Last Updated on September 7, 2022
How to Sew a Dress: I wanted to sew a summer dress! By the way, as I was already combining with the pattern from the head. I also prepared for your instructions on how to sew a dress in a similar style – with a flared bottom and a fitted top on narrow straps/shoulders. I made the dress in a typical summer version. Still, nothing prevents me from interpreting the tutorial differently and using the tips to create clothes in autumn or even winter climates. I will try!
What Is Needed for Sewing a Dress on a Sewing Machine?
I warn you that you do not need specialized equipment – a standard home sewing machine with the possibility of a simple seam and zigzag sewing is enough!
A special needle for sewing knitted fabrics will be helpful for sewing knitted fabrics, elastic and stretchable fabrics. Thanks to it, the sewing threads will not constantly break while sewing. You will not swear in the sky that this creation is not easy (but it is!) And you will create something for yourself in a quick and quite pleasant way.
What to Sew a Dress Form?
It is up to you to use suitable materials. However, to make sewing clothes as easy as possible – I recommend stretchy fabrics with elastane, knitwear, etc.
I didn’t have to sew any fasteners, hidden zippers, or buttons into my dress. I can put the dress on and off without any problems, thanks to the stretching of the fabric.
Where Did I Get the Fabric for the Dress?
Giving a second life can sometimes take years – and so was the case with the remains of white knitwear. My mother is a seamstress by profession, and when she was still working in a tailor shop – a long, long time ago – she sewed a lot both at work and at home. I remember that my two older sisters and my younger brother (of course, each had their own) wore a blouse from this white fabric. And there is still something left!
It was stressful that the amount of knitwear was minimal, and some of its fragments – e.g., with discoloration – went to cuttings to fill dog beds, so I couldn’t afford to go wrong when sewing.
I sewed the dress from the head without a ready-made pattern, which was risky when the material was limited. On the one hand, it’s cool because sometimes something unexpected will pop up while sewing, which makes the final effect surprising me. On the other hand, a mistake when cutting the right parts or sewing them together later can end up irritating and learning for the future to better analyze the design in your head before starting its implementation.
Now the end of the extra stories, let’s get to the point!
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Sewing a Dress – Step by Step
1. Prepare the fabric for the dress – check which way it stretches the most. Use a more stretchy direction to lead the “widthwise” part here. Thanks to this, the finished sewn will stretch in the right direction – that is, instead of stretching on the hanger – it will stretch over your body.
Count off the appropriate length for the bottom of the dress. (depending on where – whether the waist or hips – your dress will reach – e.g., above the knee, over the knee, or mid-calf).
2. Fold the fabric for the lower part of the dress first in half (2 layers of fabric). Then fold it again (4 layers of fabric, one on top of the other). Remember that the left side of the fabric should be “outside” at all times.
3. On the fabric, mark the appropriate shape of the lower part of the dress. You can do it by eye, but – in order not to risk unnecessarily – it is worth helping yourself with the dress you already have
Fold the dress in half, but it is possible that the flared part of the dress will not fit on the fabric (mainly when you have limited resources like me;) – then, you can also fold the bottom of the dress a bit.
4. Mark the appropriate shape on the fabric, for example, with pins or a washable fabric marker. Remember to approx. 0.5 – 1 cm around the hem to sew the lower parts of the dress! The stitching reserve will also be helpful at the upper, the narrower edge (for sewing to the upper part), and at the bottom (for folding the fabric).
5. Cut the appropriate shapes/parts for the flared bottom of the dress.
6. The lower parts of the dress should now look like this (2 parts – front and back lying on top of each other, right sides to each other).
7. Sew the lower parts of the dress on the side edges:
- First straight stitch,
- And then you can secure the edges with a zigzag seam.
8. Fold up the bottom edge of the dress, folding it inwards at one time, approx. 0.5 cm. You can sew the folded edge with a straight stitch, zigzag stitch, or a decorative seam in a contrasting thread color – it can be an attractive decoration for the entire dress!
At this stage, you sew an elastic rubber in the upper part of the dress – you will have a flared skirt instead of the dress! Such a pro-tip for those who want to sew but are a bit lazy. It’s Time to Prepare the Top of the Dress – Now Things Will Happen!
To prepare the parts for the top of the dress – I used an old raglan t-shirt. I made it from high-end tops, but I turned the t-shirt into a high-neck top with thin shoulder straps before this summer. And it was the top made “on trial” that helped me sew my dream dress!
Below you can see the shape of the upper part of the dress. After cutting the raglan sleeves in a straight line, I got the perfect and recently very fashionable shape of the “neckline.”
As in the bottom of the dress, remember to cut individual fragments in the direction of stretching the material. I.e., the finished garment should extend across, so the width of the planned sewing should be in the same direction as the stretching fabric.
9. From the fabric, cut out the front and back of the dress in the following shape – that is, 2-parts. It is worth helping yourself, for example, with a tight-fitting blouse/top worn every day – it will indicate the appropriate width of the part.
However, always remember about SEAM INSPECTION! It is better and safer to add 1 cm too much than too little. I made a front with a double layer of knitted fabric in my dress – if, for example, in the heat, I wanted to walk without a bra, I would not shine with my breasts in my petticoat.
The front part is one larger piece of fabric – I didn’t cut it in the upper edge, so there is no stitching in the finished dress.
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10. The shoulder straps will be the right length and correct trim (I’ll explain what I mean!).
11. If you plan to sew the front of the neckline from a double layer of fabric – fold the pieces right sides together. Pin the edges together with pins.
