One of the blogs I frequent has spent the last several weeks featuring a gazillion different dresses for little girls, all using as a base one very simple dress pattern, with an entirely different look each time. There are a ton of great ideas, but one dress really caught my eye, I absolutely loved it. I made a dress for each of my two youngest girls, and I love, love, love the end result. And so do Gracen and Haven. I used my trusty "Miss Madeline" dress pattern (I love it, it's so versatile!), going out a few more inches to the side when drawing my line down for the skirt, just for a bit more swing, then adding the ruffle down the front along with a big sparkly, gaudy button at the top, and it was as easy as that.
My two cents on making this? Make sure to iron a crease directly down the center front of the dress as a guide to pin the ruffle in place BEFORE you pull the elastic through the casing in the neckline, otherwise it's harder to make sure you are getting your crease/line directly down the center, and it's just plain old easier. Once the crease was there, I went ahead and finished sewing the entire dress, added the elastic at the neckline and sleeves, and hemmed the bottom. I folded the hemmed ruffle strip in half lengthwise and pressed it right sides together, then with my longest stitch length stitched down the center of the ruffle strip, using the crease as my guide. I pulled the bobbin thread on either side to gather it, then I pinned the ruffle to the front and stitched it in place. I promise, the crease I ironed into both the ruffle and the front of the dress made it so easy to center and pin the ruffle. I know the ruffle dos not look quite so straight in the pics, but I assure you, it came out very straight in real life.
For the size-10 dress I cut the ruffle strip 6 inches wide and double the length of the dress front, and the size-6 dress was 5 inches wide and also double the length of the dress front (you can make it wider or narrower to suit your own tastes). I then pressed all of the edges over about 1/8" all the way around, then pressed it 1/8" over again, then stitched it all the way around, making a narrow handkerchief hem on the edges of each of them since I didn't feel like messing with my serger to do a rolled edge. And personally I like the polished look it gives, especially since I also gave the dress a traditional hem. Because of my handkerchief hem, the ruffle strip lost a total of 1/2" on the width, so take note of that. If you use a serger and do a rolled hem on your ruffle strip you will retain the 1/2". I just thought this was worth mentioning since I had originally planned to use my serger but nixed it in the end. I have a few more dresses I want to make the girls for this Summer, but I'm in desperate need of some new skirts myself for church and for the warmer weather too, so I will have to see who wins out. I'm sure it will be more dresses for the girls though, they are always so much fun to make.