Does Wednesday Addams dancing to The Cramps still have you spellbound? If the answer is yes, we’ve got a wickedly delightful surprise for you! As the calendar pages turn and inch us closer to spooky season, it’s time to kickstart your Halloween sewing projects. Introducing our new free sewing pattern: The Nightshade dress. Inspired by the beloved Wednesday’s dress at the Raven Dance, it promises to add that dash of enigmatic charm to your Halloween ensemble. This is a project you’re going to want to get started on immediately.
Don’t let the ghosts of missed opportunities haunt you! Grab your scissors, dust off that sewing machine, and let’s get started!
This pattern has been split into two separate files to accommodate all of the pages, and to make printing a little easier for you! After filling out the download form below, you will receive a .ZIP file. Simply double click on the file, or right click and select ‘extract’ to get both files!
This pattern does not include a belt
All seam allowances are 1/2″ unless otherwise stated. See chart below for sizing specifications. Note, this specific pattern is available up to a size 32.
Please note–this is an advanced pattern that contains yokes, plackets, a collar & stand, buttons, and a lot of ruffles. As a result, the instructions are long! Sewing this dress is a labor of love, especially if using a slippery fabric that is prone to fraying, and it isn’t a project that can be completed in a single day. In addition to using your home sewing machine, I strongly recommend using a serger. It will save you countless hours. Please keep these things in mind before getting started!
For a more beginner friendly version, we recommend cotton for the base layers, and a soft tulle for the ruffles and yokes. There’s no need to hem or finish the edges of the tulle!
How to get started:
1 – This dress requires a lot of fabric, so save the ruffles for last. You’re going to need as much continuous fabric as possible.
2 – To make the ruffle cutting more manageable, trim the edge of the fabric where you cut out the other pieces, so it’s a clean 90 degree edge. You want your fabric to be in a huge rectangle.
3 – Carefully fold the fabric, aligning the selvedges. Repeat until your neatly folded fabric is about a yard or so.
4 – Refer to the ruffle dimension chart in the pattern. Cut 3 strips across the folds, using the width advised for the overskirt ruffles. Cut one more, using the width advised for the underskirt. To cut the ruffles for the top, you won’t need all of this fabric folded together. Unfold what you need and cut the remaining ruffles similarly.
5 – Unfold the strips, and cut each one to the correct length listed on the pattern. If you want the ruffles to be even fuller, just cut less length off the strips! That’s also less fabric waste, so it’s a win-win!
Label each ruffle to prevent confusion later. Trust me!
6 – Serge a narrow rolled hem on the bottom on all strips. Alternatively, you can use a rolled hem foot, or manually fold a rolled hem. The serger is the most efficient though!
7 – Finish the remaining edges of the skirt strips with a serger or another edge finishing method of your choice.
8 – Baste two parallel rows at the top edge of each skirt strip to prep for gathers. See here for more details. Do not gather yet. Set aside for now.
9 – Interface your collar and placket, if needed.
How to sew the top:
2 – Place a placket on a front yoke, right sides together (RST). Align the raw edges, and sew along the center front. Repeat with the other side.
3 – Fold and press the placket’s opposite edge towards its wrong side, ½”. Repeat.
4 – Fold the placket widthwise, so its two folded edges are encasing the yoke’s raw edge. Edgestitch the placket’s folded edges together. Repeat.
5 – Sew the front and back yokes together at the shoulder seams. I used french seams here.
6 – Open up the collar stand and pin one of its layers to the neckline of the yoke, RST, with the raw edges aligned. Sew together.
7 – Trim and press the seam allowance up towards the collar.
8 – Fold the remaining edge of the collar stand under, towards the seam allowance, keeping that folded edge just beyond the seam allowance. Use fusible tape or a glue stick to keep in place.
9 – Right side facing up, sew the remaining edge of the collar stand. Either stitch in the ditch, or edgestitch, catching that folded edge beneath. This is where the glue or fusible tape comes in handy!
10 – Add your buttons and buttonholes to the plackets.
11 – Place the buttonhole placket directly over the button placket, and baste together at the bottom edge.
12 – Sew the ends of each ruffle strip together to get three enclosed strips. I used french seams.
13 – Gather the top ruffles onto the entire outer edge of the yoke, matching their seams from step 12, and placing them at the back of the yoke. You can do this a few different ways:
- Baste two parallel rows at the top edge of each strip. Gather individually, until each ruffle is a few inches bigger in circumference than the area where they will be sewn. Stack the layers from shortest to longest, and baste, then gather the remaining excess onto the yoke. This is the method I chose, and results in full voluminous ruffles.
