Sew an Elena of Avalor Isabel-Inspired Dress – Tutorial

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My girls are really into coordinating their costumes for Halloween, so it was only a matter of time before they asked to dress up like the sisters in the Disney cartoon series Elena of Avalor.  We already have a tutorial for making the Elena inspired dress, so all we need is the Isabel inspired dress!

Princess Elena’s little sister Isabel typically wears a blue dress featuring a princess neckline, puff sleeves, a gathered skirt with a bottom ruffle, and a tie in the back.  The main fabric of her dress is a blue floral design, with a light blue and gold bottom ruffle, and dark blue sleeve cuffs and waistband.  She also has yellow and white trim highlighting a faux princess seam and neckline.

The La Tulipe and Daydreamer dress patterns provide just what we need to create the Princess Isabel inspired dress in girls’ sizes 2 through 10.  We will only make pattern changes to the La Tulipe sleeve pattern piece, as all other changes are just to cutting measurements (those will be covered in the fabric cutting checklist below).  This pattern mash up is not recommended for beginners, as you’ll need more advanced sewing skills to make the necessary pattern adjustments.  Let’s jump in!

How to Sew Isabel Dress from Elena of Avalor

When we’re done altering our La Tulipe sleeve pattern piece, it’s not going to look anything like it does now.  It’ll look drastically different!  Just follow each step one at a time, and before you know it, you’ll have completed a puff sleeve pattern mod.

  • First, you’ll want two copies of your sleeve’s pattern piece.

  • With one sleeve pattern piece facing up, take the other pattern piece and place it face down on top, matching the top notches and making sure the grainlines run parallel to each other (you can trace over them with a black marker beforehand to make them easier to see).  Tape or glue in place.

  • Trace and remove the 1/2″ seam allowance along the top and sides (highlighted in gray below).

  • Taking your sleeve pattern, draw a horizontal line from the upper sleeve point to the other upper sleeve point, and a vertical line down from the center notch (shown in pink below).  On a piece of blank paper, draw the same vertical and horizontal lines, and place your sleeve pattern on top of it, matching up lines.

  • Now measure how long you want your sleeve’s finished inseam to be on your child, subtract 3/4″ for the cuff, and draw lines straight down from your upper sleeve points this length, then connect with a horizontal line at the bottom, highlighted in pink below.  I measured my girl’s finished inseam to be 2.5″, so after I subtract the cuff length, I draw my lines down 1.75″ and finish by connecting them at the bottom.

  • Trace around the top of your sleeve, which should close up the sleeve drawing, and cut it out.

  • We’re going to slash and spread the sleeve we just created.  First cut your pattern in half on your vertical line.  Then cut along the horizontal lines, leaving hinges at the sleeve points.  Do this for both halves.

  • To make it easier to measure and draw my new sleeve, I’ve placed new pattern paper over my cutting mat so you can see the gridlines underneath.  If you only have opaque paper, go ahead and draw a horizontal and vertical line to help you line up your pieces.  Take this part slowly, doing each step in order.
  1. Spread your sleeve 5″ apart and tape down top portion only.  Draw a straight line connecting the top corners, then measure 3/4″ up from the center point (on the vertical line you originally drew on your new paper, or the line you see on your grid mat) and mark this spot.  This will be our new sleeve cap height.
  2. Draw vertical lines down from your separated sleeve cap, then a second pair of vertical lines 1″ out from that.
  3. Now slide the bottom portion of your sleeve down, using the hinge, until the lower corner meets the 1″ line.  You can see this is the circled points in the picture below.  Secure these pieces.

  • Once you’ve done that, trace around your entire new sleeve pattern, with a line closing up the bottom, then add your 1/2″ seam allowance around the entire sleeve, shown by the dark black line below.  You can still see my pencil tracing of my new sleeve inside the black line.  Now add a grainline and notches to gather your sleeve cap 1.5″ to 2″ in from each upper sleeve point.  Also add center notch point.

Voila!  Look at the sleeve pattern you’ve created!

To make the cuff pattern piece, measure your child’s arm circumference where the sleeve should end, add 5/8″ to the width for ease, and 1/2″ to each side for seam allowance.  Using my girl as an example, I measured her about 2″ down from her underarm which gave me a measurement of 6.5″.  After adding the ease and seam allowance, I have a width of 8 1/8″, and I want my cuff to be 3/4″ long when finished, so I’m cutting my cuff piece 2 1/2″L x 8 1/8″W (or 2.5″x8.125″).

What to Cut!

Since we’re using both patterns, including some pieces we’ve created ourselves, read through the following list carefully before cutting into your fabric.  Some of our pieces below will have different lengths or widths, so keep a close eye on those, and remember to measure twice and cut once!

