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Little Girl’s Dress Coat Tutorial

Today’s contributor is Jill from Snugglebug University. All posts written by Jill for Make It and Love It can be found HERE

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Hi, it’s Jill from Snugglebug University!  Happy New Year!

Are you ready to emerge from the craziness of the holidays and settle back in at your sewing machine?  I know I am!   Today I’m excited to show you how to make a little girl’s dress coat.


Can I tell you how much I love this jacket?  And how much I LOVED sewing it? I don’t sew clothes that often, and I’m far from fashionable, so those statements shouldn’t be taken lightly!  I made this jacket out of necessity.  My daughter broke her arm twice in 2015.  The first time was in the summer, but then she re-fractured it again this past fall. (Of course you wouldn’t know it from these pictures…I didn’t get around to taking these pictures until a couple days after she got the cast off!!! Yay!!!)

We quickly learned that having a broken arm in colder weather posed additional challenges. It was so difficult to find long sleeve shirts and coats that fit over her cast!  She had one casual purple jacket that worked, but she needed something fancier.

At first I thought I’d just re-purpose a larger thrift store coat, but I just couldn’t get this coat design out of my head.  I wanted pleats, and buttons, and a big black bow….and most already-made jackets had designs that I would have had to work around.

So…off to the fabric store I went, to get some new fabric!  I made use of some great coupon discounts and ended up purchasing all the supplies for the coat for a little under $20.

I love every little detail! The pleats, the ruffled border, the collar and the buttons.  You might notice that the top of the jacket is just held together with Velcro.  That was done out of necessity, to make it easier for my daughter to get dressed herself.  Even with the cast off, she’s still working to regain the mobility of her arm.  Buttons so high up are difficult!!  If I hadn’t been working around a broken arm I would totally have just finished the jacket with button holes and buttons instead of the Velcro. Velcro is a great solution though if you want to make a coat for a younger child.

The coat is lightweight, so it’s probably best as a coat for the Spring or the Fall.  We live in the San Francisco bay area though, so my daughter actually wore this coat for Christmas…but I imagine she’ll be wearing it for Easter as well!

The coat is fully lined, and it has some lovely ribbon trim that goes all around the jacket.  I decided to go for a “fun” print for the inside lining.  I think it balances the jacket out a bit…since it is for a little girl after all!

I’m going to show you how I used a very basic jacket (that looked nothing like this one!) as a guide to make this coat.  Don’t let the lack of a pattern scare you…this jacket is really not that hard to make!   It’s so fun to watch all the little details come together too.  (Although you could also totally omit the pleats and ruffles and make a simpler, easier-to-make version.)

I think that this coat could work equally well for an adult…I think I need to make one for myself next!


Alright, are you ready to make a little girl’s coat?


  • 4-5 buttons
  • “Suiting” fabric (I used about 1.5 yards for my daughter’s coat.  She wears a size 7-8.)
  • Lining fabric (I used about 1.5 yards of flannel for my daughter’s coat.  However, this was very tight as the flannel shrunk a lot when I pre-washed it.  I made it work, but boy was it close!)
  • 1.5 yards of 1.5 inch ribbon trim
  • About 6-7 inches of Velcro fastener (Omit if you are just going to use the buttons to secure the coat.)
  • Sewing machine and basic sewing supplies (here’s a list of common sewing supplies, in case you need a few ideas) 
  • Large pieces of paper for drafting your coat pattern

***As always, if you need a bit of help with the basic sewing skills used in this tutorial, don’t hesitate to check out the Sewing 101 post for more help.

Alright, let’s get started.

The first thing that I did was measure my daughter and figure out how long I wanted to make the coat.  I wanted it to hit just a few inches above her knee, which ended up making the jacket be around 26 inches from shoulder to the bottom hem.

Then I needed to make the pattern pieces.   I used a simple casual jacket as a guide (It was the casual purple jacket that I mentioned earlier…the only one that fit over her cast!).   I decided that I wanted the coat to have a skirted bottom, so I made the bodice pattern piece much shorter than the purple jacket. To give you an idea, the measurement from shoulder to waist was about 10 inches on the finished coat.

I’d recommend using some very large butcher paper to make your pattern.  My father-in-law is an engineer and he gives me his old plans so that I can let my kids draw on them.   They are perfect for pattern drafting!  A roll of art paper would work just as well though.  It’s super nice to not have to piece pages of paper together.

I started making the sleeve pieces first. I folded the jacket and traced the sleeves. Remember that when you’re making your pattern, make sure to note which sides will need seam allowances.  I didn’t add the seam allowances to the paper pattern.  Instead I just added them when I cut out my fabric pieces, but you can do either.

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The upper edge was the most difficult to trace, but I just carefully marked as I lifted up the sleeve.  Then I carefully connected my markings.

