Illustration of bias binding being hand-stitched in place after
being sewn around the neckline.
G. Run two lines of gathering
stitches along the bottom of the bodice front (the topmost set should
be 3/8” away from the bottom edge, and the second set should
be just under the first set). You may now try the bodice on the child
if you like. Time to add the sleeves!
(Note: Puffed sleeves with
bands are shown. Instructions
straight sleeves are given below.)
A. Run gathering (or
“ease”) stitches on tops and bottoms of
sleeves. Gathering stitches should be no more than 3/8” away
from the edge of
To create the band, first measure around the
flexed bicep of the child right above her elbow. To this measurement,
inch for ease (comfort) and one inch for a 1/2” seam
allowance. For instance,
if the child’s flexed bicep measures six inches,
you’ll add two inches, leaving
enough room for the 1/2” seam allowance and an inch of
“breathing room.” If you
want to make a tight cuff (fitted to the bicep), I still recommend
least 3/8” of room for movement. You can make the band from
the dress material,
but I prefer the method shown in the home ec. textbook from which the
version of this pattern came. The band shown in the book is made of
embroidered netting/lace (and therefore doesn’t need a hem).
To make a band
like that, simply place your width guide on the edge of the eyelet or
cut the band to the proper length (8” in this example). Cut
two bands by
doubling the eyelet or lace. If you prefer a plain band out of regular
material, you will double the width of the band, since you are going to
to the inside of the sleeve to cover the seam (and also eliminate the
a hem)—see illustration below.
Pin the band to the sleeve, pulling gathering
stitches to fit. Stitch.
If you’re using
an eyelet or lace band, finish off the raw edge of the cuff seam by
with bias tape or self fabric bias binding (this is optional, but it
seam from unraveling and makes a much nicer finish).
(Sleeve Pinned to Band - Click
for larger image)
sleeve seams together, using the French seam method (wrong sides
right sides together). Turn sleeve right side out and press. If
you’re using a
regular fabric band (doubled in width), turn under 1/4” of
the raw edge and
press. Turn band to the inside of the sleeve until the folded under
completely covers the band/sleeve seam allowance. Whipstitch in place.
E. Pin sleeves
into armholes, right sides together. Pull up gathering stitches for puffed
sleeve or use ease stitches to fit cap sleeve into armhole. Stitch. To finish
the raw edge of the seam allowance, use self bias binding (zigzag or Serger
stitches will show through your sheer material).
(Sleeve pinned into armhole - click for larger image)
Cap Sleeves: You can cut these off at
the elbow or make them wrist-length. Sew the sleeve seams together, using the
French seam method. Turn sleeves right side out and press. (You will press
under the wrist edge only when you have determined the hem width after trying
the dress on the child.) Run ease stitches along the top of the sleeve as
indicated on the pattern. Pin sleeve into armhole, matching front edge to front
edge of the bodice and sleeve seam to underarm seam. Ease curve into armhole.
Stitch, then finish raw edge as shown in step “E” above.
A. Cut skirt back to dot for the back opening. Sew skirt back
to skirt front at side seams (French seaming once again). Turn skirt right side
out and press.
make a placket for the center back skirt opening, cut a piece of fabric on the
bias twice as long as the back opening and 2 3/8” inches wide.
C. Pin placket to right side of skirt back opening.
Stitch placket to skirt (and lining, if you have one), starting at the
top edge of the left side of the skirt opening (left as you are looking
at it) and taking up a 1/2” seam. When you reach the center,
leave your needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot and pivot the
fabric to head back up the other side of the back opening. When
you’ve finished inserting the placket, turn under 1/4” of
the free edge of the placket and press. Trim the placket seam allowance
to about 1/4”.
the placket as illustrated so the left side is completely turned under along
the seam line. You will turn the right side of the placket in only enough to
cover the placket seam on the inside of the dress. Now the left side of the
back opening will overlap the right and make an even closure, as seen below.
(Placket Opened and Closed - Click for larger images)
gathering stitches in top of skirt, breaking at side seams.
(Skirt and Optional Overskirt - Click for larger image)
4. Making the Waistband
A. Measure around the child’s waistline (over
undergarments), keeping one finger between the tape and her body for ease.
