If you live almost anywhere in North America right now, it’s freakin cold.
Even here in Texas, we had a no-school snow day today!
Except that….it didn’t really snow…..and the clouds parted, and we saw blue skies for the first time in two weeks. Woohoo! But hey, I’ll take a sleep-in-lazy-morning-jammies-till-noon-coloring-and-baking-and-playing-and-now-it’s-lunch-time-and-now-my-kids-are-stir-crazy-can’t-wait-for-them-to-go-back-to-school-tomorrow kind of day. Ya know?
What do you do in the winter-time, with a dress pattern that’s more of a Spring/Summer type of thing?
Fleece the twirl out of that thing!
Then throw a pair of tights underneath and you’ve got a warm, happy camper.
Oh my gosh, I love how this turned out (with a few tweaks needed on the sleeves). It was one of those adventure projects that made me excited to cut and scheme and sew.
Whenever you guys email asking if a certain fabric will work on a certain pattern, my answer is always give it a try! So when I found this gorgeous mustard fleece at Joann Fabrics, I thought it would be a fun experiment to use it on the First Day Dress pattern, making it warm and cozy for the winter months.
Okay, let’s sew a dress with FLEECE!
Fleece fabric is fun and easy to use.
I posted a reversible + knit fabric version of the shirt this summer, using many of the same tips we’re going to use here…..because some people don’t realize that Fleece is a knit fabric and has a good deal of stretch. You can buy fleece at most fabric stores and there’s a wide range of types, colors, stretch, etc. This fleece is more light-weight (rather than the bulky kind you might use for a blanket) so it gives the dress a nice drape on the skirt area.
When using fleece you want to note the nap on each side of the fabric. The nap is the fuzzy pile texture on top of the fabric. And often it looks different on each side, as you can see in the photo above. Now—in my opinion—I don’t think there’s a technical Wrong or Right side to fleece….because sometimes I like using the “wrong” side for my project because it’s looks good to me. So just decide which side looks “right” to you, and remember to cut your pieces on that same Right side of the fabric each time.
When sewing with fleece, you want to use a stitch that will stretch with the fabric. A zigzag stitch is great….but it’s also fun to experiment with the different stitches that might come on your machine. So pull out your owner’s manual and see what it can do! My BabyLock machine has tons of stitches and recently I’ve been using this “overcasting stitch” because it gives tons of stretch to my seams.
For this version of the dress, I made a few tweaks to the original pattern:
• I used two layers of fleece on the bodice of the dress, to make it extra warm. But I only used a single layer of fabric on the skirt portion.
• Rather than cutting a slit in the back, I cut a circular “key hole” (I just eyeballed it and drew it on the fabric)
• I used knit ties in for the closure instead of a button (more info in this post)
• I cut the neckline down a little lower on the back (although I intended for this to be the front of the dress. Lucy and I had differing opinions on that)
• I created “puff” sleeves by adding a couple inches to the sleeve pattern piece and cut the shape of the pattern a little different on the side (as shown in the photo below). Then I gathered the fabric in the middle of the sleeve and bound the whole thing with bias tape.
Yep! More homemade knit bias tape…made from the scraps from a summer project. Yay!
With my sleeves sewn in place, I bound the bias tape around the raw edges with WONDER CLIPS and sewed them in place using a zigzag stitch (because I like how that stitch looks on the outside of the garment)
I sewed the edges of the seam down so they weren’t poking into the arm hole.
And I sewed the rest of the dress as outlined in the pattern, using that stretchy overcast stitch I showed you above. I didn’t even hem the dress….because fleece won’t fray at the edges! SCORE.
And……there you go!
A simple little dress for my just-turned-9-years-old Lucy girl.
Then comes the fun part….accessorizing the ensemble.
I thought a belt might be cute with the dress….and of course a sweater for the cooler months.
Kitty Cat tights?
Do these come in my size?
And the only thing I really need to tweak is the sleeve size. I made the puff part too large, so the armhole looks big on her skinny arms. But it’s a small thing. Haah.
And it just leaves extra room for running and playing and twirling,
…and getting into mischief.
She and I couldn’t decide which was the front of the dress and which was the back!
She thought the bow should go in the back.
Which does look cute.
But finally I convinced her to try it in the front as well.
And now we have two looks.
So go ahead and give your First Day Dress a twirl in fleece, corduroy, or something warm.
Have a great weekend friends!
Such an adorable dress!!! Fun fleece, a cute pattern and love the pink binding!
Darling!! Love & miss that fun, beautiful Lucy girl!!
just curious….what size did you make her dress and what size do you buy for her in a store? I have a 6 yr old in a size 10/12 (tall, but skinny). Trying to determine if the first day dress pattern is worth purchasing from a size point of view.
Lucy is a very petite girl….and still wears some size 6 and 7 year old stuff from stores like Target and Old Navy.
For this dress, I used size 6 for the bodice and cut a size 9 for the length (but ended up shortening it more at the end to like a size 8 length)
The pattern goes up to a size 10.
Adorable – and warm & cozy, too!
First let me say that I LOVE THIS PATTERN! It sews together very nicely. This fleece version is beautiful too.
I made my first, and only… so far, “First Day” dress as a birthday gift for my daughter’s friend. She thinks the front neckline is too high… 🙁
Should I unpick the front of the bodice at the waist and simply cut a little deeper on the front, then sew it back up? Or, should I make a whole new dress with a scooped neck?
(ugh! I handstitched the lining closed and really hate re-doing/fixing things.)
