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Have you seen this dress? I love this dress.

It's elegant,
It's classy,
It's perfect for weddings and formal events...

IT'S $365!?!?!?!......what

Now I don't know about you but I can't just go around dropping $300 bucks for a dress that i'll wear once a year... and probably spill wine on. So pooh-pooh I say, I'll make you! All my materials cost less than $36, so i made a copy of this dress at 1/10th the price, and i think that's pretty cool.

What i really love about making things is that you can customize it to whatever you want it to be.
Want a print? Make it with a printer fabric! 
Tired of sweetheart necklines? Make it a halter!
Like tea length dresses? Cut it shorter!

Now, when i made this i was just kinda winging it and i think i worked out all the kinks so it will go smoothly for you.

Skill Level: Intermediate sewer (You've made a garment, costume or otherwise, using a pattern)

Materials:
Pattern -  Half home-made, half bought. Don't worry, I'll walk you through it!
Fabric - Yardage dependent on your size, i used 4.5 yards for the outer fabric and 4 yards for the lining.
Zipper - About 16" in a color that matches your fabric. I used and invisible zipper. (You need a special sewing machine foot for this)
Boning - About a yard, again it depends on your size.
Thread - To match your fabric, 1 spool is plenty.

 

Step 1: Measure Yourself

You'll need three measurements:

1. Measure around your waist. You'll need this to make a pattern for the skirt of the dress.

2. Measure the length you'll want the dress to be. Measure from your natural waist to the floor. (Or how ever long you want it to be.)

3. Measure your bust and your natural waist. You need this to know your size for a pattern. You can skip this step if you know your                             "pattern size." Heads up, pattern sizes are not the same as street sizes. I'm a street size 4/6 and a pattern size 10/12.
 

Step 2: Make(ish) a Pattern! -Skirt-

I know that making a pattern can sound a little daunting, but honestly it's pretty much rectangles, so trust me you can so it! The numbers i used are in bold!

Skirt: 

*Use your waist measurement. Mine is 28" 

*Multiply it by 4. I got 112"

Now it helps if you know what the width of the fabric you plan on using. If you don't, it's okay most fabric is either ~45" wide or ~55" wide. Just bring the yardage you would need for either width and you'll be prepared.

* Divide by the width of the fabric (45" or 55") I used 54" wide and my value is 2.07

What this number is, is the number of panels you'll need for the skirt of the dress. You may ask...

"How do you have a .07 skirt panel?" Well you don't, just round to the nearest whole number.

* Use your measurement for the length of the skirt  add 3 for seams/hems. 42" 3" = 45"

*Use your new length and multiply it by the rounded whole number. 45" x 2 = 90" 

Whatever final number you get here is the amount of fabric you need for the skirt, i will have a skirt with two panels, 54"wide (width of the fabric) by 45" long.

**You will need this measurement for the outer fabric and the lining!**


 

Step 3: Make(ish) a Pattern! -Bodice-

Bodice pattern:

For the bodice it's easiest to use a pattern that's already made. I used Simplicity 5661. I think it have since been discontinued, but you can really use any pattern that you like the shape of the top, i just know this particular pattern fits me very well.

As you can see this is a pattern for a dress, and we don't need the bottom 3/4 of this pattern, if you aren't attached to this pattern, say the were on sale so you bought 2, you can cut off the bottom part that you wan't use. If you want to preserve the integrity of the patter so you can re-use it, just fold the part you aren't using up and out of the way.

To determine the length of the top its easiest to hold a pattern piece, use the center front, up to yourself, pin it to your shirt if it's easier, and then measure how long you want the bodice to be. Mine ends at my natural waist. ADD a few inches for the seams.

*** Remember, it's always easier to cut some off and take something in than remake a piece because it's too small or too short ***

If you feel unsure about this, you can make it out of a cheap fabric like muslin, and perfect it before you cut it out of the good fabric.

To determine how much fabric you need for the bodice:

For the lining you'll make TWO identical bodices, one to conceal the boning and seams, and one that will be under the outer fabric. (That sounds a little confusing now but it will be clearer later, hopefully.)

You'll have to do some estimating to figure out how much you'll need, what i like to do is lay the pieces next to each other until the total width of those pieces is about 22". most pieces you need 2 of each and the fabric i planned on using for the lining is 44" wide. 
I can fit 3 pieces wide, so i will need the height of the piece 3x to have enough fabric to make all the pieces 2-4 times (Some pieces you need two of for one bodies, namely a right and a left. Ones cut on a fold like center front and back you only need one per bodice) I need 13" x 3 = 26" for the bodice, i rounded up to 36" (1 yard) so I have extra to make a waist band. This is for the lining.

