How to Make a Pleated Cheerleader Dress for Toddlers
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Your toddler will look adorable in a pleated cheerleader dress.

Although your cute little toddler may not yet be quite ready for a full-time job as a cheerleader, she'll look adorable in a cheerleader dress. If you have some basic sewing skills and a sewing machine, you can make her a realistic-looking cheerleader outfit, including the traditional pleated skirt. If you cannot find a manufacturer's pattern in her size, you can easily make your own pattern.


  1. 1
    Measure the length of your toddler's back from the back of her neck to the point just below her waist where you would like the skirt of the dress to be attached. Add 1/2 inch to this length for seam allowance. Record this measurement.
  2. 2
    Smooth a large sheet of tissue paper flat on a large table or work surface.
  3. 3
    Turn a toddler's shirt so that the wrong side is facing out. Fold it in half lengthwise down the center of the bodice and place it on the tissue paper, so the folded edge is aligned with one straight edge of the paper. Pin the shirt to the paper.
  4. 4
    Trace around the neckline, armholes, side seams and bottom edge of the shirt to create the back bodice pattern piece. Remove the pins.
  5. 5
    Measure along the straight edge of the pattern piece, from the neckline edge to the bottom hem of the shirt, using a tape measure. Compare this measurement to the measurement recorded in step 1. Lengthen or shorten the pattern piece to match your recorded measurement. Mark this pattern piece "Back."
  6. 6
    Repeat steps 2 to 6 to create a pattern piece for the front of the bodice. When tracing the neckline, use the lower neckline edge on the front of the shirt. Mark this pattern piece "Front."
  7. 7
    Measure the width of the bottom edge of the front and back hem edges of the shirt. Add these two measurements together. Record this measurement as the width of the waistline for the dress.
  8. 8
    Draw a rectangle on a second sheet of tissue paper. The dimensions of this rectangle will be three times the width measurement recorded in step 8, plus one inch for seam allowance by the desired length of the skirt plus one inch to turn the bottom hem. Label this piece "Skirt."
  9. 9
    Fold your fabric in half, aligning the manufactured selvages. Lay the bodice pieces on the fabric with the straight edges of the pattern pieces along the folded edge of the fabric. Pin the pattern pieces in place.
  10. 10
    Cut the fabric around the outline of the two bodice pattern pieces.
  11. 11
    Open the fabric to single thickness. Lay the skirt pattern on the fabric. Align the longer straight edges of the rectangular pattern with the straight of grain of the fabric. Pin in place. Cut the fabric around the outline of this skirt pattern piece.
  12. 12
    Draw lines 1/2 inch apart on the wrong side of the skirt fabric, using tailor's chalk and a ruler. Draw the lines parallel to the shorter side of the rectangular shape.
  13. 13
    Fold pleats into the skirt by bringing the first drawn line over to the third line. Pin it in place at the top edge and bottom edge of the pleat formed.
  14. 14
    Fold the next pleat by bringing the fourth line to the sixth line. Repeat this process across the top edge of the skirt.
  15. 15
    Thread the sewing machine with matching colored thread. Set the stitch length to the longest stitch possible. Stitch along the top pleated edge of the skirt, 1/2 inch from the edge to hold the pleats in place. Remove the pins from the sewn edge.
  16. 16
    Press the pleats in place. Use the highest temperature setting possible for your type of fabric.
  17. 17
    Fold the skirt in half, aligning the two shorter ends. Pin in place.
  18. 18
    Adjust the stitch length on the machine for normal stitch length, about six stitches per inch. Stitch the back seam of the skirt formed in step 8. Remove all the pins.
  19. 19
    Lay the front bodice section on top of the back section with the right sides of the fabric facing each other. Align the cut edges of the shoulders, armholes, side and hem edges. Pin in place.
  20. 20
    Stitch across the shoulder and side seams.
  21. 21
    Turn the bodice section right side facing out. Turn the skirt wrong side facing out.
  22. 22
    Slide the bodice inside the tube of the skirt, starting at the pleated waist edge of the skirt and pull the bodice up through the skirt until the bottom edge of the bodice is aligned with the cut edge on the bottom edge of the bodice. Pin these cut edges together.
  23. 23
    Sew 1/2 inch seam around the waist of the dress to attach the bodice to the skirt. Make sure that the pleats do not become twisted as you sew.
  24. 24
    Pin seam binding to the neck edge and armholes with the right side of the dress facing out. Stitch in place close to the cut edges, about 1/8 inch from the edge. Remove the pins. Fold the binding towards the wrong side of the garment and stitch in place.
  25. 25
    Fold over one inch along the bottom edge of the skirt. Stitch in place. Press. Voila! Your little one will cheering!


  • Use a stretch jersey-type fabric for the top and a stiffer cotton fabric for the skirt in a complementary pattern or color.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Two large sheets of tissue paper
  • Sleeveless pullover shirt that currently fits the child
  • Fabric, 1 to 1 1/2 yards, depending on desired size of dress
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Thread in matching colors
  • Sewing machineIron
  • Bias-cut seam binding
  • Making the Pattern

Article Info

Categories: Education and Communications

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