So Sew Easy – Easy Summer Dress

So Sew Easy – Easy Summer Dress
You asked – you got it. The next free pattern from So Sew Easy is an easy dress pattern for a great
summer dress with option to shorten for a top. Made in just a few simple steps, I’ll hold your hand all
the way with this one and show you some tips and tricks along to way to help you sew beautifully
with knit fabrics.
Styling options – wear it strapless (it includes an elastic back so won’t fall), or with a center halter strap
or two straps from the bust or sides. You can also cut this off at hip length and wear it as a top
too. It’s up to you.
Constructing your PDF pattern.
(Note – these instructions are written assuming you are fairly new to sewing and give plenty of detail. If
you have used digital patterns before, or have sewn similar garments, do skip on through and sorry its so
long! If you are new to sewing, take your time, and do leave a comment if you have any questions.)
First time you’ve used a digital pattern? Don’t worry, I’ll show you what to do. Load your printer with
regular printer paper, open the PDF file and print. Do not select any of the fancy printing options such
as center, scale, fit to page etc. You just want to print it out straight as it is.
If you are worried about printing out at the right size, then just print page 1 first, because this
one includes a test box to measure. The box is drawn at 5cm square, so print this one page, measure
the box and if it’s 5cm you are good to go. If not, then you might need to check your print settings to
see what settings might need to be changed before printing again.
Once you have all 16 pieces, keep them in order. Then set them out from left to right, 4 pieces across
in a row and then another 4 underneath,and another 4, and the last 4 on the bottom row. This is how
the pieces will be assembled. Each piece comes with a border which overlaps the next piece of paper,
so you should cut off or fold over the top and the right hand side on each piece lining up your cut or
fold with the guideline on the printout.
Each piece is numbered so start with 1-4 on the top 5-8 on row two and so on. Overlap your pieces,
matching up the pattern lines and stick in place with tape. It should look very much like this–>
Once you have your jigsaw completed you can read and note any instructions and directions, and
then refer to the sizing chart below and cut out your pattern pieces.
What Size Do I Need?
The dress is made from a stretchy knit fabric and is intended to be skim the body and be fairly
fitted. The size I made for myself I am calling the Medium. My measurements are high bust (around
the back and over the bust high under the arms) 35.5, Bust 36, Waist 31, Hips/Thigh widest point 39.
The amount of stretch in the fabric will alter the fit and feel of the dress so use this table as a guide
To make your own alterations to the pattern, increase or decrease at the center front and center back
from the size closest to you above.
For the mid-section – increase at the side seam. Always test the
fit using the paper pattern pieces, or an inexpensive test fabric before cutting your expensive fabric for
this dress. If in doubt or between sizes, make the larger size and adjust for fitting at the side seams
during construction.
Adjustments to length. If you want the dress longer, simply add some length to the center back
piece at the bottom, and add the same length to the front skirt piece. To shorten and wear as a
blouse, remove length from the bottom and chop off at hip length or where required.
Cutting your fabric
All main pieces for the dress are designed to be cut on the fold of the fabric. If you prefer, you can
print two copies of the pattern, stick the pieces together opposite each other, to double
the pattern pieces and cut on a single layer of fabric. This would be useful if you have a large design
and want to see how the design will lie on the finished dress.
To cut on the fold – fold your fabric along the grainline, just folding over enough
to accommodate the size of your pattern piece. Then place the edge of the back pattern piece on
the fold of the fabric and hold it in place there. You can use proper pattern weights, pins, or even
tins of tuna.
Take note of the stretch of the fabric and make sure your pattern pieces are lined up the right
way. The maximum stretch should go across and around your body not top to bottom.
Before you cut ANYTHING, make sure that you have enough fabric for all of the pattern pieces. So
fold in the other side of the fabric and place the other pieces on the fold too.
Once everything is laid out, cut out your pattern pieces.
If you need further directions for cutting out your fabric, follow the directions for the Summer Drape
Step By Step Construction
Equipment and materials:
Sewing machine and thread, sewing basics such as scissors
Clear Elastic 3/8th inch wide
Optional but useful
Wash Away Wonder Tape
Knit stay tape or Stitch Witchery
Stretch or ball point needle
Twin Stretch Needle
Your dress is made up of just 4 main pieces, and will be super-quick to sew. Follow through
these step by step instructions and enjoy!
Sewing your Easy Summer Dress
1. Identify the back of the dress (the longer piece) and add a strip of Wash Away Wonder Tape to the
top edge, just inside the raw edge on the wrong side.
2. Measure across the top edge and cut a length of Clear Elastic 1 inch LESS than the top
edge measurement. If you can’t get the clear elastic, then you can also use a regular elastic but it will
be bulkier.
3. Remove the backing tape from the sticky tape and stick your clear elastic in place along the top
edge, centering the elastic with about 1/2 inch clear at each end. If you don’t have the sticky tape,
then you can pin the elastic in place.
4. Take your dress to the sewing machine and with the wrong side facing up, turn the top seam over
using the elastic as a guide to get a straight line. Fit your Stretch or ball point needle. Sew
the elastic in place using a triple zigzag stitch if your machine has one (its like a wide zig-zag where
each part is made of three small stitches.) If you only have a regular zig zag stitch, use this on a wide
setting to sew through the elastic.
