When I saw military camouflage fabric in Fabric Mart, I knew that I had to make a dress for Cameron for her daddy’s deployment homecoming! This pattern matches the Army Combat Uniform (ACU), not an exact match to the official Airman Battle Uniform (ABU) that Johnnie wears but it’s very close. No military uniforms were harmed in the making of this dress 🙂
This was a no-pattern, figure-it-out-as-I-go project so I’m amazed that it came out as well as it did! I traced the bodice from a dress we already had and used rectangles of fabric for the rest. It was fairly simple and took two days of Cameron’s naps and some playtime to finish.
To make the top, I traced the bodice of a dress that I knew fit her well, adding a 1/2 inch along the top and adding a few extra inches along the sides and bottom. I cut out 4 identical pieces. I put the right sides of two pieces together, stitched along the top, and then flipped it right side out to make the panels for the front and back. I didn’t want to bother with a zipper or buttons so when I stitched the sides together, I made it just big enough to pull up over her body to put on.
The bottom of the dress is a simple rectangle of fabric, twice as long as the circumference of the completed bodice. I ruffled one side and sewed it to the bodice, and then I attached a ruffle and lace to the hem. The lace was an afterthought – something I had in my sewing stash and decided to add.
If you sew at all, you probably know the whole “use a long stitch and then pull the thread to make a ruffle” thing. I always found that method to be a pain so I avoided ruffles… until I learned a new trick. Setting your sewing machine to the highest thread tension and the longest stitch creates an automatic ruffle as you sew… no thread pulling required! Try it – you’ll be amazed 🙂
When making decorative ruffles like on this dress, I cut a loooong rectangle of fabric (at least 2 times as long as what the ruffle will attach to) and then I press it in half and stitch along the open side. This eliminates the need for a hem along the bottom of the ruffle.
I made this dress so that it could be pulled up over Cameron’s body without needing zippers or buttons. Therefore, I needed straps that either stretched or tied so that I could get her arms through! I opted to make them elastic. I took a rectangle of fabric and sewed it into a tube. The tube ended up being much wider than the elastic (wasn’t using a pattern, oops!) so I stitched two parallel lines the width of the elastic for a better fit. It ended up creating a cute ruffle effect! I love when mistakes turn into something unexpectedly good 🙂
I sewed a sash out of the same fabric I used for the bottom ruffle. The sash is simply a very long rectangle, sewn into a tube, and pressed flat. I attached it to the dress on the sides and on the bottom center to keep it in place.
The fabric flower was also an afterthought. I had some extra lace (that was used around the hem) and I knew I had some fabric flower tutorials pinned on Pinterest. The flower is simply made of circles of fabric folded and hot glued together with a button (left over from a nursery project I’ll blog about soon) hot glued on to cover the center. Check out this great tutorial on OneProjectCloser on how to make a variety of fabric flowers. All of the fabric and hot glue made it a thick little flower so instead of trying to sew it onto the dress, I attached it with a safety pin.
I had enough fabric left over from the dress to make some bloomers to cover Cameron’s diaper. This was actually a little more complex than the dress so I did use a pattern for this (most baby girl outfit patterns seem to come with this). Following the directions, it wasn’t too difficult and they came out well.
A few extras for the day: I made Cameron a matching pacifier clip (click for tutorial) and I used safety pins in the back of one of Johnnie’s hats to make it small enough to fit her head.
I also painted the “welcome home” sign you saw in the photos of the homecoming. I squirted shades of yellow acrylic paint on an art board, blended it with a large brush, and let it dry. Then I printed out the letters in the size I wanted on normal printer paper and then traced them on to the yellow board using transfer tracing paper. After that, it’s just a matter of painting within the lines.