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How to Make a Child's Cupcake Dress for a Pageant

by Jenivieve Elly, studioD

When it comes to pageants, the right dress makes it or breaks it. But even a child's dress can cost an arm and a leg, and probably then some. But if you do it yourself, you can save a pretty penny, and guarantee that no one will have the same dress as your adorable little girl. A cupcake dress is one of the most popular pageant dress designs for "glitz" competitions. It makes your child look like, well, a cupcake. And let's face it -- the more glitz and glamour in your child's cupcake dress can take it from good to great, and ensure that your tot will be the cutest cupcake in the pageant.

Lay out your fabric and cut out each piece of your cupcake dress pattern. Follow the instructions per your particular pattern and sew each piece together as instructed.

Cut out ruffle strips and create a "roll hem" to attach a ruffle, starting with a circle base of the skirt, usually made of a cotton-like material. Stretch it as you hem to create the ruffle and curl. You can also opt to use a thin, bendable wire to create a poofy edge, bending the wire to create waves and curls. This can be a tricky part, as you must do each part in layers, with the end result being super fluffy.

Lay out the next layer and continue to graduate the layers as you go up, with the longest layer being the length you want the skirt to end. Have your child try on the dress to see where you want each ruffle and layer to fall and work as you go. You may want her to stay close by, as you will need her to try it on several times.

Sew on the embellishments and detail work with your sewing machine. Sewing on sequins and beads is your best option as it gives it a polished and professional look. Hot glue can also work for less intricate detail. Place the embellishments in places where they will pop and draw attention to the beautiful details of the dress.

Snip any loose strings and steam out wrinkles.

Items you will need
  •  Fabric
  •  Thin, bendable wire
  •  Rhinestones, sequins, craft beads and ribbon
  •  Sewing machine
  •  Thread
  •  Cupcake dress pattern
  •  Measuring tape


  • Measure your little girl as precisely as per the directions on the pattern. This is important because cupcake dresses in particular have skin-tight bodices so there is little room for leeway. A stretchy satin or lycra fabric for the bodice is best. For better accuracy, it is helpful to have someone help you with the measurements.
  • When purchasing your fabric, keep durability in mind. While chiffon is nice, it also tears easily. Opt for a cheaper, more durable fabric such as organza.
  • When picking your color scheme, match it to your little one's skin tone and eye color. If you can't find the color you want, choose a white fabric and dye it. Keep the colors in the same color family, such as baby blue and midnight blue.
  • Go all out with the embellishments, such as beading, rhinestones and sequins. The more spectacular the cupcake dress is, the more it will stand out from the rest.

About the Author

Jenivieve Elly has been an entertainment writer since 2006 and also has experience in public relations. She writes for Right Celebrity and its sister websites, serving as senior marketing consultant and fashion editor. Elly holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from the University of South Florida.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images