Make a Spring Dress!




Introduction: Make a Spring Dress!

now that spring is coming, why not make yourself a new pretty dress to celbrate the return of sunshine!
and if you choose a flowery fabric like me add to the starting blooming all around.
sadly, although the weather is already quite nice (and almost warm enough to walk around in a short sleeved dress) the trees here are still mainly leafless and the grass and little flowers are just starting to grow. all the more reasons to sew this dress!

overall, this dress is not so difficult to sew for those with some sewing experience, and although there is some patternmaking involved don't let that keep you from sewing this dress, i tried to keep it to a minimum.

Step 1: What You Need

- fabric, cotton is best. it should not be stretchy. and for that nice spring touch use something flowery! you will need 2 m fabric 1,40 meters wide
the fabric i used was some vintage fabric that i had lying around that was a little to small so i had to use a scrap piece of white fabric for the inside parts, see later.
- a small piece (about 60 x 40 cm) of iron-on interfacing
- 3,5 cm wide elastic band, a bit longer than the circumference of your waist
- thread matching your fabric
- buttons, depending on the size you will need 3-6
- scissors, pins, tape measure
- iron
- big paper (old newspaper works fine and is free), pens and triangle
- sewing machine (of course!)

Step 2: Make the Pattern

don't let the pattern making keep you from making this dress, i tried to keep it very simple.
if you are lazy, attached as a pdf is a half sized version of my original pattern. you could print it out to twice the size and use it, although it might not fight as well as one made for your own bodysize. (i am about 170 cm in height and my breast girth is 100 cm)
first, take measurements:
measure the breast girth (once around the body, over the most prominent part of the breast)
the skirt length: from the waist to the desired length of the skirt, this is up to you, i went with knee length
neck base (where the neck meets the body) to waist
and neck base to bust point (neck base to where you measured your breast girth)
you could take these measurements by yourself, but it's much easier with a second person to help.

see the picture for how the pattern is constructed. i like to use old newspaper for patternmaking if i make a pattern that i'm not going to use lots of time, because it is free and the pages are quite big.

glue the 2 parts of the facing (the front and the back part) together along the 4 cm shoulder line.

the skirt will be 3/4 of a circle, but you only need to make a pattern for 1/8 of a circle and use it 6 times when cutting out the skirt.

you will end up with 4 pattern pieces:
- the upper front
- the upper back
- the facing
- and 1/6 of the skirt

if it is not good so see on the picture:

the lenght A-B should be
breast girth divided by 4, then multiply by 1,1

the lenth of the upper part should be
neck base to waist minus 4 cm

for the position of the armhole you have to calculate
neckbase to bustpoint minus 4 cm, then subtract 10%

in the skirt pattern, the radius of the smaller circle is
8 times the length A-B (from the upper part) divided by (3 times pi)

the radius of the bigger circle is the smaller radius plus the desired skirt lenght

Step 3: Cutting

from your fabric, cut the upper front part two times (since you need a left an a right side you have to turn the pattern around for the second part), one upper back part (mirror the pattern along the center back). add 1,5 cm of seam allowance on all sides and 3 cm of seam allowance in the armholes. (have a look at step 5 to see how it should look)

from the facing you will need 4 parts total, two left sides and two right sides, i did nor have enough original fabric so i cut the inner two parts of the facing from a matching plain white fabric, if your fabric is big enough you can cut all 4 parts from it.
so later in the instructable, all the facing parts that go inside the dress are the white ones. add 1 cm of seam allowance on all sides of the facing

from the interfacing, cut the facing out two times whithout any seam allowance

for the waistband, you will also need 2 stripes of fabric, 4 cm wide and as long as 4 times the lenght from A to B in the upper part pattern. add 1 cm seam allowance on all 4 sides.
as with the facing, my second (inner) part of the waistband is from white fabric.

cut out the skirt once (3/4 of a circle, 6 times your pattern, see pattern making), adding 1 cm of seam allowance

Step 4: Iron the Interfacing, Start Sewing

place the interfacing-facing parts on the two inner facing parts (the white parts in my case) and iron them on, the iron-temperature depends on the interfacing and fabric used.

now pin and then sew the two facing parts with no interfacing together, sew the two facing parts with interfacing together, sew each of the two long fabric stripes together at the short ends, close the skirt seam, and close the side seams and the shoulder seams on the upper part.
when sewing the side seams, make sure not to sew further than the armhole point! (see pictures)

Step 5: Neaten/ Edge/ De-baste/ Trim - Online Dictionarys Didn't Give Me a Satisfying Answer

to prevent fraying of the edges of the seam allowance, you now have to (one of the above, do tell me the right word please!) the edges. if you have an overlock-machine like me use it, if not, the zig-zag stitch of a normal sewing machine wil be just as good.

before you start, see that the seam allowance at the armhole looks like in the first picture. when you neaten the side seams, do the front part and the back part seperately and only where the seam allowance is 1,5 cm, see second picture.

you don't need to neaten the seams on the facings an the stripes.

Step 6: Sew the Armhole

see that the seam allowance of the shoulder seams lies towards the back. now fold the seam allowance of the armhole once inside 1,5 cm, and then again 1,5 cm and pin in place.
now sew close to the edge where you folded the seam allowance over, when you reach the side seam sew over the side seam and continue on the other side (see picture for that, it is not as complicated as that may sound....)
do the same with the other armhole.