Sorry about the neckline…You can still fix it! Yes, you could still cut the neck lower…and maybe bind it with some bias tape instead of sewing it back together? (since it will be hard to do at this point with the sleeves sewn together. I’ve used bias tape before and it looks really cute!….similar to how I did the sleeves here.
Thanks Dana! I may go the bias tape route… that’s genius, I didn’t even think like that. I was only focused on the “unpicking for days” aspect of it. 😛
I even have some coordinated fabric I could make the bias tape with!
Adorable! I never knew they had fleece other than the character-y kind they sell for pj’s or blankets, nice! Sometime I should go to the fabric store sans kids so I have more time to look and explore instead of get in, get what I need, and get out! 🙂
I love the bow in the front for a nice spin on the dress. If she wears it with a bow in the back, a cute matching pink bubblegum necklace would be adorable too!
Love this pattern, I am going to have to give it a try!
*gumball necklace that is. 😉
Yes! There are so many types of fleece other than printed blanket fleece! Look online too for more options. Maybe try fabric.com
Love that your skirt doesn’t need hemming. My 4 year old granddaughter loves circle skirts but they are a nightmare to hem. I have to sew a gathering stitch to be able to hem without puckers. Is there an easier way besides not hemming at all? Love Lucy’s dress!
I always do a skinny hem, about 1/4 inch all the way around and press over in small amounts. Some times it sort of “folds” on itself and isn’t perfect but overall it looks good. It just takes a little time and patience. Sorry I don’t have a better answer! 🙂
I love how this dress and pattern looks so good on Lucy! I can’t wait to sew more, life is busy being 9 months pregnant. 🙁 More like life is sleepy.
The bow in the front makes me think you could sew it that way with a huge bow neckerchief thing- a blogger recently pointed out the name of that classy bow thing but I can’t remember. Anyway, If you were going to make the keyhole the front there are some real possibilities there like bringing the trim or bias tape or huge scarf of fabric around the neckline and down too. I can see it getting out of hand though from kids clothes to women’s clothes.
Decorative stitching around the keyhole? Polka dot bias tape? Big buttons… It’s an interesting idea to turn it around.
And how is Lucy 9?!
yes yes! Great ideas!
I love the idea of a large floppy bow….maybe out of chiffon….kind of like an ascot?
Thanks for chiming in!
I can’t believe she’s 9.
congrats on your baby-to-be btw….you’re SOOO close! I hope all goes well!
Dana! Lucy is all grown up now. What a beautiful not-so-little girl. How the time flies. And perfect dress! You do such wonderful things with solids (brava!). And that texture on the fleece adds so much to this particular solid. Lovely!
Thank you LiEr. Love hearing from you! 🙂
Beautiful! I tired corduroy with this pattern and it worked great. I must sew with fleece next winter!
love, love, love it! I am so happy you got the tights. When I ran back to Target to get them in my daughters size they were already out of her size. Serious bummer!
haha. Yes! They were so hard to resist!….We got the bunny ones too 🙂
I want those tights!! (My daughter wouldn’t wear them unless I cut the toes out…she has seam issues. ha!) And thanks to your crazy Texas weather, my hubby was stuck in Amarillo an extra day. So strange. Usually it’s us northerners wreaking havoc with airline schedules this time of year. 😀
crazy! I know….this weather is playing with my mind! 🙂
very cute dress! I think I will have to copy it 😉
I’m digging out some Joann Fabrics coupons right now! I really like it when you say where you got your fabric (and it some place I can get to) so that I can try to duplicate your fabulous projects 🙂
Thanks Deb! I buy most of my fabrics at the normal old stores….even at Walmart sometimes. I like to find a deal like the rest of you!
What would make it extra cute would be to ‘lettuce-leaf’ the hem. I do a lot of my too-long t-shirts that way. Super stretch the edge of the un-hemmed skirt as you sew a zig-zag along the very edge. My girly-girl granddaughters love twirly things like that. I’d love some of those tight too.
Now i have to try it in cord. In my head, lucy stays 6 and owen is 4 hahaha. Probably cant change that.
What are wonder clips and where can I get them? I’m a newbie here, but so enjoy your enthusiasm. Thank you!
You can find Wonder clips in the quilting section of JoAnn Fabrics, but they are cheaper from Amazon!
You can find them at the fabric store, but I buy mine on Amazon….and they’re WONDERful :)!
Here’s a link:
What a great variation on an already great dress! Love the mustardy fleece with the fun texture as well!
That is so pretty! I love those tights too. My little girl loves to have the button in the front, pretty cute look too! Next time I make it I’ll have to add a bow. Recently, she is all about a bow 🙂
Love this one! Love the colors! And I love the textured fleece! I’ve never seen that before. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for it!
Have you been reading my mind?! Summer is coming to an end here in New Zealand and I have been contemplating exactly this-how I would make a winter version of this dress. Had been mulling the idea of corduroy but after looking at this I’m definitely looking into fleece too. Thanks!
I love that dress! you are amazing, I have been following your blog for the last 2 years, and you have inspired me so much! thank you.
I LOVE your work. My Mom was a great seamstress at a time when it wasn’t “cool” to make your kids clothing. I wish I would have realized how “cool” she truly was an would have paid more attention. Good thing for websites like yours…learning as I go!
Love it, dana!! Such a cute color combo- the hot pink and mustard. 🙂
Dana!! This is so cute. You’re genius and creativity always inspires me! And Lucy is just as adorable as ever.