How to Sew a DIY Peter Pan Collar Dress Using Free Patterns

15 Materials
6 Hours

Today, I'll show you how I made a DIY Peter Pan collar dress out of two large thrifted dresses. One already had a large collar, so it was perfect for the dress I wanted to make.

I made it a bit extra with a pleated bottom, puff sleeves, and an invisible zipper, as well as a special dress for my beautiful Daisy!

Let’s get started on how to make a DIY Peter Pan collar dress that is sustainable, upcycled, and absolutely adorable!

Tools and materials:

  • Thrift store dresses: 1 with a Peter Pan collar
  • Lightweight interfacing
  • Skirt sewing pattern
  • Top sewing pattern
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Pattern paper
  • Erasable pen
  • Pins
  • Ruler/measuring tape
  • Iron
  • Buttons
  • ¾-inch elastic
  • Invisible 10-inch zipper
  • Safety pin
DIY miniskirt pattern

1. Make the miniskirt pattern

Download, print and cut the pattern front and back pieces. Lay the front piece on the folded fabric and cut. Press lightweight interfacing to give the linen more structure.

Transferring and sewing the darts

Transfer and sew the darts. 

Back piece for the skirt

Do the same for the back pieces but don’t transfer or sew the darts. 

Sewing the side seam, leaving a gap for the zipper

Place the front and back right sides together. Sew along the side seam entirely on the right, but sew only halfway down from the middle to the bottom on the left, leaving the gap for the zipper.

Measuring pleats for the skirt

2. Make the pleats

Measure the inner circumference of the skirt hem and multiply by 3. That’s how much fabric is needed. Cut out as many strips to match that number (here it’s 123 inches) that are 5½ inches wide. Sew them together into one loop.

Hemming the bottom

Hem the bottom. 

Marking one-inch intervals

Use your ruler and erasable pen to mark at each inch across the fabric on top and bottom.

How to pleat

Fold the fabric on each 3rd mark and connect it to the 1st mark. Each pleat is 3 layers.

Pinned pleats

Repeat until the entire length is pleated.

Pressing the pleats

Press the pleats in place.

Sewing a basting stitch across the pleats

Sew a basting stitch across the top and bottom to secure.

Attaching the pleats to the skirt

3. Attach the pleats to the skirt

Pin the pleats right sides together at the skirt bottom. Sew to secure.

Topstitching the seam

Topstitch right at the seam that joins the two pieces, making sure to catch the seam allowance as well.

Modifying the dress pattern into a top

4. Make the top

Use the free pattern but modify it from a dress to a top.

Transferring the pattern onto paper

Transfer to parchment paper and then to brown paper. Trace the bust and waist dart center lines to the point where they meet.

Shifting the pattern to widen it

Shift the bottom piece over to close the bust dart and widen the waist dart. Tape into place, aligning the bust dart properly. Fold to create a straight side seam.

Lining up the collar and pattern

Place pins on the collar from the original floral dress to align the shoulder seam placement on the top. Line up the pins with the shoulder seam.

Tracing out the new neckline

Trace out the shape of the new neckline. Trim the paper. Line up the darts with the waist with the skirt, marking the proper placement. Use the ruler and an additional piece of paper to make it tidy. Lower the arm hole at the side seam by 1 inch.

Cutting out the new neckline

Draft a new curve and cut it out.

Tracing the shape of the collar onto the back pattern

The back needs modifications as well. Fold the collar in half and line it up to the center back and shoulder seam. Trace the shape of the collar and cut out the new neckline and lower the armhole to match. 

How to make a linen dress

To align the length of the front and back, place the front piece on the top along the side seam and mark on the back. Fold the extra length of the back piece under.

Placing the pattern on the dress fabric

Because the dress is upcycled, it can’t be cut on the fold.

Cutting the pattern out

Shift the pattern and cut 2 pieces with ½-inch seam allowance to sew along the center seam. 

