After spending a lot of time making drapes, I wanted to see if I could sew something that wasn’t rectangle. So, I attempted to sew a dress, using an idea that was in my head. This isn’t the first dress I’ve attempted; it is the second one. I was in high school, and I got so frustrated with the first dress, my sister ended up finishing it for me.
To make a dress: First, I found pretty denim fabric. It was on sale for 70% off, a definite plus. I purchased 1.5 yards of denim fabric. Had no clue how much I needed. A pattern for another dress I looked at said it needed 1.5 yards.
Professional seamstress recommends washing the material first. I did not, I thought even if I stitch the edges of the fabric, it would unravel in the wash. I did iron the material. I have learned that ironing is a key component to sewing.
For the top of the dress width, I took my measurements, hips, waist, and chest to determine which was the largest. I wanted to be able to pull the dress over my largest body part, I added a couple of inches to the largest of these measurements for the seams. I divided this measurement by 2 to get the cut width for the top of the dress.
Determining the length of the dress was next. I took a measurement from my arm pit to the floor. Subtracted a couple of inches so it would be above my ankles. Keeping in mind, the dress would have at least a 3/4″ hem at top and bottom.
It occurred to me at this point if I wanted to move in the dress, the dress would need to have some flare to it. Or else, I would not be able to sit, bend over, kneel down, or walk normally. To add the flare, the bottom needed to be wider than the top. I added 8″ inches to the top width measurement for the bottom of the dress measurement. I then divided that measure by 2 to get the cut width for the bottom of the dress.
Here is the pattern I had in my head for the dress.
The length of the dress with seams was shorter than the length of the material. My first cut to the fabric was for the length of the dress. I wanted to make a belt for the dress, and I could use the extra fabric for the belt.
I folded the material in half and tried to match the pattern. Okay, I am not that good of a seamstress. That endeavor was quick abandoned.
I marked the top and bottom of dress measurements onto the center of the fabric and drew a chalk line from the top of the fabric to the bottom of the fabric on both sides. I pinned both sides, checked that the top and bottom measurements were correct, and cut the material.
I sewed the hem on the bottoms of both pieces of fabric.
I needed some shoulder straps to hold the dress up. I am not flexible enough to determine the exact length of the shoulder straps I would need, so I decided to make straps I could ties. I cut eight pieces from the fabric scraps about 18″ long and 3″ wide. After sewing the fabric together, I had four 2″ straps.
How do I determine where to place the straps on the dress? I could Google is, but every woman is a different size. Then I realized; I had the measurement on me, I would measure the distance between my bra straps. I took this measurement, center the measurement on the top of the dress and marked the location for the straps on both pieces of fabric. I pinned the straps into the top seam of the dress, then I sewed the seams at the top on both pieces of fabric, which sewed the straps into the seam.
I then sewed the sides of the dress together. I officially, had a dress.
However, my last task was to sew the belt. The belt finished width was 2.5″ wide and 54″ long. Yes, I used the entire width of the fabric, plus some to make the belt. I wanted to be able to wrap the belt around the waist multiple times.