For the outer fabric:

This is a little more tricky because i just bought an extra 1.5 yards and draped it to make it work, so i don't have a real way to measure what you need.

However; we can estimate based on how we will make it. The front will be gathered, with two pieces that criss-cross from the top of the bodice to the side. So measure on yourself from the top of your bust to the side of your body. (It helps to measure from the top of your bra, on the left, to the side seam of your shirt, on the right.) I'm about 18"

Then you need extra to make the back. i estimated about the same amount. I wear a 34B/32C bra so if you are about my size you'll need an extra yard of the outer fabric.

Step 4: Buy Your Fabric!

Okay, the hardest part is over. You made it this far and i'm proud of you!

There isn't much math left (personally i love math) i promise.

Outer fabric:

The J.Crew dress is made with a crepe silk chiffon. While this is really nice fabric, it's not washable and the inevitable glass of wine won't do it any favors...

I used a polyester chiffon. Why? It's cheap, it's machine washable, it doesn't wrinkle easy and it comes in tons of colors.
               If you like you can make it out of a lightweight satin, or crinkle chiffon, or a very light weight cotton. 

Buy: The length you need for the skirt (see step 2) 90" the amount you need for the outer fabric on the bodice (step 3) 1 yard.
Okay i was bad here and i mixed units, but 90' = 2.5 yards so i need 3.5 yards for the outer fabric.

I bought 4.25 yards just to be safe because i bought the fabric before i made the pattern.


********THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT**********
If the person cutting your fabric has any idea what they are doing they will rip your fabric. (if it is a sheer fabric like chiffon) 
Ask them to rip it for you, because that is how it will be straight, no matter what fancy cutting groove they have in the counter they won't be able to cut it straight. This is also why i bought extra, to make up for incompetence.

Lining:

Okay i have to come clean here. I kind own one of these.... It's the shorter cheaper version and i got it in a discontinued color and it was on super sale, and i spilled wine on it already...

So on the real version, the lining in the bodice is made out of a light weight cotton. And the lining under the skirt is like a typical polyester lining.

I used cotton under the whole thing because the store i was shopping at didn't have polyester lining. However, i would highly recommend using the poly lining for the skirt because it's lighter and will make the skirt more flattering and less pouffy around your stomach. 

So if you do bodice in cotton buy the amount you figured in step 3, 1 yard, for me.

And buy the amount you figured for the skirt in the polyester lining. 90" or 2.5 yards  


Extra Materials:

You also need about a yard of boning, you can buy it by the yard, or in packages.

A spool of thread - all purpose is just fine.

A zipper. You need it to be the entire length of your bodice and extend a couple inches into the skirt. I used and invisible zipper. There is a special attachment sold for your machine, it's only a couple dollars and fits most machines.


Okay costs:

Just because let's say your chiffon is $7.99/yard. $7.99x4.25 = $33.96

Cotton lining $3.99/yard. $3.99x1 = $3.99

Poly Lining $4.99/yard. $4.99x2.5= $12.48

Boning $2.99

Thread $2.49

Zipper $3.49

Total: $59.40

This is without coupons or sales. You can easily spend less than $30 if you are savvy. 

Step 5: Pre-wash the Fabric!

"Buuuuut it's poooolyesterrrrrr. It won't shrink."

i know but it still has sizing in it, which makes it wrinkle less before it washed. And it will hang different when it's washed. Just wash it, you know you're supposed to.

Grumble, Grumble. "Okay, fine."

Good.

Step 6: Optional Step - Crinkle the Fabric!

I decided i wanted a pleated look to the chiffon to imitate the crepe silk of the original. This is totally optional, but i like the look and i think it really ads to the look of the bodice.

I followed the instructions from this website

In a nutshell:

- I gathered the fabric, sew two lines with the longest stitch length possible, pull a thread from each line to gather as tight as possible.

- Use a rubber band to attach the gathered end of the fabric to a chair or door knob and twist it until it twists over on itself.

- Put it into a pot of boiling water and leave it for 10 minutes.

- Let it cool down and let it drip dry over night/ 24 hours

- Toss it in the dryer on high until its completely dry.   

Step 7: Cut and Sew the Skirt!

Cut the required number of panels: See step 2. I cut 2 panels 45" long

Gather the fabric by sewing two lines with the longest stitch length possible. Make sure you back tack only at one end and leave the tread tails long on the other end.

Do this on both panels.

Gather the fabric so it is 1/2 the measurement of your waist 1"

Sew these panels together. I sewed the two ends that were tacked down together. I did this so i can alter the size if need be, by pulling the threads tighter or letting some out.

