Handmade Dress Up Series: DIY Belle Princess Dress Costume Tutorial

Welcome to the Handmade Dress Up Series! Dress up is such a fun, creative outlet for children (and adults!). Perhaps you’re ready to try your hand at sewing a costume from a costume pattern or tutorial?

You might also be interested in one of these!

Hello and Happy Handmade Dress Up month, Train to Crazy readers! We’re Adrianna and Susan and we blog over at Crafterhours.

We have 4 girls between the two of us and most of our sewing is for them, but we throw in a project for ourselves, our houses, and even our spouses from time to time too. Come over and say hi sometime! Just so we don’t sound like we have multiple personality disorder, Adrianna will be writing this post. Let’s continue in first person prose, shall we?

Today I’m sharing a tutorial for our version of those oh so popular princess dresses. My girls pretty much live in them all day, whether they’re prancing about the house, eating, sleeping, or jumping in the mud puddle that always forms after our daily 4 pm rain. After the first few stains, rips, and complaints of itchy polyester and sweaty stretch velvet, I figured enough money had been thrown down the drain and decided to make my own. In the interest of making them as comfy and wearable as possible, I used soft and breathable cotton knit.

This tutorial is for the Belle dress, with the assumption that if you can make this one, you can make any of ‘em.

Let’s get started already!
You will need:
– Your trusty peasant dress pattern and directions (we reference this free peasant top tutorial a ton on our blog, but really any peasant dress pattern will do, and we know there are about a million of them. I think the Sweet Dress pattern from Leila and Ben is a popular one if you don’t want to do the guess work.)

– 2 yards of yellow lightweight knit fabric (jersey is a good option)
– 1 yard of a sheer yellow or white fabric with lots of drape (nothing stiff like tulle)
– lots of 1/4 inch elastic. lots.
Step 1: Cut out your peasant dress pieces. The pieces below are still folded in half, and obviously you will need 2 sleeves. As you can see, I cropped the sleeve so it would just be a slight cap sleeve. The bodice pieces should be cut just past the natural waist. For the front bodice piece (pictured on the left), be sure to cut a lower neckline and a pointed center.

Step 2: For the skirt, you’ll need to cut a lot of rectangles. Use at least 8. The more you use, the fuller your skirt will be. The length of the rectangle will be the length from the natural waist to the ankle plus 6 inches. I used a width of 7 inches and I thought it worked pretty well.

Step 3: Cut all of your rectangles so they are tapered on the sides by about 2 inches and round out the bigger end, which will become your hem.
Step 4: Estimate on your skirt panels where you want the swags to sit. Mine are about 11 inches down. Measure across the skirt panel at that point. Cut rectangles from your sheer fabric with a width of your skirt panel width plus 1 inch. The length of the rectangle should be about 12 inches. Fold your rectangle down (so your 12 inch side is now 6 inches). Cut the bottom edges so they make a crescent. That was painful. Just look at the picture:
Step 5: With right sides together, sew the crescent closed and flip it right side out. Press.
Step 6: Pin each crescent to each skirt panel at the same height, making sure to scrunch up the swag on the sides. Since your swag is slightly wider than the panel, it should gape a little bit in the middle as well.
Step 7: Sew all the panels together, catching the edges of the swags as you go.
Step 8: Sew your bodice and sleeves together using normal peasant top construction directions.
Step 9: Gather the top of the skirt to match the bottom of the bodice and sew them together.
Step 10: Finish the sleeves and neckline with elastic per peasant top directions.
Step 11: Cut 1/4 inch elastic to the length of the skirt panels minus 6 inches. Pin the elastic to the waist seam on top of one of the skirt panel seams.
Step 12: Pin the other end of the elastic to the hem, again right over the skirt panel seam.
Step 13: Stretching the elastic taut, sew down the elastic, directly over the seam. Once you’ve done that for each of the skirt panel seams, it’ll bunch up and start really looking Belle-ish.
Step 14: Using the same sheer fabric as you did for the swags, form a circular tube of fabric. First take a rectangle that is 5 inches x the measurement around the upper shoulders plus a couple inches. Sew the rectangle right sides together down the long side so you have a long tube. Flip the tube right side out. Fold the edges of one end to the wrong side and press. Put the edges of the other side into that side and topstitch down, forming a circular tube.
Step 15: Tack one side of that tube down at the neckline of your dress, centered on the shoulder. Find the opposite side of your tube and do the same thing on the other side.
Step 16: At the front and back, scrunch the tube up and sew down directly at the center of the bodice.
Step 17 (optional): I made a little rose by rolling up a tube of knit fabric and hand sewing it to the center front bodice.

And you’re done! That was pretty easy, and this is pretty much the hardest one, due to the skirt.

Just change up the colors and a few of the embellishments and you’ve got Sleeping Beauty:
And don’t forget that princes like to be comfy too. (Tomboys dressed as Prince Phillip, that is)
Thanks so much for having us today, Andrea! We can’t wait to see the handmade dress ups that everyone else has in store!


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