Monday, June 24, 2013

Easy Peasy Summer Dress Tutorial Part 2 - Construction and Sewing

Hello! Today I'm going to show you how I assembled and sewed my easy peasy faux wrap dress. (Part one here, if you missed it!)

So here's where we left off: we've got five pieces of our dress to assemble. Two top bodice pieces, one bottom bodice piece, one back piece, and one skirt. Let's assemble them!

1. Hem the top bodice pieces.

Note: strictly speaking, no hems are necessary on this piece, as long as you're using a knit fabric. It won't unravel. But, I think that it makes the finish look more professional. I am using a double needle to hem mine. If you don't want to do that, you might wish to use a zig-zag or stretch stitch on any part you think will stretch.

We are going to hem the part that will be your V-neck. That's the long, straight diagonal side.

Pin it like so. I am not sure if you can tell in the picture, but I am actually pinning from the front of the fabric. This is because, with a double needle, you need to stitch on the front of the fabric. Makes it a little harder, because you can't see the fabric you've folded over, but I think it's worth it. 

This is what it looks like sewing it. I have it kind of pulled up so you can see the folded over part. And notice how small the hem is here - the edge of my fabric is lined up not with the edge of my presser foot, but just inside the small area where the needle goes. I didn't necessarily try to do that, but I found it kind of hard to keep the hem straight in some places...

Bad, icky hem
Good, straight hem!

Anyway. So once you have the hem for both sides of your V-neck done, you might notice that they're looking a little iffy.

See how the fabric is kind of wobbly and not laying flat? All it takes is an iron! Press the hem, and it will start to behave better right away. (Also, this is what the double needle looks like from the back. It's basically a stretch stitch.

The top part of this hem has been ironed, and the bottom part has not. You can see what a difference it makes.

2. Sewing the V-neck together.

Put your two top-bodice pieces together, and make sure that they're aligned correctly. Here, I have them assembled on top of the paper pattern piece so I know that the V part is right where I wanted it. 

Now, we're going to sew these two pieces together. (Note: this isn't strictly necessary. You can sew the top-bodice to the bottom-bodice without doing this, but I wanted to make sure these pieces wouldn't move around.)

Pin the space where the two pieces overlap. We're going to sew this with a zig-zag stitch.

Ta-da! Now, generally I would have preferred to make this stitch closer to the bottom, but it kind of got away from me. It's a little hard working with a stretchy fabric for the first time.

3. Sew the top-bodice to the bottom-bodice.

Now that we've got the top-bodice assembled, lay it out next to the bottom-bodice piece. We're going to connect them, and then we can just refer to one bodice!

Flip the bottom piece over so it's laying on top of the top piece, right sides together.

Pin, and make sure that the corners match up at least fairly well. I had to stretch mine just a teensy bit because I think I cut my bottom piece too small. Oh well, I learned for next time!

Now, sew across the whole bottom with a zigzag stitch. Important: make sure that this stitch is above the place where you stitched to connect your V-neck pieces, so that stitch doesn't show when you flip this right-side out. Sorry that the picture is so blurry!

4. Hem the back of your neckline.

We're doing this before we attach the back of the bodice to the front, because it's easier this way. Fold over as much as you want to hem, pin, and press.

This is pretty much the same as what we did for our V-neck portion. Again, I'm going to use a double needle.

This hem actually turned out pretty good for me!

5. Connect your front and back bodice pieces.

Lay your front bodice on top of your back bodice, right sides together. You can see that my back bodice piece is slightly longer than my front bodice. I'm not sure how that happened, but oh well.

Pin the pieces together. However!! Be careful not to pin or stitch the armholes together. You need those to be open, obviously, so you can put your arms through them!

You are going to sew: along both sides of the bodice, as well as along the shoulder, between the neck hole and the arm holes.

Ta-daaaaa!! Looks like real clothes already! You could totally follow this tutorial and then stop here and make an awesome, cute shirt if you wanted, maybe adding a peplum at the bottom. But let's not get carried away just yet, we have a dress to finish!

6. Hem your armholes. 

Again, as with all hems on this, not crucial. But I wanted to.

Armhole, all pinned
Pin the same way you did before, all the way around. A free arm on your machine makes this easier. Basically, just sew in a circle all the way around both armholes. I used a double needle again. If you don't have one, you definitely want to use a zig-zag or stretch stitch here cause it'll stretch when you put on and take off your dress.

7. Hem your skirt.

Yay! Our skirt! If we're going to hem this, it's easier to do it now before it's attached to the bodice. Once it's attached, the fabric is more unwieldy. 

I chose to hem my skirt even though the edges were cut pretty smoothly. Pin, press, and sew as you did with your armholes and V-neck. You shouldn't have to use a stretchy stitch here if you don't want to, because unless you're super rough when you put on or take off the dress (or if you have kids grabbing at your clothes!), this part probably won't be subjected to stretching.

8. Attach your skirt to your bodice.

We're in the home stretch!!!

Lay out your skirt and your bodice.

Either flip the skirt up over the bodice, or the bodice down over the skirt... doesn't really matter. The important thing is that the right sides of your fabric are together, and the raw edges are matched up, like so:

Pin in place all the way around. You're going to be sewing in a circle again, like for the arm holes. Use a zigzag stitch, as this part will definitely be stretched as you wear the dress.

Pinned all the way around.
Now, sew it all together...

This is the part where the side seam of the skirt meets the side seam of the bodice. (Oh, by the way - line up the side seams!) In order to reduce bulk, you'll want to bend these seams the opposite way as you sew over them. In this instance, I pushed the seam on top there, forward. I pushed the seam underneath, backward. 


WE'RE DONE!!! Yay, congratulations, you've made an awesome dress! 


  1. wow! you're super talented (i don't TOUCH a sewing machine) and i love this fabric.

    1. Thank you so much! That's awfully sweet of you :)

  2. love the fabric and the fit. Came out beautifully.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you! I'll have to check out your linky party...