Thursday, March 1, 2012

Catherine Top (with sleeves) tutorial and pattern

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Four ways in which I am totally nerdy:
1. I try to make Riley at least one outfit a month that coordinates with her preschool's color/theme.
2. I get pretty irritated when the apostrophe is misused... except in plural possessives.  I get it; they're a little counter-intuitive.
3. I actually like math... but only things like proofs, not the everyday, usable kind.
4.  I've been reading (or re-reading) the classics almost exclusively for the past 6 months.  Oh, and I almost called a friend up when I finished Mansfield Park, just to talk literary analysis.  Yikes.

So the point is, this is the Catherine Dress, whose namesake is Miss Morland from Northanger Abbey.  Yay.  Now you have way more information than you'll ever need. :)

Pattern pieces (3T found here!)
About 1 yard of fabric (for 3T and smaller)
Sewing gear

First cut out your pattern pieces.  I found it the easiest if I layered the main fabric and lining, and then I cut them out at the same time.  Make sure you flip the front piece pattern when cutting, so you have both the left and right side.

Here are your bodice pieces (minus sleeves):

Now take your main fabric pieces and pin them, right sides together.  Sew just the shoulders.  Do the same with the lining pieces (no picture).

**NOTE: if you want to do the sleeveless version, like here, then sew your sides (under the armhole) together now, too.  Then after you flip the bodice and topstitch, add bias tape around the armholes.

Now pin the main fabric and the lining, right sides together.  Sew the scallops and the back of the neck.

Tips-- when sewing the scallops, take your time.  Also, put the needle down and lift your presser foot as much as you want, so you can get that curve and keep the fabrics from shifting away from each other.  Also, the curve from the scallop to the neck can get a little dicey...

... you can see how I made the turn right where I stitched the shoulder.

Now clip around your scallops-- especially in the valleys.  Don't clip your stitches!

Flip the bodice right side out.  You can use something like a chopstick, but I found that it was pretty easy with just my fingers.

Topstitch around the scallops and neck.

**NOTE: if you're doing the sleeveless version, now's the time to add your bias tape around the armholes.

Now grab your sleeves and run a gathering stitch along the top (as indicated on the pattern if you're using it).

Pin the sleeves, right sides together, to your bodice armhole, up until your gathered part.  You'll see that it puffs up like this.

Pull the threads of your gathering stitch until the sleeve lies flat.

Sew up and zig-zag stitch to finish.

Do this for the other sleeve, too.  They'll look like this when you flip them back out.

Fold the bottom of your sleeves over 1/4-inch (top of photo) and press.

Stitch up sides (which are short) and underarm, including your folded over part.  Zig-zag to finish.

Now flip the folded part over another 1/4 inch, to finish it.  Press, pin and stitch.

Here's what you have.

Run a basting stitch where the front bodice pieces intersect, just to keep those suckers in place.

To the easy part.  Cut a strip of fabric in your desired skirt length along the width of the fabric.  Sew the short sides to make your skirt.

Hem the bottom by flipping 1/4 inch, pressing, then flipping another 1/4 and pressing again.  Stitch.

Run a gathering stitch along the top of the skirt and gather until it's the width of your bodice.  Then put your bodice piece inside the skirt, so right sides are together.  Pin in place and stitch.  You don't have a ton of room under the arms, so just make sure you don't accidentally snag the sleeves as you stitch past them.  Zig-zag to finish.

 Flip your finished dress right side out.  Lightly press the skirt down for a nice clean waist.

Lookin' good!  And now we're ready for Easter!  Well, at least our top is. :)


  1. Looks gorgeous in those fabrics. I'm with you on the use of apostrophes. My pet hate is the use of 'your' instead of 'you're'. Perhaps in 100 years 'you're' won't even exist.

  2. Love the neck line! I will use that neckline for sure and perhaps on my next Kymono.

  3. Great tutorial...adorable little girl....Thanks for linking up @CountryMommaCooks…..have a wonderful week:)

  4. My pet peeve is its/it's. They're misused really often and sometimes it even makes me read the sentence wrong!

  5. I love the scallop. Thank you for the tutorial! I will use it!

  6. Thank you so much for the tutorial! This is adorable!!

    Katie @ Little Becky Homecky

  7. What a cute outfit, I wish I had more time for sewing. I'm a new follower and would love to have you visit my brand new blog and follow, too! Thanks:)

    1. Thanks! Just followed you back (and drooled over your recipes)! :) Sometimes my internet is weird, so it wouldn't let me comment on your posts, but I pinned them! :)

  8. You are being featured @CountryMommaCooks Link & Greet Party.
    Stop by and pick up a featured button:)

  9. So cute, and I love her face in the last picture! It's like taking pictures of my own kids! Such a cute top, thanks for linking up to topsy turvy tuesdays. I'm featuring you this week!


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