Free Pattern The Brooklyn Empire Dress

As much as I am dreading it, we are starting to say goodbye to summer. With my 3 year old still refusing to wear anything but dresses and skirts, I decided to draft this 3/4 sleeve empire waist dress pattern so she can still wear dresses in the colder months ahead. The pattern is a simple front button closure, high waist, knee length dress with long sleeves. I will show you how to draft your own pattern in an upcoming post or you can use the one I provide here. The pattern comes in 2T t0 5T sizes because I am new at pattern grading and I actually had to measure a child in each age group to get the individual patterns. I couldn’t find anyone older than 6 so the pattern stops at 5T.  The pattern comes with an optional pocket pattern which adds a nice girly touch to the dress. The pattern is super easy to create, so you can do one in any size. The dress is completely lined which makes it thick/heavy for colder weather. I did two different patterns; one for knit fabrics and one for woven fabrics. The knit pattern is bit smaller than the woven pattern and does not require lining. I am planning on sewing up a dress using the knit pattern this week.  I am also planning on doing some baby sizes in this pattern in the months ahead so stay tuned! Thanks for visiting and enjoy the pattern!

Brooklyn Dress

This is Brooklyn, my neighbor’s 5 year old who agreed to be my model for the pattern. My 3 year old refused to cooperate so I paid Brooklyn with a free dress to model for me:-). This fabric is from Joann’s and its called Faine Sterling from Keepsake Calico. It is accented with a Kona Cotton red cotton on the sleeves and some big bright red buttons on the front.

I added two small pockets on the side. Brooklyn loved the pockets so I think it was a good idea.


Here she is from the back. I love how cute the red bows are with the dress!



I got my 3 year old to stand for 2 minutes to take a picture for me in her dress. For her dress, I used a polka dot red silk for the main fabric and red Kona cotton for the lining. The sleeves are shorter than Brooklyn’s dress.

Brooklyn 4

brooklyn 6

Many thanks to Brooklyn for modeling for me. She is a natural and the dress looks so cute on her!

Brooklyn 3

Your Supplies

Note: The pattern DOES NOT account for seam allowance (sorry, I am still learning how to do this in my software). You will need to cut the pattern 1/2″ extra all around the pattern except on the lines where it says “Cut on Fold” to account for the seam allowance. All raw edges of fabric were serged to prevent fraying. You can print your cotton pattern HERE and your knit pattern HERE.

Bottom Measurement (2 main pieces and 2 lining pieces)

Width- around the underarm

Length- underarm to middle of knee

Lining length -underarm to middle of knee then subtract 2″.

Brooklyn’s waist was 20″ and her measurement from arm to middle of knee was 18″. So, her 2 main pieces were 20″x 18″ and her 2 lining pieces were 20″ x16″.


Step 1- The bodice

When you cut out the pattern for the bodice, you will have 2 back bodice (1 main, 1 lining), 4 front bodice ( 2 main, 2 lining), and 2 sleeves

First take your two front bodice and sew them together to the back right sides together a the arm.


Repeat for the lining.


Place the lining on the main bodice right sides together and sew following the black lines.


Turn the bodice inside out and iron.


Now, take the shoulders of the main fabric and sew right sides together.


Repeat for the lining.


Turn inside out and top stitch following the black line.


Step 2- The sleeves

If you want to add a border at the bottom of the sleeves, cut a 2″ strip the width of the bottom of the sleeve. Fold in half and sew it to the bottom the sleeves right sides together.

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Fold the sleeve in half and sew down.


Pin the right side of the sleeve to the right side of the arm hole. Make small gathers at the top to make the sleeve fit the arm hole.

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Repeat the process for the other sleeve.

Step 3- Finish up the top

Take a marker and mark where you need your 3 button holes to be. Make the button holes using your button hole foot on your machine. I am horrible at doing button holes so forgive the messy sewing job:-). Luckily my model couldn’t notice.

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Bring the two sides of the front bodice together and pin the bottom. Set the top aside.


Step 4- Optional- Pockets

Skip this step if you are not putting in pockets. If you are putting pockets, cut 4 pieces of your pocket pattern.

To do the pockets, I actually watched this video. I am planning on taking some pictures on putting on pockets which I will share this weekend. Stay tuned and I hope the video works. You essentially put the pockets on the main skirt, then fit your lining inside. Sewmccool has a simple tutorial on how to add pockets.

Step 5- Finishing the bottom

Sew the main bottom pieces right sides together..

Sew a 1″ hem on the bottom of the  main piece. Serge the bottom of the lining or sew a 1/2″ hem.


Fit the lining into the main bottom piece as shown below.


Sew a gather stitch (longest stitch on the machine) on top of the skirt about 1″ from the top. Pull the thread so that the skirt fits the top.


