Hello and welcome the tutorial to "A Dress for Every Occasion!" In this instructable, I want to highlight two special techniques: how to draft a new neckline from an existing pattern and how to install an invisible zipper when you don't have an invisible zipper foot.
Things needed for this project are: fabric and dress pattern of choice (I used Simplicity 8015), scissors, sewing machine, tape measure, ruler, Sharpie, and newspaper.
Note: If you'd like to see just the neckline drafting tutorial see steps 1-4 and if you'd just like to see the invisible zipper tutorial then go to steps 10-13
Step 1: Drafting a New Neckline
I wanted this dress to have a rounded scoop-neck instead of a v-neck, I so I decided to draft my own!
Step 2: Transfering the Bodice Pattern Pieces to Newspaper
Here are my three bodice pattern pieces. In order to make the scoop-neck adjustments I traced the pattern pieces onto newspaper (Free and durable!) in order to have more space to mark the adjustment.
Note: make sure to transfer over any important pattern markings to the newspaper, e.g. whether or not to cut on fold, darts, cut 2, etc.
Step 3: Drafting the Neck
Here I've lined up the bodice strap with the front bodice piece so that I have draw in the new neckline. Then I've marked the new, circular neckline and cut the excess newspaper off. I also went ahead and cut out the other bodice pattern pieces in newspaper because I see myself using this pattern again and the newspaper is way more durable than tissue.
Step 4: Don't Forget to Change the Facing Too!
This dress pattern also had a facing for the neckline, so I changed from a v-neck to the new scoop following a similar process as the bodice front.
Step 5: Now Cut It Out!
Step 6: Sewing the Bodice Together
The bodice of this dress has princess seams and an interesting shoulder-strap feature. The first picture is of the front of the bodice and the second of the back. One side of each has been put together and the other is shown in an expanded view so you can see which pieces are involved.
Step 7: Sewing the Sleeves and Facings
Here you can see how I "eased" the sleeve caps - which means I slightly gathered them to allow them to fit into my sleeve holes. You can also see how the facings go together - note that I didn't put any interfacing on my facings as you would normally do, my fabric is a very stiff cotton, so I decided it might make the neck line to bunchy. Depending on what fabric you make it out of, you might want to add some.
Step 8: Attach You Facing
Step 9: Gather and Attach Your Skirt to Your Bodice
Initially, your skirt is just a really big rectangle - to change this, sew two parallel lines of large stitches (known as basting), hold the ends and push the fabric to make it gather. Try to make your gathers as even as possible and stop gathering when the skirt is the same length of the bodice. Pin, sew, and finish the seam as you see fit. (I used the zig-zig setting on my sewing machine.)
Step 10: Prep for the Zipper
Now that your bodice and skirt are attached, it's time to install the invisible zipper. I don't have an invisible zipper foot, so I'm going to show you how to do it without one! Before sewing the back seam on your dress, take note of how long your zipper is (mine's 22') and starting from the neckline of the dress, measure that length onto your back seam and mark it. Now, sew your back seam from the top down, but instead of doing a normal length stitch do a basting stitch until you reach the mark that denotes the end of your zipper, then change your stitch length to a normal one. Press this seam open, and then seam rip the seam until you reach your end of zipper mark
Step 11: Lining the Zipper Up With the Seam
After pressing and seam ripping you have a pressed seam in your fabric the same width as the rest of your seam allowance - this will be your guide to where the zipper teeth should end up.
Step 12: Sewing the Zipper
Change out the normal sewing foot on your sewing machine to a regular zipper foot (these come with most machines) and sew the zipper to the fabric, keeping the zipper teeth as close to the pressed seam allowance line as possible. When you get to the end of the zipper, backstich. This is how it turns out initially, ok, but still not completely invisible...
Step 13: Making It Truly Invisible
Now that the zipper is firmly attached to the dress, we are going to re-sew the same seams, but this time pulling back the zipper teeth to sew right under them. This is a bit of a delicate process, so go slowly, but in the end it'll look like this! A perfect invisible zipper without an invisible zipper foot!
Step 14: A Dress for All Occasions Completed!
This dress is so versatile depending on how you style it: It looks great on its own with sandals as a chic summer dress; made more posh and Spring-y with a cardigan; turned into an elegant evening dress with a bright sash; and as a casual cold weather look with a scarf and jacket.
Hope you enjoy making your dress for all occasions as much as I did!