Video link: Make a Zero Waste BabyDoll Dress
For my size all I needed was 1 yard of fabric, which is normally folded when you purchase it so you have 2 layers to work with. I know everyone's not going to fit 1 yard of fabric but I’ll show you some ways you can take this concept and make it fit yourself better! First, measure your shoulder down to your under bust. For me it was 12 inches, but add seam allowance so its 13 inches. Mark that measurement straight across your fabric and cut it out. I also want to mention that my fabric is on grain already. The rest of the fabric is going to be used for the skirt, which is already 2x the size of my under bust so it’ll give me just enough gathers. The length is good length and can be shortened later. Next take the smaller piece which will be the bodice and cut open the folded side, then fold the fabric in half to mark the middle. Next we need to decide how low our neckline is going to be. You can trace a shirt you have at home or measure on yourself to find the lowest point of the neckline. I made mine 6 inches down from the top. For the head opening, 7 inches was the perfect size for me, But if you’re making a bigger size the hole will need to be a little bigger. Always measure on yourself first. I would even recommend you use a scrap piece of fabric and cut out the neckline to make sure it fits you. The next markings I made were the underarm seams. Make sure the space in between is wide enough to slide on and off over your shoulders. My markings were 5-6 inches from the sides. It really depends on how wide your fabric is as well, so just make sure the space in between will fit you, then whatever is left can be the sleeve or armhole. Once I have those markings down, I fold my fabric in half to cut out the neckline. It’s important to cut the neckline the same on both sides because now I can reuse the curved pieces as pockets later. Here are all of my pieces!
If you’re a bigger size you’re going to need to purchase more than 1 yard of fabric. Let’s say this is 2 yards of fabric. The skirt needs to be 2x the size of your under bust, so if you need more fabric, you can cut 2 skirt pieces out and attach them together to fit you. If the bodice is not wide enough for sleeves, you can always cut 2 additional rectangle pieces to add onto the sides of the bodice. Now let’s say you’re in between sizes so you’ll have extra pieces leftover, You could use those pieces to create some ruffles, bows, headband, or whatever you can think of! These are just some ideas I came up with, but I’m curious to see how you’ll create zero-waste with what you have!
To construct the baby doll dress, first sew the top of the bodice, and the underarm seams. Next, take the skirt piece and sew the open side closed. The nice thing about leaving the selvage is that the fabric won’t unravel so you don’t have the finish the edge. Then gather the top by sewing a basting stitch and pulling on the thread. Evenly gather it to fit the bodice, then sew the two pieces right sides together. The underarm seam I created is kind of awkward to sew because its straight so I just did my best, but if you want to, you can create a little curve shape so the skirt can have something to pin too. I was committed to this being ZERO waste so I avoided cutting anything away.
Moving onto the neckline, to finish the raw edges, I sewed on some single-fold bias tape. To sew it on you want to pin and fit the bias tape to the neckline first and sew the ends together. Then with the bias tape unfolded, sew one edge right sides together to the neckline. After that, fold the bias tape over to the wrong side, and topstitch the other side down along the folded edge. Make sure to press with an iron afterwards and Now you have a nice, clean neckline!
To finish the sleeves, I first hemmed the raw edges. Then I marked 1 and a quarter inch along the bottom of the sleeves and will be stretching and sewing elastic to create some ruffles and a poof sleeve look. I decided I wanted the length just a little shorter so I trimmed off a couple inches, and will be reusing it to create a tie for the back of the dress to cinch it in if needed. Just fold the strip in half and sew the open side closed. You can make your tie as wide as you want, but I didn’t make mine too narrow because again, I don’t want to have to trim any extra material away.
I also went ahead and hemmed the bottom of the dress. Next turn the strap inside out with a loop turner, and tack it down at the sides of the dress at the waist seam.
Lastly we’re going to make the pockets by reusing the pieces cut out from the neckline! First hem the top edge of the pockets. Then I sewed a basting line along the curve and tugged on the thread a little to make it easier to press the SA in. Since the top of the pocket is kind of wide, I stretched and sewed elastic 3/4 of an inch from the top to cinch it in. Next press the raw edges inside with an iron. And lastly, determine where you want the pockets to be placed on the dress and sew them on!
Here is the final creation! I ended up making 2 because its so easy and cute, but also because the blue fabric was giving me hospital gown vibes. Also Idk if you can tell but the checkered fabric was not as wide as the blue fabric so it has less gathers, and smaller sleeves, but still worked out! You can even make this in a stretch knit fabric if 1 yard is just a little too small, or add a zipper in the back. I hope this inspires you to design your own zero-waste babydoll dress and if you do make one, be sure to share with me on Instagram!