefully once you get started it will come together. I usually completely glaze over when anyone explains a mathematical equation so I’ve tried to keep it simple.

The fabric required will depend on the size and length you are making. I have based these instructions on skirt lengths shorter than half the width of the fabric. For older or taller girls with longer length skirts you may need to either cut the skirt as four sections using the fabric open width and following these instructions from a selvedge edge or if the design allows you could fold the fabric open width with the selvedges matched for the length you require.

You can draft the pattern onto paper first if you prefer so you can calculate the fabric requirements. If you know the skirt will fit into half the fabric width you can work on twice the skirt length plus bodice length for your fabric calculation.

This is the front skirt drafted or cut. Now you can cut the back in exactly the same manor but add a 1.5cm seam allowance along the right angle edge. You will also need to cut the fold line so that the back is in two sections.

Hooray the math is over now you can make the dress exactly as the instructions say simply omitting the gathers! You could also use this technique on other styles with a waist seam.

Happy celebrations I’d love to see your versions. The Dorothy pattern is available as a pdf or as a paper pattern.

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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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