Sunday, April 17, 2011

Empire Sheet Dress Tutorial: Get something a lot nicer out of your extra sheets.

I think this might be one of the easiest ways to make a empire waist summer dress.

(DISCLAIMER, Honestly, I don't "do" strapless. I like to be more modest. However, I have no problem wearing a strapless with a cardigan. I wanted to add straps, but I haven't since I can't wear it now anyway. This does not work for one's third trimester. It 'could' work, but, for me, it would be longer and require more work for the hem so it would be longer in the front. If you can sew this dress, I am sure you could add some sort of strap if you wished.)
You will need:
*A sacrificial sheet. I have two identical blue flat sheets. I got them on some great sale years ago and never use them. However, I felt badly about just sending them away. They seemed so"useful" somehow... (A thick sheet will make the skirt more full)
* Enough elastic to go around your upper chest
* Enough fabric to make around 13.5 feet of ruffle (For a full sized sheet)- at the width of your choice. It might seem like a lot, but since the strips are thin, it really doesn't take much.
* Either a pre-made belt/ribbon/sash. I didn't include instructions of how to make on with coordinating fabric, but it would be so easy. I don't think it needs an explanation)
* Optional- fabric flower or some other embellishment.

-Side note- I used a rotary cutter and board for this. Cutting so many strips might have taken a toll on my sanity with plain scissors.

STEP ONE: The bodice

Look for the narrow hem of the sheet (The part of the sheet where your feet go. I used this side since the sheet is more narrow at this point.) It should be the prefect thickness to fit a narrow piece of elastic through. If you are not blessed with a perfect hem, just sew one to fit your elastic (Or buy thinner elastic).

It will look like this when it is finished. Again, for a full sized sheet, I used the part that measures 81 inches. You could use other sized sheets, but you might have to play around with the dimensions.

STEP TWO: The length

To give yourself a better idea of what it will look like, tie some sort of string around the waistline.
Measure yourself to the length that you would like your dress to be. Add an extra inch or two just to be safe. I found out the hard way that it is super easy to make it too short. It is a lot easier to cut it again to make it shorter than it is to add extra fabric to make it longer. As you can see from the picture, you have tons of length to play around with. Doesn't this look like the start of a gorgeous formal dress?

Once you have made up your mind- cut it! I cheated, (after making marks with chalk for the proper length) folded the sheet over a few times and cut it with the rotary- I love shortcuts- even if they are risky.

STEP THREE: Everything is better with ruffles

My way of making a decent ruffle is to multiply the length of the skirt by two. Since my skirt was about 81 inches around, I cut 160 inches of fabric strips (It doesn't have to be a perfect match). CONFESSION- I originally meant this dress to have only one layer of ruffle, but since I cut it too short, I had to add an extra ruffle layer. I am glad that this happened, because I love the double layered ruffle. The second layer is the same length as the first (160 inches).

I sewed the pink strip on first. To do this I folded the skirt as if it were being hemmed (because it is) and pinned on the ruffle. One seam worked for both. After realizing it was too short, I attached the second layer (blue) to the first layer (pink).

The inside
When you are finished with the ruffles, sew the long seam up the back of the dress.

STEP FOUR: Add an embellishment. I just looked up a fabric flower tutorial (There are so many different styles) and made one out of my leftover scraps. This way the contrasting ruffle has connection to the bodice. You could do whatever you wanted. You could try embroidery, a broach, an artificial flower- anything. Be creative. I attached my flower with a safety pin so I can change it whenever I wish.

Don't forget your belt. This would look like a sack without a belt, sash, ribbon, or whatever you chose to use.

My note is supposed to say that my model is too thin, so the neckline slipped a little.
I am still using a ribbon for the belt.
I like this the best.

So that is it. I am not sure if I am going to save it for the summer or put it on Etsy. I still have at least half of the sheet left....

Katherine was so surprised at how easy it was.

Craft Couture


  1. This is really wonderful. I have a sheet that is SO cute but doesn't fit my bed. It would be perfect for this! I'll let you know if I try this out. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi! Nice to 'meet' you! The dress looks lovely, and your daughter is adorable. I'm a new follower, and I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  3. I got a set of Black sheets when I bought my new mattress. Um, yeah. Not going to put them on the bed anytime soon. Thanks for the idea of turning them into a cute sundress.

  4. Hi, Rebekah

    Thanks your visit! I lake it....beautiful idea!

    Hugs from Brasil

  5. What a great idea! Sharing this tomorrow for Whimsical Wednesday!

  6. Great idea! Turned out really well!

  7. Great! Love the color! Thanks for linking up. I wanted to let you know you were featured!

  8. this is beautiful..thanks for the tutorial :0 have a wonderful Easter!

  9. I love this dress. Can't wait to make it. Thanks for sharing.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Did you use the full width of the sheet for the top?

  12. LOL, FABULOUS! Out of "happy accidents" come spectacular design. I absolutely love that you have two rows of ruffles, one being a contrasting color. Just wonderful I keep buying sheets (garage sales, thrift stores, etc) with the intention of making summer dresses, but the stash grows and the projects just don't get started. Your tutorial just inspired me to make this one. Again, I love the double ruffle, different color detail. :D Thank you for posting this tut!

    Thank you for very usefull information..

  14. Really very interesting and very valuable information about the Designer keep posting.
    California Designer

  15. The shop online have all kinds of dress on sale


Thanks for stopping by! If you have a particular question, you can always email me at rebekahbethany {at}

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