This instructable was revised on 6/03/09 for simplicity and accuracy.
This is an easy way to make a dress from either two large scarves or two equal sized pieces of fabric. I have been seeing dresses of this style around the place and every time I see one I think "hey, that must just be two pieces of fabric sewn together... but how?..."
I looked on the interweb and couldn't find any tutorials so I decided to play around until I worked out the how.
As with all the clothes I make I chose this style because it fits the criterion of being size adjustable and flattering to a wide range of body shapes. And as you can see from the photo, it fits nicely over a pregnant belly.
The dress has an open wrap front that is secured with ribbon. It can be wrapped and worn in several different styles.
To make this dress you will need:
2 sections of fabric aprox 1m x 1.3m, or two large scarves/sarongs;
4 metres of ribbon;
sewing machine and thread (it would, however, be quite easy to do this without a sewing machine if you are using scarves that are already hemmed, or fabric that doesn't fray and thus doesn't need finishing);
a dress form or a friend who is willing to help you fit and measure;
a fair bit of time to play around and experiment with the tying, the tying is by far the trickiest part.
Step 1: The Quick Explanation
I will go through this step by step, but here is the quick version for those that have done it before or have a fairly good idea of what is going on already.
Basically, you start off with two 1mtr x aprox 1.30mtr rectangles of fabric, which you hem on all four sides (unless you are starting with scarves/sarongs that are already finished, in which case, yay for you! the rest will only take you a few minutes!).
As per the diagram, the section between point A and B becomes the back seam, which starts at the waist and finishes at the hem.
The points at C and D get folded over and sewn to become the point above the bust that the ribbon gets threaded through.
Points E and F get wrapped around the body and sit at the waist.
The two remaining un-lettered corners will become points at the bottom of the dress.
Easy? Not so much? Okay, here is the longer more detailed explanation...
Step 2: Fabric
I started off with 2 metres of 150m wide soft satin fabric (a lovely red and black tribalesque pattern), but I imagine this style would work with any kind of light fabric. I cut the fabric into two 1mtr x 1.50 rectangles.
I think this dress could also be nice made with two 1mtr pieces of contrasting fabric. Will have to experiment later on.
Step 3: Measure for Length
I cut my fabric to 1m x 1.3m, which made a dress where the bottom most part touched the floor--I am 170cm tall and a size 18, if you are shorter or taller you may wish to go through the pinning steps (shown in step 5) and cut to size before you hem your fabric.
Step 4: Hemming the Fabric Rectangles
Once you have the desired length you can unpin it all and hem the fabric rectangle on all four sides.
I used a kind of a rolled hem, held in place with a zig-zag stitch.
Step 5: Pinning
With the wrong side of your fabric on the outside, either on a dress form in your size, or on yourself with the help of a friend, pin the two points marked C and D above your bust line where you would like them to sit when finished (see first image). This will make a triangle over each breast, with the corner of the fabric pointing up to the shoulder where you want the straps. Make sure the shorter side of the rectangle is towards your under arms and the longer side is towards your cleavage. This will make a V neck shaped that will be the front of the dress.
Take the outside edge and wrap it under your arms to meet in the middle of your (or your dress forms) lower back (see third image).
Pin a seam together along the edge of the fabric as shown in image 4.
Remove dress from dress form leaving the back seam pins in place and sew back seam together.
*note that images 3 and 4 in this section show the fabric with the right side facing--please ignore that and pin it with the wrong side outward--I took these while I was measuring for length rather than pinning the seam, but I thought they were a useful indicator of where to sew.
Step 6: Finishing the Neck Line
So now you will have two rectangles sewn together in the middle, the seam running approximately half way.
Now you need to fold over the edges of the above bust points to make the bit that holds the ribbon (oh dear, I just can't think of the technical word for that today, feel free to help me out!)
Fold over the points labeled C and D (in images 2 and 3) and sew across as shown in image 4.
This would also be a good place to add rings for a decorative effect, but I chose to just use a seam to keep it simple.
Step 7: Optional Extra Ribbon Loops
I added extra ribbon loops (made from extra craft ribbon) about 10cms from the back seam on each side. The dress is perfectly functional without these, but I think they are worth adding because they give extra tying options.
Step 8: Thread Ribbon Through, Wrap and Wear
This part is purely experimental I am afraid, and it really requires an instructable of its own. I may need to draw some diagrams at a later point.
You can tie it with pretty much anything that will fit through the loops you have made. Thick ribbon is the easiest, but you could also use cord, a contrasting scarf fabric, or even a long strand of costume beading.
I have included a few images to give the idea of the different ways you can wrap and wear this dress, but the basic idea is that you thread the ribbon trough the two seams you made above the bust and then cross it over your back, wrap it round the front and then to the back again.
You can also wear it toga style, over one shoulder, with the open wrap part at the side, rather than the middle.
Have fun, experiment and play lots, and if you come up with any nifty new ways to wrap and wear the dress please link to your images in the comments, I would love to see them :)