Dress Tutorial

Let me start off by saying that this was sooo much harder than I thought it would be. Not the dress-making part, but the writing up a tutorial part. When I was making the dress, I was sort of just figuring things out while I went and seeing what worked and what didn't. But writing the tutorial forced me to figure out my logic after the fact (quite a difficult feat, I must tell you). Also, I got so engrossed, I started to forget to take pictures for the tutorial, so a portion of this will be pictureless (sorry!). This dress looks much cuter on than it does on the hanger. I wanted to post a picture wearing it, but my tripod is currently at my parents' house. Also also, the fabric I used is gorgeous. The pictures do not do it justice. But unfortunately, it's from a yard sale, so I don't know where to find it, or if it is even still available :(

And I know I said I would be posting a bag and a skirt tutorial this week, but things got sort of busy and I didn't have a chance to make them yet. I'll get them posted as soon as possible though :)
You'll need about 1-2 yards of fabric, depending on the size you want. You'll also need a sleeveless shirt or blouse that fits you well, a roll of paper (or lots of computer paper taped together, like I used), a 22 inch zipper (you'll probably have to shorten it, but better too long than too short), and a flexible tape measure.

Start by tracing the shirt/blouse onto the paper. I traced half of the shirt and folded the fabric before cutting it, so that both sides would be symmetrical (see below). Draw in the neckline however you would like it to look. Then, do the same thing for the back of the shirt. Cut out the templates and pin onto your fabric. The center of the template will be placed on the folded side of the fabric, so that when you unfold it, you have the whole front piece. Cut out the fabric, making sure to add a seam allowance (I gave myself an inch all the way).

Front of shirt (sorry for the weird angle here)
Next, you'll be cutting out the skirt pieces. I used this tutorial to figure out how to do the measurements and the pockets. To determine the width of the skirt, measure your waist and subtract about three inches from it. I wanted my skirt to be a little higher than my natural waist, so I measured around my ribcage, but the construction of the final dress is pretty much the same no matter where you measure. To determine the length, measure how long you want the skirt to be, keeping in mind where on your torso the skirt part will begin, and add 6-8 inches. I like to give myself some extra fabric to work with. It's much easier to hem a skirt that's too long than it is to lengthen one. My skirt pieces ended up being 24 inches wide by 22 inches long. You will need two of these. Then, cut out four 6x9 inch rectangles for the pockets.

Okay, so now onto the next step. We'll start with the skirt portion of the dress. You're going to be adding pleats, so begin by finding laying one of the skirt pieces right side down and finding the center. Mark it with a pin at the top of the fabric. Also put pins on each side, one inch from the edge of the fabric. Take your actual waist measurement from earlier and divide it by two. After the pleating, you want the distance between the two end pins to be that measurement. For example, my waist measurement was about 28 inches, so after pleating, I wanted the distance between the two pins to be 14 inches. Starting from the middle, add pleats equal distances apart by folding the fabric in slightly towards the middle (see picture for a clearer idea) and pin in place. Once you are satisfied with how the pleats looks, iron them down and replace the pins. Repeat with the second skirt piece.

Next, pin the pockets onto the skirt, with right sides facing (the pocket will be pinned right-side down on to the front of the skirt), about four inches down from the top. Sew the pockets onto the skirt, with a one inch seam allowance. Then, unfold the pockets and iron them flat (the pockets will be folded out, unlike the picture below). Set the skirt pieces aside for now.

Take the front shirt piece and hem around the neck and sleeves (I did a quarter inch). Then, hem just around the sleeves of the back shirt piece. Determine how high up you want the waist of the skirt, and mark is with a pin. Find the center of the shirt, and, with right sides together, line up the skirt upside down over the shirt so that the center of the skirt is even with the center of the shirt, and in line with the pin you placed for how high you want the skirt. sew a straight stitch about a half an inch down from the top of the skirt.

Next, sew up the side seams of the shirt. Then, sew the side seams of the skirt, going around the pockets. Determine how long you want your zipper to be and shorten it, if necessary (instructions here). I had mine go about three inches below the waist of the dress. Cut the back part of the dress down the middle until it is the length of your zipper. Hem the two halves of the neckline, and then sew in your zipper. You can use an invisible or an exposed zipper for this. I chose an exposed mint green one. Hem the bottom of the dress and you're done.

I know this may be a bit confusing, so if you would like me to clarify anything, please let me know.

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