So you want to sew a dress, but don’t know which pattern to choose. Well, if you have a sewing machine and you can follow directions, I’ll show you how to sew a dress with your sewing machine in 16 easy steps!
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16 Easy Steps to Sew a Dress with Sewing Machine
Here are easy steps to sew a dress with a sewing machine;
1) Choose a pattern
If you are a beginner, I suggest choosing a simple pattern without too many details. You can find some unique patterns on Etsy. You can also go to your local fabric store and browse their pattern rack. I’d recommend staying away from any of the Simplicity’s – they are kinda confusing.
2) choose a material
The best material for beginner dress sewing is probably cotton or cotton blend knit fabrics. It is a bit stretchy and forgiving. You can also try woven cotton or lightweight woven fabric, but it is trickier to sew with.
3) Prepare your pattern
Cut out all the pieces of your chosen pattern from the tissue paper that comes with it. If you are using a knit fabric, cut one extra piece for your seam allowance – this will be 1-inch wide x 2 inches long (in width & length). For fabrics like cotton or quilting cotton, use a smaller seam allowance – about 1/4 inch wide x 1inch long (width & length).
4) Mark your pattern pieces
Once you have prepped and cut out the entire pattern pieces, look at each individual piece. You need to make sure that the grainline (the arrow on your pattern piece) is running horizontally and vertically. If it isn’t, you need to mark another line right down the center of the pattern. You can use a ruler or straight edge to do this.
5) Mark your pleats
If using a knit fabric, layout your skirt pieces as shown in the picture below. Notice how there is a large notch cut out of each side seam? This helps give some extra room for movement and will help create those cute, billowing skirts we all love to wear.
Sometimes patterns have these notches already marked out for you. If yours doesn’t, just draw a line down from each side seam, about 1/2 an inch below the waistline, and cut it out – try on your skirt piece to check if you have enough room!
6) Mark your darts or pleats
Layout all of the front bodice pieces as shown in the pictures below. When stitching two pieces together, you need to make sure they are perfectly lined up. To do this easily, use a ruler and pencil to mark where you will stitch them together with a line.
You can fold these lines inwards or press them flat. It doesn’t really matter too much which you choose, but you only want to fold in the lines that will be the inside of your dress – do this for both front bodice pieces.
7) Pin and stitch
Now, lay down one of your bodice pieces on a flat surface with right sides facing up. Then, place another piece of fabric so that it matches up exactly with your first piece.
Pin them together along the shoulder area, then pin all around the rest of the bodice. You can press or fold in your dart/pleat lines now if you have not already done so.
Once everything is pinned securely, use a straight stitch to stitch from one end to the other Make sure that your stitching goes through both layers all at once. Now, do not stitch back and forth. If you are using a knit fabric, stretch the two pieces slightly to make sure it’s not puckering.
You can sew your darts or pleats in with this step if you won’t. Just use a zig-zag stitch and stretch as needed so that it doesn’t bunch up when stitching down the front bodice.
8) Cut out your skirt
Once your two front bodice pieces have been sewn together, cut out around the waistline on both front pieces. Also, make sure sure that not to cut along the stitches for extra security.
Now, lay one of these waistband pieces flat with the right side facing up and layer another piece of fabric (right side against right side) on top matching up exactly where the shorter sides will be.
Pin along the sides and front, then stitch from one end to the other using a straight stitch again making sure that your stitches go through both layers all at once. You can use a zig-zag stitch if you want to make it look a little nicer .
9) Finish off the waistband
Now take your other front bodice piece and lay it flat with the right side facing up. Place your completed waistband on top matching up exactly where the two pieces will meet and pin them together securely. Then, stitch from one end to the other using a straight stitch.
If using a knit fabric, stretch the waistband slightly to make sure it’s not puckering anywhere as you stitch. This might seem like an unnecessary step but I find it helps create a sleek finish around your waistline.
10) Stitch back bodice
Now take one of your back bodice pieces (with the right side facing up). Lay down another piece of fabric (right sides together) on top matching where each shoulder will be. Pin them together along the shoulders and then stitch from one end to the other in a straight line.
Make sure that your stitches go through both layers all at once. Then cut the bottom of this piece straight along the line that you just sewed.
11) Finish off the back bodice
Now lay your back bodice down flat with the right side. Face it up and place the waistband (with right side facing up) on top matching where both pieces will meet. Pin them together securely, then stitch from one end to the other using a straight stitch.
You can use a zig-zag stitch if desired for extra security. But I’d suggest using one if you’re using a lighter-weight fabric since it could easily tear otherwise.
This step is also important because you want to stretch out your waistline slightly as you sew it on. So that it doesn’t bunch up when you turn it around. Of course, you can top-stitch this waistband if desired too!
12) Finish off the armhole
Now take one of your back bodice pieces and lay another piece of fabric on top matching exactly where the armholes will be. Pin them together securely along both sides and use a straight stitch to sew from the bottom towards each shoulder.
You can leave a small opening between the two shoulders so that you’ll have an easier time turning it later on. Now, flip the whole thing inside out and press or top-stitch if desired. If you want to add elastic, now is the time to do that before you sew up the armholes.
13) Stitch front bodice
Now take one of your front bodice pieces and lay down another piece of fabric on top matching exactly where each side will be. Pin them together securely along both sides, then stitch from bottom to top using a straight stitch. Once again making sure that your stitches go through both layers all at once.
Finally, cut off any excess bits of fabric around the neckline so that it’s nice and tidy. This might seem like an unnecessary step but I find it helps create a more sleek finish around your waistline!
14) Attach the skirt
Now layout your dress flat with the front of the bodice facing up. Take your skirt piece and lay it down so that it is evenly lined up with the top left corner of the bodice piece.
If you notice there will be a little gap at each side, I find that folding over one edge slightly works well. Then simply pin all around ensuring that both pieces are securely pinned together along both sides and use a straight stitch to sew them together using a zig-zag stitch if desired for extra security.
15) Leave Two Openings
Now take your dress and turn it inside out again by flipping it over from the right side. It’ll see what looks like two openings at the top of each side, these are the armholes. Now, take a pretty ribbon or string and thread it through one of those openings all the way to the end making sure that you leave a little excess at both ends.
Pull it until you see your dress begin to gather up from being stretched! Don’t pull too hard though because you could make your skirt pucker in funny ways! Just enough so that it looks nice and gathers nicely along either side of your waistline!
16) Tie Together
Now go ahead and tie off both of those excess ribbons into secure knots then cut off any leftover pieces making them as even as possible with each other. Then turn your dress right-side-out again by flipping it over from the inside out (so that the right side of your dress is facing up) and you’re all done! Now take it for a spin and enjoy feeling as pretty as ever.
You can sew a dress with your sewing machine. If you’re an avid sewer, this may not be news to you. But for those of us who are new to the craft or just looking for another creative outlet, it’s exciting to know that we too can make our own clothing using only two needles and some thread.
We’ve given step-by-step instructions on how to do so in case you need help getting started. With these easy steps, anyone will be able to create their own fashion statement without spending hours at the tailor’s shop trying on clothes they won’t wear again anyway.