Write down this measurement. Now add 1 1/2” to this measurement to allow for
the back overlap and 1/2” to turn under. For example, let’s say the child’s waist
measures 20” (with a finger between the tape and her body). You’ll add 1/2” for
the back overlap (the left laps over the right 1/2”), plus 1” to give you 1/2”
on each end of the waistband to turn under.
B. Using the waistband width guide, cut out the waistband
(it would be 21 1/2” in this example). Also cut out a waistband lining out of
the lining material and set it aside. (Optional: You can also make the
waistband out of entredeaux for an heirloom dress.
5. Attaching Bodice to Waistband
A. Pin bodice to waistband, beginning at the back opening and turning
under 1/2” at each end of the waistband. Pin all the way around
to the side seams, then match center front of waistband to center front
of bodice and pin. Pull up gathering stitches to fit and spread them
evenly. Stitch bodice to waistband.
B. Pin skirt to waistband, matching placket edges to back edges of
waistband exactly (to allow for overlap). Match side seams and center
front. Pull up gathering stitches and spread evenly. Stitch skirt to
(Bodice being sewn to waistband - Click for larger image)
5. Finishing the Dress
A. Press under the top and bottom of the waistband lining
1/2”, then press under 1/2” at each end. Pin waistband
lining over skirt and bodice seam allowances inside the dress and
whipstitch or slipstitch in place. (This completely encloses the raw
seams and prevents unraveling.) [Note: If you choose to use entredeaux,
you do not need to line the waistband. Instead, bias bind the raw seams
to finish them off.
B. Mark buttonholes horizontally on the overlapping back flap of
the bodice. You can space the buttons up to 1” apart, but
larger gaps between buttons will result in puckering of the overlap
between buttons. Eight to twelve 3/8” buttons will fill the
space, depending upon how far apart you space the buttonholes and
depending upon the height of the child for whom the dress is
made. You can also put a button in the center of the waistband,
although a skirt hook and eye will work nicely (and is period correct).
If you are using a particularly delicate material (like voile), I
recommend backing each buttonhole with interfacing (you can sandwich a
thin “slice” of interfacing inside the fold of the back
overlap, then stitch each buttonhole through the three layers). Clip
buttonholes open, then pin the bodice closed and mark where the buttons
should be sewn. Sew buttons in place. If desired, also sew
a snap or hook and eye closure in the placket.
C. To hem the dress, try it on the child and mark the hem length. Turn
up and hand stitch the hem in place. Press. If you’ve
lined the dress, the skirt lining should be hemmed to almost the exact
same length, save ¼” inch (to keep the lining hidden). Or,
if you prefer, you can embellish the hemline of the lining with eyelet
or embroidery and leave it peeking out. [Note: Obviously there are lots
of alternatives. You can make a skirt of eyelet, which won’t need
a hem; you can make double skirt layers; you can hemstitch or place
lace insertion. See the appendix for more embellishment ideas.]
7. Instructions for Making a Lined Bodice:
A. Cut out
the bodice and lining pieces.
the steps given above for sewing the shoulder and side seams together on the
bodice and bodice lining with one exception: you do not have to make French
seams, since your seam allowances will be completely enclosed. [Important note:
If you are still using sheer fashion material, you will need to interline the
bodice. This means you will pin backing pieces to the bodice front and back
pieces before you sew the front and backs to the lining. This interlining keeps
the sheer fashion material from being “see-through” and therefore hides the
C. Pin the
bodice lining to the bodice, right sides together. Stitch.
(Bodice pinned to lining - Click for larger image)
curves and corners and grade seam allowance.
bodice right side out and understitch up the inside of the back edge,
around the neckline and down the opposite back edge. (You are stitching
through the seam allowance. This prevents the lining from
“rolling” to the outside of the dress.) Press.
F. Proceed through the rest of the steps given above to complete
the dress (if you are not using sheer material, you do not have to make
French seams on the skirt, although I highly recommend this method,
since it makes such a nice finish and keeps the seam allowances from
8. Making the Waistline Sash
A. To make the sash, measure around the child’s waist while
she is wearing the dress. The width guide on the pattern sheet is only
a suggestion. You may make the sash as wide or as narrow as you please.
