Sew Your Own | diy dress with only 3 measurements


How to make a DIY dress pattern with only 3 measurements
You might think that making a dress pattern is all sorts of complicated tomfoolery. But it's not. Not for this dress anyway.

This dress pattern is all about three measurements and a wee bit of elementary school maths. Simples.

Are you in? Find all the tutorials here:

Week 1 / ultimate guide to picking the best fabric
Week 2 / DIY dress with only 3 measurements
Week 3 / make your own chic DIY dress
Week 4 / beginner's guide to fantastic facings
Week 5 / the easiest way to add elastic to a waist
Week 6 / using simple facings to finish sleeves
Week 7 / 3 steps to a perfect hem

DIY dress pattern with only 3 measurements 

How to make a DIY dress pattern with only 3 measurements

1. Take three measurements.
  • shoulder to shoulder
  • shoulder to waist (around about your belly button territory)
  • waist to knee (or where ever you'd like the dress to fall)
You might ask someone to help if you need a random tape measure end to be held down.

2. Take those measurements and divide each one by 2 (seems odd to be dividing by two, right? We're just doing this to create a smaller pattern piece).

Now add 3 cm to the first two numbers (shoulder-shoulder and shoulder-waist) and add 6 cm to your waist-knee measure (for seam and hem allowance). These are the numbers you'll need to make your very own dress pattern.

3. Now for the pattern. Sketch out the shapes in the picture onto a large sheet of paper (wrapping paper/taped together newspaper will do nicely). Use the numbers you just calculated.

4. Taper the top piece so that it comes in from the shoulder by about 3 - 4 cm. Taper the skirt piece out from the waist by the same amount.

This will help cut out some of the fabric bulk around the waist - because friends don't let friends have bulky waists.

5. Raise the far corner of the skirt (the one facing outwards) and create a curve between that point and the bottom of the skirt. This will create a nice curved edge and will help the skirt fall better.


  1. I made a dress v.similar to this not two weeks ago - perfect for something easy to wear in this heat. Great minds, ay? :)

  2. Ooh, sewing without an official pattern is right up my alley. I may have to join you on this project. :)


  3. I totally love this dress! So simple to create the pattern, thank you. What do you use to create your graphics? They look great!

    1. Aw cheers! I use photoshop cs6 on a yearly subscription (works out much cheaper than buying the software!) x

  4. how do u do the neck???

    1. Great question. Best (and easiest) idea is to find a top or dress with a neckline you like and copy that onto your pattern. You're only making half a pattern piece so fold that top/dress in half and trace onto your pattern.

      If you can't find a neckline you like just sketch out a flat oval shape for a slightly rounded neckline.

      Hope that helps!

  5. just wondering how you did the sleeves? because in the part where it says 'draw this' there are no sleeves but your dress you made has sleeves? thanks!

    1. Ah, it's magic. Cut the pattern as shown and the shoulders naturally drape into sleeves (to be fair, they're not really technically sleeves, but hey, they work for me!)

  6. How do you meauser the waist?

  7. My hip mesurement is bigger than the shoulder to shoulder mesurement. Wont it be too tight over the hip?

    1. You'll be using elastic, so I would hope it would be OK, but it may be too tight.

      I would use the largest measure as your length measure. So for you that would be your hips. Replace the shoulder measure with your hip measure.

      It may be a bit too wide on the shoulders, but you can always take that in a bit.

      Would love to see how you get on. Be sure to share!

  8. I lost a pattern I made from newspaper. I remember it was a fitted shift dress, raglan sleeves and straight across neckline that folded under for facing. Measured bust, hips and length. Has anyone got the details?


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