12. Prepare shoulder straps/trimming of appropriate length, approx. 4 – 5 cm wide. For me, the dress has a trim on the back and shoulders, and I didn’t sew it on the front edges. How did I calculate the length of the strip trim?
Determine the length of the shoulder straps, which will also become the trimming in the back upper part of the dress, by:
- Measuring the length of one of the edges on the back, the top part of the dress
- And the distance between the top-front part of the dress and the top edge of the back part.
All these sections should be added together + for safety, add a few centimeters of the reserve.
13. When the strips are prepared and cut from the fabric – iron their edges to the inside, bending them approx. 1 cm. Then fold the strips once more in half ( will be 4-layers of fabric on top of each other) and press again. In this way, you will make trim and narrow shoulders of the future dress!
So that the whole striped structure does not fall apart – pin the edges with pins. Hit them with the material as much as you can!
14. Then, when you plan the front of the dress made of two layers of fabric – slip one of the trim strips into the previously fastened structure (as shown in the photo above). Place one end in the corner, which will later become the top of the dress, and the place for the strap/shoulder straps.
It is worth considering sewing the belt with an appropriate, “open” side “inside” the future dress so that you can use it to hem the sides on the back of the dress.
Remember that the front of the dress is always left side facing out and right side facing in. When you sew everything from the left side – after unfolding, the end of the strip will hide “inside” the sewing. Do the same with the other shoulder strap/hem.
15. When the stripes are correctly positioned – sew the edges of the folded in half front from the left side. The arrows below indicate the stapling locations.
However, if you create the front of the dress from two independent parts – you will also need to sew the upper edge of the dress from the left side.
16. Turn the front of the dress inside out. The whole thing will look something like the photo below. The arrows indicate the place where the stripes are sewn. Notice that both ends are tucked inside the skirt, as are all seams. If you want – you can sew the side edges with a straight seam or another decorative stitch visible from the right side.
17. Leave the front of the dress for a moment, now let’s take care of the back! In the previously cut fragment, which will be on the back of the dress, double the upper edge – once for approx. 0.5 – 1 cm and again for approx. 0.5 – 1 cm. We fasten the folded edge with pins and sew on the advanced machine.
18. Next, connect the front of the dress + the straps with the back of the dress. Fragments of “free” stripes between the front and back will become the shoulders of the dress. We leave this episode tied up with pins so that nothing sprinkles.
The remaining sections should be connected to the back of the dress – the stripes will now take the form of trim, in which it is enough to “grab” the unstitched side edges of the back of the dress.
19. We sew the waistband – from the moment the stripes “come out” from the front part of the dress towards the rear part. Ensure that the edges of the material you want to hem do not escape from the inside of the piping strip.
20. At this point, be sure to try on the front-shoulder-back design of the dress. It would be best if you planned how to connect the sides of the dress and whether. For example, you need to get rid of a few extra centimeters from the side edges of the dress.
It may turn out that during the fitting, you will need the help of another person – let him peek if the back and front are evenly aligned with each other, do you tilt/stretch the material too much to one side, etc.
Also, ask the helper to pre-grab the side edges of the fabric with office pins/clips. After removing the structure from yourself, you will see places where the sides of the upper part of the dress should be joined and sewn together.
21. Sew, sew sides!
22. The bottom is ready, the top is too – it’s time to put the two pieces together!
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How Do You Connect the Top and Bottom of the Dress?
- Spread the flared bottom flat on the countertop/table with the left side out.
- Slide the upper part of the dress through the narrower opening, with the right side turned upside down!
- Do not push it very far – it is enough for all the edges to come out in one line / at the same height.
23. Connect the lower edge of the top of the dress and the upper edge of the flared skirt with pins. There may be times when the skirt is wider than the top part of the dress. In such a situation:
- Define a central point on the front and rear in the upper part
- A central point on the front and back of the bottom part of the dress.
Connect the center point of the front of the top section to the center point of the bottom of the skirt. Do the same for the back of the dress. Also, connect the side seams of the top of the dress with the seams on the sides of the skirt.
When sewing the top and back, do not stretch the edge of the skirt, which is already a little looser in width. Gently stretch the hem of the top of the skirt while sewing together sections, from one central / side point to the next, etc.
This way, you will avoid a situation where all the excess slack in the skirt gathers in one place, and it cannot be nicely combined with the upper part in any possible way. But do not cry over spilled milk! When just such a slip caught you – grab the prick and gently tear the seam open. Sew the parts again, calmly.
24. Below, I show (arrows!) The places where the upper and lower parts of the dress are sewn. The edges were sewn with a straight stitch and then with a zigzag stitch.
25. Turn the dress inside out. And what has happened now ?! Aaa, you made your dress!
There Will Be a Few Close-ups on Details!
- Roll up the bottom edge of the dress.
- Back of the dress – trim on the back of the dress and a shoulder strap in the further part.
- Viewed from the front.
- Side view from the front of the dress (a shoulder strap sewn inside the front neckline layers and side edge stitching).
- And below that, just a close-up – also from the front.
The summer dress turned out to be perfect, just like I wanted! The limited amount of material indeed made me go crazy with excessive length, but once you live.
Last year I made a Dress for a Wedding – it also had a flared bottom (I love it!), But I unnecessarily sewed in a zipper on the back. The knitwear was so slippery that I didn’t sew in the fleece or the previously basted covered zipper like a covered zipper. I learn from my mistakes and. That’s why you won’t find a lock in this dress!
What do I plan to use in the future – the white of the dress is a great background. I was taking pictures with handmade jewelry! Be it bracelets in bright, delicate colors or brightly colored necklaces or earrings – jewelry looks good in combination with white.
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