You Stole My Heart Dress for Absolute Beginners




Introduction: You Stole My Heart Dress for Absolute Beginners

About: I am a teenager who loves to craft.

This tutorial is for complete beginners. For a condensed version, which is meant for the experienced seamstress, please go here:

This Instructable is very long. The reason for this is because it is very detailed, so a beginner sewer can follow along. I recommend opening this so that all steps are on one page.

This instructable shows you how to:

  • Draft a basic bodice pattern
  • Alter said pattern for the heart cut out
  • Calculate the additional fabric needed to create box pleats
  • Fold said box pleats
  • Iron reams flat
  • Install an invisible zipper

and a few other things.

For this dress, the only skills you need are:

  • The ability to sew in a relatively straight line
  • The ability to Iron things flat
  • The ability to unpick stitches with a seam ripper

Terms you need to know before starting

  1. Seam Allowance
  2. Hem
  3. Iron Seams Flat ( Also known as pressing seams open)
  4. Top Stitching
  5. Overlocking the edge (Also known as Overcasting the edge)
  6. Unpicking the stitches

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Step 1: Supplies to Create the Pattern for the Dress

You will need:

  • A T-shirt that fits you closely, but does not stretch much to accommodate your body. Make sure you like the way the armpit area fits for you! That's the most important part!
  • Safety pins
  • Measuring tape
  • Ruler
  • Pattern paper or newspaper + tape
  • Pins
  • Markers (multiple colors help)
  • Scissors

Step 2: Measurements Needed to Create This Dress

Please look at the picture. Here is the Key:

A - Top of T-shirt collar to apex of breasts. (Usually the nipple line)

B - Breast Circumfrence (Around the fullest part of breasts)

C- Natural waist (Around the smallest part of waist)

D- Hips (Around the largest part of your hips)

Step 3: Now Let's Start Creating!

Put on your T-shirt, and mark where your natural waist is with safety pins

Step 4: Pin Stuff Flat

Step A

-Pick one side to pin flat, and pin the edges of shirt down

-Fold the shirt in half, and mark the halfway point with pins, as shown

Step B

- Pin the sleeve back too

Step 5: Grab a Sheet of Pattern Paper

Grab a sheet of pattern paper, and create a straight line on one side, using a ruler. This will be your reference line from now on.

* we do this, because the lines on the edges of pattern paper are not always exactly straight

Step 6: Tracing

Step A

- Fold your shirt under, at the line for where you marked your waist

Step B

- Line up the center pins on the shirt with the line on the pattern paper

Step C

- Trace all sides of the shirt, except the bottom, where you folded

Step D

- Don't forget to trace the front neckline too!

Step 7: Make the Bottom Straight

Step A

- Mark the bottom of the shirt at the center line (Shown as X)

-Remove the shirt. See how we left the bottom blank?

Step B

- Draw a straight line where we marked the X (We only care about the center marking right now)

-Exend or shorten the side as needed

Step 8: Tidy Up the Lines

Make the lines smooth.

Step 9: Making Sure It Will Fit

Here is where your measurements come in!

Take Measurement A.

-Mark where that hits on your pattern paper,

-Then draw a straight line across, toward the armpit area.

Step 10: Marking the Bust

Here comes some math. Don't worry, it's pretty simple!

1) Take Measurement B, and divide it by 4. Then add 1/8. This is where you will make the bust marking

(B ÷ 4) + 0.125 = Bust marking

An example: My bust measurement is 31.5 inches., so B = 31.5

( [31.5] ÷ 4) + 0.125 = 8 inches

2) Place your bust marking onto the pattern (on the horizontal line you just created)

** adding the 1/8 inch to your measurement adds a total of 1/2 inch of extra space, to allow for breathing room!**

Step 11: Marking the Waist

Repeat the previous step, except using measurement C

1) Take Measurement C, and divide it by 4. Then add 1/8. This is where you will make the waist marking

(C ÷ 4) + 0.125 = Waist Marking

An example: My waist measurement is 27 inches., so C = 27

( [27] ÷ 4) + 0.125 = 6.875 inches

2) Place your waist marking onto the pattern (on the horizontal bottom line)

** adding the 1/8 inch to your measurement adds a total of 1/2 inch of extra space, to allow for breathing room!**

Step 12: Connect

Draw a smooth line, connecting the Bust and waist markings

Extend the armpit area as needed

Step 13: Mess With Anything Else You Want

I wanted to make the neckline larger, so I expanded it by 1 inch. (Shown in purple)

-If you choose to do this too, don't forget to adjust the back neckline too!

Step 14: Add Seam Allowance and Cut

Step A

- Add seam allowance. I prefer 5/8 inch seam allowance, but do whatever you are comfortable with!

