The Poppy Dress: Tutorial

I’m so excited to be participating in the Color My Summer series with Delia Creates and kojodesigns today!  I have loved every bit of it so far.  It has been so fun to see all the wonderfully COLORFUL items everyone has created! And did you know they have a contest to go along with the event?  Go check it out HERE!Delia is one of my favorite bloggers.  She is a such lovely person!   Her photography is breathtaking. Her blog is one of the most happy and peaceful blogs around,  and just an overall inspiring place to be!

When Delia asked me what color I’d want to focus on, I first went with green because it’s my favorite color.  But I started to think about summer and things that I love, and poppies came to mind.
The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}

ORANGE poppies.
The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}
I used THIS beautiful photo for my inspiration. (I can’t show the picture here because all rights are reserved.)
Oh how I love ORANGE poppies!The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}
Poppies manage to be HAPPY and CHEERFUL, The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}

The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}


The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}


The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}

and ROMANTIC all at once.

The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}

I had so much fun browsing online for beautiful poppy images.  I wish I lived somewhere with poppy fields!
The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}

Let’s make this Poppy Dress, shall we?  The dress portion is very easy and sews together quickly.  While adding the poppies takes longer, it’s a great touch!

You’ll Need:
-fabric (how much depends on your measurements you’ll get below) *I used white cotton fabric, but the turquoise you see pictured behind Miss B would look great with orange poppies!  **Please note: thicker fabrics and doubled layers tend to shirr a lot less, so the thinner your fabric, the better it will shirr**

-orange thread
-thread matching fabric
-elastic thread
-marking tool, optional
-felt (or other fabric—You may want to pre-wash your felt and see how it reacts to washing, and also any shrinkage that may occur.  Mine was just the cheap stuff from Walmart and held up fine on delicate washing–or you may consider just hand washing your garment or using a different type of fabric entirely)
-fusible interfacing (I didn’t use any, but it might be good to back the sewn-on poppies)


Take your measurements.  B is 2 1/2, but a little large for her age.  I’ll give you the information you need to make this dress for any size, but also the dimensions I used for my dress.

First, measure around the chest, just under the arms.  B’s was about 21”.   This is for the large rectangle used for the dress portion.  Add at least half that number.  **Remember, it is better to add more than less, depending on how tight your fabric shirrs.**DSCF5817

Next, determine the length you need.  I wanted to make a dress, so I measured from her neckline to her knee, giving me about 17”. You could shorten it for a shirt.  Add about two inches to that measurement for hemming.May 2011

I only added one inch to the length measurement because I planned on using the selvage edge for the top of the dress.DSCF5826

SO, for the dress portion I cut a 32” x 18” rectangle.

Measure from just below the armpit in the front, to just below the armpit in the back. B’s was about 11”.   This is for the shoulder straps.  Add at least half that measurement to the length.  Also determine the width you would like.  I wanted 3” wide straps, so I cut my two strap pieces 4” x 16”.  The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}

Ok, now that your fabric is cut, let’s move on! DSCF5827

If the top edge of your dress fabric piece isn’t the selvage edge, then fold over 1/4”, then another 1/4” and sew.  You could also serge, then fold down 1/2” and sew.  DSCF5675

Since I used the selvage edge, I just started to shirr.  Wrap the elastic thread around the bobbin, not too tight, but not too loose.  Research online to see if your machine is the best candidate for shirring this way.

*Shirring is VERY easy!  Don’t be afraid of it!  HERE is a great tutorial for you from Disney of Ruffles and Stuff.  Set your thread length to the longest stitch (mine is only a 4).  You’ll want to sew on the RIGHT side of the fabric, so the elastic thread is on the wrong side.  I just used my pressure foot edge to guide how far apart I wanted the shirring lines.  DSCF5836

Shirr, shirr, and shirr some more. I left a 1” gap for design after shirring for rows.  Shirr as far down as desired, and whatever pattern you desire.  You might just want to do row after row and not leave a gap, how most dresses are that have shirring.  DSCF5837

Wrap your now shirred rectangle around the person who will be wearing it and determine how much you need to take off.  Do not cut it until you sew it!  You don’t want to loosen up that elastic thread!  After sewing, try it on again to make sure it’s how you like.  Then cut away any excess.DSCF5838

I serged mine, but you could sew it and then zig-zag the raw seam edges if you are worried about fraying.  You can see how I kind of slowly tapered out, so the bottom portion of the dress under the shirred part was a little bigger.  DSCF5839

Hem the bottom of the dress as desired.  DSCF5831

On to the straps.  Fold over the long side 1/4”, then 1/4” again and sew each long edge.  I serged, folded, and then sewed. DSCF5841

