Introduction: Russian Summer Fun (or Ksenias Favorite Dress)

Unbleached Osnaburg
Unbleached muslin
Red ribbon, narrow, medium, and wide widths
2 snaps
2 hooks and eyes
Red embroidery floss
Tiny red buttons (optional)

This is one of my little girl’s favorite dresses. It’s based on the linen-look girls’ dresses which are popular in Russia.
Start with some unbleached Osnaburg. You can usually find it sold with the muslin.  It is traditionally linen, but I’m using an inexpensive cotton. It’s a very wide weave, so it’s cool in the summer, but it also ravels. I find it much easier to finish the edges before I mess with them.

Step 1: Make the Skirt

So we begin by making a simple circle skirt. There are tutorials all over the internet, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel (here is a good one: ). So begin by making a circle skirt out of the Osnaburg, but do not add a waistband.

Now, measure the edge of the skirt carefully and mark it with three parallel lines, each about an inch apart. It’s important to keep these lines straight. Now, use the guidelines to sew a medium ribbon around the 1” mark. Then, just above, use your sewing machine to do a ring of decorative stitching. You will need to use some stabilizer to keep the Osnaburg from getting stuck in the machine. If you don’t have any on hand, clean newsprint works well for this and tears right off. Finally, sew a row of narrow ribbon to the upper line.

Step 2: Now Make the Bodice

Now, you will need to sketch out a bodice pattern. I’ve included a girls’ size 6-7 pattern I drew up on muslin. Cut one from the Osnaburg and one from the muslin. Now, you will want to do your embroidery on the Osnaburg. Print out a matrioshka or a flower pattern (a good free matrioshka embroidery pattern can be found here: ). Trace the back of the printout with a transfer pencil. Iron it to the Osnaberg bodice. Now, embroider it.

No one has ever accused me of being great with an embroidery needle, so I actually don’t (embroider it, that is) . What I did was wind the bobbin of my machine with three strands of embroidery floss.  Then, on the back side of the bodice I followed the transfer lines with my regular stitches. When I come to the end of a line, I leave a lot of thread, enough to thread the floss on a needle, push it through to the wrong side of the fabric, and tie it off. When you turn it over, it looks embroidered. It may be cheating, but for kids’ clothes I’m not sure it matters.

Step 3: Straps!

Now, the next thing you need to do is cut the two straps out. Sew the wide ribbon to the middle. Then, use your decorative stitching on either side. Don’t forget to use stabilizer! Sew the straps right sides together and close one end. Trim the edges and snip the corner.  Turn them right-side-out and press.
Now sew the embroidered bodice to the muslin lining, pinning the straps in place to create the bodice. Snip the corners and turn it inside out.

Step 4: Adding the Keyhole

Now, here's the trickiest part.  Measure the length of the bodice.  Compare it to the circumference of the waist hole in the skirt.  The bodice should be slightly too small.  Now, you want to cut a small keyhole of the Osnaburg and finish the edge.  Pin it to the center back of the outside (front) of the skirt.  Sew around the edge of the keyhole and cut out the keyhole.  You should take out enough so that the skirt will fit into the edge of the bodice.  Turn the fabric to the inside of the skirt.  Press it and sew around the edge to put it down. 

Step 5: Finishing Up

Next, turn in the bottom of the bodice about 1/4” and pin the bodice to the skirt. Sew the bodice to the skirt. You’re almost done!
Sew in the hooks and eyes to the bodice to hold it together. Then, sew snaps to the straps and the bodice to hold the straps in place.
That’s it! It also looks adorable over a pair of jeans.

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