This simple dress tutorial is easy to personalize for all body types and sizes. This style of dress can be made with a multitude of fabrics and prints. For this particular dress, I used a jersey stretch fabric that feels great against the skin and is least likely to wrinkle. Our local “Mart” was selling 2.5 yards of rolled fabric for $5, and I couldn’t pass it up.
We are expecting an addition to our family in a mere matter of weeks and I am feeling as big as a house. This dress drapes beautifully over a large bump and is trimmed to fit postpartum, as well. If anything, I may shorten it once my body returns to it’s normal state.
Follow along here to see how it’s made and learn to make yourself a tailored-to-you beautiful Spring dress. Add full length sleeves and length for the colder months, as well.
What You’ll Need:
- 2 to 2.5 yards of fabric for sizes small to large // 3 to 3.5 yards for extra large to 2XL
- Newspaper for pattern-making
- Scissors (both for paper and fabric)
- Coordinating thread
- Sewing Machine
Beginner to Intermediate Sewing Level
Making the Pattern:
To make the pattern, find a dress or simple fitted shirt/tank top in your closet to build off of. With newspaper beneath, fold your dress or shirt in half making sure that all edges line up symmetrically. Trace your shirt section, without sleeves, leaving 1/2″ to 3/4″ of extra room for your seams. Leave the same amount of room for your sleeve seams.
Pictured above you can see my newspaper homemade patterns for the top part of my dress. Cut 2 pieces of shirt section on the fold – as pictured first. When you open your fabric it should be one perfectly symmetrical panel. For the front of the shirt section I lowered the neckline a little while my fabric was still folded. Next, cut 2 sleeves on the fold, making sure the top of the sleeve is on the fold. For this dress, I made short sleeves from my three-quarter length sleeve pattern.
For the skirt, bottom portion of your dress, cut a panel 60 x 38″ – if you do not have a solid chunk of fabric to meet those measurements, you can make 3-6 separate panels stitched together. I am 5’7″ and pregnant so 38″ long reaches mid shin. You can choose whatever length you’d like to though! 60″ may also seem like a lot to wrap around your waist, but I usually choose to pleat my dresses to drape over and soften my stomach and hips.
Sewing your Dress:
Begin by placing front panels right sides together. Pin at the shoulder and sew 1/4″ stitch then add a zig zag or surge stitch to the sewn edges.
Open your panels right side up to prepare for adding your sleeves. Notice the oval in the middle will be for my neck. The edge closest to the bottom of the photo will be where we attach the sleeve.
Begin pinning the curved edge of your sleeve to the sleeve opening, flattening and rolling your sleeve as you go. Take your time here as it can quickly become the most frustrating part, but with patience can be achieved simply. It is best to place your pins as I have, for when you go to sew your pieces together, it’s most efficient to have the sleeve on the bottom so your main shirt fabric doesn’t bunch up.
Your sleeve should look something like this, with all edges matched up nicely. If your sleeve is shorter or longer on one side or the other by 1/4″ or less, do not worry about going back to fix it. This will work itself out when you sew your shirt sides together.
Flip your newly pinned panels over and sew at a 1/4″ seam allowance, then add a zig zag or surge stitch along the edge to keep from fraying. Do this for both sleeves.
Matching up your shirt sides, pin and stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance and a zig zag or surge stitch from the bottom up and around your armpit section to the end of your sleeve.
Fold your sleeve end twice and sew along the inside edge. Do the same for your neckline.
The top portion of your dress should look something like this.
Preparing the Skirt:
Take your 60 x 38″ (or desired measurements) piece of fabric. Sew the short sides together creating a tube like I have pictured above. Place the seam at the center of folded fabric and be sure it ends up at the back of your dress. If you are doing panels instead of one large piece, be mindful of where your seams will end up on your body. Lay out pieces on the floor like I have.
The skirt will sit with the wrong side out and your top shirt piece will slide inside of your skirt (where the hanger is pointing). This way the right sides will be facing each other and your stitches will end up on the inside of your dress. I like to pin my centers on both pieces before sliding them together as this makes the pleating process much easier.
Due to the fact that I’m currently pregnant, I put most of my pleats in the front. Normally, I would send the majority of my pleats to my backside for a smoother flow in the front. However, I needed the extra room!
Start in the middle, simply pinning together and work your way left and right eyeballing your overlaps. With unforgiving fabric patterns sometimes I measure with a ruler to be exact. Flip your dress over, and continue pleats until your edges all match up with no extra bunches of fabric.
Sew at 1/4″ seam allowance and zig zag or surge stitch.
When you flip your dress right side out, it should resemble something like this! Now all you have to do is roll the bottom of your skirt twice to hem it how you like. I rolled my hem at 1/2″ for a heavier pull.
There you have it! A new Spring dress to greet the changing of seasons.