How to Make a Denim Dress
Making your own clothes needn’t be a challenge, there are lots of great garments out there that can be created from a super simple pattern, plus you get to have something in exactly the fabric and colour you like, safe in the knowledge that no one else will have anything quite like it.
This summer it’s all about denim! I’ve been busy experimenting and have come up with this simple denim dress. Perfect for summer festivals, and sunny days spent whiling away the hours out and about.
Time to make: Three – four hours
Suitable for: Intermediates
- Soft Denim Fabric 150 centimetres (60 inches) wide – Measure yourself around the chest, tummy and hips, add 50 centimetres (20 inches) to the largest measurement to find the length to purchase – available in store
- 2 inch wide elastic
- Orange sewing thread
- Dressmaking scissors
- Sewing machine
- Tape measure
- 1 metre of Webbing and a large safety pin for turning the belt
- Dress template >>
1. Getting started – First of all measure yourself, (or the person who you are making the dress for) around the bust, tummy and waist. Take the largest measurement and add 18 centimetres (7 inches). Now divide this number in half.
For example, if your largest measurement was 92 centimetres (36 inches)- add 18 centimetres (7 inches) to make 110 centimetres (43 inches) then half it to make 55 centimetres (21.5 inches)
Fold the fabric in half with the cut ends at the top and bottom. Measure from the salvage end, in the example this would be 21.5 inches – but whatever your personal measurement is, cut a straight line up the two layers of fabric. This will give you two pieces measuring the length (152 centimetres / 60 inches) by your own measurement.
Now cut again, 5 centimetres (2 inches) in. Do this twice, which will give you your belt pieces (four pieces)
And lastly the pockets. Cut two pieces 16 centimetres by 32 centimetres (6.5 by 13 inches).
2. The belt – Take two lengths of the belt fabric and with the right sides of the fabric facing each other, sew the short ends together at one end.
Do this for both pieces. Press back the seams.
With the right sides facing, match up the seams on both pieces and pin. Pin along the belt to stop movement as you sew.
Using the presser foot on your sewing machine as a guide, sew up both long ends, leaving the short ends open.
Now you need to turn it the right way in. An easy way to do this is to take a piece of webbing and attach a large safety pin to one end. Thread this through your belt, but do not allow the tail to disappear.
Grab the end of the tail and sew it to the end of your belt going over it three or four times for strength – you will be cutting this piece off later.
Now you should find that with minimal effort your belt will pull the right way in.
Making sure the seams are straight, iron the belt. Check that is a suitable size to tie around your waist, then trim and tuck in the ends and iron them flat too.
Now you can top stitch all the way around the belt with the orange thread to make a feature of the stitches.
3. The pockets (make two) – Take one of the pieces of fabric you cut (16 by 32 centimetres) and fold in half so it measures 16 by 16 centimetres. Stitch down one side and a third along the top. Do the same on the other side, this will leave a gap to enable you to turn the pocket the right way in.
Trim off the corners carefully before turning right side in.
Give it a good iron then sew a decorative stitch line down each side. If you have fancy stitches on your sewing machine you can play about and decorate your pockets to your own unique design.
4. Placing the pockets – From the top of the dress measure 50 centimetres (20 inches) down, this will be the place where the top of your pockets sit – of course, if you want them higher or lower, just adapt to suit. You need to also measure 7.5 centimetres (3 inch) in from the side to place the edges of the pockets.
Sew the pockets in place by following the orange stitching down one side, across the bottom and up the other side.
5. Joining the dress seams – Place your dress pieces front side to front side and pin down ONE edge to join. Sew in place. Press open the seam.
If you like you can add a decorative orange stitch down both sides of the seam.
Join the other side in the same way. If you are adding the decorative seam then you will need to bunch up your fabric for the second side and make sure you do not catch any fabric underneath as you sew.
6. Adding the elastic – At the top of the dress, turn in and press a 1 centimetre width. Then sew it into place all the way around.
Turn that same edge in another 5 centimetre (2 inch) and iron in place.
Now sew again, on top of the first row of stitching.
But leave a small gap to enable you to thread the elastic through.
To get the correct length of elastic, measure yourself across the chest, under the armpit but above the bust. Take 10 centimetres (4 inches) off this measurement and cut the elastic.
Attach a large safety pin to the end of the elastic and thread it through the hole. Make sure it does not twist, and make sure you catch the tail before it disappears.
Securely sew the two ends of the elastic together with a number of rows of stitching to make it nice and strong.
Pull the dress top and let the elastic disappear into the space. Now you can sew up the missing gap.
7. The hem – First of all you need to work out how long you would like your dress to be. Calf length, knee length, mini? Try the dress on, make sure you add the belt as this will affect the final length. Then pop a pin in at the length you prefer.
Remove the dress, lay it out flat and cut it right across, 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) below your measurement in a straight line.
Turn in 1 centimetre of hem and iron it flat. Turn this hem in again by another 1cm so it fold over on itself, and iron it flat again. Make sure you give it a really good press as it will be easier to sew.
Stitch around the hem in a nice neat line.
And that is your dress finished! Wear it with pride.