How to Make a bell sleeve knit dress - mother daughter dresses

Follow this tutorial to learn how to make a bell sleeve knit dress, a mother daughter dress combo. There is no pattern, but learn to use an old shirt to make a pattern yourself. The dress is simple and has fun bell sleeves. 

This post is sponsored by JOANN, but all words and photos are mine. This post may contain affiliate links at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting Sisters, What! 
sewing tutorial for bell sleeve dress
I love a knit t shirt dress. But then again who doesn't? it's like wearing your favorite t-shit, but as a full length dress. And during the hot summer months, it's even better. When I got this newest knit fabric from JOANN, I immediately decided it needed to be a dress. It's such soft knit fabric and really high quality. And I love the floral print. 

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I got 2 yards of it and had just enough to make a matching dress for my little girl. But she is getting bigger and so I barely had the right amount. 
I decided I wanted to do some fancy bell sleeves but not just one tier but two tier. The under sleeve is not actually a bell sleeve, but the top is. It kind of gives a fun texture. I must admit though, It totally felt out of my comfort zone after I first tried it on, but I loved it so much I decided to get over that. 
diy knit dress sewing tutorialhow to make a knit dress sewing tutorial
And of course, I had to pose with a dinosaur because my kids had them out. And, it matched my dress ;). 
how to make a bell sleeve knit dress

How to Make a Bell Sleeve Knit Dress - Mother & Daughter Dresses

Supplies:

Step 1: Cut Out Dress

To create a pattern for this dress, you need one of your looser t-shirts. It can even be a graphic t. If you would really prefer to use a pattern for this, I tested out my Tilly and the Buttons Nora pattern that was pretty similar to a loose t-shirt. 
make your own knit dress sewing pattern
You need to cut 2 of these, a front and back of dress
Fold your shirt in half and tuck the sleeves in so you can see the arch. We're going to cut the fabric on the fold so fold your fabric over with wrong sides together. Now decide how long you want your dress and mark that spot on the fabric. Now you're going to cut around your shirt (but not on the fold). Follow the outline of the shirt and armpit area to get all the curves. The bottom of the dress should flare out slowly until you reach the the length you want. For the neck, do your best to imitate a favorite shirt neckline. 

Step 2: Sew front and back

Now with right sides together, sew the shoulder seams. Finish the seams with a zig zag or serger now. 
sew your knit dress right sides together

Step 3: Cutting the Sleeves

Now we're going to cut the sleeves. You are going to need two layers of sleeves. For the under and longer sleeve, I did the same width and length of sleeve as the shirt I  was using as a pattern. As you can see below, I curved that sleeve a little at the top. No worries if it's not perfect, just do your best.
how to make bell sleeves
For the ruffled sleeve on top, I cut it half the length of the under sleeve but 1 1/2 the width of the under sleeve (we're going to ruffle it). 

 Step 4: Sew sleeves

For both sleeves the upper and under sleeve parts, this is a good time to hem the sleeves before sewing. Then your going to sew a baste stitch on your two long smaller sleeves. Pull strings to create a ruffle. Pull until the sleeve is as long as the under sleeve. Place on top of under sleeve (wrong side on top of right side of under sleeve) and baste stitch it on top.
how to make ruffle sleeves

Step 5: Sew sleeves to dress

Open your dress up and place your sleeves and place on the arm part of dress right sides together. Do your best to match the center point of sleeve with shoulder seam. Sew into place. Repeat on other side. 
how to add ruffle sleeves to dress

 Step 5: Optional Pockets

If you want to add pockets, now is the time to do it. I found another dress that had pockets and traced those pockets on paper, I then cut them out with a different knit fabric. For detail pictures and tutorial, Bunny Baubles has a great tutorial to follow.

Step 6: Sew up sides

With right sides together, start sewing the dress by starting at the sleeve and go all the way to the bottom

Step 7: Hem and neckband

Hem your dress to your desired hem. For the neck band I will recommend go to Made By Rae for a great tutorial to help finish that part up. 

And that's it for adult dress. For the girls dress, I did the same exact thing, except I only did the ruffle sleeve and did not do the under sleeve. I felt it would have been to bulky and heavy for her. 
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