Sewing the bodice

Lay the front and back pieces right sides together. Sew along the shoulder seam and the right side seam. On the left side seam, sew just a bit at the top, leaving space for the zipper.

Adding the collar to the neckline

5. Add the collar

The neckline needed lowering when playing with the collar placement. Mark with erasable pen and trim the excess fabric out. 

Placing the collar on the top

Mark the back center of the collar and the center back. Place the right side of the collar to the wrong side of the top.

Pinning the Peter Pan collar onto the top

Pin in place all around. Sew to secure. Once sewn, turn right side out.

Understitching the seam allowance

To keep everything in place, understitch the seam allowance. 

Adding a button placket

6. Add the button placket

The seam allowance is visible at the top, so I’m adding a button placket. Fold and press the raw edges of the strip under.

Placing the button placket along the center front

Place along the center front. Sew along both sides and at the top to secure.

Adding cuffs to the sleeves

7. Add the sleeves

I’m using the original sleeves of one dress and the cuffs of the other dress.

Sew a basting stitch at the sleeve bottom. Using the cuff as a guide, gather the sleeve by pulling on the threads. When they match, space out the gathers evenly.

Pinning the cuffs

Place the cuff, right side facing, to the wrong side of the sleeve, pinning all the way around. Sew to secure.

Folding the cuff

Then turn the sleeve to the right side and fold the cuff in half, covering all the raw edges. Topstitch all the way around, leaving a 1-inch gap.

Inserting elastic into the cuffs

Insert ¾-inch elastic, using a safety pin to tunnel it through. Sew both ends together with a zigzag stitch. Topstitch the gap closed.

Pinning the armhole

Sew a basting stitch at the top of the sleeve. Pin the sleeve to the top, aligning the side and sleeve seams.

To attach the rest, pull on the loose basting threads to gather the sleeve, until the sleeve cap curve matches the arm size.

DIY Peter Pan collar dress tutorial

Pin the rest.

Sewing the top of the DIY Peter Pan collar dress

Sew together. Repeat for the other side.

Adding pleats to the front to align with the darts

8. Attach the skirt and top together

Add some pleats to the front, making sure they align with the front darts. 

Making a waistband for the dress

Make a waistband by cutting a shorter strip for the front and a longer one for the back about 2 inches wide. Sew together. Cut another two pieces as a lining. Sew together.

Pinning the waistband to the bodice

Pin the waistband right side together to the bottom of the bodice.

Placing the lining

Then place the lining right sides to the wrong side of the waistband. Sew to secure. Press.

Sandwiching the bodice between the waistband and lining

The bodice should be sandwiched between the waistband and the lining.

Pinning the skirt

Pin the skirt right sides together to the waistband. Sew.

How to sew a DIY Peter Pan collar dress

The lining won’t be attached.

Stitch in the ditch by the side seam

On the back, stitch in the ditch just past the side seam to create a channel to insert the elastic.

Inserting elastic into the back of the dress

Insert ¾-inch elastic in the back.

Securing the elastic

Secure the elastic by sewing both ends to the waistband. Stitch the ditch in the front, securing the lining to the dress. 

Inserting an invisible zipper

9. Finishing touches

Insert an invisible zipper.

Sewing buttons along the placket

Sew 4 buttons spaced evenly on the button placket.

Removing basting stitches from the pleats

Remove the basting stitches from the pleats.

DIY Peter Pan collar dress and matching dog dress

I also had enough fabric to make a dress for my dog!

Floral thrifted dress with a large collar

From this and 

Yellow linen dress before the DIY

From that

DIY Peter Pan collar dress

How to sew Peter Pan collar dress

To this beautiful DIY peter pan collar dress! I hoped I showed you how to sew a Peter Pan collar dress! Let me know in the comments if my tutorial helped you!

Suggested materials:
  • Thrift store dresses: 1 with a peter pan collar
  • Lightweight interfacing
  • Skirt sewing pattern
See all materials

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