Afternoon patterns have been discontinued. Last few pins available on the online store.

Dress-making without an official pattern

Making a DIY dress pattern

This is something I would never have attempted in the past, but have found to be rather exhilarating.

I bought a beautiful abstract polka dot print on a whim, and since I had nothing particular in mind for it, I thought I'd try out sewing on the fly.

The feeling of putting scissor to fabric with no plan AT ALL scared me a little though, and I ended up taking to Google to find a pattern for not having a pattern. How strange we humans are.

I stumbled across a lovely tutorial by Elena over on Randomly Happy on how to make a DIY dress pattern for a very simple elasticated waist dress with just a few body measurements. Perfect! I really recommend it as a crash course in learning to let go.

Polka dot dress

Just a few field notes on the stumbling blocks I came across when making this dress:

  • If your hips are wider than your waist (whose aren't?), I strongly suggest you taper your skirt pattern out from the waist by more than the suggested 4cm. This is far too little! I ended up adding a whole extra skirt piece into my dress as a third panel to accommodate my derrière.
  • Sewing an elastic waist directly onto a dress is a treacherous thing. I did it and immediately regretted it. Obviously the stitching shows through onto the right side of the dress and I ended up unpicking the whole lot. I can't quite figure out how you would make it look like Elena manages to?
  • However, here's a good fall back plan for a failed elastic waistband: sew a long skinny casing into the waistline of the dress and thread the elastic through. I sewed the casing I made onto the flappy inside seam allowance so that my stitching didn't go through the dress. It was super easy and avoided all that messy stitching.

And after a bit of trial and error, you have a dress that you can proudly say you made yourself. If you give it a go, send through a picture! I'd love to see how it turns out.