Making a dress for a five-year-old girl can be a rewarding experience. Sewing the dress gives you the flexibility to find a suitable fabric and flattering style. In addition, you will be able to fit the dress as you sew, giving a custom finish that cannot be achieved when you purchase a dress off the rack. You will be able to hand-pick high quality notions (buttons, zippers) and fabric thereby ensuring that you will be satisfied with the finished product.
Take accurate measurements. Using measuring tape, measure the girl's chest, waist and hips. Note these measurements for use in choosing the appropriate commercial pattern size.
Choose a commercial pattern in the correct size for the girl. There are several commercial pattern makers available at fabric retailers (Simplicity, Butterick, Kwik-Sew, Vogue and McCalls). Choose a girl's dress pattern, being sure to pick the correct size based on the measurements of the girl. The measurements are printed on the back of the pattern envelope.
Buy fabric for the dress. Using the information on the back of the pattern envelope and the size of the girl, determine how much fabric you will need to purchase. Be sure to note that the amount varies according to the width of the fabric - if your fabric is 45-inches wide, you will need to buy more fabric than if the fabric is 60 inches wide. The information on the back of the pattern envelope will also explain what types of fabric (silk, cotton, taffeta) are appropriate for the dress.
Purchase notions for the dress. Some dresses require items such as buttons, snaps, hooks and eyes or zippers (referred to as notions). Purchase these items in the number and sizes indicated on the back of the pattern envelope.
Wash and dry the fabric. The fabric will shrink when washed and dried. This ensures that your garment does not shrink during future washing.
Cut out the pattern pieces. Check the instructions for your commercial dress pattern and cut out the pieces needed for the dress that you will sew.
Lay and pin the pattern pieces on the fabric. The instructions in your commercial pattern will tell you how to lay the pieces (face down or up, on the fold or on the straight or cross grain).
Cut the pattern pieces from the fabric. Using a pair of sharp fabric scissors, cut around the commercial pattern pieces, being careful to cut on the lines for the size that corresponds to the girl for whom you are making the dress.
Prepare your sewing machine. Thread the sewing machine according to the manufacturer's directions. Use thread that closely matches the color of the fabric from which you will make the dress.
Sew the dress according to the commercial pattern instructions. In general, you will first sew the neck and bodice, then attach the skirt to the bodice. You finish by adding the sleeves and hemming the dress.
For a custom fit, have the girl try on the dress prior to hemming the skirt and sleeves. Pin the sleeve and hems at the proper length for the girl's arms and legs. Replace the pins with a sewn hem.