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Empire Waist Scirocco Sundress {remix tutorial}

2013 September 5

Today I get to tell you how to remix your Scirocco pattern! I know you have seen the super-twirly Empire Waist Sundress I’ve made using the Scirocco pattern from Figgy’s. I’ve also made her Banyan tee, it turns out really cute. And of course the Scirocco-based bathing suit too! Figgy’s directions are very easy to follow and I love her clothing designs. There are some new Fall patterns coming out soon. Follow Figgy’s on Facebook so you know when they arrive! (You’ve also got to check out the Sunki. I love the pockets, it’s next on my list!)

I’m also super excited to be able to give you a discount code to buy this or any other of Figgy’s patterns! Figgy’s owner, Shelly, has kindly offered a discount for Thread Riding Hood readers - 10% off all Figgy’s Patterns! Use the discount code: “FIGGYSTRH”. The code expires September 11, 2013, so you’ve got a week to buy them!

You can read more about this dress in my July post here. I LOVE how twirly it is, and of course, so does my daughter! The twist in the back is one of my favorite things to sew this summer. Hooray for Figgy’s!

Want to get started making your own Empire Waist Scirocco Sundress?

You will need:

  • fabric – green tiered ruffles – aprox. 1/2 metre for size 4/5
  • fabric – pink tiered ruffles + bodice, lining – aprox. 1 metre for size 4/5
  • Figgy’s Scirocco pattern
  • 1/4″ wide elastic
  • ruler, pencil, paper scissors (for altering pattern)

Before you begin:

  • Print, glue/tape and cut out your Scirocco pattern pieces as per the directions. You will only need to print pages 13-18, because we will be using only the Dress Front and Dress Back pattern pieces for this tutorial
  • Note: I made this dress in a size 4/5 – you may need to adjust some measurements if you are making the dress significantly larger or smaller. I have noted how to change the measurements throughout the tutorial.

Altering & Drafting the Pattern Pieces: 

Bodice Height: (1) Get one of your daughter’s empire waist dresses. Measure from the shoulder to the bottom of the empire waist. My measurement was 8″. (If you don’t have one handy, borrow a measurement from an empire waist dress in the correct size the next time you are at the mall!) (2) Mark a 1/2″ seam allowance on the shoulder seams of both pattern pieces. (3) Using the Dress Front, measure down from your shoulder seam allowance mark to your empire bodice measurement length + a 1/2″ seam allowance. I measured 8.5″. (4) Use this measurement to mark a line across the Dress Front that is parallel to the bottom of the  pattern piece. (5) Mark the Dress Back in the same way.  Cut along the new length lines of both pieces – you now have your empire length Dress Front.

Dress Back Modification: (6) Measure 2″ in from the side of the Dress Back and mark. (7) Use a ruler to draw a line from the bottom of the centre back (see photo) to your 2″ mark. Gently curve the line and cut to finish your new empire length Dress Back pattern piece.


Tiered Ruffles Height: Measure the length of your sample dress from the bottom of the empire waist to the hem (or other desired length). This dress has 4 tiers, so divide your length measurement by 4 to get “X”. Each tier height = “X” + 1″ (The 1″ is for a 1/2″ seam allowance on each edge). My ruffles were 5″ high each. IMPORTANT: Add 1″ extra to the bottom tier so your ruffles are all the same height after hemming.
Tiered Ruffles Length: The top tier should be double the chest measurement of your child. I rounded down from a 22″ chest measurement to 20″ and doubled it to get a 40″ length top tier. From there I added 20″ to each tier, as follows. Tier 1: 40″ length, Tier 2: 60″ length, Tier 3: 80″ length, Tier 4 (bottom): 100″ length. Tier 1 is almost half of the Tier 4 length. Depending on your Tier 1 measurement, you can add/remove length as necessary to achieve the same proportions. Note: You can also use the Dress Front pattern piece as a guide – measure across the bottom of the Dress Front, double to get the “chest measurement” and then double it to get your Tier 1 length. (If you use the Dress Front measurement your finished Sundress will be fuller than mine, because of the ease already factored into the pattern piece.)

Back Elastic Casing: You will need a small piece of fabric to use as a casing for the back elastic. It should be 2.5″ tall (to fit 3 casings for 1/4″ elastic) and the length of your chest measurement. (We will be cutting the length a bit shorter later on in the tutorial, mine ended up being 17″ wide.)

Cutting your Fabric:

(8) Cut out your altered Dress Front and Back pieces as per the Scirocco instructions (don’t forget the lining!). My fabric looked the same on both sides, so I found it helpful to put a safety pin the right side of each piece as I cut it out, as per this trick. (9) Cut 1 each of the 4 ruffled tiers based on your drafted sizes above – Tier Height by Tier Length. You will likely need to stitch several pieces together to get the desired length. Don’t forget to add an extra inch to the height of the 4th (bottom) tier to allow for hemming. Also cut out the Back Elastic Casing piece (drafted above), you will need 1 of these.

