Making your own dress is probably the most liberating feeling you can get as you get to decide on everything such as the dress pattern, to the type of fabric, the length of the skirt, the design etc, however all of this can be a little overwhelming and may seem difficult which is why I have created this simple tutorial that will guide you through how to easily make a dress without sewing patterns. Enjoy!
Step 1: Find the Appropriate Tools and Materials
Here is a checklist of the materials and tools that you will probably be needing for this project.
- Fabric (I used polyester): 1.6 meters or more/less depending on you size
- Fabric scissors
- Pins: a lot of them
- Measuring tape
- Seam ripper: nobody is perfect, so if you make a mistake while sewing, these will sure help you out
- Sewing machine
- Zipper: about 20 cm long
- Thread: should be the color of your fabric, however if you can't find that color then it's always best to go with thread that is darker than your fabric.
- Safety pins
- Clothing iron
Take note that I will not necessarily be using all of these during this project. A lot of these are just the basic tools and materials that you will mostly be needing when sewing.
Step 2: Measure How Long You Want the Skirt of the Dress to Be.
In order to do this, place one end of your measuring tape on your waist (or the place where you want your skirt to start) and let it fall. Now in front of the mirror decide how long you want it to be, and pin onto the end of the horizontal piece of fabric like I did in the picture.
Step 3: Mark the Area of Your Waist.
Before you get to do that, you will have to figure out the radius of your waist.
Figure out the radius of your waist:
- Measure the circumference of your waist.
- Divide this by 3.14 (Pi).
- Divide that answer by 2.
Circumference: 70 cm
Divided by Pi: 22.29
Divided by 2: 11.14
Now attach a piece of string to a pencil which will serve as a compass. Make sure the string's length is the radius of your waist. Hold your chalk against the end of the string and place it on the pin. Now straighten the string by placing the sharpened pencil at the end of the fabric. After this, steadily move the chalk across the fabric while keeping your pencil in place causing a semi circle. Mark the area where the chalk line ends using a pin.
Step 4: Mark the Other Side of the Skirt
Now use your measuring tape and start measuring from the last pin marking and pin it. The length of that will be the length of your skirt again.
Step 5: Draw the End of the Skirt
Extend your string from your pencil until it reaches the very end of the horizontal fabric (the place from where you started). Place the pencil, once again, in the middle of the diameter of where the waist would go. To make this easier to understand think of the length that you are going to mark as the radius and the skirt length added up.
Once again, attach the chalk to the end of the string and move it across the fabric until it reaches the other end, so that it creates a semi circle.
Step 6: Cut It Out
Now that you finished drawing out the half of your skirt, cut it out and trace it onto another piece of fabric to create the second half.
After you have done this, cut that piece out as well.
Step 7: Zig Zag Stitch the Edges
Using a sewing machine, zig zag stitch all the straight edges to clean it up.
How the zig zag stitch works on a sewing machine
The needle on the sewing machine moves from left to right to left to right. This means that you have the place the fabric in a way that the needle gets to the fabric when it moves left and touches nothing when it moves to the right. This basically means that only half of the stitch comes in contact with the fabric. What happens is that the stitch encloses the edge.
Step 8: Mark the Zipper Area
Place one piece with the colored/patterned side facing up, and place the other piece right on top, with its non-colored/patterned side up.
After you have done this, get the zipper and place it parallel to on of the edges of the skirt. Make sure that the zip is over the edge and inside the semi circle as this will later on cover the belt and top as well. Mark the area of where the zipper ends on the dress using a pin. Now from that pin until the very edge of the dress, place about 4-5 pins as you will sew that next. (Make sure it passes through both fabrics).
Preferably, you may want to the top of the zipper to reach the armhole, so calculate the distance from you waist to where the bottom of your armhole would be, and take that into consideration when deciding the zipper area on the skirt.