- Stack the layers from shortest to longest, and baste them all together with two parallel rows at the top edge. Gather onto the yoke. This is a more beginner friendly method, but the ruffles won’t be as full.
Whichever method you choose, align the ruffles’ edge around the entire edge of the yokes, RST. Baste. The ruffles should be pointing towards the collar. Pictured above, the ruffles have been basted and steamed down.
14 – Sew the side seams of C & D together, RST. Use a serger on the armscye, then fold to the wrong side and sew to finish the under arm.
15 – Align the top edge of C with the bottom edge of A (the back yoke), RST, and pin. The ruffle should be sandwiched between the two layers. Repeat with D & B.
16 – Sew, and use a serger to finish the bottom edges of the front and back yokes. Press the seam allowance down towards the bodice, flip the ruffles up, and understitch the seam allowance to C & D, as pictured above.
17- Serge the ruffle/edges of the yokes’ armscyes and shoulders. Press the seam allowance out towards the ruffles.
The top is now done!
How to sew the underskirt:
1 – Close up the underskirt by sewing the side seam.
2 – Gather the underskirt panel, so it fits onto the bottom edge of the underskirt. Leave a few inches for the next step.
3 – Once you have most of it gathered, sew the short ends of the ruffle together to enclose it into a circle. I used a french seam.
4 – Flip the ruffle upside down, and align the gathered edge to the bottom edge of the underskirt, RST. Adjust your gathers if needed, then sew together. Serge the edge, then set aside.
Because this is a full skirt and there are multiple big ruffles to keep track of, I approached this section differently than the last, but if you feel more comfortable using the method above, feel free to!
How to sew the overskirt:
1 – Transfer the ruffle placement lines from the pattern to the overskirt, then lay flat, right side up.
2 – Begin gathering ruffle A onto Line A on the overskirt. Flip ruffle A upside down so its bottom edge is pointing towards the waist. Pin to to Line A, RST. Leave a few unsewn inches at each end of the skirt/ruffle because we will need this space to close the skirt and finish the ruffles later!
3 – Repeat with ruffle B, and the overskirt bottom ruffle.
4 – Once all of your ruffles are sewn on, sew the ruffle ends together, RST. Make sure to keep the overskirt out of the way.
5 – Now, pin those ruffle ends out of the way, and sew the overskirt together, RST.
6 – Bring the overskirt right side out, and finish gathering the remaining few inches of each ruffle onto the skirt. Sew.
How to finish the dress:
1 -With both skirts wrong side out, place the overskirt inside the underskirt.
2 – Flip the top upside down, and place inside the skirt. Align the raw edges, and match the side seam of the skirt to one of the top’s side seams. The right sides of the top and overskirt should be face to face.
3 – Cut your elastic, and fold in half. Mark that halfway point with a pin. Fold again, this time marking the quarter sections of the elastic with pins. Mark the eighth points on the elastic.
4 – Do the same with the dress waist, using the side seams as the halfway points. Just fold and pin.
5 – Pin the elastic to the dress waist, matching the pins on the elastic and the dress. This will ensure that the elastic gets evenly distributed when sewn. Otherwise, your dress might look twisted or unevenly bunched up. Make sure the elastic gets pinned into the seam allowance!
6 – Sew or serge everything together, stretching the elastic as you sew. The fabric should lay flat as it gets fed into the machine, but once it’s relaxed you’ll see the gathers!
How to sew the optional belt loops and sash:
If you don’t have a belt already, you can self draft a sash or belt! The sash is a beginner friendly option, while the belt is a little more advanced, requiring extra tools.
To make this sash, I cut a 100” x 3” strip.
1 – Fold the belt loop strip lengthwise, RST, and sew.
2 – Use a loop turner to bring it right side out, and press.
3 – Use the guides on the pattern piece to cut your belt loops.
Note: if your belt or sash is wider than 1”, you’ll need to adjust the length of these belt loops!
4 – Fold and press the ends of each belt loop under ¼”.
5 – Pin the belt loops onto the top. The bottom edges of the loops should sit right above the waist seam. Because I used a sash, I only needed two belt loops, which I placed right at the side seams. Use more if you need.
6 – To make the sash, cut a 100” x 3” strip.
7 – Fold widthwise, RST and sew as indicated below, with a ½” seam allowance.
8 – Trim the seam allowance and clip the corners. Turn right side out through the unsewn edge.
9 – Press the seam allowance of the unsewn edge so it’s inside the sash. Continue pressing the sash.
10 – Hand sew the end shut, or use fusible tape and press well if you’re in a pinch.
Your Nightshade Dress should now be complete! Congratulations!