Smock dresses have been popping up everywhere in stores lately, which is fantastic as they have been on my to-make list for quite a while! Why buy when you can DIY? I always thought that they'd be pretty easy to make because the waist is not fitted and they're generally quite loose-fitting, so there is definitely room for error when you make your own :) I was inspired by The White Pepper and Vintage Style Me to make a plaid-pinafore smock-style dress. I'm super happy with how it turned out! I will now attempt to explain how you can make one for yourself. You'll need basic sewing skills to do this, but definitely nothing too fancy - if you can sew a straight-stitch, and have been able to successfully sew a skirt or something similar, you're good to go. By the way, if you want to make a dress like my Hungry Caterpillar Dress, the instructions for making the bodice are essentially the same (though you don't add the extra inches to each measurement, which makes it more fitted), and you add a circle skirt instead, but attach it to the top in the same way. And FYI, my DIY crop-top instructions are coming next!
(note: under-boob and waist measurements go all the way around you!)
You then need to translate these measurements onto a piece of paper or newspaper, and cut out a shape similar to the one below. Divide your waist and under-boob measurements by 4, and your shoulder-to-shoulder measurement by 2 first. (The top of the shoulder strap to the top of the neckline, by the way, was 6 inches on my pattern. However, I made the straps a lot shorter in the final dress, so around 3 - 4 inches is probably a good length from shoulder strap to the top of the neckline, no matter what your size, unless you want a higher or a lower neckline than I have on my dress, for which you would alter this accordingly).
Also note - if you're bigger than a B-cup, you should probably replace measurement c below with your bust measurement, rather than under-boob measurement.
This is a pattern that I have made for a number of different styles of bodice - the line marked at "d" is actually where the bottom of the bodice will be for the smock-style dress, and so this line is where I cut my fabric! You can make the bodice any length you want - I recommend adding a bit extra than you think you will need - you can always make it shorter later!
It's also not the worst idea ever to "wear" the pattern before cutting any fabric. This should give you some idea as to whether it will fit you or not! If it looks a bit too big - that's what you're aiming for!
Now you just need to pin your pattern onto your fabric, and cut it out.
Next step: darts & lining.
First, you should make "darts" on your front bodice piece (and it's also a good idea to make the front bodice piece a little bit longer than the back pieces. You can probably see how mine is actually a bit longer than the two back pieces in these photos).
I actually forgot to make darts until after I added the lining, which was kind of dodgy of me, so make sure you do it first!
To make darts, on the back of the fabric, draw a horizontal line 5-6 inches long, then make it into a triangle.
Hopefully, you should end up with something that looks like this:
To line the bodice, which I highly recommend that you do, place all the bodice pieces on your lining fabric right side down (fyi, I just used a cheap white synthetic fabric for the lining), pin, and cut it out so that they're both the same size, and, keeping the pins in the fabric, sew them together. Sew all around the edges, except for the bottom edge.
Turn it inside out, and you should have something that looks like this:
The process is the same for the front bodice piece too - just sew the pieces together all the way around the outside, but leave the bottom bit open.
Place both your back-pieces onto the front piece, right sides together...
Cut a length of fabric that you can wrap around your waist at least one-and-a-half times, and is the length you desire (plus a few inches).
Now you will need to gather your skirt fabric.
Along the longest edge of the skirt piece, sew straight across the fabric using the longest straight stitch, but do not forward or back stitch at both ends like you normally would.
Then, grab only the top stitch or the bottom stitch on one end of the fabric (this site explains how to do this really well), and carefully pull the thread out of the fabric. This will cause the fabric to begin to gather up. Push the gathers along and continue until the entire fabric is gathered. Do this on both ends!
Here's a good tutorial on how to gather fabric (I did the cheating method).
Also, don't worry if you gather too much - you can always "un-gather" it a little. Anyway, your gathered fabric should look like this:
Now you need to attach the skirt to the bodice.
Line the two up, and un-gather the skirt so that it is the same length as the unfolded bodice.
And then flip the bodice over onto the skirt, pin together, and sew as below:
Try the dress on for size. Now, if you've accidentally made a moo moo dress like I did, that's okay - you can make it smaller by repeating the above step, but sew even higher up on the bodice.
You'll also have this whole thing going on, where it appears that you've made a hospital gown (stylish, right?):
Which just means that it's time for you to add your zipper!
The zip needs to be long enough to cover the bodice, and at least some of the length of the skirt - or you will find that you won't be able to get the dress on! The bodice pieces can be placed directly onto the zipper because they have neat edges, but you will need to fold the fabric of your skirt in a little before placing it onto the zipper (I explain how to insert a zipper here; the idea is the same even though that article was for a skirt).
First, un-zip your zipper and pin it to one edge of the back of the dress.
When you get to the bottom where the zip is, lift the foot and carefully do the zip back up, then continue on sewing. Do the same for the other side.
Sewing on a zipper takes quite a bit of practice, so don't stress too much if you stuff it up the first time!
Your skirt will now have a slit at the bottom wherever the zipper ended. Sew this together by flipping the dress inside-out, and sewing the two skirt pieces together (right sides together).
I couldn't get a good picture of this, but if you've made it up to this step, it should be pretty self-explanatory!
Now all you need to do is to hem the bottom of your skirt. To do this, simply fold the skirt's fabric up an inch or so inside the dress, and sew all the way around the skirt. You can fold it over twice for a neater look.
And guess what - you're done!
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