August 14, 2023 7 Comments on Pinafore Dress Sewing Hack - expanding the dress
by Molly Hamilton
When we were developing the Pinafore Dress Basics pattern, we considered making this expanded dress option part of the pattern. But, we ultimately decided not to offer it because it would have used too much paper for printing (and therefore be much more expensive). We decided we would show how to make this expanded version in a blog post (here!). This hack is a fun way to get a very flowy dress that is unique and interesting. It is also a great way to wear an oversized dress and make it feel fun. The back detail is interesting and you can use your fancy button you've been saving in your stash for the back.
First, you need to have the Basics Pinafore Dress pattern. This dress hack adds about 12" of fabric to the dress on each side, and the extra fabric is wrapped to the back and buttoned for shaping. You will need at least 1.5 yards (or 1.4m) extra fabric and a button to make this version. I used a lightweight cotton/linen blend that had a great drape. I suggest using a lighterweight fabric since this does add quite a bit of fabric to the dress. This hack is also best for a dress you plan to layer - perfect with a t-shirt or tank top for summer (or over a bathing suit) or long sleeves or sweater for cold weather.
To make the Dress
First, add about 12" to the side of your Pinafore Dress pattern as shown in the drawing below. Add the same amount to the side of the dress Facing. You do this by just drawing a new side seam line about 12" from the original side seam, and connect the side seam to the underarm seam. Just try to keep the same necklines for Dress Front/Back and the Facing so they will match when you sew them together.
Your new pattern piece for the Dress will not fit on any fabric when it is placed on the fold - the new piece is too wide. Unlike the original Pinafore Dress (which is placed on the fold), this dress needs to have a front and a back seam. You need to cut 4 pieces of each Front/Back and add 1/2" (13mm) seam allowance to the center Front and center Back. You will cut the four Front/Back pieces on fabric laid out flat.
I recommend using a fabric without nap, pile, or one-way design because then you can cut the pattern pieces upside down to fit them as close as possible and be the most efficient with fabric. This dress version increases the yardage needed by at least 1.5 yards if you cut the pieces without nap. With nap or one-way design, you will need at least 2.5 more yards of fabric.
You will also need to cut the front facings in 4 separate pieces. Be sure to add 1/2" (13mm) seam allowances to the center front/back of each facing piece.
Sew the dress up as the pattern instructs, but sew the dress front and back together at centers (and the facings, if you cut 4 pieces) before moving forward with construction. Note: I cut my Front/Back pieces with the centers on the selvage so I did not need to finish those seams.
Finish the dress as instructed, and once the dress is complete, you just need to add a button and buttonhole to the sides of the dress so it can be wrapped to the back and secured with the button. I marked where I wanted the buttonhole on the folded side of the dress, so that the buttonhole was made through all layers of fabric (front and back). I did the same with the button placement and sewed a button near the side seam of the dress, through all layers of fabric (front and back). Forgive my not-beautiful buttonhole (it was made in haste, but perfectly functional).
This hack is so simple, but makes a really fun, very flowy dress that is perfect for summer days. I love lounging in this dress! And I am wearing it several times a week so far this summer - after work, going to the pool.
It can also be a great warm weather dress - the extra fabric can add some warmth and this is a perfect dress for layering.