Rainbow Monroe Dress
Blogger: Annie Ledford-Lomeli
I am back with another rainbow hack! If you have followed me over the years, you know that I love making rainbow dresses. When I designed the Monroe pattern, I knew it would make the perfect rainbow dress. The 16 panel pleated skirt is a great base for a pieced gathered circle skirt. This dress has amazing twirl factor and can be made with solid fabrics or your favorite prints for a fun twist. The fabric mixing possibilities are endless!
In this tutorial I will show you how to make your own pieced bodice to pair with the 16 panel skirt. With some simple math and some straight lines, you will have a beautiful pieced bodice in no time. For reference, I will be using a size 6 Monroe bodice.
Monroe bodice pattern pieces, Monroe pleated circle skirt panel pattern piece, pen or pencil, a ruler, scissors or rotary cutter, and blank paper (the paper should be at least 2” (5 cm) taller than the bodice piece and as wide or wide)
Locate the front bodice pattern piece. Starting at the waist side seam, measure over
½” (1.3 cm) and draw a vertical line.
Align one end of the ruler to the vertical line and measure over to the fold line.
The measurement for this bodice is 6” (15.2 cm). We will be splitting the front bodice into 8 pieces total, but because the pattern piece is cut on the fold, we will only be dividing it into 4. Take the bodice measurement and divide it by 4. This will be your base measurement. Keep that in mind as I will refer back to the base measurement several times in the tutorial
6 ÷ 4 = 1.5”
15.2 ÷ 4 = 3.8 cm
We will be making 3 different pattern pieces using the base measurement as the starting point for each. Locate the blank paper and draw two parallel lines horizontally at the top and bottom of the paper. Next, draw a vertical line connecting the two lines on one side. Note: I will be showing this digitally so it is more clear.
For pattern piece #1, take the base measurement and add ½” (1.3 cm). This will be the seam allowance, ¼” (0.6 cm) on each side.
1.5 + 0.5 = 2”
3.8 + 1.3 = 5.1 cm
Measure over using the calculated measurement and mark a line parallel to the first vertical line. Label the pattern piece as #1 CUT 10. Add a grainline parallel to the vertical lines if desired.
For pattern piece #2, start again with the base measurement and add ⅝” (1.6 cm). Again, this will be the seam allowance, but for this piece it is a little different as this will be the center back piece where the zipper is installed. The center back will need a seam allowance of ⅜” (1 cm) for the zipper and then ¼” (0.6 cm) seam allowance on the other side, for a total of ⅝” (1.6 cm).
1.5 + .625 = 2.125” or 2 ⅛”
3.8 + 1.6 = 5.4 cm
Measure over using the calculated measurement and mark a line parallel to the second vertical line. Label the pattern piece as #2 CUT 2. Label with “CB” for center back and add a grainline parallel to the vertical lines if desired.
Locate the front bodice pattern piece. For pattern piece #3, we will need one more measurement. Starting at the vertical line drawn in the first step, measure over toward the fold line using the base measurement. Mark a second vertical line. If desired, mark two more lines using the base measurement. This will be where the seam lines are once the fabric is sewn together. Next, measure from the second vertical line over to the underarm.
Starting with the measurement in the last step, add ¾” (2 cm). This will be the ¼” (0.6 cm) seam allowance for one side and an additional ½” (1.3 cm) to give a little wiggle room when cutting later, just in case your seam allowances aren’t as precise as they should be.
2.25 + 0.75 = 3”
5.7 + 2 = 7.7 cm
Measure over using the calculated measurement and mark a line parallel to the third vertical line. Label the pattern piece as #3 CUT 4. Label with “Sides” and add a grainline parallel to the vertical lines if desired.
Cut the pattern pieces out and cut the corresponding fabric pieces. I have labeled my fabric below to give a visual of where each pattern piece will be used. Make sure to lay them out and sew them together exactly like the picture. If a non-solid or directional printed fabric is used, make sure the fabric is facing right side up. Using a ¼” (0.6 cm) seam allowance, sew the strips together.
Place the sewn pieces right side up, just like the photo below with the front bodice piece in the center and the side pieces on either side.
Grab the bottom of each piece and turn them over vertically. Press all of the seam allowances to the left. This step is very important.
Turn the pieces over vertically again and press from the front. Cut out the front and back bodice pieces as shown below. Make sure to align the fold line with the center seam on the front bodice. For the back bodice, the pieces will be mirrored and the center back of the pattern piece should be aligned to the center back fabric piece.
Sew a stay stitch with a ¼” (0.6 cm) along the necklines and the bottom of both the front and back bodice pieces. Continue with the Monroe tutorial for constructing the bodice. When it comes time to press the side seams, make sure the main side seams are pressed in the same direction as the rest of the pieced main bodice. Press the lining seam allowances in the opposite direction.
Cut out 16 skirt panels using the Monroe pleated circle skirt panel pattern piece. I have laid them out in the order they should be sewn in order to match the bodice. Sew the panels together with a ½” (1.3 cm) seam allowance. Finish the seams and the center back, raw edges.
Place the skirt right side down. Press all seam allowances to the left. This step is very important.
Turn the skirt right side up and press again. Sew a gathering stitch around the top, raw edge of the skirt.
Gather the skirt to half the original size.
Locate the bodice and separate the main from the lining. Align the top of the skirt to the bottom of the bodice, matching the fabric and nesting the seams. Pin/clip to hold in place. Sew to attach with a ½” (1.3 cm) seam allowance.
Yay, you are done with the hard part! Continue with the second step on page 61 of the Monroe tutorial to finish the dress.