Simple Summer Dress

While avoiding a sink full of dishes making my blog rounds a few weeks back, I saw that Anngela at Anngela's Pretty Little Things made a dress for herself using an existing dress as her "pattern" ...and it looks pretty awesome. And pretty, and awesome. Voila! Inspiration for the Simple Summer Dress.

I've never actually made any clothing for myself from scratch since adult clothes have to "fit" and that always intimidated me. Darts, pleats, curves... so many ways to screw it up, and I'm a "wing-it" kind of sewer... I don't really know what I'm doing. hehe (Nervous laughter) Once I saw Angela, I got the If-she-can-do-it-I-can-do-it motivation I needed and headed for Walmart. The real fabric store is like 40 minutes away, ugh, no thanks... Walmart it is!

I had an idea for a causal knit dress in my head and found a great grey and black stripe (among the bolts and bolts of pleather and Disney character fabric). It was double width! Sweet. $6 later, I was off.... to daycare, dinner, a couple timeouts, cleaning, baths, teeth brushing, stories, blankies, lights out... and finally sewing.

I used a simple shift dress I wear to work as my pattern.  I laid the dress on top of two layers of fabric. The two layers were right sides together.  I then pinned around my existing dress, hugging as close as I could to the edges, only pinning the two layers of my fabric together.  I used A LOT of pins. Then I trimmed with a really large seam allowance in case I had to adjust.

Next, I shimmied inside my newly pinned fabric all while stabbing myself and cursing.  (kids were asleep) It fit!  I only had to adjust the arm holes/shoulders.... as in, I cut them off because I decided it would look better as a tank dress.

I then shimmied back out... more cursing... and sewed up my 2 side seams, trimmed the extra seam allowance fabric, and hemmed the bottom (with a stretching stitch so I could walk easily... I sewed the sides with a regular stitch).

After that, I put it back on and tried to figure out how to make knit bias tape to finish off the arm holes and top.  Um... still have no idea. Anyone?  3 tries later and some time with the seam ripper, I bought regular bias tape. I added it around each arm hole, then across the front and back.  It worked fine.  The neck hole is large enough that it doesn't have to stretch.

To make the straps, I used two strips of double fold bias tape per strap (4 strips total).  I opened them up so they were still folded in on each side, but not in the middle, and sewed the folded sides together with a top stitch.  Then attached them to my dress.  Last thing was a couple fabric rosettes.  

It's done and I have a real piece of clothing in my closet I made that I'm actually going to wear.  Still can't believe it.  You should give it a shot.
 (I think I'm looking for ants... yeah, that's it.)
Did I mention, it will fit your curves exactly since it's custom made for you...
 even if you have to bend really far to the side to pretend you have curves.


  1. Super cute! I cut out a patternless knit shirt this weekend (I'm also a wing-it sewer) but the knit fabric is giving me fits!

  2. You did such a great job on this dress! I'm so proud of you and inspired to make my own!

  3. I love it! Kinda want to do one to say I did...but not sure I can muster the energy seeing as how I can get one at Ross for 7.99. :) But, when the child is 18 or so and I find the time....it's on my to-do list!

  4. Super cute!! And great job! I love the satisfaction of wearing something you made yourself :)

  5. Cute!!!! And cute tut too! You go girl!!

  6. Thanks everybody! And yes, when someone says "Cute dress. Where'd you get it?" and you get to respond "I made it"... it's pretty awesome. : )

  7. Congrats! You were the reader's choice for last week at Sew Woodsy's link party. Your link had 29 clicks! Your dress will be featured tomorrow.

    btw... love the updated summer header.

  8. It's super cute!
    You did a great job!!

  9. I like the rosettes, nice personal touch!

  10. This is fabulous.. I got a sewing machine for my birthday, and I'm so excited to try this! I'm a new follower!

  11. Perfect for summer. Perfect pattern

  12. So how much to get about 6 or 7 of these from you in different colors... ;)

    ...no but seriously.My email address is dani.kay332@gmail.com

  13. Wow! This shows that if you really want to do something, you can! I've been sewing for years and not sure i would have attempted this as a first project! Good for you! I looks great!