Sonora Dress - Straight skirt pattern hack and alternate inside seam methods

Ask and you shall receive! The Sonora dress has become one of our most popular patterns since it’s release earlier this year. With so many requests for bigger sizes, I’m happy to announce the release of the Women’s Sonora Dress with sizes picking up after the girls sizes at 00 going all the way up to 20! Be on the look out for our wonderful tester’s versions.

sonora for girls & women

Girl's sizes 18m-10y

Women's Sizes 00-20

Sewing for girls is one thing but sewing for women is quite another. However much I love the twirl factor of the Sonora, I’m not too thrilled with the amount of fabric it takes to get it. So I made a maxi version with a straight skirt for myself :)
I also made a straight skirt knee length version for my daughter because I’ve had this unicorn border print forever and she needed a birthday dress for this month.

First, lets get started with the steps to cutting the rectangles needed for the skirt.

Generally when I sew a skirt onto a bodice I use two and a half times the circumference of the waist to determine the width of the skirt.
For example, my daughter’s waist is 20”. Take 20 x 2.5, which equals 50 for the skirt width plus seam alllowance on either side. Divide this number by two for a front and back skirt panel making each panel 25” wide. Use the length of the circle skirt pattern piece for a knee length dress or shorten/extend as desired.  

Click the side arrow for the next step.

Set the front skirt panel aside, fold the back skirt panel in half widthwise. Measure the curve on the circle skirt pattern piece from the edge of the pattern to the notch. Mark the measurement onto the folded back skirt panel from the edge of the fold. These will now be the back skirt notches as needed to follow with the original tutorial.

I personally love how quick and easy the method is in the original tutorial for attaching the bodice to the skirt but being that this is one of our most popular patterns and based on the many comments I received on the inside finish of the dress, I decided to post a couple alternatives to a “cleaner” inside seam on the dress.

There's always one way to skin a cat they say, so here we go with alternate option 1...

Bias method

Supplies needed:

  • 1/2" double fold premade bias tape

Click the side arrow to begin

BASTE the skirt onto the bodice as explained in illustration 10 (girls tutorial) or illustration 11 (women’s tutorial), carefully measure the circumference of the waist opening + seam allowance. Cut your bias tape by this length. RST, press the folds of the bias tape open along the edges open, then sew to create a loop.  

RST, slide the loop over the skirt/bodice. Pin & sew around the entire circumference using a 3/8" seam allowance to stay consistent with the tutorial.

Using the pre-folded edges of the bias as a guide, fold the bias over the bodice seam allowance. Sew the circumference of the folded bias edge onto the seam allowance only…DO NOT SEW ONTO THE SKIRT! Move the skirt & bodice aside so it does not interfere with sewing.

Press the bias down along the back skirt (the area left un-sewn and not attached to the bodice). Sew closely to the edge of the bias, securing it to the skirt, to create a casing for the elastic.

Continue with the rest of the Sonora tutorial illustrations to guide the elastic through the casing, then finish the hem of your skirt.

You'll notice the bias is not attached to the skirt or bodice. You'll want to press it down so that it lays flat, adjacent to the elastic casing. It will not only provide a clean finish, but it also adds extra support at the waist. Con...In my opinion, it's a little bulky but perhaps if I made my own double fold bias with a lighter weight fabric, it may be better.


Option 2...

French seam method

Click the side arrow to begin

Clip 5/8” (just slightly over 1/2”) at the back skirt notch locations.  

Follow illustration 10 (girls tutorial) or illustration 11 (women’s tutorial) to attach the bodice to the skirt except you will be attaching wrong sides together with a 1/4” seam allowance.

Flip the bodice onto the right side of the skirt so that right sides are together. Pin and sew with a 3/8” seam allowance to complete the french seam. Press the edge prior to sewing so that the gathers stay flat.

I added some notes on the picture because there's not much of a difference in color on the wrong side of my fabric and I used the same fabric for my lining and main.

Fold the flap on the back of the skirt down onto the inside of the skirt by 1/4”. Press, then fold again by 3/8” and press again. The folded edge should be even with the french seam created in the previous step. Sew closely to the bottom folded edge to create the casing for the elastic.

You'll notice the french seam is "floppy" what I did was press it downward and over the elastic casing by just a tad. Sew in place.

I greyed out the top portion just in case you were wondering why it looked weird. I was just hoping it would help to see what was being done in this picture.

Here's a finished view of what this will look like on the inside. The left picture shows the french seam flipped up...don't forget to remove your gathering threads! The right pictures shows the french seam pressed down. It won't stay down on the garment hanging, but once you put it on, mine stayed in place without a problem.

There is probably about two other ways I can think of to finish the seam but I've run out of steam after a month of creating the women's sonora and testing so i'll have to save them for another time.

.but..I'll quickly explain one other way.  

Clip at the notch locations as explained in the first step of the French seam techniquce. DO NOT BASTE THE BODICE MAIN/LINING TOGETHER! Fold the bottom edge of the bodice main/lining by pressing it 3/8" onto the inside of the bodice. Slide the folded opening of the bodice over the gathered edge of the skirt, aligning notch locations as described in the tutorial. Pin and sew the bodice onto the skirt. Create the elastic casing as described in the french seam technique. You'll be able to see the seam on the front side of the bodice but the inside will be clean, not bulky or have a "floppy" seam.  

These are all up to personal preference and as I said, there's always more than one way to skin a cat so feel free to share your technique in our fb sewing group and/or post pics of any of these methods that you've tried.

Hope you enjoy sewing the Sonora!!





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