Fancy party or pageant dresses for children are a snap if you have moderate sewing skills. Make a dress from scratch, or add embellishments to a purchased dress. Work with your young lady to design and make her new dress. She will be proud to wear your home-crafted creations again and again.
Begin your project with a basic pattern, such as Simplicity Pattern #2569. This pattern is for a child's princess costume, but can be modified to create a fancy dress as it has a full skirt and choice of sleeve styles. If you prefer to avoid a lot of sewing, a purchased dress can be modified or embellished. Search jumble sales and thrift stores for children's formal dresses. If you are a novice at sewing, repurposing a purchased dress is a great option.
Inventory your sewing supplies. Make sure that you have basic sewing supplies including needles, thread, scissors, measuring tape, pins, tailor's chalk, fabric and elastic. Assemble embellishments such as lace, ribbon, seed beads and pearls, sequins, fabric paint, ribbon roses and tulle. Projects that require a lot of sewing could require a sewing machine.
If you are sewing the dress from scratch, carefully cut and assemble the garment according to package directions. If you are a beginner, it is helpful to have a basic sewing manual that explains sewing terms and has guides and illustrations. After assembling the dress, turn it inside out and have the child try it on. You should see any areas that need altering. Mark needed alternations with a straight pin or tailor's chalk.
While the child is wearing the dress, pin the garment hem to the desired length. Remove the dress and stitch in the hem.
A fun part of this project is adding embellishments. Lace is an easy, dramatic addition to any garment. Lace edging can be added to collars, sleeves or hems. Lace yardage can be used as an overlay for a skirt, or to create lace sleeves.
Seed pearls, jewels or strung beads can be used as an overlay for lace edging, or sewn by hand to collars or sleeve hems. Beads can be strung and sewn on to create faux necklaces. Intricate beading can be sewn by hand to bodices or vest overlays.
Tulle is inexpensive, comes in a variety of colours, and can be gathered into poufs to add a dress bustle or to create a fluffy skirt overlay. Tulle can also be used to enhance a neckline.
Ribbons and rosettes add sweet touches to sleeves, hems, bustles, collars and necklines. Ribbon roses can be purchased or made by hand. The embellishments can also be glued to hair pins to accessorise the dress.
Fabric paint can be used to paint, stamp or stencil designs onto bodices or hems. Fabric paint typically should be set with an iron or a clothes dryer after the paint has cured or dried.