During Me Made May I found a huge hole in my handmade wardrobe. Summer dresses. I absolutely love wearing dresses in the summer so every time I reached for a dress I realized it was not handmade! I decided I needed to remedy this. I just wanted a simple easy to wear dress for running errands. I had an idea in my mind how I wanted it to look and I decided to draft it myself. Don’t worry, it isn’t hard I promise!
What I did was take a tank top I liked and used this method to draft a bodice. Be careful when knit drafting garments from ready made clothes. Make sure the fabric you plan on sewing has about the same stretch percentage as your ready to wear garment. Otherwise you may end up with a dress that is too small or too big.
After your bodice is drafted, decide where you want the skirt part to start. I decided on the natural waist for mine. Cut your pattern at that point.
To create the gathered look I added 1 1/2″ to the waist area (or wherever you cut). After adding the extra amount, add a 3/4″ seam allowance to the bottom. Make sure you add a seam allowance to the rest of your bodice as well.
Next measure from the point you wish your skirt piece to sit at down to the desired length. Add 3/4″ for seam allowance and another 1/2″ for hem allowance for a total of 1 1/4″. Next measure the bottom of your bodice and multiply it by four if drafted on the fold. Next add about 10″ to that measurement. After you calculate the length and width cut a rectangle that big.
I actually made two dresses, the first one I used the method above, the second one I wanted it a little more flared on the bottom. To do this, cut a piece of paper that was as wide as your bodice pattern by the desired length. Then slash and spread the skirt in even segments 2″ apart. Make sure the top of your skirt is still connected by a small amount of paper, don’t slash the entire length. Trace the new pattern and cut out your skirt using the pattern your just created!
Sew/serge your shoulder seams and side seams. Press seam allowance to the back. After you sew together your bodice pieces, measure the neckline and the armscye (are hole). You will then create a binding for each armscye and the neckline that is 80-90% of that length depending on how stretchy your fabric is. For example my arm holes are 17″ so I will multiply 17 by .85=14.5 (slightly rounded up). Add your seam allowance and cut your binding by the length you determine and 2″ wide.
Quarter your neck binding and then your bodice neckline in even segments. On the WRONG side of the dress line up your marks on the binding to the marks on the neckline. Make sure to line up center back with the seam on the binding. As pictured above, I sometimes like to do a basting stitching to make sure the binding lays nicely with no bunches. If it does lay nicely, sew it using a zig zag stitch, or using a serger.
Flip the binding up and press the seam allowance toward the bodice.
Fold the binding to the right side so it covers the seam allowance.
Press and pin binding in place around the entire neckline. Sew in place using a zig zag stitch.
Repeat this process for the arm bindings.
Sew or serge skirt side seams together.
Run a basting stitch 1/4″ away from top of skirt. Gather the skirt to match the bodice width.
With the skirt wrong sides out, slip the bodice inside, right sides out and pin together.
This is what the bodice will look like inside the skirt.
Sew or serge without trimming the skirt and bodice together.
Using a 3/4″ seam allowance sew the skirt and bodice together a second time using a zig zag stitch.
Pull the bodice out from the skirt and flip the seam allowance down toward the skirt. Press in place.
Edgestitch the seam allowance to the skirt leaving about a 2-3″ gap.
Using a safety pin feed your elastic through the casing you just made.
Sew the two ends together, making sure the elastic is not twisted.
Gently pull apart the opening and sew closed.
To hem the bottom, I like to fold up 1/4″ and again 1/4″ and sew. To make it easy, I like to serge the hem. Then simply fold the serging and fold again. I find this easier than pressing the entire hem!
All done!! Enjoy! 🙂