Step B

-Cut out along seam allowance lines

Step 15: Tracing the Back Bodice

Step A

- Grab a fresh sheet of pattern paper

-Draw a straight line on one side (Again, this will be your reference line)

Step B

-Line up the pattern piece you just created with the reference line

Step 16: Finishing the Back Bodice

Step A

-Trace around the pattern piece

Step B

- Cut out

-Label it

Now you have the Back Bodice Piece! Do not forget to label it.

Step 17: Front Bodice Piece

Step A

-Grab that original pattern you created

Step B

- Cut out the front neckline, on the seam allowance

Now you have the Front bodice! Woohoo!! Again, Do not forget to label it.

Step 18: Creating the Sleeve

1)Measure the armpit area

2) Multiply it by 2

3) Add 4 inches


1) Armpit area = 8 inches

2) 8 X 2 = 16 inches

3) 16 + 4 = 20 inches is my measurement


make a rectangle of [measurement X 3.25 inches]

Example: my measurement is 20 inches

I will make a rectangle of 20 X 3.25 inches

Step 19: Designing the Heart

Step A

- Take the Back Bodice piece

- Re-draw the seam allowances

Step B, C, D

- Measure the space that you will be able to use for the heart

Step 20: Draw the Heart

Step A

- Draw out half a heart, keeping in mind the measurements you took

Step B

- Test heart out, to ensure you like the way it looks

This is trial and error. Keep re-drawing until you get a heart you like!

Step 21: Transfer the Heart

Step A

- Position heart on the bodice piece in a way you like it

- Make sure to line up the edges

Step B

- Trace it

Step 22: Add Seam Allowance and Cut

Step A

- Add the seam allowance to the inside of the heart (Shown in purple)

Step B

- Cut it out!

Step 23: Trace It Again

Step A

- Get a new piece of paper

- Lay the pattern piece on top

Step B

-Trace it, and extend the bottom most line further to the right

Step 24: Extend the Heart

Extend the Heart's point down to the waistline

Step 25: Add Seam Allowance

Add seam allowance to the upper portion of the bodice piece, as shown.

Step 26: Cut It Out

Cut out the pattern! This is your Official Bodice Back. Label it, and write down that you will need to cut 4 of them!

Step 27: How to Calculate the Skirt Width

Here comes some more math! This math is a little tricky, but you can do it!

I am doing 3 inch box pleats

How to calculate how much to add for your box pleats

1) Width of pleat X 2 = How much fabric to add for every 1 pleat

2) Added Pleat fabric X # of pleats you want = how much extra you will add to waist measurement

Example: My Pleats will be 3 inches in width, with 6 pleats over all

1) [3] X 2 = 6 inches

2) [6 inches] X [6] = 36 inches I will add 36 inches over all, to accommodate for the pleats

Now what?

Take your waist measurement, and add the extra amount needed to create pleats

Example: My waist is 27 inches, I need to add 36 inches, to accommodate my box pleats

27 + 36 = 63 inches The width I will need to make the skirt is 63 inches wide

Now, add your seam allowance

Take the width you just calculated, and add seam allowances X 2

Example: I use 5/8 inch seam allowance, and my skirt width before adding seam allowance is 63 inches

( [5/8] X 2) + [63] = 64.25 My over all skirt width, including seam allowance, will be 64.25 inches!

Step 28: What the Skirt Should Look Like

Please see picture

Calculating the over all skirt length

-Measure the length you want your skirt, starting from the natural waist

- Figure out how large you want the hem to be

(Hem X 2) +Skirt length + Seam allowance

Example: I want my skirt to be 22 inches long, with a 1 inch hem, and my seam allowance is 5/8 inch

([1 inch] X 2) + [22 inch] + [0.625 inch] = 24 and 5/8 inches long!

I am multiplying the hem length by 2, because we will be doing a double fold hem.

So, I will be cutting my skirt out as a 64.25 inch X 24 and 5/8 inch rectangle!

Step 29: The Pattern Pieces You Should Have

Bodice front = Cut 2 on fold

Bodice back = Cut 4

Not shown:

- Skirt rectangle piece = cut 1

- Sleeve Rectangle Piece = cut 2

Alright! We are finally finished with drafting the pattern! Now lets get to sewing!

