Category Archives: flower girl dress

How To Change A Neckline Tutorial

Like so many seamstresses, I have a plethora of patterns that I have secured over many years of sewing.  My sewing is primarily for children and mostly for girls.  Styles change, but the basic lines of classic styles don’t change much.  Most changes are seen in the size/style of collars and sleeves.  Dresses in the 50’s sported sweet tiny collars and small sleeves while the 90’s had large collars and huge sleeves.  I’m pretty sure that a beach ball could have been stored in some of those sleeves!  LOL!

One of the more significant changes that I’ve observed  recently has been in the comfort factor of children’s clothing.  Most children are used to the comfort of knit clothing.  The result of that is that children find anything with a true neckline to be uncomfortable and it is perceived as too tight.  This became obvious when I gave dresses that our youngest daughter wore to the granddaughter’s to wear – the classic style would still work, but they said that the neckline was too tight.  Children’s necks have not gotten larger, they have become used to less constrictive clothing.  I believe that this has also resulted in seeing fewer collars on the dresses that the little girls are wearing.

With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to share ways to adjust the neckline of a dress/blouse.  While it is a very simple process, many find alterations of this kind to be intimidating.

The first thing that should be done is to trace the bodice front and back pieces of the garment on paper so that the original is preserved.  Once the bodice is traced, remove the seam allowance and cut the pattern pieces at the finished neck – shown in blue.

Once the seam allowance has been trimmed away, the neckline can be redrawn to whatever shape is desired.  Decide on how much to remove from the neckline.  It doesn’t have to be exactly the same from front to back, though it can be done that way if desired.  The following drawing shows the neckline only slightly lower in the back but gradually increasing at the front (shown in pink).  It is imperative that the amount removed at the shoulder seam is EXACTLY the same on both the front and the back bodices – shown with the green arrows.  Once the neckline looks good to you, remove the excess paper beyond the  newly drawn line (pink).

Double check the new neckline by placing the front and the back bodices together at the shoulder seam (pieces will overlap) and ensuring that they align.  Remember that some patterns allow a little ease in the back shoulder seam while others don’t.  Check the original pattern pieces to see if the shoulder seams on front and back are an exact match – if they are, then they should also be an exact match with the neckline alterations.

Now it is time to decide on how the neckline will be finished.  If a bias band will be applied around the neckline, then the pattern is ready to use just as it is.  The finished neckline will be covered with the bias band.

If a plain neckline, piped neckline, or collar is desired, then a seam allowance needs to be added to the neckline edge on both the front and the back bodice pieces.  A 1/4″ seam allowance is a good choice for a neckline seam allowance.  You can add up to 3/8″ for a seam allowance, but more than that is undesirable.

I have been leaving collars off most dresses I make, however, if a collar is desired, it can be drafted at this point.

Don’t feel limited to limit the neckline change to just lowering the neckline slightly, try some other neckline adjustments and have fun with them.  There’s no limit to what can be done – a lower, scooped neckline, a sweetheart neckline, a square neckline, etc.  If you don’t feel confident in the redrafted neckline, test the newly designed bodices with a muslin or some scrap fabric and try it on the child to ensure that the new neckline is pleasing.  Cutting and stitching up a bodice take much fabric or time.  It is better to test it out and ensure that all was done correctly and the finished results are pleasing rather than to being disappointed with the results of the finished garment.

I hope that this has inspired you to consider pulling out some of the patterns that aren’t being used because of the dated styles and getting creative with some simple pattern redrafting!  Of course, adding your own heirloom touches will make it special!

Easter will be here soon – it’s time to get started!

Keep on stitching!!!!




Wedding, Chicago and Workshop!!!

So, it’s been a little while since my last post.  Well, we’ve been busy!!!  Our youngest daughter got married on 4/8 and it was a perfect day for it.  The weather was outstanding and she was a beautiful bride!  Of course, I’m prejudice.

The little ones looked adorable in their outfits and did their jobs well.  LOL!

After the wedding weekend we celebrated our Savior’s resurrection on Easter Sunday and had the kids/grandkids over for a meal and some fun activities.  The kids looked adorable in their Easter outfits!

Easter Monday we flew up to Chicago to be with our son and daughter-in-law for his heart procedure.  Monday evening we were able to go out to eat with them and enjoy a delicious meal!!!

Tuesday morning we headed to the hospital early in the morning.  We were so thankful that many prayers were answered and they were able to repair the heart with no damage!  It was a rather stressful LONG day waiting, but the hospital had lovely waiting rooms and the staff were so very helpful.  The dr. was one of the best in his field.  We praise God for his wonderful provision and for the outcome of this.

I love this picture of Steve with Lauren at the wedding!

