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A Hummingbird Dress

Last summer I made three Hummingbird Dresses for my girls and they wore them all the time. They were the perfect sundresses for our hot Texas summers. The girls continued to wear them into the fall and spring paired with a cardigan. That looked so cute on them and it made the dresses so versatile.

I made quite a few modifications to this pattern, so I wanted to share them here.

First the pattern states that it is very important to cut the bodice based upon the chest measurement and not the child's age or ready-to-wear size. This is what I normally do anyway and this worked well. But I felt the scoop at the center front was too deep.  I had already added 1/2" to the center front, making it less scooped. Still, it's too low for my preference, especially when the dress droops forward like in this photo below.

I consulted with my friend and sewing guru Mie on how I could adjust the fit of the bodice. I've tweaked the pattern the last three times I've made it, and it's still not quite right. I needed some additional guidance on what adjustments to make next time.

She suggested that I could raise the seam even more at the center front of the bodice pattern piece, making the bodice even less scooped. And/or I could shorten the straps. I did take the straps in by 1/2" but I think I could have taken them in by 1 full inch instead. She suggested that I interface the straps so they don't become stretched and thus longer while being worn.  That hadn't even occurred to me, but it's good to know for next time. :D

She pointed out that you don't want to shorten the straps too much because that will affect where the bottom of the bodice lands and it could look strange if it was pulled too high. You can't add additional length to the bodice front because the bodice back is sized to fit the 1" elastic.

I added 2" of width to the back bodice piece because the original sizing felt too tight to comfortably take on and off. This worked perfectly!

I used this tutorial to attach the back bodice to the skirt and to enclose the seam. It resulted in a beautiful, clean finish.  I definitely recommend it.

Finally, I cut the skirt to be 24" in length which is several inches longer than the pattern sizing chart suggests for Tia's height.  Even with this added length, I finished the dress with a narrow hem, so it seems about right to me. I wanted the skirt to hit below the knee.

I cut the skirt width selvedge edge to selvedge edge this time.  I wanted that extra fullness. I definitely wouldn't have made that choice with a heavier cotton, but this is a lightweight double gauze (I bought it here). It's the same fabric line that I used for this project. However, for this simple project, I didn't have any issues with it at all. I even used it as the lining for the front bodice piece. I was so happy with it. (I wrote about why in my previous post.)

I found the fabric for the bodice and straps at JoAnns. It's quite heavy, but I think it works well for this project.

Even though I made quite a few tweaks to this pattern, this is really a simple and straightforward sew that comes together so quickly.  There will be more of these dresses in our future for sure.


  1. This is such a beautiful, beautiful dress! Thank you for sharing all of your tips (and what a genius idea to consult with Mie; she is my Sewing Guru, too)!! Tia looks so gorgeous in all of these photos!

  2. Currently it's 35 degrees in Belgium, and I totally want a dress like this to wear in that heat! It looks so soft and twirly and comfortable.

  3. Such a stunning dress! Perfect for summer!

  4. It's a beautiful dress! I love the fabrics you chose.

  5. Well, you know how gorgeous I think this is but I thought I would put it in writing too ;-) And thank you for all the nice words, gulp. So happy to help...or try at least. I was actually looking at elastic today and saw a 1.5" wide elastic, so I guess you do have the possibility of buying a wider elastic and adding that extra 0.5" to the case nothing else works :-)

  6. It is just the most gorgeous, breezy, summery dress! Beautiful, beautiful! Love this fabric. The little hints on how you tweeked or might tweek the pattern are really helpful but I also like seeing your thought process! Mie to the rescue!

  7. That's a really pretty fabric to use for the Hummingbird! I made a Hummingbird for my 6 year old daughter and it looks so cute - but I also felt the pattern needed modifications (for instance, she isn't at all excited about wearing it because she feels it is too low in the neckline). I'm curious if you have a "cut off" for patterns that need modifications? At some point, I feel like I'm not really sewing the pattern at all anymore once I make some crucial adjustments.

    Do you have a rule on this, or does it depend on the pattern? Just wondering what your thoughts are. :) Thanks for sharing the photos of all your beautiful mama-made clothes with us!

  8. This one dress looks perfect for children and I believe that those children who will wear this kind of dress, they will look perfect and charming as well.
    Emma Charlotte
    The Academic Papers


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