Sewing the Keyhole Dress

We just returned from the beach last night, and I’m still trying to get the house straightened out and sand free. (This could take days!) I know quite a few people have been on vacation lately as well, so just in case you missed it. Here is the sewing part of the Keyhole Dress that was featured over at Me Sew Crazy last week.


I’m here to share my Keyhole Dress with you today. Over the past 2 weeks I’ve been posting video tutorials for many of the techniques I used to make this dress. An explanation, for any of the instructions highlighted in green can be found in the Tutorial section of my blog along with instructions for making the pattern. So lets get started!

What you will need:

Pattern pieces drafted using this tutorial, or print a size 2T bodice pattern here.
(2 front bodice, 4 back bodice,1 front skirt, 2 back skirt)
(You can find a size 2T bodice printable here.)
thread (I did my top-stitching in contrasting so I have 2 colors)
piping (exactly 1 package or 2½ yards for size 2T)
buttons (5-6 depending on size)

*All my seam allowances are 3/8 of an inch. If the SA is the same on the pattern and piping it makes attaching the piping A LOT easier *

 1. With right sides together sew 2 back bodice pieces to 1 front bodice piece, only at the shoulder seams. (2x)
 2. Attach piping around the keyhole halves, neckline, and armholes.  
When sewing around the armholes, leave the first and last inch of piping unattached 
and keep a decent bit of overhang.

4. Stitch the bodice lining on top of the bodice front. (Sandwiching the piping in between the 2 layers.)
Everything should be sewn except the 3 bottom edges, and the side seams at the top and bottom
of each armhole where the piping is still not attached.

5. Clip the curves and corners, and turn the bodice right side out. 
(reach up between the layers of the front bodice and pull the back pieces down and through.)
Make sure the corners are all turned out sharp. (Use a chopstick or pencil in the hard to reach parts)

6. Put the side seams right sides together and stitch. 
(The 2 lining sides together and the 2 front bodice sides together.)

You’ll be left with something like this. 
(bodice layer sewn at the side seam, piping, lining layer sewn at the side seam.)
7. Finish off the ends of the piping and then sew the 3 layers together.
The bodice should be finished everywhere except the bottom edge where the skirt will attach.

8. Top-stitch around the neckline, armholes, and the keyhole halves.
9. Attach piping along the bottom edge of the bodice.
(Only the “outside” not the lining. Cut the ends a little long, and tuck them up between the 2 layers. )

10. Lay out the 3 skirt pieces (back – front – back). Sew the 2 side seams. 
Remember to start with the wrong sides together if you are using french seams.
(The picture below shows the french seam and placket from the outside and then the 
french seam and the placket from the inside.)

11. Fold under the last 2 vertical raw edges (either far end), and stitch down to form the button/
buttonhole plackets. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of that step, so I hope this makes sense.
(If you lay the skirt out flat at this point you should have: folded under placket, skirt back, 
french seam, skirt front, french seam, skirt back, folded under placket.) 

12. Baste the top edge of the skirt and gather it to the size of the bodice.
(Do NOT gather the placket area. That needs to stay flat for the buttons/buttonholes.)
13. Stitch the gathered edge to the bottom edge of the bodice front.

14. Fold under the bottom edge of the bodice lining and sink stitch it in place. (stitch in a ditch)

15. Top-stitch above the sink stitch and piping.
16. Make the buttonholes
(Two on the bodice, and as many as needed on the skirt. I kept mine 1½ inches apart.)
17. Attach the buttons. 

18. Hem. This is by personal preference, but I used a twin needle to achieve a clean top-stitched look.
Ta Da! Now pop it on your child and send them out to play!

I hope you all enjoy the dress. Please let me know if you have any questions, 
and don’t forget to add a picture to my flicker group if you make one!
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18 thoughts on “Sewing the Keyhole Dress

  1. Oh my gosh, this dress is darling! I absolutely love it! Definitely adding this to my "to sew" list . . . thanks so much for the great instructions! I'm following you back 🙂

  2. To get those corners extra sharp try these tricks:
    1. shorten stitch length as approach corner.
    2. at corner, do *one stitch* diagonally**
    3. Pivot.
    4. Lengthen stitch length as you leave the corner. Kind of like driving a car? Speed up as you leave intersection. 🙂
    5. Poke out using bamboo point presser and turner (find at sewing shops or online. Mine's from Vogue Fabrics, Evanston, IL.)

    1. Hi Autumn! Yep, when you use a twin needle, you only need a single bobbin. The bobbin thread simply zig-zags back and forth between the two needle threads on top. You could definitely just stitch rows next to each other though if you'd like to achieve the same look.

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