5. Here’s what it looks like from the outside. The stitches allow it to still stretch and the elastic will
hold it snugly against your body so the dress doesn’t fall ! Set aside the back for now.
6. Time to make the bust part of the dress. Take the rectangular piece and sew a line of long basting
stitches between the circles, 1/4 inch from the edge. Do not back-stitch at each end and leave the
thread ends long. Repeat on both sides.
7. Now fold the fabric at the off-center notch, with WRONG sides together. Put in a pin at the fold
and then match up the corners and pin these too. Now you need to gently pull the gathering threads
to gather up the fabric between the circles. Continue to gather until the gathered edge measures the
same as the flat edge.
8. Once both edges match in length (or close enough), match up the raw edges and pin
together. Repeat these steps for the opposite side.
9. Take the fabric to the machine, and with the gathers facing upwards and the raw edges matching,
sew in place along the previous line of basting stitches. Adjust the gathers as you sew. Repeat for the
other end.
10. Now match the two remaining raw edges on this piece. We need to keep these together. You
can either use your Wonder Tape to baste the two edges together, or match, pin and sew close to the
11. Now to make the small piece that gathers the center of the bodice. Find the
small rectangular piece of fabric you cut earlier. Fold wrong sides facing with the two shorter sides
together – see arrows.
12. Sew along the shorter side to make a tube of fabric. Use a narrow zig-zag stitch so this can
13. Turn inside out and center the seam line facing upwards. This will be in the inside of the
gathering piece.
14. Place your bodice piece on top with the raw edges even, and line up the center notch on the
bodice with the center seam line on the gathering piece. Pin in place.
15. Roughly pleat the bodice in the center and bring up the other end of the gathering piece,
matching the centers and raw edges until you have a bow shape. Remove pins and replace them
through all layers. Sew close to the edge through all layers. An overcasting stitch works best, or a
zigzag close to the edge.
16. Now match up the bodice piece with the waist piece. The gathered side of the bodice will be the
right side or outside. You can see that the top part will need to be eased into the mid-section.
17. Pin the two pieces right sides together, stretching the mid-section piece a little to match to the
width of the bodice piece. Line up the center front and the outside seams. It will look a little
awkward, like this.
18. Carefully sew the two together using a narrow hem. You can sew with the bodice piece upwards
to check as you sew that you are sewing the hem a little wider than your earlier basting stitches along
the bottom edge. This saves removing them later.
19. Now match up raw edges on the bottom of the mid-section with the top of the front skirt. Pin
and stitch in place, right sides together, using a narrow zig-zag stitch or an overcasting stitch and
foot. The front piece is now complete.
20. Pin the dress back to the dress front, right sides together along the side seams. Start to pin at the
bottom edge keeping fabric even. The front of the dress is slightly longer than the back to allow extra
room for the bust. Once you have pinned to approximately the waist area, match the top of the dress
back and front, and pin. Then stretch the fabric of the back piece slightly to match the front piece and
pin the remaining side seams together. Try on the dress for fit before sewing. Careful with the pins!
21. Sew the side seams using approx a half inch seam. Sew with the gathered bodice side up so that
you can make sure that your side seam is slightly larger than the existing basting stitches on the
gathered panel to make sure those stitches won’t show on the outside.
22. Now try on your dress and see if you need to make any adjustments in those side seams to get a
nice fit.
23. Finish the side seams by either pressing them open and flat, or trimming and finishing with an
overcasting stitch to neaten the edges. You can see my narrow overcast seams in this photo – this
gives a nice finish on the inside.
24. Now to create a smooth hemline. We don’t want to spoil all the hard work now with a wavy seam
as can often happen with knit fabrics, so I recommend using a knit stay tape along the bottom before
sewing. Or at least test your intended hemming method and stitch on some scrap fabric first. Iron
your stay tape just inside the edge of the fabric.
25. Turn your hem to the inside using the edge of the stay tape as a guide and pin in place. If you
have aTwin Stretch Needle, you can use this for a professional, neat and stretchy hem (remember to
sew it face up with the twin needle.) If using a single needle, hem with the wrong side up and
a single line of straight stitches.
26. Your (strapless) dress is now ready to wear! However you might want to add some support for
the bodice. Try some of these optional ideas:
thread some ribbon/lace/leather/cord through the gathering band at the center of the bodice and
tie behind the neck.
braid three x inch-wide pieces of fabric to make a central halter strap.
make two tubes of matching (or contrasting) fabric and stitch to the bodice ‘cups’ to create a
halter neck. Make them wide or narrow as you prefer. A good option for a larger bust.
or use a braided strap from the cups to behind the neck.
make two tubes of fabric and attach them as straps from the bust to the top of the dress at the
back. Place them carefully to cover your bra straps for even more support.
Thank you for downloading this Easy Summer Dress tutorial. I hope you enjoyed making the dress and
remember that I love to share your creations at So Sew Easy so drop me an email at
[email protected]
You might enjoy my other tutorials and free sewing patterns at So Sew Easy, including:
Ruffle Clutch Bag
Twist Front Top
Summer Drape Top
Custom Fit Skirt
Sew A Skirt beginner tutorial series
Double Layer Chiffon/Lace Blouse
30 Minutes Easy Skirt
Cheeky Panties
For the latest list, pop on over to the Tutorials Page