Friday, 13 December 2013

DIY - How To Make Your Own Dress

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!
First off, you'll need to take some measurements if you want your dress to fit you (yes, you're making your very own pattern!) Take the following measurements (see photos) and write them down somewhere, adding 2 - 3 inches to each measurement that you take, as the dress is going to be slightly oversized (and it's always good to add a little bit extra, anyway). These are the measurements that you will transfer to your pattern.

(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.
You will need two "back pieces" (just flip the pattern over to make the other side):
And one "front piece", which looks like this (simply flip your pattern over once you've cut out one side, and make sure not to cut down the middle):
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.
Fold the fabric on the horizontal line, and using a straight stitch, sew along one of the triangle edges.
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...
 And sew them together in these two places. Do this for both of the back pieces.
 You should now have something that looks like this! Gorgeous!
Next: making the skirt
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!
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!
If you've got any questions, please leave me a comment and I'll answer as best I can!



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54 comments:

  1. Thank you for this tutorial, and thank you for being awesome :3

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  2. Ooh Annika !!! That's a perfect post; I'm currently doing a seamstress formation, and I'm always looking for tutorials to make my own clothes. What I do at school is interesting, but I also want to do my stuff at home, and I think this dress would be a very good start :-) I only need to buy nice materials, hehe.
    I'll try it as soon as I can, and if it works, would you let me post a DIY on my blog linked to your post ?

    Thanks, have a great day ! :-)

    Noé,
    Couleur Spleen.

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    1. Oh, thank you so much! And of course you can! :) I would be super flattered. Good luck trying it out! Email me if you found any of my instructions confusing, haha. x

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  3. Annika, you crafty gal, you. :-) You are so talented, and I'm loving smock dresses right now. I may have to attempt this.

    Love, Amy

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  4. Thank you so much for this tutorial!!

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  5. I've been wondering how to make one, and yours came just in time; I just bought a bolt of tartan fabric!

    http://www.katielikeme.com

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    Replies
    1. Sweeeet! Ahh, perfect timing :) I am so going to get myself some tartan fabric as well!

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  6. Awesome Outfit
    Just loved! So so cool
    You done a great job
    love those pics

    http://heyhadrien.blogspot.com/2013/12/17.html

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  7. This is very cool and nice of you to show us; but I have my mom, she makes all the work :p

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  8. Amazing! ... would like to try it! I just need patience, thanks for the tutorial is very didactic!, There is no excuse to say that I can not! <3

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  9. awesome! thanks, i';ll be sure to come back to this

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  10. great tutorial!! looks really easy and fun to make! I picked up a few sewing skills in my sewing class in high school, but I usually have trouble using store bought patterns. thanks for working so hard on this tutorial!

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    1. Yeah, me too! I just don't have any knowledge of the pattern lingo so I'm always like "what the heck is a nap? What is a seam allowance? Basting?? Guh?" So making my own patterns seemed just that much easier :)

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  11. You are simply awesome. One in a million! I wish there was someone as trendy as you when I went to university many years ago. We all dressed functional and boring. But you are a relevation! We only live once and why not feel good and have fun as often as we can which also includes studying at uni. I have linked this post to two of my younger friends and hopefully we will see smock dresses everywhere. Haha

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    1. This was such an amazing comment. Thank you :)

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  12. Omg, this is so good, Annika! I've never tried lining my dresses before, I def need to try following this over break.

    Rachel

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    1. Thank you! Ah, it's so much better than fiddling around with interfacing, let me tell you! And it works so well :) You can also line your skirt too pretty easily, I reckon, but I was too lazy to do it with this dress haha.

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  13. Thank you so much for this! I have been eyeing of smock dresses for ages, but never wanted to spend too much on them. This is the perfect solution.

    xx Carina

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  14. Amazing diy! So great:)

    http://theprintedsea.blogspot.de/

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  15. Great tutorial! Definitely wanna try this out :)

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  16. Such a good tutorial! I have only made one dress from scratch (using a pattern) before and I've been itching to try another! :) Yours turned out adorable.

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  17. This is great, thank you! How much fabric do you need for this?

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    1. So obviously it'll differ depending on what size you are, but you'd need at least 1.5m from a standard roll of fabric from a fabric shop. To be safe, I'd get 2 metres (fabric width at least 1.1 m). But I doubt you would need more than that :)

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    2. Actually, fabric width at least 1m.