Here we go:

(10) Follow the Scirocco directions (Figgy’s steps 1 through 18) to make the bodice for the dress. (11) Match up the short ends of your tier pieces, one at a time (right sides together) – pin, stitch at 1/2″. Serge, zigzag or trim with pinking shears to finish the edges. (12) Gather the top edge of the three bottom tiers to the width of the tier above. (Size of the top edge of Tier 4 should equal the full width of the Tier 3 piece etc.) DO NOT gather the edge of the top tier yet. (13) Match the top edge of each tier with the bottom edge of the tier above it. Pin, stitch at 1/2″.

(14) Finish the raw edges. (15) You should now have the entire skirt sewn portion together. (16) Top-stitch each tier. Stitch close to the bottom edge of each tier, making sure your seam allowances are pressed up so they are “caught” in the top-stitching. (17) Hem the bottom ruffle. Iron the raw edge up 1/2″, then 1/2″ again. Press well and stitch close to the top folded edge.

(18) Mark the “sides” of your skirt with pins along the top edge. Measure between the pins and subtract 4″. Cut your Back Elastic Casing to this length. (19) Hem both short raw edges of your Back Elastic Casing by folding and pressing under 1/4″, then 1/4″ again and stitching. (20)  Iron up 1/4″ on one bottom edge of your Back Elastic Casing (this guide is really helpful). Press well.

(21) Centre the raw (unfolded edge) of the Back Elastic Casing right sides together on the back top edge of the dress skirt. Stitch with a 1/2″ seam. (22) Gather the skirt top along the raw edge to match the bodice bottom edge. Do not ruffle the Back Elastic Casing. (23) Pin the bodice to the skirt, right sides together along the front of the bodice. (24) Match up the back dress bottom edges with each edge of the elastic casing. (Note: Gather the skirt top more or less to match the length to fit.) (25) Stitch with a 1/2″ seam allowance, finish your edges.

(26) Iron the Back Elastic Casing down, enclosing the seam allowance. (27) Stitch across the bottom edge of the Back Elastic Casing, and twice more to create 3 evenly spaced casing tunnels (see photo). (28) Insert elastic through the casings, each piece should be roughly 1/3 the length of your child’s chest measurement (This will likely give you more than you need). Pin the end of each elastic piece on one end, and safety pin it at the other end. (29) Stitch over the pinned elastic in a rectangular shape to catch each elastic twice. This is visible on the outside of the dress – so be tidy! (30) Try the dress on and adjust the elastic as needed. (My elastic casing ended up being 6″ long once inserted in the casing.) Stitch as per Step 29. Done!

Hooray! Put it on a twirly someone and take a picture! I’d love to see your creation. If you would take a second to post a photo on the Thread Riding Hood Facebook page that would be amazing! You might even get shared (if you’d like) on a Made by You blog post!

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12 Responses leave one →
  1. September 6, 2013

    I love this dress (great colors)! and bonus, I already have the Sirocco pattern :) Thanks for the new option.
    Tracy King recently posted… Bumblebee Dress Take Two!!!My Profile

    • September 6, 2013

      Thanks Tracy! The Scirocco is amazing on it’s own as well, as I’m sure you know!

  2. September 6, 2013

    I love this dress. I wish they had it in my size! Do you use your pinking shears a lot?

    • September 9, 2013

      Thanks Dorienne! I LOVE my pinking shears! I “clip” all of my curves with them by cutting close to the seam allowance, and they are great for finishing seam allowances so they don’t fray – though, it is nicer looking if you zig-zag stitch all the raw edges… but it takes longer!

  3. September 6, 2013

    Love the higher back! Looks great!

    • September 9, 2013

      Thanks Olga! I love that it is a bit more “modest” this way, and the empire waist looks so good on little kids :)

  4. September 7, 2013

    What a fun, gorgeous dress :)
    Jenya recently posted… The Daffodil skirt and tutorialMy Profile

    • September 9, 2013

      Thanks Jenya! My daughter thinks so too! :) I have pinned your daffodil skirt and will have to find the time to make one – I’ve got some corduroy that I think will work well!

  5. September 10, 2013

    So cute! What a great idea!

    • September 11, 2013

      Thanks Elisa! The idea came from a necessity (my daughter’s) to have everything twirl… argh – though it does make for a lot of great dresses!

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  1. Made by Me Monday – Exposed Zipper Banyan Tunic | Thread Riding Hood
  2. Made by Me Monday – Empire Waist Scirocco Sundress | Thread Riding Hood

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