Sew Many Tips for Completing the Harper Pattern

Sew Many Completing the Harper

Harper was the 2nd dress I ever made, and I cannot begin to explain how much I love it! I promised a follow up to my post The Perfect Dress Patterns to Sew for Girls, so here you go. The Violet Field Threads Sew-A-Long community was amazing.  I cannot believe I was able to make this Harper during the October Sew-a-long!  It might be my absolute favorite dress ever! The Harper is a dolman dress which includes a bodice with front darts, an optional collar, two different sleeve options, optional pockets, and a full skirt. You can make a dress or a top with this pattern. I am going to share with you some tips I learned along the way, so you too can create this pretty little dress for the sweet girls in your life.

For starters, if you haven’t joined The VFT Gathering Place: {Sew-A-Long} Central group yet, you really should! You can still go back and check out the albums even though this sew-a-long is over. The albums contain a lot of valuable information. FYI: I  am not an affiliate for them, so this is an honest review of their patterns from a newbie sewer.

Disclosure: Keep in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a small commission. I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The choice is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

Sew Many Pins is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This post contains affiliate links.

 What Will You Need?

Well,  purchase the dress pattern of course.  You can find the Harper pattern here. Read over the directions several times, and write down the amount of fabric you will need based upon the size you are making (all of those directions are in the tutorial). Also, jot down any other notions/materials you will need, and take it with you when you shop. Stumped? Check out these posts:

The Best Sewing Supplies for Beginners
The Most Important Sewing Supplies for Beginners
The Perfect Dress Patterns for Girls
The Perfect Dress Patterns for Girls

Preparing the Pattern

Print out the pattern pieces, tape together, and cut out the size you are going to make. Save some money and ink by following along with colorful instructions on your computer, tablet, or phone, rather than printing out all the pages.

Measuring Your Child

Measuring your little lady is key to getting the absolute best fit. You can even mix different sizes if you feel that will be best. Violet Field Threads have a video that shows the best way to measure your child. They also have a beautiful printable on their website for keeping all your child’s measurements organized.

P.S. Violet Field Threads offers a lot of getting started video tutorials on their website and YouTube channel. Check them out, because you may find answers to your questions there.


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Fabric and Notions

There are endless possibilities for which material to use for this dress. I used two different 100% woven cotton fabrics and a 100% organic cotton sheet for my lining (I got it at Target in the clearance aisle for $3)

I purchased the main fabric at Hobby Lobby:

Watercolor Blush Rose Apparel Fabric   and   Mini Dot Apparel Fabric

Hobby Lobby has some of my most favorite and very affordable apparel fabrics! They are Oh So pretty and always on sale.

Here are some more great places to buy fabric:

  2. JOANN Fabric & Craft Stores
  3. Craftsy
  4. The Confident Stitch 
  5. Hobby Lobby 

2. Thread

Violet Field Threads suggest using this thread: Aurifil Cotton 40W Thread in a coordinating color  You can find a large variety here! 

Of course, there are plenty of options out there. I used this thread.  Remember to match the appropriate color thread to your fabric.  I used a light pink for the two main fabric,  and white for the lining.

3. Buttons 

3 to 5 buttons that coordinate with your fabric. I got the buttons at JoAnn Fabric! 





Tracing and Cutting Out the Fabric

Wash and iron your fabric before anything else. Yes, you should prewash!

After your fabric is clean and pressed, you will want to make sure your fabric is straight.  The wrong cut can change the way your fabric drapes among other fit issues. Here is an excellent tutorial on several different methods of how to cut your fabric straight.

Once you do this, you are ready to trace and cut out your fabric. Follow the instructions that came with your pattern.

Follow the Detailed Instructions

*Here are some tips and tricks I learned along the way.

Take your time and follow each step one by one.  

Darts: They are not scary! I was terrified to make them, but they were simple. The directions are easy to follow. There is a fantastic video in The VFT Gathering Place: {Sew-A-Long} Central group, so join! You will find it in the comments of the Harper SAL Day 2 Album.

Sleeves: The sleeves are built right into the pattern, which makes it so much easier than trying to sew them to your bodice. You can choose to add ruffles to your sleeves.

Button/Buttonholes: I used my machine to create both.  It is so simple to do.  I found videos on youtube to help me, and they were terrific.  I read some info on whether it is better to make your buttonholes go vertically or horizontally. Ultimately, it seems most experienced sewers say that having them be horizontal makes the bodice have a little extra give. With my girls being young and continually growing, I decided to take their advice, and it worked perfectly.  Their dresses will fit them a little longer. Want perfectly straight and even buttonholes? This particular tool is my new best friend. It is THE BEST!

Products from

Peter Pan Collar: This was the trickiest part and the one thing that is not completely even on my finished dress. Nonetheless, I love a peter pan collar.  During the Sew-a-long it was recommended to overlap the front pieces just a teeny tiny bit before you pin and sew.  This technique made the finished piece look lovely. Check out that video in the Harper SAL Day 3 album.

Placket:  Read the directions and look at the photos carefully. Also, Violet Field Threads has a video with very detailed instructions. Check it out here! 

Gymboree Kids Clothing Newborn to Size 12

I adore this dress. It turned out better than I ever could have imagined.

Pat Yourself on the Back. You did it!

I cannot wait to create SEW Many More amazing things with you!


Sew Many Tips for Completing the Harper Pattern


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