How to turn a thin utilitarian onesie into an adorable little mini-dress!
First, gather your materials:
- Your victim onesie – I used a Gerber 12 month onesie that comes in a 5-pack. Fits my (admittedly monster tall) 2-month old perfectly
- Fabric (I used cotton seersucker but any cotton or cotton-poly should do just fine)
- Pencil or marking pencil (I only had pencil, but it didn’t wash out as easily as I’d hoped, so I recommend a marking pencil if you can get your hands on one)
Wash your fabric. For me, it’s always frustrating to have to wait to begin the project, but I’ve learned over the years that it’s really worth it.
For the approximate ruffle size you see in the picture, cut two 9 inch strips of fabric that go the entire width of the fabric. If your fabric is more than 45″ wide you may want to trim it at 45″ so you don’t have TOO much ruffle.
Fold each strip lengthwise with the right sides together. Stitch the long side with a very small seam allowance as shown here, making the strip into a tube.
Then, zig-zag the raw seam allowance flat – this means the fabric won’t bulk up when you turn it right-side-out to make your ruffle. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have a serger (hint, hint, Engineerboy), you can skip this step b/c you will serge this edge.
After that you’ll have two tubes of fabric:
Turn your tubes right-side out and iron them flat.
On each open end of the tube, fold the raw edge under to the inside of the tube (I did about 3/8″) and iron flat.
Now you have the makings of your ruffles! Lay them out on your onesie to determine approximately where they should go. Safety note: I keep the ruffles low on the onesie, like a skirt, so that there’s no way they can flip up to cover her face when she sleeps.
Once you figure out where you want your ruffles, mark a line on the onesie for where the top of each ruffle should land. Remember to keep them at least 1″ apart so that you have room to sew both ruffles on the onesie without sewing them on top of each other.
Taking your fabric tubes, insert one end inside the other. Lay that down on the sewing machine and topstitch. Now your fabric tube is a fabric cylinder.
Next come the basting stitches to make the ruffly-ness. Set your machine on the largest straight stitch possible.
Then sew basting stitches around the TOP edge of each ruffle-cylinder (the top edge is the one without the lengthwise seam). Leave a large seam allowance on this one; I did about an inch. Remember not to backstitch!
Pull on your bobbin thread to gather the ruffles (technically you should use two strands of basting stitches but heck one works pretty well as long as you pull delicately and don’t break the thread when you gather the fabric). When you’re done you’ll have two gathered cylinders of fabric:
Starting with the lower ruffle, pin your ruffle onto the body of the onesie, aligning the top edge of the ruffle with the line on the onesie. I aligned the seam of the ruffle (where you made the tube into the cylinder) on one side seam of the onesie. You may have to adjust the gathers to make the circumference fit the onesie. The ruffle should be just slightly larger around than the onesie, but not a lot.
Once your ruffle is pinned, slide your onesie around the arm of your sewing machine and stitch the ruffle to the onesie (remember to make your stitch length smaller than the basting stitches!). For the bottom ruffle, I slid the onesie on from the bottom, so the ruffle was actually out to the right. I sewed with straight stitches, aligning the right edge of the presser foot with the basting stitches. Make sure not to stretch the onesie a lot when you do this, because the knit of the onesie is much weaker than the cotton ruffles – it won’t be able to bring those ruffles back into line and you’ll end up with a garment that makes it look like your little one has a hula hoop inside the onesie.
Now you have a onesie with one ruffle!
Repeating the same process, pin the second ruffle on the upper line you’ve drawn on your onesie. Pick the opposite side seam of the onesie to align the side-seam of this ruffle. (This makes sure you don’t have a “droopy” side where both side seams live). Then put your onesie on the machine (this time I put it on via the neck opening) and stitch. Again, stitch the straight seam between the basting stitches and the top of the ruffle. I aligned the left edge of the presser foot with the basting stitches.
Now all you need to do is use the seam ripper to take out the basting stitches. It’s often easier to do this from the underside of the ruffle so that you don’t accidentally take out the stitches attaching ruffle to onesie.
Et voilà, your plain utilitarian onesie is now transformed into an adorable and easy outfit with an attached ruffled skirt!
And here’s my little angel gamely modeling it for me!
The color combos are endless, and it really only takes 1/2 yard or so of fabric to make this. You can also dress it up by trimming the end of the ruffle with a coordinating bais tape or other fun trim. Here’s my other favorite one – retro cherry print on pink gingham. Next up is leopard print on a pink onesie!