This is a first time dress project for me that includes creating a pattern based on the measurements of my model. We had fun coming up with the idea for this dress and we hope you will too! If you decide to make one for yourself.
Step 1: Gathering of Materials.
- Sewing machine that does a zigzag stitch.
- Measuring tape.
- Large paper of some sort for creating your pattern. We bought a roll of packaging paper from the dollar store.
- Marking utensil of any type to create your pattern and tailors chalk to mark on fabric.
- I used a cutting mat to make life easier when cutting out the skirt lining.
- Clips whether they be wonder clips or just binder clips that you may find at the dollar store.
- Stick pins.
- Fabric of choice. In this dress we just used 100% cotton, a lining fabric of the same material to back the top, and jet set stretch lining for the skirt along with 10 yards of tulle (the waist measurement on the model was 29 inches) but the more tulle the merrier. You will also need muslin or an old sheet so that you can test run your pattern before making it out of the real deal.
- Braided 1" elastic. You can use wider if you would like.
- A fairly fitted top for the model to wear for the measurements to be as accurate as possible.
- Clothing zipper.
- Iron and ironing board (I also used a sizing/starch fabric spray but it is not necessary).
- Seam ripper.
Step 2: Measuring for Front Panel.
1. Measure top front panel based on how wide you want it in the front DIVIDE IN HALF and add 1 inch for seam allowance.
2. Mark on paper from straight edge, draw a line from the edge of the paper to the measurement.
3. Measure top of front panel to under the bust.
4. Mark that measurement down from the top.
5. Measure under bust for width of front panel DIVIDE IN HALF then add 1 inch for seam allowance.
6. Mark that measurement on paper where you made #3 measurement.
7. For the length of the front panel measure from top to bottom adding 1 inch for seam allowance.
8. Mark on paper.
9. Mark measurement #5 on the paper at the bottom of the panel.
10. On the middle straight edge of the paper, make a mark with arrows pointing towards that STRAIGHT EDGE with the word FOLD. This will be placed on the fold of the fabric.
11. Also mark on this pattern CUT 1 OF MAIN, CUT 1 OF LINING.
12. Using your ruler connect the measurements you just made to create the pattern.
13. You will need to round out the bust area a bit and add a curve to the fold if you want a sweetheart effect.
Step 3: Side Panel.
1. Measure from the side seam of your top to where the front panel ended add 1 inch for seam allowance.
2. Mark it on your paper.
3. Measure from the top front panel to under the bust.
4. Mark it on the paper.
5. Now this is where it gets tricky, figuring the underarm length. What we did was keep the length measurement from the front panel, adding 1 inch seam allowance.
6. Mark it on your paper.
7. Take measurement from step #1 and mark it at step #3's measurement (the under bust measurement) also mark it at the bottom of the pattern to give you the width for the side panel.
8. Using your ruler connect the measurements adding a curve for the bust area.
9. Mark on this pattern CUT 2 OF MAIN, CUT 2 OF LINING.
Step 4: Back Panel.
1. This measurement will run from the side-to-side seam (in this case the shirt the model is wearing) giving you the width for the back panel then add 1 inch for seam allowance.
2. The length is that of the side panel.
3. Mark these on the paper.
4. Using your ruler connect the measurements you just made to create the pattern.
5. Mark on this pattern CUT 1 MAIN, CUT 1 LINING.
Bear in mind, these are general measurements you will need to adjust the pattern to fit, especially in the bust area.
Step 5: Cutting Time!
Phew, okay enough math. Now we get to cut up some fabric!
1. Looking at the second picture with the pattern pieces all cut out. Set your sewing machine to the longest stitch possible for a basting stitch and proceed to sew the curve side pieces to the curved front matching up as best you can. I started at the bottom and worked my way around the curves, but that is up to you.
2. Measure and cut the back piece in half. Now attach 1 of the back pieces to the straight edge on the side panel. Repeat on the other side. The reason we cut the back piece in half was so that we can attach a zipper later on down the road.
Step 6: Fitting This to the Model.
This is where you will need your stick pens and a seam ripper. Adjust the pattern to fit by pinning in the fabric where you need to, including under the arms. Then, return to your sewing machine to do a basting stitch sewing the newly marked areas. Once you have your pattern the way you like it. You can mark the .5 inch seam allowance from the stitch line using tailors chalk. Then, cut the excess fabric off following the chalk outline. Now begin taking your top apart using a seam ripper. Lay the new pattern pieces on the fabric you want to use for your top and begin cutting them out.
Step 7: Making the Top for the Reals.
1. Sew your pieces together the same way you did when making your muslin pieces making sure to keep the .5 inch seam allowance. Sew the lining the same way.
2. Press the top and the lining piece to smooth out the seams and any wrinkles.
3. Place them with the fabric matching pretty side to pretty side. (Optional straps: Sandwich the ends of the straps to the top with the strap peaking out. Next tuck the remainder of the strap in the center of the lining and the main fabric, pin in place. I took a 7 inch wide strip of tulle measured the length I needed and gathered it). Sew from the center of the sweetheart top to the outside leaving open the back side where you will attach the zipper. Repeat on the other side.
4. Line up the bottom and begin sewing the bottom closed making sure to leave the back edges open for the zipper.
5. Clip your curves making sure not to cut into the seams.
6. Turn right side out and iron the top piece to get the seams to lie flat.
7. Tuck the side edges inside the tube while adjusting, if need be, for a better fit. Iron or pin in place.
8. Baste stitch the zipper in place. Try on to make sure it fits. Then stitch it down with a regular stitch. No one likes to seam rip if they don't have to especially if it is a zipper.
9. Iron and top stitch a quarter of an inch around the entire garment.
Voila! Your done!
Step 8: Making the Tulle Skirt With Lining.
1. Measure waist and add an inch for elastic band.
2. Measure waste to knee for the length and cut the tulle. We left the tulle folded because initially we were going to make a flower skirt, but the skirt evolved into this Batman one instead. Luckily the tulle measured out perfectly for me to run it along the inside of my sewing machine and I did not have to cut it.
3. Set your sewing machine to do a wide zigzag stitch about 4.0. Next, with the tulle folded in half with the raw edges touching the sewing machine and the fold at the bottom, sew the elastic making sure to stretch it as you go.
4. To close up the skirt over lap the elastic and sew closed.
Step 9: Lining.
1. Take the length of the tulle skirt minus 2 inches or longer if you would like. Measure and cut your lining material (we used jet set fabric). If you want a hem at the bottom make sure to include that in your measurement.
2. Measure around the hips and add 3 inches.
3. Sew up the side. Pin/clip the lining to the elastic. (We used clips because the material was so thick plus I did not want to run the risk of tearing the tulle). Stretch the elastic a little to ease the skirt in.
(The last picture shown is the skirt with the flower idea)