Monday, July 30, 2012

Dress making Tutorial

So, one day I decided I wanted a dress. My sister and I were making a skit, and I wanted a sort of Greek-style wedding dress to go with it (chiton, anyone?). We had none of these. WELL, that wasn't going to stop me!
"Fine," I said, "I'll make one."
The reaction I got? Well, it was what I expected:
Slightly bemused look and a "Okay, if you really want to." A sort of "have fun with that" response.
My family has no faith in my ability to sew. So, I'm not an expert, but I made barbie dresses from a particular website (AHHHHH! BRAIN FREEZE! I CAN'T REMEMBER THE NAME OF THE SITE!!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY MEMORY???!!!) that doesn't use seam allowance. And do you know what happens if you don't put enough seam allowance? And with a Barbie, you have very, very, very little room for a slipup. And this was a year or so ago.
But the dresses turned out relatively well.
Do they care? My family hears "doll dress" and they think "easy."

Well, in case you didn't know, a pattern in which all of the pattern pieces are stacked on top of each other and there is NO seam allowance in the said pieces and in which there is literally no room for a mistake, that is a difficult pattern.

I'm not exactly mad at my family, just kind of disappointed, I guess. However, I made this dress completely by myself, with no pattern at all or any assistance at all and it turned out pretty well. Even my sister and parents thought so.

This pattern is really easy. Even a professional amateur like me can do it.

So, the basic idea of the cutting of the pattern is this: you are going to cut out two rectangles.

So far so good.

Measure from your shoulder to the floor, or to wherever you want the dress to go (you want a knee length dress, measure from shoulder to knee).
Add an inch or two to that number and write it down. Now measure from shoulder to shoulder and add about six inches.

My measurements were 52 inches and 22 inches, if that helps at all (but I'm super short and have really small shoulders).
Now lay out your fabric and use a pencil or something to draw a square with your dimensions (52 by 22 in my case). I got lucky and was using a sheet (more on this at the bottom) so I didn't have to hem as much as you will have to.

Cut out your fabric and hem both squares. Have fun. :)

 I suggest using an iron and some pins to help with the seams and hems.

 And maybe use a ruler or something with a straight edge to make sure these hems are straight.

Okay. You've finished hemming. Your hoping this is going to amount to something cool because all that hemming was really boring (hopefully you remembered to play some music).

At this part you need to take some more measurements. Since this dress has two slits in it (for walking-ease), you kneed to measure the slit area. I measured from my knee to the floor, because I wanted the slit in my dress to start at the knee and go to the floor.
Then, measure from the top of your shoulder to right under your arm.

Now, lay out the two panels of the fabric, right sides together (right side is a term for outside part). Choose one end to be the bottom of the dress, and measure your slit measurement (that is, if your s.m. is 23 inches, measure 23 inches from the bottom edge of the fabric, and put a pin where the 23 is.)

Starting at the other edge of the fabric, measure your arm measurement (if the a.m. is 8 inches, put a pin on the 8 inch mark and the 0 inch mark).

Sew in between your slit pin and the beginning of the arm pin area. Repeat on the other side.

You should now have two rectangles, joined at the sides, but not all the way from top to bottom.

Sew about one inch of sewing at the very top right and the very top left. This forms the sleeves.

Now you are ready for the darts (which are wonderfully easy don't let anyone tell you otherwise).  You will be measuring, basically, how long your back is. Measure from the base of your neck to the bottom part of the small of your back, or from your neck to your waist.
Write the measurement down. Now, lay out your fabric, and choose a side to be the back. Measure your measurement from the top of the fabric to wherever it ends (my measurement was 16 inches).

Measure approx. 3 inches from the right side; sew your first dart about 1 inch thick. Measure 3 more inches; sew the next dart, again, about 1 inch thick. Measure three more inches and do the last dart (you guessed it: 1 inch thick). If my instructions don't make sense, look up a youtube video on making darts, and you will understand them.

Looking at your dress, it should look like this:

 Sew along the dart lines you pinned off, and turn your dress inside out.
Try it on. I recommend using a belt with it, although without the belt it doesn't look too shabby either.

Oh, dear. I don't like that picture one bit. It makes me look so extremely not tall. Then again, I AM extremely not tall.

So how did I get stuck using a sheet (albeit, a pretty sheet). Well, it just so happens that all of the fabric we have is one of two things:

1. About 2 feet square.
2. Upholstery fabric.

And the thing is, my mother doesn't sew, my sister who still lives at home doesn't like to sew, and so my dad is the only one who even touches the sewing machine, save me. He's made some costumes for us before, and doesn't do too shabby a job, either.

But he doesn't sew enough to know my dilemma. *sigh* If only I had someone to commiserate with me. But oh well.


  1. Wow! The dress that you made looks awsome! I love it! You also did a wonderful job to make it look greek style! I don't think that picture makes you look short. I think it makes you look tall! anyway, awsome job. Was your family surprised at how good it was?

  2. Thanks! I think they were surprised, 'cause they didn't think I would do a good job.


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