Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A new dress pattern for you

Would you like to make this dress? It isn't hard. I've put together step-by-step instructions so that you can make it with your own measurements. Why is it easy? It doesn't have a closure (i.e. buttons or zipper) and has makeshift darts, so there is nothing very technical about the construction.

Another dress made from the same pattern

As a side note: I designed this pattern. As always, it's free and you may use it for any purpose (i.e. selling a dress you made), except you can't reproduce the pattern to sell. If you want to use this pattern on your blog, just link back to me.

What do you need?
Note: This is designed for a size small/medium. If you are a larger size you may wish to make a mock-up before cutting your fabric as you will likely need to add a few inches to the width of the bodice and skirt. Someday when all of my dreams come true, I will get a adjustable dress form so I can try out patterns on larger sizes so that I can include additional measurements for you.

* About 2 yards of fabric. I would recommend something that is soft with a gentle drape.
* 1 yard of fabric to line the bodice.
* 7 inches of 1/4" elastic (you can use a thicker size if you wish)
* Though optional, The collar really makes this dress what it is. I got mine from Etsy for about $3.00. You could check at a local craft store or use a vintage doily/handkerchief. There are also a number of tutorials online (like this one) of how you could make your collar from the same fabric as your dress.
* Also optional, buttons for embellishment.

The pattern pieces in both of the pictures are a little longer than 15 inches. That is because I have these patterns to customize for other things.
I used a dinner plate to help make the curves in the neck. I would recommend cutting out your pattern with newspaper before cutting the fabric. This way you can mark it up and make changes without harming your fabric.

There isn't a picture, but cut out a long strip of fabric (you could use a contrasting color if you want). The total length is 68 inches. I like to divide mine up in three sections. Since the waistband will be sewn to the dress I like the front piece to match the seams on the sides of the bodice, with longer pieces in the back to tie. I cut two pieces that were 27 inches long and 3 inches (give or take to your preference) wide. The third piece was 14 inches long and 3 inches wide. A wider band makes it easier to hide the seam where the bodice attaches to the skirt, but it may be more bulky in the back.

Also, cut two rectangular pieces- 41 inches wide and 24 inches high for the front and back of the skirt.
I cheated and used the finished edge of the fabric along bottom of the skirt, so I didn't have to hem it.

Sew together the top of the shoulder pieces to connect the front and back bodice for both the main fabric and the lining. 

Then sew around the neck line (inside out) to connect the lining to the main fabric.

In case you noticed, this is not a picture of this dress. I had to borrow it from my other pattern because I missed getting a picture of this step. :)
Clip around the curves so that it lays flat when turned right side out.

Adding a side stitch beneath the arm hole (at a right angle) will make it a lot more durable.
Sew the sides of the bodice for the main fabric and lining. The lining will be loose inside the bodice- that is fine for now. I measured my arm hole to be 7 inches from the top of the shoulder. Test it by putting your arm through.

Turn right side out. Tuck in the raw edges of the arm hole, pin, then top stitch, making sure to back-stitch over the underarm area.

This is an easy time to hem the lining.

Press the seam around the neckline. You will notice that the neckline is absurdly large and hideous. It's ok! Now we are going to add a nice tuck to the back to give it more form.

Once your pins are in place, top stitch around the neckline. You could do a zig-zag stitch in a contrasting color if you are into that sort of thing.

If you know how to make darts (we will be improvising darts later on) and wish to, you can add them now.

Now it is time to make the skirt. I used a french seam to attach the side pieces. That way you won't have to worry about horrible hanging threads if you don't have a serger. French seams are extremely easy. If you don't know how to make one, you can read this article.

At first, I was going to pleat the skirt, but then I thought I would just baste it. Since my last projects I have learned that it is much better to baste three seams when you are making a ruffle. This gives the ruffles a much more uniformed look. I tell you, the time you spend in sewing two extra basted seams will be well worth it. So, baste and ruffle the part of the skirt that will connect to the bodice.

To go quickly, pull all three threads at the same time.

Pin to the bodice (but not the lining!) It might help to pull as much of the lining out of the neck hole at this time to avoid accidentally stitching it.