Step 30: Supplies Needed to Sew This Dress

Supplies needed to sew the dress are:

  • Non-stretch, medium weight fabric
  • Invisible zipper
  • Shank buttons (The buttons with the nubs, instead of holes)
  • Trimming
  • Pins
  • Thread
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Chalk

Not shown, but still needed:

  • Hand sewing needles
  • Ruler
  • Sewing machine
  • The pattern pieces you created
  • Iron
  • Zipper Foot

Step 31: Cut Out Your Skirt

Step A

- Draw out the skirt rectangle

Step B

- Cut it out

Step 32: Cut Out the Front Bodice

Step A

- Trace 2 front bodice pieces on fold. This means fold your fabric so that the nice side is on the inside. Then, line up the edge of the pattern piece with the fold on the fabric.

Step B

- Cut them out. When you do, cut through both layers of fabric at once!

Step C

- This is what each piece should look like afterwards

Step 33: Cut Out the Back Bodice

Step A

- Fold the fabric, so that the right sides are facing each other

- Trace the back bodice piece twice

Step B

-Cut them out. Cut through both layers of fabric!

Now you should have 4 back bodice pieces

Step 34: Cut Out 2 Rectangles

1) Fold the fabric so it is doubled

2) Draw out your Sleeve Rectangle

3) Cut it out, cutting through both layers of fabric. You are not cutting on the fold

Step 35: Zigzag the Edges

Zigzag the edges of ALL the Pieces you have cut out.

This prevents the fabric from fraying. If you do not finish the edges somehow, your dress will fall apart

Step 36: Sewing One Side of the Heart

1) Grab 2 back bodice pieces, and line them up with right sides together

2) Sew the Collar and the heart- line together (Shown in white)

3) Baste from the collar down to the heart (Shown in blue)


- Do not sew the shoulders. I realize in my photo that the shoulders are sewn, but Do not sew the shoulders. It was a mistake

- How to baste: Turn your stitches to the longest setting possible, and sew along! Don't forget to set the length back to normal after, though

Step 37: Sewing the Other Side of the Heart

1) Grab 2 back bodice pieces, and line them up with right sides together

2) Sew the Collar, down to the heart, and the heart- line together (Shown in white). NO basting on this one


- Do not sew the shoulders. I realize in my photo that the shoulders are sewn, but Do not sew the shoulders. It was a mistake

Step 38: What It Will Look Like

Now, both the sides are sewn! (Again, The shoulders should not be sewn!)

-Note the difference between a normal stitch VS a Basting stitch

Step 39: Clip the Curves

Clip the curves of:

  • The neckline
  • The heart

When you don't clip curves, it creates really bad puckering, because the fabric cannot bend right. Clipping the curves prevents puckering

Step 40: Fold It Right Side Out, and Iron

Step A

-Fold both sides right side out

- Be sure to poke the corners out really well

Step B

- Iron both sides flat

Step 41: Creating Button Loops

Step A

- Cut out 4 rectangles, with dimensions of 0.5 X 3 inches

Step B

- Fold the strips in half, and sew.

- Zigzag the edges too

Step C

- Flip the tubes inside out, and Iron

Step 42: Measuring the Button Loops

Step A

- Seam rip the basting stitches you made

Step B

- Fold the button strip over, so it looks like the breast cancer symbol

Step 43: Button Loops Continued

Step A

- Pin it in the place you like

Step B

- Make sure your buttons will fit through it

Step 44: Button Loops Cont... (2)

Step A

- Cut the end to make it straight

Step B

- Zigzag the end, to prevent fraying

Step 45: Button Loops Cont... (3)

Step A

- Repeat steps 42- 44 for the remaining loops

- Pin all the loops in place, making sure the loops are straight, and they are equidistant to each other

Step B

- Sew a line to secure them

Step 46: Top Stitch the Heart

Top stitch around the heart

Step 47: Top Stitch Around the Other Side

Top stitch around the other half of the heart, so that it mirrors the left side.

Step 48: Placing the Buttons

Step A

- Mark where to place the buttons

Step B

- Sew the buttons on where you made the markings

Step 49: Iron

Now, Iron everything flat again.

Step 50: Overlock the Edges

Overlock the edges so that both the pieces of fabric are sewn together. This way, we can now treat the back bodice piece as one single piece.

Step 51: Sewing the Front Neckline

Step A

- Take the two front bodice pieces and line the neckline together

- Sew along the neckline

Step B

- Clip the curve

Step 52: Iron

Iron flat again

Step 53: Overlock the Edges

Overlock the edges together. We will now consider it to be one piece.

Step 54: Pin the Heart's Point

Pin down the heart's point, to keep it stable

Step 55: Sew the Torso

1) Line up the two torso pieces, right sides together.

2) Sew with a normal stitch where the white lines are

3) Sew with a basting stitch where the blue line is

Step 56: Iron the Seams Flat

Look at the pictures. When I say Iron the seams flat, I mean Iron the open, so they lay flat with he rest of the garment.