      Yeah so the minimum amount you should get would be a 1m x 2m piece... and you'll probably still have some left over from that :)

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  18. I always use something between the cheating version and the proper version (seriously, the proper version on the link is a total waste of time). I do 2 gathering seams and then when I sew it together with the lining or top I make the seam between the 2 gathering seams. After it's done you just take the lower (the one that will be visible on the skirt) away. You should really try it, the result is so much better and it takes about 2 extra minutes, since the gathering will take the same time (if not less because it's so much easier to get it nice and even with 2 seams) and you only need to make one extra seam.Hope it made sense :)

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    1. Ahh cool, yeah that made sense and sounds like a really good way to do it! Thanks so much for the tip!
      I also got taught yesterday about putting the skirt inside the lining and the top bit, before sewing the seam, so the seam is a lot neater... I'm going to try it out today, and if it works I'll put it up as a little "tip" on making the dress neater :)

      Thanks so much for your comment!

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  19. I just LOVE all of your fun DIYs lately! Smock dresses are such fun trends and actually seem pretty simple to make!

    Xo, Hannah

    sweetsweetnoir.net

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  20. Love it! Thanks for posting, I really want to try this out. x

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  21. Thank you for this tutorial, can't wait to try it out!! =)
    How would you line the skirt as well?

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    1. I am not sure... I'm sorry :|
      But that's okay! :)

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  22. Hi do you know how to draft a sleeve pattern for this? Thanks x

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    1. http://www.pineneedlecollective.com/2014/02/how-to-make-sleeves-diy-tutorial.html
      :)

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  23. This was exactly what I needed! You always have great easy-to-follow tutorials. Thank you babe!

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  24. i dont know how to cutout the pattern in the newspaper....

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  25. Hi, i am so glad i found your website!! you are super cool and good! and guess what, i just started on sewing and sew a circle skirt... Going to try making another one with your instructions and keep it going!!!! will be glad if you can show how to make some tops as well!! =)

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  26. This is so perfect, I can't find a pattern for a smock dress anywhere! How much fabric would you say to get roughly?

    aforvogue.blogspot.co.uk x

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  27. Annika< .One suggestion - the term "boob" couldn't be more derogatory to women's body parts and certainly wasn't coined by a woman.... Here are a couple of definitions:
    1.North American a foolish or stupid person.
    "why was that boob given a key investigation?"
    2. British an embarrassing mistake

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    1. Hm, I've never thought about boob as being derived from a derogatory term before. It's just super casual slang here. I've hardly ever heard of the word being used in a derogatory sense (because no one uses that to mean a "dumb" person or an embarrassing mistake in Australia. It's used by literally everyone as super casual slang for breasts. I don't even think any of my uber-feminist-ultra-aware-of-being-politically-correct-friends have pulled anyone up on it). I'm going to ask my linguist friend the original use of the the word and get back to you with that :)
      I'm gunna reclaim the word! Boobs boobs boobs! Boobs are a super positive thing, because they're great!

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  28. Wow, what a great tutorial! I'm doing some sewing myself - I don't think I'm like super talented, but I know my alterations for when I thrift stuff and I'm getting good at putting in zippers and making circle skirts - and I feel like making a dress from scratch what I want to learn to do next :3 Gonna try to make this with a pleated skirt instead and experiment with some darts to make the bodice a tiny bit more fitted I think.

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  29. Hooray! I just finished making this today. After some trial and error (and a lot of wearing it inside out and armed with pins) it's done. You're instructions were great, I just had to make alterations because of my bust size. Thanks so much for the tutorial :) Let me know if you want to see a pic.

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  30. amazing! LOVE IT.. excellent ideas :D

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  31. Would be easy to add short capped sleeves like the American Apparel baby doll dress?

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    Replies
    1. Yes! I have a video on sleeves, check out my youtube channel at Annika Victoria!

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  32. Which kind of fabric would you suggest using to make this?

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  33. Hi,
    I know I am very late but I would love to make one for myself and I was wondering,
    how much fabric do you need?
    Thanks, Nina

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  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  35. Just have to say I love your tutorial, was easy and precise, I made my 6 year old daughter a dress today in just a few hours, keep up the good work and thank you 😀😀

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