After the quick trip to Chicago, I headed up to Maryland to do a workshop with the Chesapeake Treasurer’s guild.  What a fun group of ladies to teach!!!  They were enthusiastic about the classes and techniques they learned and I had a great time with them.  It was so fun to see the different choices that the ladies made for both the dress class as well as the embroidered jacket class!  I’m looking forward to seeing some pictures of the finished outfits on FB soon!!!

Now that I’m home again I’ll be working on my next new project as well as managing the home front and preparing for the next workshop.  I am loving the next project and hope to share it soon!  Until then, keep on stitching!!!


Busy January! SATB, Flower Girl Dresses….

January is flying by – does anyone else feel like this?  I no sooner got the Christmas decorations down and it was time to start packing up for Sewing At The Beach.

If you aren’t familiar with Sewing At the Beach, you’re missing out on a wonderful sewing retreat at Myrtle Beach, SC.  This event has grown so much over the last 25+ years.  It was started by SAGA‘s Grand Strand Smocking Guild and has grown each year – without any outside advertising!  Teachers are brought in from all over and although it is strongly focused on smocking and heirloom sewing, there is also quilting, machine embroidery and even tuffet making classes.  There’s something for everyone!  You can take classes for a couple of days, or for the full 6 days.

Because of an ominous weather forecast, I chose to head to the beach 2 days early to avoid the “snow” and stayed at our daughter’s beautiful beach house just north of Myrtle Beach.  I enjoyed my personal “retreat” for a couple of days!  Who wouldn’t enjoy a few days of R&R here? I read and smocked during the day and enjoyed a glass of wine and a “girly” movie at night!  It was quiet and very restful.  Oh, and we got no snow at home!

After my  2-day personal retreat, I headed for Myrtle Beach.  I enjoyed a wonderful time teaching again this year.  I had some of the most delightful students in my classes and I think they enjoyed taking the classes as well.  I love teaching and hope that this love of sewing, smocking and heirloom is evident to everyone.  The best part is when I hear a student have an “aha” moment when they learn something new or different.  Unfortunately, I neglected to take any pictures during my classes the entire week I was gone, thought I did get a beautiful picture of a morning sunrise – what a beautiful picture of God’s creation!

My last day at SATB I was able to take a class from Trisha Smith – a popular teacher with a very sweet disposition and great teaching style.  Though I had to leave early from my class, I enjoyed meeting her and being in her class.  Hopefully the dress will get finished up soon and fit one of the girls this summer!  As always, it was nice to be home again.

Since returning home, I’ve been busy working on flower girl dresses for the April 8th wedding of our youngest daughter.  Once the little ones were asked to be in the wedding, I immediately had thoughts of smocking, heirloom, lace, etc. and was dreaming up the most beautiful confections to create.  However, that dream was quickly changed as our daughter showed me what she envisioned for the little girls to wear.  She loved the fabric on the bodice from this dress ( from WedLuxe):

But she wanted the tutu type full skirt as in this dress (from Jen Jar Photography):

Of course, I could make that happen, right?  😝  So, fabric was ordered and was stashed for a few months until I was ready to start.  I need to get these done and out-of-the-way.  Once finished, it will be on to the ring bearer’s outfit, which will be a more traditional button on suit.

I’ve been working on the 3 dresses and have a couple of them to the point where I’m ready to do buttons and buttonholes and then decide on sashes for the back and any kind of flower or such for the front.  I did add pink piping to the neckline and armholes for a touch of color.  Can I just say that working with layers of netting and tulle is like wrestling an octopus as you try to attach all these layers to the dress bodice!!!

Here’s what I’ve got so far!  The worst is over for 2 dresses – well, actually 3 dresses!  LOL!  Unfortunately, the first dress that I made I somehow managed to cut the lining too short.  Clearly, math and I don’t get along well.  I obviously didn’t think through my solution either!  I figured I’d add a ruffle to the lower edge of the lining and all would be well.  Wrong!  While that added length, I neglected to take into account the fact that you can see through the tulle and netting layers.  🙄  While it looks fine, and the little girls were delighted to try them on, I am not happy with a ruffle at the hem of the lining, so I’ll be making another one.   Ugh!

All I can see with this dress is the ruffle!  I know, we seamstresses are our own worst critics!!!  At least I know that they fit well.  LOL!  Hopefully this dress will be remade today and then I can decide on the finishing touches for these dresses.  There will be an update when I am finished!

The highlight of this past week was to receive my issue of Classic Sewing Magazine and see my dress on the cover!!!  How exciting is that!!!  Needless to say, I was thrilled.  I had just finished teaching this dress at Sewing At the Beach.  😃  This issue is packed with the most delightful sewing projects for spring.  You definitely will want to get this issue!  I would say that even if my dress wasn’t on the cover.

So, if you’ve wondered what I’ve been up to this month, you now know!  I hope you’re enjoying some peaceful stitching time to start out your year!

Keep on stitching……