A little birdie told me… {Toddler Dress + Applique Tutorial}

Little Birdie Applique + Tutorial

I’ve been so wrapped up in quilt making lately that I’ve neglected another small obsession of mine… pretty little dresses for my pretty little girls.  And it hit me that I hadn’t yet made a single dress for Gaëlle…

So when I stumbled upon the Harper Reversible Dress, I knew I had to get busy!

Little Birdie Applique + Tutorial

I found the pattern at Sew Sweet Patterns on Etsy.  This dress has beautiful pleats in the front, and is completely reversible.  The PDF pattern was super easy to follow and extremely well illustrated.  Plus it came as an instant download which is a huge bonus for someone like me who, when inspired, needs to create immediately.

To push my sewing skills a little bit, I decided to add a functional little pocket to the front with a sweet polkadot birdie applique.

My inspiration for the little applique comes from Kelliex and her amazing quilts and pillows over at Don’t Look Now!  This woman has mad skills!  Sadly, her blog doesn’t seem to be active anymore but luckily for me, her works of art live on in the blogosphere!  Check out her Flower Garden Tutorial and you will see what I mean.  It is also there that I found a free template for this sweet little birdie.

Little Birdie Applique + Tutorial

If you feel like trying out this little appliqued bird, here’s a quick tutorial:

Bird Applique Tutorial

1. Cut out your paper pattern and pin to your fabric. Cut your fabric pieces.  For this particular bird, you will need a body, a wing and a beak.  (Since the look I was trying to obtain was a more childlike scribble, I ended up eyeballing my fabric cuts and thereby skipping the paper pattern phase completely.  Between you and me, it’s the part I hate anyway so I am all for skipping it!)

2. Back your fabric pieces with and iron-on adhesive, like HeatnBond.  

3. Iron on your adhesive-backed fabric pieces to your little pocket. *The pocket is not sewn to the dress at this point.

4. Now comes the part that made me sweat a little (but ended up being super simple… especially since I wasn’t going for a clean and perfect look):  Using your free motion foot, drop your feed dogs and stitch slowly all around the body of the bird.  To get the look I wanted, I retraced my steps 3 or 4 times.  Do the same for the wing.  *Now don’t panic if it looks weird after your first go around (I was sure I had ruined it…)  Keep tracing the contour and you will see it take shape!

5.  For the tail, make pencil marks on your fabric where you will want your spirals to go.  Again, retrace your stitches over each spiral about 4 times (working on one spiral at a time).  Do the same for the legs (which at this point will seem really easy compared to your spirals!)

6. Hand stitch a simple little eye with some black embroidery thread.  The simpler the better. A little X could also be cute.

7.  Snip all your little threads, front and back.  Secure your pocket to the dress by topstitching the sides and bottom of the pocket (the top having already been topstitched prior to adding the applique). 

 You’re done!

Little Birdie Applique + Tutorial

Here’s the same little dress in all her reversible glory.

Little Birdie Applique + Tutorial

Buttons were an option but as my button sewing skills are mediocre at best, I found my life was greatly simplified with the use of snaps.  Besides, in this family, teeny tiny buttons on teeny tiny dresses on wriggly little toddlers generally stay unbuttoned…  Snaps fare much better!

Little Birdie Applique + Tutorial
Little Birdie Applique + Tutorial

Have you appliqued anything lately?  Do you have any simple applique template to share?   And please do let me know if you have any questions or comments with this little tutorial.

Have a great week!

Linking up to some of these great link parties this week! See you there?

This project has been featured by Kim on Too Much Time on My Hands!

Too Much Time On My Hands

Tara from the Trendy Treehouse just featured my project AND chose my little blog as the FEATURED BLOG for the week!!!  

Pursuit of a Functional Home is featuring Gaëlle’s little dress here!  Excellent!

Pin It Monday Hop

Connie from Family Home and Life featured this little applique project!  Thank you Connie!!!

Family Home and Life

30 thoughts on “A little birdie told me… {Toddler Dress + Applique Tutorial}

  1. So cute! I’ve been thinking about making a dress for my little one. This would look so cute on there!Thank You for sharing by Pin It Tuesday!Remember to sign up for a reminder for next week and check back to see if you were featured!powerfulmothering.com

  2. Adorable! I did some simple applique by hand recently; I made little felt bird ornaments for my daughter’s preschool teachers and I appliqued wing pieces onto the bodies.

  3. Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is great, let alone the content!Feel free to surf to my website – holiday gift ideas

  4. Hello Natalie! Adorable little model! I ran across your blog on the linkin-with-my-ladies-thursday-hop! I’m glad I did! I am already following you with GFC. Please visit my blog and follow me. If you enjoy my post, please “Like” or leave a comment. I appreciate the support.Thank you,Vashti

  5. Wow! You have a real talent! Pretty dress and pretty little girl!! I’m a new follower from the Thumping Thursday blog hop! I would love for you to stop by when you get the chance and check things out! 🙂 Have a great week!Heather from Mommy Only Has 2 Hands

  6. I LOVE THIS! I am so afraid to sew clothing, but this seems really easy to accomplish. AND I love applique, so this would be a perfect project to tackle! Thanks for linking to our Make Bake Create party. Please come link again. I love your blog!!!www.therookieseamstress.com

  7. Supercute photos !! Girl + birdie! Thanks for linking up. Today a new party should open… and look forward to seeing there. Can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on. ~ Rose

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