Sew a sturdy stitch to connect the pieces. Check for ruffles that fold over at the wrong angles into the seam- that will make an uneven looking drape in the skirt.

You are getting close! If you want to go to a homeschool prom you can just stop here.
JOKING. I was homeschooled and went to prom-like events and didn't wear clothes like this, haha.

Sew together the long strip of fabric for the waistband. Please, please, iron this. I skip ironing as much as possible, but this part is really important to iron.

I wanted the seam to be hidden, so I ironed it with the seam in the middle.

Now we are going to make our fake darts. Though the picture is taken on my dress form, if you do not have one, you can do it on yourself in front of a mirror (safety pins!). I tested the theory to make sure it would work, but took the photos with my dress form as it was easier. All that you have to do is pinch two folds of fabric along the waist seam. You will want these two folds to be equal on either side. Mine are three inches away from the side bodice seam. This part is mostly determined by bust size. Just do whatever looks the best on you.

This is another angle of the same thing. Doing this takes out the extra fabric in the sides which creates a more flattering/tailored bodice. 

If you have very good eyesight, you can see where it is pinned.

Now sew the tucks in place. Your stitches will be hidden beneath the waistband.

This is what it will look like.

This step is a little tedious, but not hard. Pin the waistband in place and hand stitch it. Yes, hand stitch. This way your stitches will be invisible. Use a slip stitch.

When you sew the waistband, make sure to not sew the lining. It might help to pull through the neck hole.

Stop sewing when you get to the side seams of the bodice. The sash will be tied in the back, so the rest of it can hang free. I used a machine stitch here to make it more durable.

Mine measure 5.5 inches from the side seams.
When you tie the sash in the back you will notice that the seam where the bodice connects to the skirt is hanging down, exposing those seams. That is because there is still to much fabric in the waist band. This extra fabric is needed to get in and out of the dress without a closure, but not very attractive to have hanging all over the place. It will also give the hemline an uneven look. To fix this we are going to add a strip of elastic to the back.

Mark the area beneath your tucks in the back of the neck (I did this with thread spools in the picture). You are going to sew a little channel for the elastic to go through by connecting the lining to the main fabric.

This is what it will look like. Make sure it is straight! This will also be hidden beneath the sash when it is tied.

Thread the elastic through. I would recommend pinning it in place (with safety pins) and trying it on before you sew so that it is not too big or small.

Next, turn your dress inside out. I added a few hand stitches to the lining to attach it to the main dress so that it is easier to put on and take off.

Now pin the collar in place. I hand stitched this as well. It looks a lot  better than machine stitching. You can also add an embellishment if you like. I used a vintage brass button.

*Sigh* It's not actually crooked in the shoulders, but it was very windy outside and my dress form kept tilting.
I hope you like making it!


  1. Beautiful job!! I may have to try this but add length (I really have awful knees) and sleeves. (:

    1. I know what you mean! I only didn't add sleeves because I am not good at making them, haha. For me, it is easier to add a cardigan.

  2. very lovely!!! always love seeing your creations!

  3. wawwww what a wonderful idea. i like it a lottttt =)

  4. defo gonna try this x

  5. A beautiful dress. Thanks so much for taking time to share it.

  6. This is such a cute dress, and a great tutorial :-) Thanks for sharing! Pinning now!

    Hannah ♫
    Sew Lah Tea Dough

  7. Gorgeous, simple, and super good tutorial!

  8. Absolutely precious! Do tell, where does one find cute lace collars like this? It adds such a lovely 1930s feel! The lazy-girl's boob dart technique is brilliant as well. Even if I don't manage to make your pattern, I will most certainly be using some of your construction techniques in the future. Thank you!

  9. I love this!! Just perfect for the summer :) Thank you so much for sharing xx

  10. My dear, this is brilliant. I can't wait to give it a try. And lovely antique lace or crochet collars can be easily found on Ebay, for anyone who is wondering, usually not too expensive either.

  11. Thanks for sharing, I really really love it, the lace collar made it looks more pretty, its worth giving a try, I'll look forward for it.

    Dressmaking Fabrics

  12. There are additionally white tie undertakings, which are similarly as formal. The main distinction is that the men wear white neckties rather than dark ones.womens sportswear


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

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