My first tutorial!

I thought I’d be kind to myself and start out with something not too complicated.  Lack of sleep, thanks to a grumpy toddler who is a bit unwell has left me with a headache, tired eyes and a scratchy throat (after two weeks of caring for sick babies I think the cold has finally conquered me as well). So, I apologise in advance if I miss something or something I say doesn’t make sense.  But please make sure you ask by leaving a comment on this post – it will be a pleasure to answer any questions you have!

This tutorial is aimed at the beginner sewer.  As you can see in the photo above, I’m going to show you how to embellish a dress with a doily by actually sewing it into the armholes and neckline of the dress.  In this way the doily has actually become part of the front dress piece.   I think it’s a neat and well-finished method, and lends your sewing a more professional, rather than home-made, look.

So let’s get started!

What you’ll need:

  • a dress pattern (I used and adapted the Lily Bird Studio Kate Dress, which you can purchase on Etsy here)
  • any sewing notions and materials required to make the dress as per your sewing pattern – fabric, thread, scissors, sewing machine etc
  • a doily – it doesn’t have to be vintage!  You could even use a crocheted doily to do the same thing – just make sure it’s large enough to be sewn into the neckline and armholes like in the photo above, and give it a quick press with an iron.
  • an erasable fabric marker (or you could even just use a lead pencil as I did!


Step 1 – Cut your pattern pieces out of your chosen fabric and set aside everything else except your front dress piece and the doily you want to use to embellish your dress.  I forgot to get a photo of the complete doily before I hacked it up – sorry!


Step 2 – Lay your pattern piece over the top of the doily, like in the photo below.  Make sure the right side of both the doily and the front dress piece is facing up.  Now you are going to centre the doily on the dress bodice.  If your doily has embroidery on it, move it around until you’re happy that the embroidery is in the right place.  Try to keep it as even on each side as possible.


Step 3 – Using your fabric marker or pencil, draw around the outline of the front dress piece that is sitting on the doily.  Once you’ve finished doing this your doily should look something like this with the outline of the bodice drawn on it.


To double check how well you’ve centred the doily, lay the doily over the top of the front dress piece – then if you’re happy with how it looks, cut along the outline on the doily.  Your doily will now look like it’s a part of the dress.


Step 4 – Take your front dress piece and lay it on your table so that it is right side up.  Now, lay the doily piece over the top of the front dress piece so that the right side of the front dress piece is touching the wrong side of the doily.  It has to look like it would if you were wearing the dress.  You don’t want the wrong side of the fabric showing, or the doily up side down!  Pin the doily to the dress piece making sure that all the edges are matching.  Use as many pins as you feel you need.


Step 5 – On your sewing machine, baste the doily to the front dress piece about 1/8″ from the edge of the fabric.  Do this all the way around the edge of the doily where it sits up against the neckline and armholes.  Use the photos below as a guide.  You can use a long basting stitch setting for this, but it doesn’t really matter.


Ooops!  I forgot to take a photo of the finished front dress pattern piece – but here’s one that’s started being attached to the back dress pieces at the shoulders.


You will now have a complete front dress piece embellished with a doily, and you’re ready to continue sewing your dress together.  Well done!  Isn’t it a great way to use up all those doilies you’ve been nabbing at your local op shop?  I love giving new life to old thing.

Take a look at my finished dress here – Rosie loves it and it will be a great dress for the warmer weather.

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