Friday, 11 March 2011

Making a dress without a pattern tutorial.

This is my first tutorial for bear with me lol! I'm going to show you how to make a dress like this, using a tshirt as a guide!

This will work for any size dress, as long as you have the right fabric - it needs to have some stretch to it, so a knit jersey type fabric would work best!! So from kiddies sizes up to adults, anyone should be able to do this! (Let's face it, if it came out of my head, it can't be too hard, right? Rofl!)
It can be long, or short...have a waist or an empire line...long or short sleeves...or no sleeves at all!

Firstly, grab a fitted(ish) tshirt that you have already that you love. Not for the pattern or design. For the fit, because we're going to be drawing around bits of it to make your dress.
Here's mine...excuse the creases, it's been screwed up on the table overnight!

Next, put it on. Mark with a pin or chalk where the waist will be (I'm making mine empire line, so it's just under my lumpy bits lol - you can do it at the waist if you like!).

Take your shirt off, fold it in half lengthways. Make sure you can see the mark you made on it...and please, put another shirt on. It's cold out!

 Then folding your fabric in half , place your shirt so the centre fold is against the fold of your fabric. With me so far? Good. This is actually taking longer to type than it does to actually do this lol!

With your chosen tool, draw around the outline of your tshirt, making sure to draw the arm holes and not the arms! Only draw down to the mark on your tshirt though, not all the way down!

Next, cut it out, leaving your preferred seam allowance all the way round (I use roughly 1cm - I'm not one for exact measurements if I can help it lol!). Then do exactly the same all over again, remembering to leave one neckline high and one lower for front and back.

Now comes the science!

Open out one of the top pieces, and measure the width of the bottom seam, and include the seam allowance.

Get a pen and paper as you'll want to write these numbers down!
Divide this number by 3. (Roughly...not to the 5th decimal point or anything!). This will be the width of the top of your skirt pieces.
Then for the bottom measurement, take the first number (the width of your bottom seam of the body) and use that. For a shorter skirt, if you don't want it so full, then just double the skirt panel top measurement. Simple!
You'll need to measure and cut 6 of these panels, once you've decided on your skirt length. The easiest way is to fold your fabric lengthways, measure half the top measurement, half the bottom, them join them up and cut (leaving a seam allowance). See, I told you this was easy!

Next, sleeves. Mine are very long, (I like them like that!) but you can do them any length you like! Go wild! 
With your fabric folded down the length of the arm, trace the arm hole section from one of the top pieces of your dress onto the fabric, and then make your sleeve any shape/length you wish. I traced the arm of the long sleeve tshirt I used at the start of the process, just making it a little longer and flared at the bottom as the sleeves are too short for my liking (and I like a flared sleeve!)
Make 2 of these. Unless you're an octopus, then make 8.
For some reason, I completely forgot to take photos of this part - sorry!

OK, that's it! Now we just need to sew it together!

Sew 3 of the skirt panels together.

 then sew them to one of the top pieces.

Do the same with the other top piece and the other 3 skirt panels.

Sew the 2 pieces together up the side seams, and shoulders.

(As I'm not always fantastic with my measuring and cutting, I always leave the bottom hem til last so I can put it on and then measure the length....and in case the pieces don't exactly meet up at the bottom. It does happen.)

You should now have something that resembles a half finished dress!
You have?

Now, on to the sleeves!

Sew up the seam on the underside of the arm, and then hem the cuff.  

With your dress inside out, and your sleeve right way out, slide the sleeve inside the dress with the armhole ends together.  You might need to pin this in around the arm hole to make sure it's even and in the right place - I often wing it lol! Shhhh! 
Then sew round it, and repeat for the other side.

Can you feel it? The end is in sight now....

There are so many ways you can deal with the neckline...I like to just fold mine and sew it round because I'm lazy (and I like the look it gives!) but you can add binding, tape, lace...even plait some leftover fabric and edge with that!

And then hem the skirt! It's really that simple! (See, I told you you could do it! Aren't you proud of yourself?)

Please, if you make this, stop by and show me your creations, I'd love to see them!
Thanks for reading!


  1. Wow, that looks like a good idea. Cute dress too shame I don't wear dresses but may try the idea out for a little girls dress. x

  2. Thanks Emma - it should work just as well for a little girls dress as it's modelled on an existing tshirt that fits! I'd love to see it if you do make one! xx

  3. THANK YOU! You made the internet better.

  4. You're very welcome lol....glad you like it! :D

  5. This is wonderful! I just found a bunch of fabric in my attic that no one uses and seeing this has really inspired me to try it at home. Thanks for the idea!

  6. Oh I hope you do, and please come back and share a picture! I'd love to see it! :D

    1. thank you so much for your tips, recuperating from an op and this is so relaxing for me to do and easy to follow

    2. You're very welcome - glad you are finding it easy to follow (I'm not always sure my directions are ha ha!) and here's to a speedy recovery for you! :D x

  7. omg im trying to make a dress for myself and you just made my day considering i, 13 and have never sewn in my life you taught me a lot would love to post a pic of it when im done thanks very much.

    1. Oh wow, well done! I wish I'd started sewing when I was your age! I hope it goes well, and I would LOVE to see a picture when it's done, thank you! :D xx

  8. Oooh you are so clever!! I have to try this, thank you so much :) xx

    1. You're very welcome Fiona - good luck, I'd love to see it when you're done! :D x

  9. Lisa, you do not know how much I want to thank you for this. I have searched the internet and shops looking for a regency pattern to make a gown and complicated is an understatement, this has made it look so easy that I might make the entire wardrobe I need plus a custom made ballgown

    1. Well Lisa, you have an awesome name, so that's a good start right there haha! I'm really glad you find this helpful, and I'd love you to come back and post a pic when you're done! Good luck! :D xx


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