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I used the same method to trace the bodice front and back.  My jacket had a zipper, and the coat I wanted to make had an overlapping closure.  I added a little to extend each side.  This made sure that there would be enough room to overlap on each side of the front of the coat. 
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The back bodice piece was simple to make.  I just traced it from the jacket, making just the length shorter.

Using your bodice pieces as a guide, draw a collar.  Again, remember that you will need to add seam allowances when you cut.  The collar pieces (both front and back) will be cut from the exterior fabric rather than the lining. (In the picture below I folded over the extra allowance on the bodice for the button/Velcro flap closure. This makes it easier to visualize what the coat/collar will look like when it was finished).

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The “skirt” of the jacket is made from one large rectangle, that is about 16 inches tall.  There are no side seams on the “skirt” portion of the jacket.

The finished jacket top is about 32 inches around at the “waist.”  The “skirt” part of the jacket needs to fit into that 32 inches.  I figured that I wanted the length of the “skirt” to be be about 1.5 times that 32 inches, so that I could gather it up and fit it to the 32 inch bodice.  Ideally It would be about 48 inches long (by 16 inches tall).  I just used what I had from fabric width though, which ended up being a bit smaller.

Now that you have your pattern pieces, it’s time to cut out your fabric pieces.  If you didn’t add seam allowances, make sure that you add them as you cut.  With the exception of the collar, all of the pieces should be cut out from both the lining and exterior fabric.

Here are the exterior pieces (the skirt rectangle is not shown). There are two sleeve, two collar, and two bodice pieces. The “double” pieces are stacked on top of each other.

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Cut the same pieces out of lining fabric. The lining pieces are shown below. Note the absence of the collar pieces.  Also, since I was running out of lining fabric, I made the rectangular skirt a bit smaller, which means less gathering and fullness.  It doesn’t matter if the lining “skirt” piece is not the exact size as the exterior “skirt” piece because they will not be sewn together. (More details below.)

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I finished the edges of my fabric, then I decided that this front of my jacket needed some embellishments. I decided to add some ruffles and pleats.

I took a long piece of scrap fabric, folded it over on itself, and gathered the edges.

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Then I took a larger rectangle and started to fold over pleats. (If you have never done pleats before, you might find this post helpful.)  I pinned the folds in place.

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I folded over the edges of rectangle on top of the bodice, tucked the ruffles underneath, and then sewed in place.  I made sure that the pleat at the edges was wide enough to accommodate the buttons and Velcro that I wanted to add later.

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Then I sewed the ribbon onto the bodice front and back.  (The buttons aren’t sewn on below.  I simply placed them to help me visualize the finished bodice better).

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Sew bodice front to bodice back at shoulders.

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Sew the collar front to the collar back as shown. Clip edges and turn right side out.  Press.

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Pin collar in place and baste. 
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Gather the upper edge of the sleeve and then pin to the front of the bodice. Sew.

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Sew up the side seams (including the sleeves side seams.)

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Next, hem the skirt. Gather the top edge.

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Adjust gathers so that it fits top of jacket. Place right sides together and sew.

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Repeat with the steps above with the lining pieces.

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Place the lining inside of the coat, such that the right sides are facing each other. Sew all around the sides of the coat.  You’ll notice that the base of the coat IS NOT SEWN to the lining.  Both are hemmed independently.

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Pull the sleeves out. 
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Next I sewed up the sleeves (to finish the edges and attach the lining to the exterior).  Fold over the lining sleeve, and pin it inside the exterior sleeve of the coat.  Line up the bottom of the sleeves and pin in place.

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Sew along the edge, twisting as necessary.

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Put your arm in (through the bottom of the coat) and pull out the arms.

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Top-stitch around your coat as desired.  I sewed around the underside of the collar and down the sides. Note that at the base of the coat the exterior and lining remain separate.

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Next attach the buttons.  Now normally I would have done button holes, but buttons are actually pretty difficult when you have broken arm.  I opted for attaching Velcro instead and making the buttons purely decorative.  I attached two pieces of Velcro, one up higher and one at the waist. Once it was attached I attached the buttons.

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Since my Velcro was the same width as my pleat, I was able to just sew around the edges of the pleat and not make any more stitch lines. Then I attached my black bow to the front of the jacket at the waist.

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All done!  Wasn’t that fun?

Are you looking for more fun projects for little girls?  You can find lots on my blog!  Hop on over to Snugglebug University to see how to make these legwarmers, fabric suitcase, and fabric headbands.

Thank you so much for having me here on Make It and Love It!


You can follow Jill on her blog (, on instagram, on pinterest, and on facebook.


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Your cute little fashionista might also love some of these outwear tutorials, great for winter, spring or fall!



Jill is a mom of two little girls, a scientist by training, and a maker at heart. She loves to sew, draft, craft, and create both for her kids and her house. You can read more about her creative journey on her blog,

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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