***Follow the above steps for both the outer fabric and the lining skirt fabric.***

I decided to make a french seam for the chiffon, i feel that this looks nicer and doesn't take much extra time to do. But of course this is optional.

Don't hem the bottom of the skirt yet! 

Step 8: Make the Bodices!

Start with the lining and cut out and sew one bodice. 

If the bodice is longer than you think you may want, leave it for now. We will trim it later.

On the first bodice, the right side will face the inside of the dress because we don't want raw edges against our skin, and it will look nicer.

If you like sew some boning in at this step to the bodice that will be the lining, on the side with raw edges.

With the second bodice you will want the right side to face the outside of the dress and the raw edges to be inside where they can't be seen. Start by sewing just the front and side pieces together, you will do the back and side back pieces later.

This part is easiest if you have a dress form. I put one of my bras on my dress form just to help make everything fit a little better.


Step 9: Drape the Outside Fabric on the Bodice!

Cut (rip) the estimated amount of fabric you need I needed 18" for each criss cross on the front. Take that piece and cut (rip) the width in half. I have two pieces that were 27" (1/2 of 55" width) by 18" wide.

Gather each of these pieces, on the 27" end the same way you gathered the skirt.

I started on the right side:

Start with the lining on your dummy, pin the gathered end to the top of the bodice. The gathered piece starts about 4" down the side seam up and over the top of the sweetheart and stopping at the middle.(check the pictures)

Sew around everywhere you have pinned, be careful to keep the lining straight.

Now pin that back onto the dummy.

For the left side:

Pin along the top of the sweetheart on the left side and pull the fabric across the bodice to the opposite side and pin down the side seam. Also pin along the bottom. Again, sew along everywhere you have pinned.




Step 10: Make and Attach the Waistband!

Using a rectangle of fabric, about 3" wide and 1/2 your waist measurement 1" sew a piece of chiffon to the lining fabric.

Pin the right side of the waist band to the right side of the bodice at the place where you want the waistband to be.

It's probably best to measure in a few places to make sure the it is even all the way across. Or you can eyeball it like me and the rip half of it off and fix it. Either way, it gets done...


Step 11: Sew Outer Fabric to the Back Lining Pieces!

You may have three pieces like me, center and side backs (x2). But for however many pieces you have, sew a layer of the outer fabric to each piece of the back pieces.

Make sure you keep close to the edge so your stitches won't show when it's all sewn together.A

Sew each of those pieces together normally.

Sew this set of pieces to the front of the bodice. Don't forget to sew it to the side that you don't want the zipper on.

Attach the back waistband to the back of the bodice.

Trim the lining to be the same length as the the bottom of the waistband.

Step 12: Sew the Lining to the Bodice!

With right sides together sew the lining of the bodice to the draped outer bodice part.

Be careful to keep the gathering stitches out of the way so they won't show on the outside.

Trim the excess fabric from the seams.

Step 13: Attach the Skirt (Almost Done!)

Pin the outer skirt to the waistband and sew around

Pin the lining to the (you guessed it!) lining fabric in the bodice and sew that.

Now you should have a dress that is sewn together on one side and open on the other.

Step 14: Sew in a Zipper and Hem

Sew in your zipper of choice. And hem that baby!

Step 15: Look Pretty!

Try it on, make any adjustments as needed and enjoy your hard work!


Overall i'm very happy with how this has turned out. I think it looks very similar to the original dress and at 1/10th the price and washability makes it all the better!

If i were to do it again. (which i probably will for a shorter version) I would definitely add boning to help hold the top up better, and maybe make the waistband a little lower. Also i would use a polyester lining in the skirt to decrease the fullness around my stomach.

I hope my instructable works for you! It's my first, so if there is anything that is foggy please let me know and i would love to help you out!
<p>I LOVE THIS TUTORIAL!!! But I do have a few qustions and need some help.. I'm making my own prom dress and it's a sweetheart, mermaid type gown with some teiring(not sure if I spelled that correctly) in the front with a french 1 or 3 point bustle in the back. I really just wanted to know how to sew in the boning and the lining part.. ;-; I'm sorry in advance. </p>
It's so cool you're making your own dress! I made mine too! :D boning installation can be a little tricky if you don't have a pattern, and even when you do, it's not always clear, so I hear you! But that sounds like a great topic for an instructable, so be on the lookout for a new one, hopefully by this coming Monday!
<p>Sorry about the delay, holiday weekend and all! Doing some editing now, tomorrow night is the projected post date! Thanks again for checking me out :)</p>
One word: STUNNING (referring to dress, lady, and cat).

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Bio: Laura is the people. She loves to create things, sewing, glueing, nailing, bedazzling, she loves it all. She began sewing at 9 years old, loves ... More »
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