Fit the top into the skirt, right sides together. Pin and sew all the way around.

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Put on the buttons on the top and you are done!

Brooklyn 2

Brooklyn Empire Dress Pattern

Thanks for visiting and Happy Sewing!


Pattern Review: Puff Sleeve Toddler Dress

Happy Autumn Everyone. It’s been a year since I did this puff sleeve pattern and it has become a favorite on the blog. Many of you have sent in your pictures of this dress and I am so happy the pattern is working for you. This pattern comes in 3 toddler sizes from 24M to 3T. It has a simple bodice top pattern and a layered empire waist bottom. The puff sleeve really makes the dress girly. By using a bright color for the sleeves, you can really make this dress stand out. The back is a button or zipper closure. This fabric comes from the Hipster line at Riley Blake Designs. It’s a bright color that works perfectly for the fall. Enjoy the pattern!

I did the sleeves and a bottom band in complimenting and coordinating bright orange. I think it really brought out the design of the orange dots.

The pattern is a simple bodice and bottom A-line dress that is gathered in the center. Super simple to make!

The puff sleeves are so simple to do and really makes the dress a bit more fun for a toddler. Usually I do elastic cuffs but this puff cuff (I am sure it has a real name) won it for me for this design.

I wanted to add a flower or do a waist band but I thought it would take away from the beauty of the fabric design so I just left it plain. I will do a pretty flower in Mila’s hair when she wears it.

I love how pretty it turned out. If you do yours please post it so I can see how it looks.

Here is what you need to make this dress
1 yard cotton
1 yard lining cotton
1/2 coordinating solid cotton
2 big buttons

Download the pattern HERE. There is a 12M, 2T and 3T pattern. If your child is normal for her size per age, you dont need to add seam allowance. 1/2″ seam allowance is built into the pattern. However, if you child is slightly large, you can 1/2″ seam allowance when you cut out the pattern.

After you cut all your pieces you should have the following:

2 front bodice (1 lining, 1 outer)
4 back bodice (2 lining, 2 outer)
2 sleeves
1 main bottom (Cut from pattern or measure 2X waist of child x desired length). Mine was 40″x 12
I bottom band (2X waist of child x 3″)
Optional: (2″x1″ strips for button hooks)

Lets get started:

Step 1- the bodice

Sew the lining and the outer pieces of your front and back pieces right sides together as illustrated by the red lines below (sorry the lines are so faint)

After you turn you pieces inside out and iron (iron with starch to get a clean look), they will look like:

Step 2- piecing the front and back bodice
To get a clean polished look on your bodice you want o sew it so that there are no exposed seams. To so that you need to sew the lining pieces to each other and the outer fabrics together, using the opening that you left on the upper arm. Sew together the tops of the bodice pieces. Don’t sew close the opening. When we sew the sleeves those will be sewn together. We will also do the underarm sides later.

Step 3- the sleeves
Double fold the bottom of the sleeves, iron and sew close ( sewed mine close at the end but I think its best to do it on this step). Serge or zig-zag the other end of the sleeves. Gather the middle part of the sleeve and with right sides together pin the curved part of your sleeves all around the arm of your bodice. Sew 1/4″ on your machine.

Step 4-make the puff on the sleeves
Take a long piece of 1/4″ elastic (about the length of your sleeve) and sew it on one end of the bottom of the sleeve on the beginning of the fold you did earlier. Sew back and forth a few times to make sure it is really secure. Then, stretch the elastic as far as you can with one hand and sew down stretching the elastic as you sew. It helps to go slow and guide the fabric with the other hand. Cut out the left over elastic when you reach the end.

Step 5-close the bodice and sleeve
Again, with right sides together, sew the lining pieces and outer pieces together. You can then sew the sleeves close by sewing right side pieces together.

Step 6- the bottom
Take your 3″ strip and fold both long sides in 1/4″. Iron down. Once that’s fold down, fold it in the center and iron down. Leave it aside. Take your main piece and double fold 1/2″. Sew both pieces together with the folded 3″ strip fitting under the main piece. I also top stitched the entire thing when I was done to give it a finish look.

Step 7-sew bottom to top
Serge or zig-zag the edges of the bodice and the bottom piece. With the largest stitch length, sew 2  stitches 1/4″from the top of your bottom piece and pull to gather. I like doing two pull stitches to get it more secure. After that, I pin the bottom piece to the bodice piece right sides together and sew close.

Step 8- finish up
Sew the sides of the bottom piece close and serge or zig-zag to prevent fraying. For a closure, you can do button holes of make loops. I made loops for mine. I did 2″x1″ fold each end in and then fold in the middle. I then top stitch close. Fold in half and sew about 2″ apart on the back. Sew on the buttons and you are done.