Introduction: DIY Summer Dress
~This is a pretty advanced project. There. You have been warned!~ Every once in a while, I see some beautiful fabric in a store that I have absolutely no idea what to do with. I buy it anyway. It sits there, staring me in the face, for ages, making me wonder why I got it in the first place. Then, you finally figure out what to do with it. This is the story of what I did with a yard and a half of silk that was sitting in my basement for around three months. This silk, combined with some paper, scissors, and a sewing machine made a beautiful dress. Let me tell you about it :)
Step 1: What You'll Need
To make this dress, you'll need~
- A sewing machine
- 1 1/2 yards of fabric (silk in this case)
- 1/2 yard of other material (for the middle)
- A rotary cutter (optional- I just happened to be very attached to mine)
- Some paper- I used paper on a roll because I found it easier, but improvising and taping smaller sheets together would probably work just as well
- a marker
- tailor's tape or something to take your measurements with
- A zipper
Step 2: Sketch It Out
I always find that, even if you're making something off of a picture you saw from somewhere, you should come up with an idea of your own on how you want it to look. I found sketching my ideas to be very helpful. By doing this, I also came up with where I needed to measure and what type of skirt I needed to make. For this dress, you will need to measure how long you want the skirt to be, how far you want the top to come down to, and how deep the neckline will be.In my original sketch I imagined a middle piece of fabric, but I ended up not putting in- so don't let the sketch confuse you, the dress I'm going to show you how to make has two main pieces: the top and the bottom.
Step 3: Making Plans
I have to admit, this project was the first time I've ever made a pattern. I knew full well that usually the first time you make things like these, the results are most likely to be less desirable. Needless to say, I was determined not to screw up. Before you make a pattern, you need to know exactly what you're going to do and what shapes you're going to make. For this dress, look at the pictures to see what we're going to end up doing with our paper and measure accordingly. You will need to know the length of the white dotted lines as well- they will come in handy when making the center piece of the pattern.
Step 4: Making Marks
We're going to start from the middle while making this pattern. To make the center shape, draw a line the length of the height of the dress. Mark the deepest part of the neckline and from there sketch out the v-neck shape around it. Now mark the lengths of the white dotted lines in the last step along the height line. Once you've done that, sketch the pattern shape along the edge of the lines. Just like that, you've created the center piece. Now making the two side pieces is where it gets a little bit complicated. This is where we're going to use the measurements that go all the way around your body as well as the lengths of the white dotted lines. First, know how tall you want the back of the dress to be. Mark a vertical line that length on your paper. All three of the lines you're going to make next will start from this line. Let's start with the measurement that goes all the way around your ribs. Let's say this measurement is 30", and the measurement of the white dotted line on top of that line is 10". you'll need to subtract the measurement of the white dotted line (10) from the measurement that went around your ribs (30) and divide the number that you get (20) by two. In this case, I would get 10 inches. so I would draw a horizontal line that is 10 inches long starting at the very bottom of the vertical line I drew at the beginning. If we do this right, the length of the line we're making now, the length of an identical line, and the length of the bottom line of the center piece should all add up to equal the measurement that goes around your ribs. Do you see why we needed to do the math now? Next, let's move along to the measurement that went around the middle bustline. Repeat the same process that you did for the rib line: take the measurement you took of the bustline, subtract the length of the white dotted line on the bustline, and divide the number that you get by two. Now, draw a line the length of the number you got at the same height of the horizontal line on the center piece that is on the bustline. This is very important to do so that the finished top piece doesn't fit weirdly once it's sewn together. Finally, repeat this process for the top line, making sure to make this line at the same height of the strap line on the center piece. Once you've marked all three lines, sketch the pattern shape long the lines, referring to the black dotted line for reference.
Step 5: Cutting It Out
Once you have these two pieces drawn out, cut them out leaving about a 2 inch border around them for seam allowance. Trace the shape of the side piece on some more paper to make the third and final pattern piece that is identical to the first side piece. Now, lay out your fabric and cut out these shapes using scissors or a rotary cutter.
Step 6: Sewing It Together
Now, pin the two side pieces onto the center piece as shown and sew them on. Make sure you sew them with the seam on the inside, as if the dress was inside out.The fabric may not fit perfectly together. if this happens, you'll need to make a dart like I did. Try to make a single fold using the excess fabric along the seam and pin it together. Now, all you need to do is sew this fold together. I only needed to dart one side. Once you're done sewing the three pieces together, make the neckline a little neater by hemming the edges. This will stop the fabric from fraying as well. Once you do this, the top part of your dress is basically done!
Step 7: Making the Skirt
The bottom half of this dress is going to be a circle skirt. If you already know how to make a circle skirt, go ahead and make one, making sure to use the length of the rib line we measured earlier as your radius . If you don't know how to make a circle skirt, I'll tell you how. First, fold your fabric in half, and then in half again. Now take the length of your rib line we measured earlier and find that number in the chart I included in this step in the waist measurement column. Once you find the number, go all the way across to the circle column in the chart and find the number of the radius you're going to use. I'll tell you what that means in a second. Look at your fabric and find the center fold, with no edges. Then, take your tailor's tape and mark the length you found earlier in the circle column down from the center fold. If you continued to make this mark all the way around the fold, you would get the shape of a quarter circle. This is exactly what we're going to do. Once you have your marks made, cut along those lines. this should essentially cut the fold off. Now, find out how long you want your skirt to be. Mark this length down from the cut you just made and, similarly, make another quarter circle shape.Once you've done these things, unfold your skirt, You should find a donut shape. Now, all you have to do is hem the bottom edge of the skirt to make it look neater and stop the silk from fraying.
Step 8: Putting the Pieces Together
Now. line up the fabric pieces as if the garment was inside out, pin them, and sew them. Once you're done with this step, it should look like a strapless dress. If your skirt ends up being a little too big like mine was, you may have to make a couple pleats in the fabric.
Step 9: Putting on the Zipper
Now, it's time to sew on the zipper in the back of your dress. To do this, start by folding any excess fabric off to the side. Now lay your zipper down on the fabric along the gap and mark where the zipper comes down to on the skirt. This is shown by the red line in the picture. Cut a slit in the skirt down to where you just marked. You'll then need to pin the zipper in and sew it. Make sure to pin the zipper in while it's closed to ensure that it will zip evenly.
Step 10: Making Straps
First, decide how long and how wide you want your straps to be. Then, cut out a rectangle with that length and twice the width. Now fold it in half with the wrong way facing out and sew it together to create a long tube. Now, we need to turn said tube inside out (or right side out, depending on how you look at it) To do this, I used a mechanical pencil- I slipped it through the tube and used the hook end to draw the edge of the tube back through itself. Once you're done with one strap, repeat the process to make one exactly like it.
Step 11: Sewing on the Straps
Once you're done making the straps, pin and sew the right sides together as shown on the opposite sides of the zipper.
Step 12: And You're Done!!
And that's it! show off your new dress to everyone and enjoy the compliments. If you have any questions, feel free to ask and as always if you made this dress yourself, put a picture in the comments! I would love to see it! Stay crafty and keep up the good work :)