Step 57: The Seams Are Now Ironed Flat

This is what it looks like once you iron the seams flat. Ironing the seams flat makes the seams less bulky.

Step 58: Make Armholes Larger If Needed

Unpin the bottom of the heart, and slip your arms through the armholes. Make them larger if need be, and redo the zigzag on the edges. Then, re-pin the heart's point back together.

Step 59: Grab Your Rectangles

Take out the rectangles you cut out earlier. (The ones where you had to measure the armpit of the pattern)

Step 60: Iron Them in Half

Iron the rectangles in half longways

Step 61: Pin the Rectangle to Arm Holes

Step A

- Lay the bodice piece right side out

- Pin the rectangle along the outside of the bodice piece arm hole

- Make sure to leave at least a 1 inch flap on each end

Step B

- Make sure The edges are lined up

Step 62: Sew the Gap Closed

1) Sew the two flappy bits together

2) Trim edges

3) Over lock the edges

Step 63: Clip the Curve

Clip the curve of the armpit

Step 64: Repeat for Other Side

Now, repeat steps 61- 63 for the other side and Iron

Step 65: Tack Down

Tack down the heart's bottom point. Now you can remove the pins.

Step 66: Rip the Seam

Take your seam ripper and remove the basting stitches

Step 67: Pleat Your Skirt

The next 11 steps will show you how

Step 68: How to Fold a Pleat

Step A

Mark the pleat length (Mine is 3 inches) and mark the halfway point

Step B

Place a pin in point 1

Step C

Fold fabric over to the right

Step D

Place a pin at marking 2

Step E

fold fabric to the left

Step F

Pin it down securely

Step G

place a pin at marking 3

Step H

fold fabric to the left

Step I

place another pin at marking 2

Step J

fold fabric to the right

Step K

pin it down securely, and you're finished with one pleat!

Step 69: Sew the Skirt to the Torso

Step A

- Grab the torso, and have it right side out

Step B

- Pin The skirt onto the torso, right sides together, making sure both sides of the skirt are even.

Step 70: Make the Skirt Even With the Torso

Step A

-Mark a line on the skirt, so it is even with the seam allowance on the torso

- Cut the skirt along that line, and re do the zigzag stitch, so the fabric doesn't fray

Step B

- Iron the seam flat

Step 71: Mark Seam Allowance

Mark the seam allowance on the right side, going down about 18 inches

Step 72: Iron the Invisible Zipper

Step A

Do you notice how the zipper teeth are folded, and how you can bend them so they face the other side? We want to Iron the zipper so that the zipper faces the other side.

Step 73: Installing the Zipper Without an Invisible Zipper Foot

I have found a great video. This is the video I learned from. You do not need a special invisible zipper foot to sew this type of zipper, Here is this woman's video. It really is fantastic!

Step A

-Line up the bottom of the zipper teeth with the line you drew on your dress

Step B

- Pin the zipper all the way down

Step 74: Sewing the Zipper

Step A

- Sew right inside the crease on the zipper. The crease is right next to the zipper teeth

Step B

- Stop sewing when you get to the zipper stop

Now, Repeat steps for the other side of the zipper

Step 75: Sew Down to the Bottom of the Skirt

Now, starting from where you left off at the zipper area, sew down to the bottom of the skirt. Make sure there are no gaps in the seam between the zipper, and the rest of the skirt

Step 76: Iron

Iron the seam flat

Step 77: Hem

Hem the skirt!

Step 78: Add Trim

Sew the trim onto the arm holes and the waistline.

Congratulations!! Your Dress is now finished!!

How to put on dress:

1) Undo back buttons

2) Unzip the zipper

3) Slip the dress over your head

4) Redo the buttons before you zip up

5) Zip up your beautiful dress

Please link to pictures of your dress in the comments. I love to see people's creations.

Have any questions? Comment them, and I will respond as soon as I can!

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    6 Discussions


    3 years ago

    If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

    Also, If you have made this dress, please link your pictures in the comments! I love to see other people's creations!


    3 years ago

    This is a really good, detailed instructable!! I think I might try it. I've never sewed anything significant before, and I do not like following patterns at all. (Anything I crochet or knit is not going to be from a pattern!) Thank you for this intructable!!!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Oh that's Great! Please send me pictures! I'm very sorry for the late reply. I have had A LOT going on this past week! I would estimate I used 1 yard of the light pink fabric, and 2 yards for the dark pink/ purple fabric.Don't forget, everyone's measurements vary, and what is right for me, might not be right for others!


    3 years ago

    one thing: about how much fabric did you use?


    3 years ago

    Perfect guide for beginners!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you very much, I really appreciate your feedback!