Monday, March 26, 2012

Circle Neck Dress Tutorial

Ready for my first ever tutorial? Me too! I present: The Circle Neck Dress Tutorial. Or the Round Neck Dress Tutorial. Or the Donut Neck Dress Tutorial. I have no idea what to call this thing. Is there an official name for this type of collar/neck line?

Alright, so officially this dress is around size 4T-5, but I think 2-3T wouldn't have much of a different neck size and you would only have to do a shorter dress.

I'm going to attach the pieces that I used and you can adjust them as necessary if you need a smaller size.

The pattern I made and used for this dress is here. But here's the problem. When I scanned it, my scanner shrunk it by about 5/8 of an inch. So, to get it to the correct size, you have to print it bigger. Or adjust it slightly. Anyone know how to fix this??? I'm SO not a computer person.

To make sure you have it sized correctly:

The collar piece should measure 9-3/4 inches from outer corner to outer corner across the straight part on the fold.
The collar is 3 inches wide all the way through the "rainbow"
The inner line of the "rainbow has two straight edges before it curves, these should measure 2 inches.

The dress should measure 8-7/8 inches along the dotted line.
The top of the dress (when all but "fold" is written the correct way) should measure 6-1/2 inches
From the dotted line up to the top of the dress along the fold line should measure 3-1/4 inch
The curve of the arm hole is 4 inches corner to corner measured on the diagonal.
Use the pattern that you CAN print as a guide for the angle of the side A-line.

How is that for explaining??

Let's make a dress!

Begin by washing, drying and ironing your fabric. This is important so that it preshrinks it and you should iron it so your pieces are actually straight. I used quilting cotton for this one. I made another with seersucker (which worked great, but was a bit more slippery).

Then on the fold, where marked, cut out two of each pattern piece. Extend the length of the main body piece to the desired length (make sure when you measure that you take into account the seam allowance for the hem. Add 1/2 inch for that). I did Mady's dress 18 inches from the dotted line. Follow the same shape so it's still straight across the bottom at the 18 inch mark and then the side seam will flare slightly since it is technically an A-line.

All seam allowances are 1/2 inch unless otherwise noted. Make sure you back stitch to lock your seams.

Let's begin with the main part of the dress. Match the sides, right sides together. Sew up the sides, serge or zigzag the edges and press the seams (this keeps things looking nice and less, home-made like).

Turn under the under-arms 1/4 inch and press and then another 1/4 inch and press, all the way around up to the neck. You might have to ease the fabric a little bit to get it to sit straight. Pins will help keep it in place before you stitch. Top stitch close to the edge of the seam.

Across the top of the dress sew a straight, long stitch, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Set your machine to the longest stitch it can do. DO NOT BACK STITCH. Do this on both the front and back of the dress. Mark the centre of the dress with a pin (just don't pin into the stitches or they won't gather) on both the front and back. Pulling on the bobbin threads, gather the material into a ruffle evenly on both sides of the middle on both the front and back. Set it aside for now. You'll match it up onto the neck in the next step.

(you'll notice I forgot to mark the middle. Don't forget to do this!)
Now take your donut pieces.
Wait, here's a disclaimer. This fits over my 3.5 year olds head just fine, but before you get this too finished, try it on the child. If your child has a larger head, you may need to make the centre of the donut a bit bigger. Right now it's tighter than it will be when we're done, just so you know.

Now, here's where it gets a bit tricky. I don't know if there is an easier way to do this (someone tell me if there is!), but I found it simplest to sew a basting stitch for this next part and then take it out at the end.

So, take your donut, right sides together, and sew around the outside and the inside with a basting stitch. DO NOT BACKSTITCH as you'll be taking it out anyway. Make sure you don't overlap your stitches as you go around. Go slowly and lift your presser foot as much as necessary to get a nice curve, especially on the inner ring.

Now clip the curves and press the seams open. Using lots of steam will help you later. This will make the neck actually lie flat. This would also be a good time to try it on your child to make sure it's going to fit.

Pin the pieces together in a few spots so you don't miss-align them and take out the basting stitch of the outer ring ONLY.

Set your machine back to a normal stitch! Sew along the straight outer edges of the donut and only on the straight parts. Once it starts to curve you're going to need to stop. See where it starts to curve on the inner edge? Draw an imaginary horizontal line straight out from there and stop at that point.
(see those red lines? That's where you sew between. Click to enlarge. Ignore the fact that my seam allowances aren't clipped in this picture. I may have done things backwards the first time.)
Make sure you don't catch any of those little flaps from your clipped seam allowances.

Now that the straight parts are stitched, take out the basting of the inner edge (you'll notice mine is missing from the picture above. That's because this was one of the attempts in which I did it the wrong way).

Turn the neck piece right side out. Now carefully tuck in all those clipped curve pieces (I find it easiest to use lots of pins) and sew a top stitch (as close to the edge as possible) around the inner ring of the donut.

So now you should be left with just the bottom parts of the donut open. This is where you're going to tuck in the dress piece. Mark the middle of the neck piece on both ends. Line it up with the middle of the dress piece.
(since i didn't mark the middle, this part was tricky for me)

Place the dress piece between the layers of the neck piece (I put mine right up to the top) and pin in place. Then adjust your ruffles so that they fit evenly within the neck piece and are wide enough to cover all the bits that need covering. If your child will stand still, this might be a good thing to do right on them. Pin in place.  Make sure that you allow those wrinkle in the fabric to be there and don't smooth them off to the sides. Otherwise it won't hang nice.

Make sure all the clipped corner pieces are tucked in out of sight. Use lots of pins! Do this to both the front and back pieces.

Top stitch as close to the edge as possible, all the way around the donut.

Just a note: The first time I did this I started on the straight shoulder part with the rest of the dress off to the side, but that made for quite the tricky parts later. So make sure half your dress is through to the other side of your presser foot when you start sewing this part (if you have a free arm like I don't, it will be much easier!).

If you want to do another set of top stitching another 1/8inch in from these lines feel free. I think it would look nice and would help hold the dress piece in place after washing so there isn't bunching in the collar.

Turn up the hem 1/4 inch and press, then another 1/4 inch and press. Make sure that your side seam allowance "flap" isn't twisted and is going the same direction as under the arm. Sew a top stitch along the edge and you're done!         


Enjoy your dress!

If you have any questions, if anything doesn't make sense, or if you find a much more brilliant way of doing (or explaining!) things, please let me know. If you make a dress from this tutorial I would love to see it.


  1. Good job on the tut! I will have to try one for my granddaughter. thank you

  2. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing :)
    Consider me your newest follower!



The fact that you take the time to leave me comments makes my day! Thanks for taking the time. I read every single one.