Step 9: Stitch the Edges
Now that you have pinned it down, go and stitch over it (make sure you don't sew the zipper part together).
Iron the folded parts and straight stitch over the each of the folds in the top part. (The part that was not stitched together yet).
Once you are done ironing, stitch along each fold of the zipper area. This means that you will stitching each part individually. Make sure that you stitch close to the opening.
Step 10: Sew the Other Side Together
Straight stitch the complete other side together by pinning that side together first.
Step 11: Try on the Skirt
Now try on the skirt and hold the zipper opening together to see if it fits or not.
If it fits, then proceed to the next step, however if it doesn't, now is the chance to change it.
If the skirt is too small:
Cut along the waist opening to make it bigger.
If the skirt is too big:
Turn the skirt inside out and stitch the edge that will not not have the zipper more towards the inside. Make sure that you zig zag stitch the sides again.
Step 12: Trace Your Top Onto a Piece of Fabric
Once the skirt fits, take out your piece of fabric and fold it twice so that it ends up with four layers. Then place your folded shirt /tank top on top of it and close to the fold.
Now is the time to decide how long you want your top to be. In my case, I folded the bottom of my t-shirt about 8 cm to make it shorter. After this, trace over it with chalk leaving at least 3 centimeters for the hem.
Step 13: Cut Your Top Out
After you have marked your top using chalk, cut it it out. Once you have done this, create your neckline. What I did was just cut a little below, so that it is big enough to fit my head through. Just slowly test it out yourself.
In the third picture, I decided that I wanted the top to be sleeveless so I cut out my sleeves as well.
Step 14: Hem the Neckline and Armholes
Hem the neckline and armhole by folding over the fabric twice to clean it up. In addition to that, sew the side that won't have the zipper together.
Step 15: Create the Belts
Before I made the colored belt, I created another one out of the same material like the rest of the dress, using a different process ( last two pictures)
To create the first belt, I first folded over the fabric once. The folded fabric's width should be as wide as you want the belt to show. Then add 3 cm for seam allowance. The length of the belt should be you waist's circumference and an added 3 cm as well. Mark the length with a pin, and cut it out.
After this, lay out the fabric with the non colored/patterned side facing the top, and prepare your iron. Fold over the short sides by 1.5 cm, iron over it, and stitch close to the edge.
Fold over the long sides by 1,5 cm and iron over it. Now take one long side and completely cover it over the rest of the belt.
Now pin the it along the waist area of the skirt. To make this easier start from the zipper opening and work your way through until the end. Sew along the close bottom of the belt to attach it your skirt.
Second Belt (optional)
This is much simpler than the first belt. Fold it and the folded belt should have the width of your wanted belt plus 2 cm seam allowance. The length should certainly be longer than your waist's circumference as this belt would create a ribbon at the side.
Now simply fold the belt, but make sure that the none-colored side is facing the outside. Pin it and straight stitch it under a sewing machine. Once you are done, fold it inside out. Later on in the process, you will hand stitch a tiny bit onto one of the dresses sides. (Only do that once your bodice is attached to the skirt).
Step 16: Zig Zag Stitch Around the Waist Area of the Bodice
Before you sew the skirt and the bodice together, you must zig zag stitch the bottom to prevent fraying.
Step 17: Pin the Bodice to the Skirt and Sew It
Now pin the bodice to your skirt and sew it using the straight stitch. Make sure that you sew it along the top part of the belt.
Step 18: Attach the Zipper to Your Dress
Now that you have both parts together, it's time to attach the zipper to the open area of your dress which would be the one side of your bodice and probably half of your skirt. Like always, pin it onto each side of the open parts and then sew it by using the straight stitch up until it reaches armhole.
Step 19: Add Second Belt (the Colored One)
For this, I explained the process already in step 15. If you are happy with your dress the way it is, then this step can also be optional.
Step 20: Hem the Skirt Bottom
As a final step, just hem the bottom of the skirt. Now you are done!