Step 7: The Facing

this part is a bit more complicated, but with some sewing experience no problem.

pin and sew the part of the facing without the interfacing (in my case the flowey version and not the white one) to the upper part. this is a bit tricky where the curved parts in the front are, but if you sew slowly and carefully no problem. now lay the other part of the facing (the one with the interfacing) onto the first part of the facing right side on right side and sew them together along the outer edge of the facing.
after you sewed them together, trim the seam allowance to about 5 mm and cut little slits in the seam allowance almost to the seam where the facing is curved. (see picture)

fold the part of the facing with the interfacing to the inside, so that the seam that connects the interfacing parts lies on the inside and sew close to edge, it is easier to do this when you pin the fabric in place first.

now fold and pin the seam allowance of the not sewed side of the inner facing part towards the inside. where the curved parts are, you might have to make little cuts into the seam allowance so that it works.

iron the seam allowance where the upper part and the outer facing are sewn together towards the facing.

now pin the inner part of the facing to the outer part, puttin the pins at a right angle from the edge of the facing. take out the other pins that you used to pin the seam allowance inside. now turn the whole thing over so that the right side of the later dress is facing upwards and sew once close to the inner edge of the facing. since you put the pins at 90 degrees of the seam you can sew over them.

look at the pictures to see how it is done!

Step 8: The Waistband

to find the perfect length for the elastic band for the waistband wrap the alstic around your waist so that it is a bit tight but still comfortable. cut a piece about 4 cm longer than that.

over lap the elastic 4 cm and sew it together, sewing first a square and then a diagonal cross inside the square (see picture).

take the upper part and on the lower edge pin the left and right facing ontop of each other (the center front lies in the middle of the facings, the overlap to host the buttons and buttonholes).
now sew one waistband part (the flowery one) to the lower edge of the upper part. place the seam of the waistband part where the center back of the upper part is.
sew the skirt to the other edge of the waistband, again, place the seam of the skirt in the center back. now your dress already almost looks like a dress.

neaten the seam allowance where you sewed skirt an waistband together.

now take the other waistband part (the white one in my case), the right side of the fabric facing the upper part of the dress and sew it to the other part of  waistband through the already existing seam where you sewed the upper part and the waistband together. the seam allowance of the inner waistband should lie on top of the seam allowance of the upper part and the outer waistband (this is hard to explain with words... sorry).
pin the seam allowance on the lower edge of the inner waistband part to the inside (similar to what you did with the facing).

now pin the inner waistband to where the skirt part is sewed on, put put the elastic band between the two waistband parts when doing so. as with the facing, put the pins in at a right angle, so that you can sew over them. the elastic band is shorter than the waistband. it is therefor easier to pin only half the inner waistband in place, then sew it in place (from the outside, sew close to the lower edge of the outer waistband).
now pull on the elastic, until the already sewed part gets ruffled and there is enough elastic so that it lies flat to sew the second half.

when you finished sewing the waistband you have to distribute the rufflling evenly, since it will probably be ruffled more in some places and less in others. to do that, put your hands inside the dress and pull the waistband apart in both directions as far as it goes, then let it relax again, the ruffles should now be more or less evenly distributed.

one last thing you have to do, wich will prevent the elastic band from gettin twisted inside the waistband is to sew once around the in the middle of the waistband, pulling on the elastic when doing so, so that is is stretched when you do so. be carefull, as the sewing machine needle can break if you pull to strongly on the fabric.

Step 9: Buttons

button time!
try out how many buttons look nicest, if you use smaller buttons you will need more than if you use bigger ones.
since i went with quite big ones, i decided to only put three. lay the buttons ontop of the dress an play around a bit until you are sure of what you like best.

measure from the waist to the point where your topmost button will be and divide that measure by the number of buttons you want to place to get how far from each other the buttons have to be placed. in my case i had to divide a length of 27 cm by three, so my buttons are 9 cm apart. mark with pins where the buttons will go

measure the diameter of the buttons. sew on the buttons, i like to double the thread so i need less time to sew them on, up to you.
make the buttonholes with the buttonhole setting of your sewing machine, every machine works different, so just follow your machines instructions.
the buttonholes should be about 2 mm longer than the diameter of your buttons.

your dress is almost finished now.

Step 10: The Hem

i waited with this part until the end because now you can put on the dress an see if the length is how you want it or if you want it a bit shorter or longer.

if you like it, there are two ways to hem the dress:
the easier and faster way (like i did it) is to use the hem setting on the overlock machine (if you have one). cut of the seam allowance and just hem it once around.
in case you don't have a sewin machine you could use a very narrow zig-zag setting on a redular sewing machine for a similar result.

if you rather want to have a proper hem fold the seam allowance inwards twice and sew it (similar to the armhole), but that is more work and i think the skirt falls nicer if the edge of the hem is only cut and "wrapped in thread".

Step 11: And You Have a New Dress!

i hope that was not too difficult, but sewing is much easier if you do it than when you read weird sounding instrcuctions...
and if you managed to do it, have fun with your new dress and take it to town, once the sun is warm enough!

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    4 Discussions

    nic nak
    nic nak

    6 years ago

    Serger is an American term. In the UK we call it overlocking.


    6 years ago

    It's really nice. Maybe I'll try one out.


    6 years ago

    I don't know the proper terms, but I call that machine a serger, and the stitch a serge stitch or serge hem.
    The dress is very nice and I love the fabric!