This is a dress I refer to as the "Naptime Dress". It is referred to as such because it is able to be done, from start to finish, in about an hour - perfect for even short nappers!
It is a simple smocked sundress. Martha Stewart did a spot on it in May of 2009 - video can be found here. The problem I've found with the video, though, is that there are no closeups of what she is doing! So, today, I'm going to go ahead and give a close up, step-by-step image tutorial for any steps that you might not quite get by watching Martha's video.
The Naptime Dress tutorial will fit a toddler in size 18-24 months. After the 24 month/2T size, it becomes a little short to use alone, but because of the elastic smocking, it can still be worn as a shirt for older kiddos!
You're going to start with the supply list:
Pins, pincushion, thread, and a bobbin wound with elastic thread. Elastic thread can be found in the same section as traditional elastic and Velcro at Joann's. The bobbin must be wound by hand - take care not to wind too tightly or too loosely. Any variations will mess up the smocking. Don't stress about it too much - just grab a few spare bobbins and wind by hand while you watch a movie. If you pay much attention to it, you're more likely to mess up and pull some spots too tight and some too loose!
Note on the pincushion - this baby is magnetic. I strongly suggest them. You can just sorta flick the pin over in the general direction of the pincushion as you're sewing, and it hits the pincushion every time! Raise your hand if you've ever had to stop sewing in order to finagle a pin into a traditional cushion. Pain, right?!
Iron. Don't laugh. She's been with me through thick and thin. (I know, I could use an upgrade.)
And last, but most important - your water soluble marking pen.
For the 18-24 month size dress, you'll need a 1/2 yard cut of fabric. Cotton or apparel cottons work fine for this! I like to give 3 dresses in a little bunch - I have a strange notion that things in threes are aesthetically pleasing, so most things I make are in trios! Pick out a coordinating bunch, and the toddling princess in your life will have a summer wardrobe kick-start in a day's time.
Do any prewashing now. If you're a rule-breaking lazy person like me, skip the prewashing and just iron. :)
First step: cutting off the pesky selvages. They're typically ugly, and shrink differently from the rest of the cut. Get rid of them! Fold your piece of fabric in half, matching selvages. My selvage was close to a full inch, so I just chopped off that inch: