The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

I had a small amount of this Field Study print from Anna Maria Horner left over from when I made myself this Anna Dress. The fabric is a dreamy rayon challis, and I knew I didn’t want the last bit to be waisted. So I had to think up a design that would work with the somewhat limited and awkward cut scraps I had left. But you know what? I was able to get a dress, and a long sleeve dress at that. So I was pleased.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

I knew I wanted something, simple, since the print is bold, something with a bit of flow and drape since the fabric is so dreamy, and something that is easy to throw on.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

As a ZARA addict, the thought of THIS dress kept popping into my head. I just loved the simple, but not simple design, and the retro vibe.  So I decided I would go ahead and make it.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

With an exposed zipper down the back, since we all know how I feel about those. Now I will be honest. IF I were to do it all over again, I would do things a little differently, however, I plan to re-work things a little and release the design as a full pattern, so for now I thought I would share the free PDF pattern for this version. It’s a fine dress, I still love it and Penny has already worn it several times.

You will need:

Carolina Dress Pattern Size 12-18m (want a full pattern 12m-8Y with added options, buy it here)

About 3/4 yard (maybe again my fabric was awkwardly shaped

1   7″ zipper

Single fold bias tape (or use the pattern piece to make your own)

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

So let’s sew the front. It will look like this. Run a basting stitch from the cut point to the cut point along the bodice. (shown above with the dotted line)

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Then with the front right sides together we are going to sew the center front together. Finish seam as desired.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Then pull the basting stitch to gather the center. You wan the gather to fit in the slit evenly.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Then fold the top part of the bodice down to be even with the slit, so the slit should now be at the top. Spread the gather evenly, and have the raw edge of the gather sticking out the the top. Now you will sew this opening closed like you would sew a dart. Start right at the edge at the top of the slit angle out so it’s 3/8″ seam allowance over the slit, and then angle back down and off the edge. Leave the threads long and knot them a few time to hold the stitch. Now, you will want to finish this raw edge by either serging the edge, or running a zig zag stitch over it.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Press the seam upward and you have a finished front. With the perfect little center gather.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Now for the back. Sew the zipper right sides together down one side so the raw edge of the zipper matches the raw edge of the back.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Then repeat with the other side sewing the other side of the zipper right sides together with the other front piece. Make sure it matches across the zipper, so that when it’s done you have a zipper on both sides and that everything matches up.  Then fold the back so that right sides are together. Then from the zipper stop sew the back together down to the bottom hem. Finish seam as desired.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Turn around the front side, press well and top stitch along the zipper to secure the zipper in place.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Then with the front and back right sides together sew along the shoulders. Finish seam as desired.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

With right sides together sew the sleeve in place or the arm curve. Finish seam as desired. Then repeat with other sleeve.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

I like to press the sleeve edge before sewing the side so it’s easier to hem the sleeve later. Press the edge under twice and then unfold once. Sew right sides together matching the front and back up, from sleeve edge to armpit and then go down the side. Finish seam as desired. Repeat with other side.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Then re-fold the sleeve edge and sew in place to secure the hem.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Hem the bottom by turning it up twice and sewing in place.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Lastly to finish the neck line, Sew the bias tape right sides together to the neckline. Have the bias tape hang over the back edge by 3/8″ on either side and trim to fit as needed.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Then turn the bias tape to the inside. Fold the bottom edge under and tuck in the center back sides. Then sew along the folded edge to secure.  Then you are done.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

A sweet a-line swinging dress with a cute little gather in the middle.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

I love that little detail, and that there isn’t a seam straight across the front and back bodice.

The Carolina Dress || Free PDF Pattern || Shwin&Shwin

Perfect for the little girl who is holding on to fall as long as she can. (we all are, I am ok with winter starting on December 24th)