Girls' Twirl Dress



This wonderful contribution came to use from Denise Knapp of Whimsy Couture. This adorable twirl dress is the perfect free sewing pattern for any little girl. The bright colors and the flow will be "sew" fun for her.



Foreword: in the making of my patterns I used pictures from different projects so please don’t be disturbed if the fabric prints don’t match.

Please sew all seam allowances with 1/3 inch except when stated differently.

These are your cut fabric pieces. The two big pieces are for the skirt part, the green pieces are the bodice front and back and the two pink long strips are for the ties.

Start with the ties and fold one strip over and let one edge meet the other. Right side of fabric print is inside now. Straight stitch (sew) starting at one end and sew around the corner all the way to the other end leaving the other end open. Trim both corners at small end diagonally off. Turn strap right side out and press. Now fold in the open end to about ¼ inch and press. Repeat with other strip and lay both straps aside.

Take now one bodice piece and fold down the top edge to about ¼ inch and press. Fold down once more and press again.

Straight stitch close to the inner edge on the wrong side of the fabric. Repeat with other bodice piece. Lay both pieces aside.

Take now one skirt part and set your machine to gather stitch which should be this setting “tension to 0-1 or 0.5 and stitch width to 5). Position the top edge of your skirt part to get ready for sewing. Start at about 0.5 inch from the left side and sew very close to the top edge which should be about ¼ inch. Sew along until you reach the right side of the skirt part. Start gathering by pulling on one thread until you reach about the middle of the skirt part and then pull on the other side. Once you reached the width of the bodice as shown below please knot both thread ends to prevent the gathers to loosen.

Now flip the skirt part over so that the gathered edge meets the bottom of the bodice piece as shown here

Pin in place and sew with a seam allowance of about 1/3 inch making sure to sew slightly OVER the gathering stitch so it won’t show on the reverse side. Serge or zigzag stitch the seam. Topstitch if desired. I recommend this to make your garment look professionally sewn. It also adds to the durability.

This is how your finished piece should look (inside and outside):


To sew in the elastic thread to create the shirring wind some elastic thread onto a bobbin manually. Wind it tightly but not to tight. Some sewing machines require it being wound differently.


Set your sewing machine’s tension to 2-3 and the stitch length to 5.


Insert your garment piece into your machine starting at the seam where bodice and skirt part meet. Position your needle about a half presser foot away from the topstitch seam. That means your presser foot will run along that seam as a guide. You don’t need to draw any lines as long as you stay right on the topstitch seam or the seam where bodice and skirt part meet. Sew along row by row not cutting threads when you are done with one row and start the next one. Just keep turning your garment once you are done with one row and start sewing the next row from the other side. In other words, you sew one row in one direction and start the next row into the other direction never cutting the thread. The picture below shows you how to sew the distance of half your presser foot.:

It’s very important to sew carefully that there will be no uneveness between the rows other than half the width of your presser foot.
Double knot all loose threads (regular and elastic threads) on the side at the beginning and at the end. If the elastic doesn’t look much gathered (some machines don’t create a fully gathered effect) simply press this part with your iron on steam setting. Steam pulls the elastic thread tighter together. Sew the last row of elastic to about 1 inch away from the TOP edge! You will need this space for the buttonhole in the back where the ties loop through. This is how your shirred bodice piece should look like. You see the threads coming out of the side (I had run out of elastic thread and had to start a new bobbin, when this happens to you take your seam ripper and rip the half finished row and start fresh on the side. Then double knot all threads to prevent unraveling. Elastic thread unravels easily before you can even catch it.

Repeat shirring the second piece and now you should have both pieces nicely shirred and ready to sew together.

Carefully pin both pieces with right sides together.

Sew with a seam allowance of about ¾ inch making sure you sew over all the looped elastics on the side. Then serge or zigzag hem the seam on both sides.

