I designed this evening gown along the lines of a simplistic silhouette, yet with a few dramatic touches. I first took into account the design that I envisioned for this before purchasing fabrics. I knew I wanted an evening gown with a full length skirt, but it took me a while to finalize the design for the top. I settled on a high-neck sleeveless top without a back. This took me a couple weeks to develop the idea and really formalize it into a pattern before I started drafting and cutting muslin for the sample.
Step 1: Design and Measurements
My first measurement was my waist so that I could make the circle skirt. I measured my natural waist and found it to be 26 inches. Since I'm making a circle skirt, I needed to find the radius of the circle of the top of the skirt and the radius of the circle of the bottom of the skirt. So I took my waist measurement and divided by 2pi (roughly 6.28) and got 4.138 inches. Now, I know that I want the skirt to be floor length from my waist (roughly 41" - but this will be hemmed at the end) so I added my waist radius to add to the finished length to find the circumference of the bottom of the skirt which is 45.138 inches. I know its difficult to find super wide fabric (especially the fabric I had in mind) so I cut my skirt into six panels (so 60 degree sections of a full circle), which meant I needed to add seam allowance (I used 5/8 inch seam allowance) so I took my 26 inch waist measurement and added seam allowance times 2, six times (so essentially 1.25 inches times six), which gave me 33.5 inches and then to find the length of the top of each panel piece I divided that by 6 to give me 5.583 inches.
Then to find the top, I drew out the basic shape for it and measure the individual measurements on myself. From my collarbone to my natural waistline (where the skirt would be) was 12.5 inches, around my collarbone was 7 inches, from the point on my collarbone to my underarm area was 11.5 inches and from that point to my natural waistline was 5.5 inches.
Drawing this out onto my butcher paper (I bought a roll of 36" wide butcher paper for $20.00 from a paper supply store and I use that as my pattern paper) I came up with the following two pattern pieces.
I cut these out of muslin, sewed them together and decided that they would work with only minor finishing modifications.
Step 2: Materials
Depending on your measurements, you will need 8.5 yards of fabric, 6 yards of lining, matching thread, pins, fabric scissors, paper scissors, butcher paper, marking pencil, sewing machine, standard sewing needle, matching ribbon, a 7-9" invisible zipper, and a hook and eye.
Step 3: Cut Pattern Pieces
First, pin and cut out six skirt panels on the fold of your fabric and then pin and cut out one bodice piece on the fold of your fabric.
Then, fold up the bottom of your skirt panel pattern piece and pin and cut out six skirt panels on the fold of your lining fabric. Pin and cut out one bodice piece on the fold of your lining fabric.
Step 4: Sew Skirt Panels Together
First, take your lining skirt panels and with wrong sides together pin two together at a time. Sew at 5/8" seam allowance, remove pins. Then take your three larger panels and sew them to the next set of panels at 5/8" seam allowance until all six lining skirt panels are sewn leaving the last seam open.
Then, do the same to your skirt panels.
Step 5: Bodice Darts
Pin along dart lines and sew on wrong side of fabric and lining.
Step 6: Sew Bodice to Skirt
First, lay lining bodice on lining skirt right sides together, matching centers and pin along lower edge. Sew at 5/8" seam allowance.
Do the same to the bodice skirt of regular fabric.
Step 7: Let Scrap-Dog Sleep
Scrap-dog will sleep directly in your path, but it's important to let scrap-dog sleep otherwise he will be rambunctious and pull project off worktable. Let scrap-dog sleep.
Step 8: Measure Ribbon
You may need an extra person at this point.
Hold your exterior fabric bodice and skirt up to yourself (at this point it will look like an apron that would fit a giant). Have a handy helper line up the ribbon to your guide marks and measure the length of it. I cut two pieces at 30" and then I cut two small 1.5" pieces for my loops.
On the right side of my exterior fabric, I pinned a short piece to the top edge of my underarm section at just inside my 5/8" seam allowance to form a small loop. I did the same the other side. When I was sure they were even, I sewed straight across each, reinforcing the stitches a few times (also because ribbon is slippery and moves often while you sew).
I then took a piece of my 30" ribbon and pinned it to the right side of my exterior fabric and sewed over it multiple times to reinforce it. I did the same to the other side with the other piece of 30" ribbon.
I fed the ribbon through the loops and then tied a slipknot with the ends to keep them out of the way for the next step.
Step 9: Attach Lining to Exterior Fabric
With right sides together (so all seams are pointing out), carefully pin along edges of bodice and skirts. Ensure that ribbon is tied up and away from the edges, sew at 5/8" seam allowance along pinned edge.
Remove pins and invert the dress. Now you should have a shell with lining and dress attached along top and side seams with ribbons to fasten. The only open edge should be along that last open skirt panel of exterior fabric and lining.
Matching edges sew along last skirt panel up to the length needed for your zipper. Insert zipper following packing instructions.
Hand sew hook and eye to top edge of skirt above zipper.
Stand on a stool, with the shoes you plan to wear with this dress and have your handy helper determine hem length. Hem along the exterior fabric and along the lining fabric (separately unless you want a giant bubble skirt).
Trim all loose threads. Serge edges of seams.
Step 10: TA-DA
You did it. You accomplished it. You made a very simple two pattern-piece dress.
Now go look sexy in it!