When the going gets tough, the tough make linen off-the-shoulder dresses.
Or something like that.
When the idea for this dress popped into my head I knew I wanted to try making my own pattern. I mean it’s a pretty basic design. But also, I’m well up for some distractions in my life at the moment. We’re buying a house and we’re still waiting to move in 6 months after our offer was accepted. Ugh. So getting my head into some numbers and shapes thinking is doing me good.
Now let’s just put aside the fact that it’s pretty unlikely I’ll get much wear out of something so blatantly summery in the UK.
The truth is, this is the only dress I want to be wearing this summer.
I mean, what’s not to love: sweet off the shoulder (ots) detail. Loose but flattering shape (you can stay cool + eat loads but look totally presentable). Linen.
I’ve worn this a few times and it’s surprisingly easy to wear. I was a tad worried that the shoulders might slip down (awkward) or I might be restricted when moving around (annoying). But after a few afternoons of wearing this AND running around after a sprightly bambino, I can pretty much safely say this dress ain’t goin’ nowhere.
So this dress is comfortable, flattering, and easy to wear? Sign me up, right?
For full deets on the how to – check out the DIY pattern and tutorial below. I know it’s the last month of summer and all, but really you definitely should try and squeeze in some time to whip up this beauty. You could even make it into a top by dropping some of the length. I know. I just blew your mind there.
I leaned heavily on this cracking post by the By Hand London girls. It made the process of creating a DIY ots dress really straight forward. The only difference – I chose to drop the ruffles and go for something a bit simpler.
And I know speed shouldn’t be a factor in me made clothes (I keep telling myself it’s about enjoying the process), but this was speedy. With a capital S. It took about 2 hours from cutting to wearing.
Oh, and the linen comes from Saeeds in Walthamstow. It’s a really lovely navy colour and had a soft slubby texture with a decent amount of drape. It was a little stiff when I first bought it, but I got it anyway hoping it would soften up with washing + wear. It’s still a bit scratchy, but it’s starting to soften.
See what you think – and let me know how you get on!
DIY off the shoulder dress pattern and tutorial
I basically followed this tutorial by By Hand London, adapting it to include sleeves and reducing the amount of flare at the hem. BTW if you’re looking for a day otsd with serious ruffle charm then you should abandon this and go over there immediately.
You will need a few measures to start:
- Measure around your high bust (under and around your armpits) and divide this number by 4. Add 1″(for your seam allowance) and note it down as your high bust
- Measure from your high bust to where you imagine your hem should be. Add anywhere from 3″ to 8″ depending on how deep you want your hem. Note this down as your height
- Measure around your hips and divide this number by 4. Add 1.5″ for ease and 1″ for seam allowance. Note this down as your flare. If you’d like more flare, the BHL tutorial can help you out.
- Measure around your arm at the bicep divide this number by 2. Add 3″ for ease and 1″ for seam allowance. Note this down as your arm width.
1. Starting near the top of your folded fabric draw a line 6″ perpendicular from the fold across the grainline. This is your neckline.
2. Measure 4″ down from this line. Now draw a line parallel to the first line (perpendicular to the fold) that is your high bust.
3. Connect your neckline and high bust with a curve using either freehand or a French curve.
4. This is where I kinda went off piste from the BHL tutorial to make a less flattered dress with sleeves.
Measure down from your bust line (parallel to the fold) as far as your height length (the one you noted in the beginning). At this point draw a line perpendicular to the fold (parallel to your bust and neckline) that is as long as your flare.
5. Connect the end of your bust line with the end of your flare line with a straight, diagonal line.
The How To
1. Cut out your dress pattern twice. To avoid measuring out twice you can use the first piece you cut as a template.
For the sleeves draw a line perpendicular to the fold that is as long as your arm width. From this line measure down (parallel to the fold) by 9″. Connect the end of this line with another line going to the fold (parallel to the line you drew in step 8). This should form a rectangle.
I wanted a nice T-shirt length sleeve so made the sleeve pattern piece 9″ long. Of course you could adjust this length to make it shorter or longer, depending on what you fancy.
2. Trim the far corners of your sleeve pieces using your dress pattern as a template (the curve you drew in step 3 above).
Also trim the bottom corners of the dress hem so they are slightly sloped.
3. Line up the curved edge of one sleeve to the curved edge of the front dress, right sides together. Pin. Sew in place. Repeat for the other sleeve.
Line up the free curved edge of one sleeve to the curved edge of the back dress, right sides together.Pin. Sew in place. Repeat for the other sleeve.
Finish the seam using a serger or zigzag stitch.
4. Fold the sleeves in half so that the right sides of the back and front dress are together. Sew the front and back sections together starting at the sleeve, curving around to the main body of the dress, and ending at the hem.
Repeat for the other side. Finish seams. Press the side seams to the back. Also finish the top edge of the dress using a serger or zigzag stitch.
5. Fold the top section of the dress over by the width of your elastic plus 1/2 cm. Press. Start sewing along the fold you just created. When you are about 4 cm from where you started stop. This will be the gap for you to insert the elastic (FYI, I left my gap at the back).
6. Measure out the elastic for your shoulders by wrapping elastic around your shoulders until it feels tight but comfortable. Add an extra 1 cm to this length.
Insert your elastic into the casing you made in step 4. Once the elastic is inserted, move the dress out of the way and sew the two ends of the elastic together securely.
Close the opening by sewing along the fold you created in step 3.
7. Hem the dress and sleeves using whatever finishing technique you prefer. I used a single hem for the sleeves, folding the sleeve edges over by 1 cm and sewing them into place.
I folded the hem over by 1 cm and again by 11 cm to create a nice deep hem.