Next step is to hem the bottom of the dress. Still have your dress inside out and fold down the bottom hem to about ½ inch and press all the way around. Fold down once more to ½ inch and press again.

Straight stitch close to the inner folded fabric edge. Now your bottom hem is done.


Turn your dress with right sides out and mark the middle of the back. This is where you can either sew a buttonhole OR sew a piece of ribbon with both ends sealed onto the bodice center. When you sew the ribbon please cut a ribbon not slimmer than ½ inch and not shorter than 1 inch. Heat seal both ends of the ribbon piece with a lighter. Hold the lighter very briefly onto the ends. That seals it to prevent it from fraying. You may also use a cute garment label!

To make a buttonhole mark the center exactly where you want the buttonhole placed.

Here is how I did it:

The arrow shows you how I measured the center. I folded the bodice in half and stretched it which is heavily shirred (I guess you can mark it BEFORE you do the shirring) and marked it that way.

Now here is the middle of the bodice and the penciled in line marks exactly where I want my buttonhole to go:

(Buttonhole sewing is a task for the more advanced sewer and can definitely create trouble. Once the buttonhole is sewn and coming to find out it’s done wrong you can’t hardly rip it open without trace. Please practice the buttonhole sewing several times before you attempt it on your almost finished garment)
Sew the buttonhole in place with an opening just big enough to insert both ties. I usually go with ¾ to 1 inch width.


To attach the ties to the front do the following:


This can only be done right AFTER you did the shirring because as I mentioned before some sewing machines don’t do the shirring evenly tight. To mark the place where the ties get sewn on please measure the distance from each side to where you want the ties to go. Space this distance evenly. The middle distance to both ties is slightly wider than the distance to both sides. If you are making a dress for someone you can measure it’s easiest but also for other sizes you simply go by this math:

  • Place ties about where they should go by eyeballing it
  • Measure distance from both sides to ties and adjust
  • Measure distance from INBETWEEN ties which should be slightly larger than distance from the sides to the ties. If you keep doing this easy math you will be able to sew dresses for all sizes! There is no guide as to how far apart ties should be.

Pin the ties, as the picture above shows you, right where the upper row of elastic is. Then sew the ties on right onto the elastic. From the front you should almost not see the extra thread from sewing on the ties. If you like you can even conceal them with adding some cute ribbon bows!

Loop the ties through the back buttonhole.



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Reviews More Reviews

Jan 25, 2014

Thank You --- TrishRuiz85 for the hint at where to locate the measurements. It took a few seconds of digging but I found them. I plan on making this for my granddaughter with a month or two right now it is still in the 40's here in Dallas. : )


May 29, 2013

I really want to make this for my sister, but there are no measurements or sizing charts. Help!


28 Ratings

Jul 16, 2012

I really like this pattern, but there are no measurements for the bodice or skirt. It would be very helpful if you could give me some idea, for a size 6. regards iris


Jul 2, 2012

Cute but pattern info is very incomplete. No mention is made for length, width or any sizes of the pattern peices. Guessing and goofing up is too expensive. Even general guidelines would be helpful here. I would love to make some and am a sewer but still can't decide quantity of fabric or measurements.


Jun 2, 2012

I love the twirl skirts and would LOVE to make a couple for my granddaughters. I have sewed for 60 years, but I cannot make any sense of these directions. Maybe too much information, but no essential information, like measurements, fabric amounts, etc.


May 21, 2012

Why are the width and length of fabric pcs of the twirl dress given. I'm disappointed because size is important. Very good illustration but no measurements on strips at all!


Apr 3, 2012

This is a beautiful dress and I would really like to sew one for my granddaughter. However, there is no size chart or information on supplies or amount of supplies use. I tried the blog address that one of the ladies gave, however, it informed me that there was no such blog site. Thank you for your assistance.


Mar 21, 2012

I too would like to know how much fabric to purchase for making this cute dress. I see the comments on my screen where others had this same problem but I don't see a response telling what to do.


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