Dress Tutorial

03 June 2014

I recently made a dress which I devised a pattern for using a dress that I knew fitted.  As I made up the pattern I had no sewing instructions to follow and had to make them up as I went along.  I decided that in case I wanted to make another one, which I probably will, I was best off taking pictures as I went to remember what I did.  So here they are, a tutorial with pictures of a lined shift dress with an invisible zip.

This dress was made from two different pieces of material for the front and back if you are using one you can skip this stage.  Pin the outer material pieces right sides together and sew.

Pin the shoulders right sides together on both the outer material and the lining and sew together (independently).  Outer to outer and lining to lining.

Pin the outer material to the lining around the neckline with the right sides facing and sew.

Cut the material down to your stitching, taking care not to cut through your stitches, in slits about 1cm apart all the way round the neckline.  This will enable the neck to sit flat without bunching.

This is what it should look like on the right side:

Next up is the zip, pin this to the outer fabric so that the right sides are together, and tack (sew some temporary stitches).  Lay the right side of the lining over the top and do the same. If you want to check you have got the right side of the material and the zip turn everything the right way out at this point to check. Then machine sew using a zip foot, if you have got one.  I had to look this up to find out what it looked like!

Now for the other side of the zip.  I have turned the side I have just sewn to right side facing the part I need to sew the zip to and pinned and tacked as before.  Then repeat with the lining and machine sew the zip in.  Again check before you machine sew that you have everything the right way round.

It should look like this when you have finished sewing:

Now for the armholes.  Lay the dress on the table with the right side facing down and the lining uppermost.

Roll the edge nearest to you away from you:

Reach underneath and bring on top the outer fabric that is not rolled up, the armhole edge of the lining is uppermost in this picture the outer fabric is at the bottom:

Fold the outer fabric over onto the lining so that the right sides are together and your roll of fabric is in the middle.  Pin and sew, take care when sewing to ensure that you don't end up sewing the fabric rolled up inside.  I failed to take a picture of this bit but the picture below shows the armhole sewn and cut as per the neck piece to prevent bunching of fabric.  The armhole is at the bottom of this picture:

Now for the magic bit, reach inside your tube and gently pull the fabric out until you have everything the right way out.  It took me ages to work out how to sew the armholes and the ta dah moment when it looked like this was amazing.  I had a very wide smile at that point!

When you have sewn both the armholes turn the whole dress inside out and pin the outer fabric and lining as one long seam:

Sew both sides up, hem as desired and your dress is complete:

Joining in with Nicole for sharing of making and creating, head on over to see what others have been up to.


  1. Beautifully done. I have a skirt that I really like and that i'd like to replicate. It's a bit daunting at the moment though, with buttons, a zip and lining. One day...

  2. Did you use an invisible zipper foot or an ordinary zip foot? An invisible foot has a special channel that the zip feeds into and enables you to stitch even closer to the zip itself, they are absolutely brilliant! When I sew a zip with one I stitch in the zip either side using the special zipper and then switch to a regular zip foot to finish off and sew up the remaining seem.

    You did a great job with this tutorial.


    1. Hmmm not sure I thought it was but now I am doubting it!

  3. Very clever. I wouldn't have a clue how to go about making a dress, it takes me all my time to sew a button on.

  4. What a really cute dress. Your tutorial is brilliant.
    Ali xx

  5. Great tutorial with some lovely photos.

  6. Great tutorial! Gorgeous dress. One of these days I'll dust off the sewing machine and give it a try :)


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