This dress is very versitile as you can make it as long or short as you want, gathered or flat front, short or long ties....let your imagination run wild! Today I'm making a knee-length version with a long bow-tie around the neck.
1.5-2 yards main dress fabric
1.5-2 yards lining fabric
Use a lightweight fabric to make the dress light and perfect for summer. I used a cotton gauze.
*All seam allowances are 1/4" and always backstitch unless otherwise stated*
Start with the hardest part...making the pattern for the bodice. You need a shoulder width measurement for the strap, a below the bust measurement around your ribs, and a "coverage" measurement from your shoulder to below your bust.
Here is my bodice pattern. This is for a very skinny size 0-2, but it's a good guideline.
Or....if you don't like math (I hate math!), take a dress you already love with a crossover-style top and measure that! This is how I made my own bodice piece to begin with. It's a great way to start! Make sure you account for seam allowances.
To get your other measurements:
For the Front Band length: Take your bust measurement, divide by 2 and add 1" for seams. For example: a 30" bust measurement divided by two will give you 15". Add 1" and you need a 16" front band piece length. Make the width of the band 3".
For the skirt: Take your front band length measurement and add 5" for the width. Make the length as long as you like. Mine is 25" for a knee length dress. You will need a front AND a back skirt piece.
For the back band: This band will be equal in width to both your front band, and the material under your arm on the bodice. In this example 3" + 3 1/2"
The length of the back band will be the same as the width of your skirt piece. This may seem wide, but we are going to add shirring to bring it in and make it stretch.
*If the widest part of your body that you'll be pulling the dress over is larger than your overall skirt width, you MUST make your skirt and back band wider to get it on! Don't worry, the shirring will bring it in. Add more than the suggested 5" to the width to get a larger measurement.*
Cut out a main fabric piece and a lining piece from each of these measurements. You should have 2 bodice pieces, 2 bodice linings, 2 skirt pieces, 2 skirt linings, a front band and a back band, and their lining pieces.
Finally, cut two strips for your ties. Make them twice as wide as the top of your bodice piece (where the strap should go) and make them as long as you like. Mine were 30" long because I like big bows.
You should have a pile of fabric that looks like this:
Time to Sew!!
Lay your bodice pieces out with their linings making sure you have a right and left side. I wouldn't tell you this if I hadn't sewn two left sides the first time! Oops!
Pin your pieces right sides together to their lining pieces and sew around the top, and two sides. There's no need to sew up the bottom.
Clip your corners and clip into your seams, being careful not to cut your stitches. This will help it turn and lay better on our body.
Turn the pieces right side out using a pen/dowel/stick to push out the corners.
Now sew your straps. Placing the fabric right sides together, sew down the long side and close one short end. You can leave the short ends blunt, or sew them into a point like below. Turn your straps right side out and topstitch along both long sides.
Place your strap on your bodice, right sides together and sew a couple of times across the two securing your straps to your dress.
Topstitch the bodice, making sure you catch the seam allowance from the strap to make it lay flat.
To help your dress lay better on your chest, make tiny pleats or gathers in the middle of each bodice half.
Pin the gathers or pleats in place
Take your front band pieces and baste them together.
Place the front band on your bodice piece, right sides together. This is where you line everything up. Overlap your two bodice halfs until the width of the top matches the front band piece. Pin in place.
Sew the top on to the front piece, and your bodice is done! Now the hard part is over with.
Pin your skirt fabric and lining piece together for the FRONT only.
Set your machine to its longest stitch. Sew a basting stitch across the top of the pieces to hold them together. *Do not backstitch* Grab the bobbin thread (the one on the bottom) and gently pull, ruffling up the skirt piece. Ruffle the skirt until it is the same length as your front band piece.
Pin the skirt to the band, right sides together, and sew.
The front of your dress is done! Looks good already. Once you try it on you may need to adjust the top. I like to put tiny little tucks on the chest of mine to make it lay nicer on me, but you may not need to do this. it all depends on your shape and how you want the top to look.
Put your back band pieces, right sides together and sew around the top and two sides.
Turn right side out. Now we don't have to hem the top.
Line up your back skirt pieces. Place the back skirt right sides together with the back band piece, and sew together. This will be much longer than your front skirt.
It's time for shirring. Manually wrap your elastic thread around your bobbin and feed it into your machine. Don't pull it tight! If you haven't tried shirring before, here is a good tutorial to get you started.
I start shirring about 1/4" from the top of the back band, and do a line of stitching every 1/4 inch until I run out of room.
Your back piece will draw up nicely and be super stretchy and comfortable.
Place the back and front of your dress right sides together and pin.
Sew down the sides joining the front and back. Pull the lining pieces from the skirt out of the way for now.
Then go back and sew the sides of the skirt lining together.
Finish the bottom hem however you like. I used the good old-fashioned method. Turn under 1/4" then another 1/4" and sew.
Throw on your dress and flip flops and enjoy the rest of your day!
I added a fabric yo-yo pin to add a little splash of color.
Comfortable enough to chase an almost 1-year old around the yard!
I hope you enjoy making your own Sweet August Dress. Now, I'm off to relax on my front porch with some sweet tea and enjoy the rest of my summer! Happy Sewing!