Spring is here and it’s time to celebrate with a new sewing project! Sure, you could go to the store and buy a dress, but what’s the fun in that? Self-drafting a dress is a way to challenge yourself, resulting in something you can proudly say “I made this!” If you’re new to self-drafting garments, this is a great place to start. The sewing time is minimal, the fit is forgiving, the measurements don’t need to be exact, and the dress itself consists of just a few pieces of fabric. It’s a win-win project!
As with any project, but especially a self-drafted one, a mock up is essential to ensuring the best fit. For this dress, I made about 3 before reaching a result I was happy with.
Note: the dress was drafted for a size 10, and worn on a size 4. If you use the following drafting method, this dress won’t be as oversized in the back. But we also loved the oversized look, which would be great as a beach/vacation ensemble.
Before you get started you’ll need some measurements:
1. Apex to apex
2. Center front (CF) to apex, + 2″
3. Apex to side seam, + 4″
4. CF to side seam
5. Apex to top of garment, + 1″. The collarbone is the approximate location I wanted the top of the garment to sit, so that’s where I measured to.
6. Hips, divided by 4
7. Decide the length you want your dress to be, from the top edge to the hem. I suggest over estimating by at least a few inches so you’ve got some wiggle room when you’re ready to hem.
How to draft the front dress:
1. Draw your center front (CF) line. I chose 35”.
2. Use your CF to bust apex + 2” measurement to draw a second line parallel to the CF line.
3. Measure down from the top of the new line, using your apex to top of garment + 1″ number, and mark it.
4. Mark a point perpendicular from the spot in step 3, using the bust apex to side seam + 4″ measurement.
5. Draw a curved line from the top corner to the mark from step 4. It doesn’t need to be as curved as a traditional armscye, since this is more of a halter top.
6 . Use ¼ of your hip measurement + 4” to draw a line to extend the hem.
7. Draw a line from the armscye to the extended hem, creating the side seam.
8. Draw the hem out to the side seam.
Your front dress is now complete!
How to draft the back dress:
1. Mirror your front dress piece, tracing its CF and side seam, adding 1″ to the total width. The front dress piece is pictured mirrored, to the right.
2 – Take 9” off the CB line.
3. Complete the underarm curve, making sure it continues to curve downwards. I made the curve more gradual as I got to the CB, but this is up to you! If you want a super low back, you can keep the curve a little more steep. Tip: Fold each side seam down by the seam allowance and arrange the pieces so they are sitting flush. This will help you create a nicely curved top edge.
4. Use your measurement of side seam to CB, and measure from the side seam of the garment. Make a notch on the pattern and transfer it during the cutting process. This is where the elastic will go.
Your back dress is now complete!
How to sew the dress:
1. Cut one of each
2. Sew the side seams, trim the seam allowance, and finish the seams.
3. Make enough bias tape to go around the top edge of the dress.
4. Unfold the bias tape and pin to the top edge of the sides and back of the dress, right sides together. Don’t pin to the front of the dress. Sew.
5. Press the bias tape to the inside of the dress. Mark the notches at the back with a pin. Sew the folded edge down.
6 . Use a seam ripper to open up the bias tape at the back notches. Use a safety pin to insert elastic at the notches. Stitch the elastic at each end to secure, then sew the bias tape back down.
7. Cut a strip of bias tape to fit the top front of the dress, adding an inch or so to fold over at the ends.
8. Unfold the bias tape, and right sides together, pin to the front raw edge of the dress. Sew.
9. Fold the bias tape to the inside of the dress, and sew, leaving about an inch free on each end.
10. Insert the elastic, pin to the edges, and stitch to secure. Make sure you only sew the elastic to the dress and sewn side of the bias tape. You don’t want to close up the casing because we’re putting the elastic strap in there!
11. Fold the raw edges of the bias tape under, so they are secured beneath the folded tape. Sew the remaining long edges down.
12. Mark an inch out on each side of the back elastic. Apply a small circle of interfacing onto the mark, on the wrong side of the fabric. I ended up using scrap muslin and fusible tape. This will stabilize the fabric for the next step.
13. Put your eyelets in. Practice a few times on some scrap fabric first though!
14. Thread your elastic cord through the front channel, through the back eyelets, and tie a double knotted bow or a knot. Just make sure it’s secure! Alternatively, if you don’t want it to be adjustable, try the dress on to decide the length you want the cord to be, then sew each end into the front channel to secure.
15. Try the dress on to determine the final length, then hem the dress.