La Tulipe, sleeve, and cuff patterns

  • Front and Back bodice main and lining
  • Cut 2 each modified sleeves and cuffs

Daydreamer pattern

  • Cut 1 waistband – Use the length 2.25″ from this pattern, but the width of the La Tulipe front bodice (simply measure the bottom of the bodice pattern piece and double it for your waistband width).  For example, my size 2 waistband piece is 2.25″L x 12.5″W.
  • Cut 2 sash ties
  • Cut 2 skirts (subtract 1.5″ from length)
  • Cut 4 ruffle strips (add 1.5″ to length)
Ready to Sew!
  • First we’ll prepare our sleeves.  Taking one of your sleeves, sew gathering stitches using your preferred method in between the notches at the top of the sleeve, and along the bottom beginning and ending 1/2″ from the sleeves raw edges.

  • Grab one of your cuffs and press in half.  Also press one raw long edge under 3/8″.

  • With your sleeve right side up, place your cuff’s unpressed edge right side down on the sleeve’s bottom edge, matching side and center seams and raw edges.  Gather your sleeve’s bottom edge to the width of the cuff and sew using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

  • Trim your seam down to 1/4″ and press towards cuff taking care not to press and flatten the gathers.  Also go ahead and remove your gathering stitches.

  • Now unfold your cuff and fold your sleeve in half, right sides together, matching raw edges and cuff/sleeve seam.  Sew this side seam using 1/2″ seam allowance and finish the seam.

  • Fold your cuff back up using your folds as guides and top stitch close to the inside edge.  I find it helps to turn the sleeve inside out and sew from the inside of the cuff (so you would be sewing the cuff’s right side) since it’s such a small opening.  Repeat for your other sleeve and cuff.

Now that your sleeves are done, go ahead and set them aside.

  • We will begin assembling our bodice following the pattern’s instructions for the La Tulipe dress, but we are going a little out of order so that we can add our yellow and white trim to the bodice.  Beginning with step 1 on page 5 you will make the ties,  but before moving on to step 2, sew your main front and back bodice pieces at the shoulders, using a 1/2″ seam allowance and press open.  This is when you’re going to want to add your trim.  The faux princes seams are fairly simple to add, and pins or wonder tape will help keep them in place to sew.  If you are using ribbon, you will need to add mitered corners for the neckline points, or select a trim that is easy to angle.  You can even hand embroider the “trim” or use a decorative stitch with yellow thread, it’s totally up to you!  When you’ve finished the trim, move on to step 2.  Here’s what it’ll look like before you add the ties.

  • Continue on through step 4 of the pattern, then you’re ready to grab those sleeves you prepared earlier.  Keep your sleeves right side out and turn your bodice wrong side out.

  • Begin by inserting your sleeve into the bodice so right sides are together and matching underarm and shoulder seams.  Pin up to your notches and gather your stitches until the sleeve fits inside the armhole, then sew in place using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

  • Also, take a look at the bottom of page 8 of your La Tulipe pattern for tips and details on how to easily sew and finish this sleeve seam.  Repeat with your other sleeve.

  • Now take your two skirt pieces, and placing them right sides together, sew the side seams with a 1/2″ seam allowance, press, and finish these seams.  Sew gathering stitches along the top of the skirt using your preferred method.  We will essentially be attaching our skirt as seen in step 7 on page 10 of the La Tulipe pattern.  The only difference is we’re gathering our skirt pieces instead of sewing a circle skirt.  So you will match the side seams of the skirt to the side seams of the bodice, gather your skirt pieces evenly, and sew using a 1/2″ seam allowance and finish seam.

  • We’re almost done, we just need to add the bottom ruffle.  Using the Daydreamer Dress pattern, follow step 6 beginning at the bottom of page 11, and once you’ve done that, you’re ready for your buttons/snaps.  You can find the instructions for this on page 11, step 8 of the La Tulipe pattern.

You’re done!  Now you’ll have one happy little girl that’ll refuse to take off her Isabel inspired dress!

To complete the Isabel look, we used only the bow pieces from the Knot or Not Headband pattern.  Two small bows tied to the straps of black shoes, and one large bow to tie up her hair provides the finishing touches.  These bows are so quick to make too, and they work great with the small scraps of blue fabric that were leftover from the dress.  We even threw in the little brown book since Isabel loves to read!

A side view of those beautiful sleeves you modified and the ties in the back.

Before long she’ll be dreaming of Avalor…

Now you know how to sew Isabel dress from Elena of Avalor, you can find the tutorial for the corresponding Elena inspired dress here, and all of the patterns we used for this tutorial in the Tie Dye Diva pattern shop anytime.  These dresses are sure to bring joy to your princesses as costumes or for pretend play any time of the year!