Franklin dress Sew Along Day 1: Fabric, Tools and Printing

I woke up this morning with a spring in my step. Today is the first day of the Franklin dress sew along. I'm hopped up on caffeine and ready to get it started. So let's do this.

I've laid out the necessities and the pattern calls for very few items. Other than the printed pattern, you'll need fabric, thread, elastic, interfacing and buttons.

Franklin dress sew along day 1


I scoured the fabric stores in New York and Brooklyn. And after much and hemming and hawing, I went with a sweet aqua print from Sarah Jane's Wee Wander Fabric line. I loved the whimsy of it and I've been very partial to anything blue lately.

This pattern allows for a variety of different fabrics. I quite like how a cotton fabric has a little bit of weight that gives the dress some body. It's also very easy to cut and sew without giving you too many problems. Plus the amount of visually stunning cotton fabrics in the marketplace is astounding. From Cotton and Steel to Art Gallery, Michael Miller to Cloud9. The choices are endless.

But you can also do some beautiful things with cotton voile, cotton lawn and even rayon. If you're a beginner sewer I recommend a basic cotton print. But otherwise, the skies the limit. If you want a really fancy dress, give a lovely silk a try. This pattern embraces variety.

In my thread collection, I'm partial to Gutermann thread. For years I always used Coats and Clark because that was what my mom had. But once I got into the professional world, I became a Gutermann convert. I find it doesn't break nearly as much and it comes in a gazillion colors. It truly is preference and availability, but this is what stocks my drawers. I chose a matching color for the seams and white for a little pop on my topstitching.

I bought the buttons in a trimmings store in the city, but any fabric store that carries 3/8" buttons will do. When in doubt, I like a wooden button because it coordinates with about anything.

And finally 1/4" elastic and fusible interfacing wrap up the list. Both can be purchased at a local store and both are always good to have on hand for other projects. So don't be afraid to stock up.

Franklin dress sew along tools day 1


I've laid out the tools I used for the sew along. Nothing too mind blowing, but it's always fun to see what people are using.

I'll start off with my scissors. I've got my rusty-trusty paper scissors that I'll cut my pattern with. I'm a pretty even tempered person at home, but do not mess with my scissors! Everyone knows the purple scissors are multi-purpose and no other scissors may be touched for fear of the beast within. These are followed by my fabric shears, an 8" pair of Ginghers. I won't even cut synthetics like polyester or spandex with these. Only natural fibers to keep them as sharp as possible. And finally I'll be showing how and when to pink the seams so I've got a big pair of pinking shears.

For cutting and assembling the pattern I've got some clear Scotch tape and lead and green pencils to mark my specific size and notches on the pattern. And of course my large pin pad that has dressmaker pins and safety pins.

I have a clear 18" ruler which is my go-to ruler for just about everything from drawing lines to measuring patterns to using the point to turn corners. But I also have a seam gauge  to measure hems and small measurements when I don't want to be moving around a wonky plastic ruler.

And finally the trio of pointy items. A chopstick to push through the corners without poking through the fabric. An Exacto knife to open up my button holes. And a seam ripper, because although I aim for perfection, there's always a few seams that need a little love.


Franklin dress sew along test square day 1

Printing and assembling the pattern

It's time to get down to business and print this bad boy. Make sure your toner is full and the paper tray is stocked. Open up your downloaded pattern on your computer and go to the Test Square page (page 12) and print only this page. It will save you a lot of wasted paper if you make sure the test square is correct before you print the whole pattern. Measure the square and confirm it is 4" x 4". If the answer is Yes! then print away! If the answer is no then you need to change something in your print dialog- the box that pops up after you hit print. The most likely culprit is that your printer says Scale to Fit, which you don't want. You should print the pattern at 100%. Don't print the full pattern until the test square measures 4". Email me if you have to and we will figure it out!

So you now have pattern pages in hand and you are ready to start piecing it together. Look at your pieces and first group them together by pattern piece number. I then like to mark my size before I move on. Check the measurements to that of your child and find the dress size that best fits the child's size. The dress has a roomy skirt, so the most important size is the chest. If your child is short, you can shorten the hem. And if the child is tall, add a few inches to the hem when you are cutting and you'll have some extra length to work with.

Franklin dress sizing

After finding the corresponding size on the edge of the pattern piece, I use a colored pencil to mark my size around every pattern piece and all the notches and dots. This keeps me from cutting on the wrong line when I get moving.

Franklin dress sew along mark size day 1

I cut along my colored line and I know that I've got exactly the right size. The edge of my pieces is the light gray line on the pattern that I also cut along. Try to be as accurate as possible by cutting exactly on the line.

Grab your tape so we can begin piecing the pattern together. Every piece has a letter and numbered notch on it that corresponds to another piece. Start locating the matching notches and lay your pieces next to one another. The picture below shows a sleeve piece where I'm matching up the 3B notches. You'll begin to see the pattern coming together.

Franklin dress sew along matching notches day 1

Be as accurate as possible by carefully lining up the notches and the gray lines you cut along. The notches will make a perfect diamond. Use your clear tape to secure all the pieces together.

Franklin dress sew along taping pattern day 1

When you've finished taping all the pieces together, you should have 7 total.

TIP: I like to print out an extra pattern piece number 4 (Back yoke and facing) and number 7 (pocket) so that I don't have to move pieces around when I'm cutting. It's definitely not necessary but it does make things a bit more simple. Then I'll be working with 9 pieces total.

Franklin dress sew along pattern pieces day 1

We've come to the end of day 1. Phew! That was a lot. I hope you've picked your fabric out because we'll be cutting tomorrow.

See you then!