Shirr all or just a part of the sleeves.  When you leave it like this pictured below, you get a nice ruffle on the edge.DSCF5842

Try it on and pin the straps in place, being careful not to poke them with the pins while taking it off!The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}

Sew straps in place, and the dress is finished.  Time to add those poppies!The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}

Take your felt and draw a whole lot of circles.DSCF5852

You can make them whatever size you please, but here is about the size of mine.DSCF5847

Using the tweezers to hold the circles…DSCF5854

Start burning the edges with your lighter.  See how the edges are just slightly darker?  DSCF5855

I like the swiftly burn over the top of the circle as well.  It makes it have more color, plus it starts to curl the circle edges more, making it look more like a petal, in my opinion. DSCF5853DSCF5856

Pin them on in place.  (If you opted to use fusible interfacing, iron those on inside the dress where you will be sewing the flowers on.)The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}

Sew a line through each poppy.  If you are worried about them being pulled off, sew around each circle.  You could add beads, but I was afraid it would make it less washer-friendly if I did that. DSCF5860DSCF5861

Thanks for letting me join in the Color My Summer series!  Yay for COLOR and SUMMER!

The Poppy Dress Tutorial {A Lemon Squeezy Home}


  1. says

    Christie! You have done it again. You make a hard project like this look easy enough that I may just try this…for a friend. Man…girls are just so fun to sew for. :)Kind of wish i had one.

    Thanks for being my guest. You did a wonderful job!

  2. says

    what a cute dress!! i made a shirred (if that’s a word) dress for my niece a while back, but i do believe she needs this one! i love those sleeves, and the poppies, they are my fave flower too. thanks for the tutorial.

  3. says

    Christie! Darling dress. B is SO cute! I still haven’t tried shirring and now you’re giving me the push. I’m going to have to try it after seeing that darling dress. Also, I’m SO excited about your new camera. Yay for you! Congrats!


  4. says

    Oh this is so cute! I love the poppies! I bought some elastic thread and it’s just been sitting there waiting for me. You made it look easy enough to give it a try! Thank you! :)

  5. says

    the contrasting thread turned out awesome! ! you are amazing. and the cowboy boots are KILLING me. I love that B!

  6. says

    I absolutely love this poppy dress tutorial! Thank you so much – i know how time consuming making tutorials can be.

    I was wondering what to make my neice for her birthday next month – now I know!

  7. says

    this is the cutest dress I have ever seen! I love shirred clothes and am totally addicted to poppies! And you make it look so easy to make :-) I wish I had a little girl I could make one for.
    As for your sweet little girl, how bad of a fashionista is she? She looks adorable on those photos which are gorgeous too, btw ;-)

  8. says

    This is absolutely adorable. I love the shirring application and the bright “poppys” applied to the dress. What makes the look for me are the stylish cowgirl boots…too cute! So creative!

  9. says

    This was by far one of the most amazing ideas for a dress I have ever seen! I want someone in my family to have a girl so I can make it for them!!!


  10. says

    You little girl is such a little model..! cute.. Great tutorial too. I didn’t know you can shirr? with my home machine. Still a long way till I can do it but it’s good to know.

  11. says

    What a great tutorial! Thank you so much! By the way, when did “little miss” go from I’m not going to smile for the camera to “Super Model”? :)

  12. says

    I’m stopping by from UCreate. The dress is adorable! I love the contrasting thread, the straps, and the space you left between shirring. My daughter will only wear dresses, and this one is going on my to-do list.

    One thing I like to do when shirring is to spray the shirred area with water and then press it with a hot steam iron. It shrinks up even more. Make sure to add extra fabric to allow for the shrinking.

  13. says

    Okay, too funny…I seriously had a dream about making a similar dress! haha. I’m glad you did it! It’s darling and I love it with the blue wall. very cute Christie!

  14. says

    Great Tutorial, love those poppy’s! Really easy to follow and simple instructions, well done! I think I need to make one of these for my new niece!
    PS, I use your bow tie tutorial ALL THE TIME! LOVE it! THANKS!

  15. says

    this dress is SO amazing – i absolutely can not wait to make it! I just came back from Italy (vacation!!) and saw red poppies everywhere and fell in love with them. so seeing this dress on your blog is really exciting and inspirational. I am also a new sewer and have been scared about shirring – although I have 4 spools of elastic thread because I have been dying to try it! I feel much more confident to dive in after reading this post. thanks!!

  16. says

    You are a busy mom.. I love the Easter outfits and the felt burned to curl poppies for Poppy.