I saw this beauty on Pinterest and was intrigued by the idea of purchasing pre-cut coordinating fabric to use for a project. It took me a few weeks to find a jelly roll in the store ( Wal-Mart ) I really liked and this is the end result:
Upon laying out the fabric on my living room floor I decided I wanted horizontal stripes instead of the original vertical by Cheri over at Moda Bake Shop, and laying it out that way I was able to get all three skirts out of one jelly roll (one strip of the jelly roll made all six straps). I picked up some pre-cut 5.5" squares of matching fabric and laid them against some store-bought dresses to figure out what the bodice would look like.
Because I was dealing with pre-cut fabric I decided to make two tubes (bodice tube and skirt tube) instead of four flat pieces to sew together. This is a little more difficult to put together in the end but I didn't want to cut the squares or have to match the stripes on two different side seams.
First I made the skirts. The 4T is 9 strips long, the 2T is 8 strips long and the 9m is 6 strips long. This left one strip to use for the straps. I ruffled the tops of the skirts and set them aside.
Next I sewed the zippers between two squares of matching fabric and sewed more squares to it to create the "tube" bodice. I didn't cut any shape to it or anything, they're just tubes.
To attach two tubes together, just like pants legs or shirt sleeves, you turn one of them inside out and put the other one inside it, so it looks like this.
(that's not a baby butt in the background. it's the back of a knee :) )
Then you rearrange the ruffle so it matches the bodice and you pin it all together before sewing. Stitch it together and you have a dress :) I tried the strapless dresses on the girls and measured over their shoulders to see how long the straps needed to be. (Let's face it, a strapless dress is not going to work on these kids. The straps are necessary to keep their torsos covered.) I cut the jelly roll strip to the appropriate lengths, then folded in the raw edges and pressed them before sewing to create the straps. I find this to be easier and neater-looking than sewing it inside out and inverting it.
And I went ahead and did a zigzag hem at the top too. On this one you can see the straps were an afterthought, but on the other two, I pinned the straps to the dress as part of the hem so it looks neater.
I finished the longest inside seam but I will let the others fray and soften and see how they do over time.