1914 styles were all over the map when it came to sashes. A
“medium” sized sash that has enough fabric to bunch up
nicely will be 10” wide. You will cut the sash the width you
desire and 1” longer than the child’s waistline measurement
you just took over the dress. You will be cutting the sash across
the material from selvedge to selvedge rather than up and down with the
grain. (If you prefer a sash that ties in the back, you can cut a long
one down the grain.)
B. Fold sash in half, right sides together, and stitch down the
long seam. Then stitch one end closed with the long seam in the
middle, rather than at the top or bottom edge. (This makes for a
nicer-looking sash, since the long seam will be hidden beneath.)
C. Turn sash right side out, then
turn under the open end and slipstitch closed, leaving no stitches on
the outside of the sash. Have the child try on the sash over the dress,
scrunching it up into nice folds. The sash ends should just meet, but
if they overlap a bit, that’s okay. Just mark how much of an
overlap there is (or if there isn’t an overlap). Sew hooks and
eyes to the underside of the sash so that they can fasten and remain
hidden from view. If you’ve made a long sash for the child, you
can tie it and leave the ends hanging down behind or in front. You can
make many different sashes and change the look of the dress any time!
9. Making the Underdress:
You will use the same pattern pieces to make the underdress, only
you’ll be leaving the sleeves off and changing the waistband.
A. Lay out the bodice back piece as usual, but cut the neckline down
one inch away from the child’s regular size line (leaving the
shoulder area the same). Lay out the bodice front piece on the fold as
usual, but cut the neckline down two inches from the child’s
regular size line (leaving the shoulder area the same)—see
Cutting out the underdress bodice.
pieces to cut out lining if you wish to line the underdress. If you do not wish
to line it, you’ll need to cut self bias binding for the armholes and neckline.
C. If you
are making a lined bodice, stitch bodice front and back together at shoulders
only. Repeat for the lining. If you are making an unlined bodice, stitch front
and back together at shoulders and side seams.
D. Take the
bodice lining and pin it to the bodice, right sides together. Stitch around the
neckline and at the armholes, as shown below, then clip corners and curves.
E. Turn bodice right side out by “feeding” the bodice
back pieces through the shoulders at each side and pulling them out the
front of the bodice. Press. Set aside.
F. If you’re making an unlined bodice, bind the armholes and
neckline with bias binding as explained in steps 1E & F above. Set
G. Sew skirt pieces together and add placket, as explained in section 3.
H. You can make the waistband plain or of beading, cutting the
waistband exactly as explained above and sewing it to the bodice and
skirt pieces. If you use beading, you can run a pretty ribbon through
the holes and have it tie in the back.
I. Finish the rest of the underdress just as you finished the dress.
You can trim the hem with lace or embroidery if you like. The sky is
10. Tips for Embellishing the Dress:
There are so many possibilities for decorating this dress! Girls’
dresses (particularly for church or fancy events) were often lavishly
embroidered around the neckline, down the bodice, above the hem of the
skirt and on the sleeves. I’ve included some basic embroidery
designs at the end of the instructions so you can try them out. I
recommend practicing on a scrap of fabric first if you’re new to
You can also add lace insertion to the dress in the bodice, sleeves and
skirt. Inserting lace is much easier than it looks! Should you decide
to do it, you need to add all of the lace before you sew the dress
pieces together. Below are some basic instructions for lace insertion
(taken from a vintage dressmaking book). Try it out on scrap fabric
first, and you’ll soon get the hang of it.
To insert lace insertion in a garment,
pin the lace in the position desired [on the right side of the
material], and baste down both edges of the insertion. If the insertion
is narrow, the [backing] material is cut through the center (Fig. 1);
but if the insertion is wide, the material is cut away from underneath,
simply allowing a seam on each side. The edge is turned in a narrow hem
covering the line of the basting. Stitch the insertion close to the
edges from the right side, and at the same time catching through the
material hemmed down. [Fig. 2 gives an example of lace insertion above
a hem with lace trimming the hem.] (from The Dressmaker, Butterick Co.,
(Figure 1 and Figure 2)
You can invent your own patterns for lace insertion (circles, ovals,
straight lines, scallops, bows, etc.), but I’ve included a couple
of vintage pictures at the end of the instructions to give you some
ideas. The main thing is to be creative and enjoy yourself!
Enjoy your new creation!
(The Finished Dress - Click for larger image)
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1914 Afternoon Dress Pattern copyright Mrs. Jennie Chancey, 2004-2007