Lenox Dress with Nara Shoulder Bows


 Blogger: Jayme Hogg

Lenox with Nara shoulder bows

While browsing the seasonal consignment sale, a sweet little dress caught my attention. I typically don’t buy Maggie any dresses because she has a closet full of the ones that I have made for her, and that day my sole focus was on buying play clothes for the summer. I couldn’t help myself though…the little shoulder bows were too cute, it was her size, and the price was low enough to justify it. I threw it in the buggy and fell even more in love with the design once I tried it on her at home! I instantly started brainstorming ways I could make my own version.


I have always loved Lenox and knew it would be the perfect dress for this project!! However, numerous dress patterns would look adorable with the added shoulder bows, so don’t feel limited to just this one!!

The original Lenox pattern has a button back bodice with an overlap of 3/4" (1.9 cm). I switched the bodice overlap from the back to the front, so I had to remove the overlap and center back seam allowance from the back bodice pattern piece and add it to the front bodice pattern piece. I removed 7/8" (2.2 cm) from the center back pattern piece and added it to the front. Here’s the breakdown for the 7/8” (2.2 cm) difference:

- 3/4” (2 cm) overlap / 2 = 3/8" (1 cm) 

- 1/2” (1.3 cm) center back seam allowance

- 3/8" (1 cm) + 1/2" (1.3 cm) = 7/8" (2.2 cm)

Using the new pieces cut the following:

- 2 back bodice pieces on the fold (1 main, 1 lining)

- 4 front bodice pieces as 2 mirror image sets (1 set main, 1 set lining)




Creating the Shoulder Bows

I recommend the size 3” Nara bow for sizes 2T and below, and the 5” bow for 3T and up. 

The Nara bow has a very similar shape to the bows on the original dress, but I did modify the length.

Remove 3.5” (9 cm) from the side with the fold. Cut 2 sets of Nara bow pieces (4 pieces total) on the fold using this new fold line.

Place 2 Nara bow pieces right sides together. Sew with a 1/4” (0.6 cm) seam allowance, leaving a 1” (2.5 cm) opening on the straight side for turning.

Clip the corners and trim the seam allowance with pinking shears, if available, leaving the seam allowance of the 1” (2.5 cm) opening not trimmed. Turn the bow piece right side out. Press the bow making sure the seam allowance of the opening is tucked nicely in place. Topstitch around the edge with a 1/8” (0.3 cm) seam allowance. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces and set them aside.


Cut 2 rectangles using the appropriate measurement:

3” (7.5 cm) Nara bow: 9 1/2” X 2” (24 cm X 5 cm) rectangle

5” (12.7 cm) Nara bow: 11” X 3” (28 cm X 7.5 cm) rectangle


On the short ends, mark 3/4” (2 cm) down from the top and up from the bottom (1/2” (1.3 cm) if using the 3” Nara bow). Fold in half, widthwise, right sides together.

Sew along one long edge, from the folded, short end, with a 1/4" (0.6 cm) seam allowance. Turn sharply at the raw corner and stop at the mark previously made. Repeat on the other side. This should leave a small section unsewn on the raw, short edge.

Clip the corners and trim with pinking shears, if available, except for the small unsewn section. Turn the piece right side out, press, and topstitch with a 1/8” (0.3 cm) seam allowance. Repeat with the second rectangle piece. Set them aside.

The bow center is a rectangle that measures 4” X 2” (10 cm X 5 cm). Cut 2 bow center pieces.

Fold one bow center piece in half, lengthwise, right sides together. Sew the long edge with a 1/4” (0.6 cm) seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance with pinking shears, if available.

Turn the bow center right side out and press with the seam centered in the back. Repeat with the remaining bow center piece.

At this point, all individual pieces should be constructed and ready to create the shoulder bows.

Place 1 Nara bow right side up, and place 1 of the large rectangle pieces on top, with the wrong side of the rectangle touching the right side of the bow. Make sure they are centered on each other.

Using your fingers, fold the 2 pieces together, accordion style, as if they are one piece.

Using a piece of thread, carefully wrap the thread around the folded center of the bow 8-10 times. Pull the thread tightly and tie it off once it feels secure.

Using one of the bow center pieces, wrap it around the center of the bow that is secured with thread. The right side of the bow center piece should be touching the right side of the bow, making the seam visible. Pin in place.

Sew the center bow piece in place as close to the bow as possible. It is very helpful to use a zipper foot for this step!


Trim the seam allowance, and turn the center bow piece so the right side is facing out. Make sure the back seam of the center bow piece is on the back of the bow. Repeat all steps with the remaining bow pieces.

Locate the main bodice pieces and center one of the bows on the shoulder seam. It can face whichever direction, but I preferred the curved edge to face out towards the arm.

Using a needle and thread, tack the center part of the bow to the shoulder seam. Pull the top of the center bow piece over and push the needle up through the wrong side of the main bodice piece, catching the bow. Make sure to avoid catching the top of the center bow piece as you continue tacking the bow in place until it feels secure. Tie it off.

Treating the bow pieces as one, gently push the edge of the rectangle piece towards the center about 1/2" (1.3 cm). It should barely lift the bow, giving it a slightly bubbled look. Make sure that the Nara bow is flush with the rectangle piece, even the lifted portion. Pin in place at the center of the rectangle along the topstitch line, and the bottom part of the Nara bow centered along the topstitch line. Repeat on the other side of the bow.

Using the bow topstitching as a guide, tack the bows in place with a sewing machine. The stitches should be centered on the bow and extend no more than 3/4" (2 cm). The stitches need to allow the bow to be folded out of the way when the bodice is being completed.

Roll the bows up lengthwise. Pin them in place to keep them out of the way during the bodice construction. Be careful not to catch any of the bow in the stitching when sewing the neckline and armscye.

Construct the bodice and dress as normal keeping in mind that the bodice overlap has been moved from the back to the front.


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