The ultimate guide to sewing a killer DIY dress | the pattern

The ultimate guide to sewing the perfect DIY dress. A totally easy tutorial showing you how to make your own DIY dress pattern using just 3 measurements | Randomly Happy

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.

Want to learn more about making your own delicious DIY dress? 
Check out the whole of the series:

Choosing the right fabric
 The perfect DIY dress pattern (with only 3 measurements)
DIY dress sewing success
Getting the perfect finish 
The easiest elastic waist ever
Finishing the sleeves (like a pro)
3 steps to a brilliant hem

DIY dress pattern with only 3 measurementsΒ 

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The ultimate guide to sewing the perfect DIY dress. A totally easy tutorial showing you how to make your own DIY dress pattern using just 3 measurements | Randomly Happy

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. Reply
    Annie

    I made a dress v.similar to this not two weeks ago – perfect for something easy to wear in this heat. Great minds, ay? πŸ™‚

  2. Reply
    Niki

    Ooh, sewing without an official pattern is right up my alley. I may have to join you on this project. πŸ™‚

    Niki
    nikis-notebook.blogspot.com

  3. Reply
    thestitchinator

    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. Reply
      randomly_happy

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

  4. Reply
    Anonymous

    how do u do the neck???

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      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. Reply
    She's so Vogue

    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. Reply
      randomly_happy

      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. Reply
    Dio

    How do you meauser the waist?

  7. Reply
    Dio

    Ok sry i got it πŸ™‚

  8. Reply
    Malin

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

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      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!

  9. Reply
    Pris Perry

    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?

  10. Reply
    CGarcia

    My new favorite tutorial:) Thanks so much for this. I've made two dresses already and love them!

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      Thanks so much! I would love to see your finished projects! Are you on Instagram? Share the goodness!

  11. Reply
    Anonymous

    Hi good evening, pls i need help over some issues with pattern drafting. Pls if i want to draft a gown without the waistline cut in the middle i.e a gown without any joining at the waistline,.how will i get hipline position on the pattern will i measure from the shoulder to the hip to get it or what

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      You would have to take a lot of careful measurements – shoulder to waist, waist to hip, hip to hem, shoulder to shoulder, waist circumference (divided by 2), hips circumference (divided by 2). You will also need to use a zipper or fastenings of some sort.

  12. Reply
    Anonymous

    I don't know how to sew the bottom of the skirt to make that curve… :/

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      Ah, yes. To get the curved bottom edge you need to cut your fabric on a curve. Then hem the curved hem as you would a straight hem, being sure to cut notches as you go to help the hem lie flat. Does that help? Let me know if not…

  13. Reply
    caitandkaboodle

    I don't know where I went wrong, but the pattern came out CRAZY small. Couldn't get it over my hips at all– I followed your measuring to a "T", but maybe I'm missing something. πŸ™

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      Hmmm. That's a tough one. The elastic waist should allow you to pull the dress over your hips no problem. Is the elastic too tight? Or maybe you didn't add seam allowance?

      Let me know if these sound crazy and I'll have another think.

      Do stick with it, it's a great dress!

      xx

    2. Reply
      caitandkaboodle

      I didn't even make it to the elastic stage. Based on the three measurements and tapering at the waist, the dress was too small even before I put it all together. πŸ™

    3. Reply
      caitandkaboodle

      I should add– I did take my own measurements but I'm wondering if something went wrong when I divided everything. Math!

    4. Reply
      randomly_happy

      I think it must be your dividing. Could that be possible? I don't think I've heard of anyone else having problems with the size.

    5. Reply
      lsaspacey

      This pattern as drafted can only work if your shoulder to shoulder measurement is also larger than both your waist and hip measurements. It would be best to use your largest measure to make this dress.

  14. Reply
    Christina White

    thanks for posting this. I love simple patterns like this. I'm not a huge fan of elastic waists, and I want to leave the elastic out and just use a belt instead. Is there anything you would recommend I do or just leave the pattern as is without the elastic?

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      I'd just leave the elastic out. Sounds like a great idea!

  15. Reply
    The ultimate guide to sewing a killer DIY dress | choosing fabric - Randomly Happy

    […] making your own delicious DIY dress? Check out the whole of the series: Choosing the right fabric The perfect DIY dress pattern (with only 3 measurements) DIY dress sewing success Getting the perfect finish The easiest elastic waist ever Finishing the […]

  16. Reply
    The ultimate guide to sewing a killer DIY dress | finishing - Randomly Happy

    […] making your own delicious DIY dress? Check out the whole of the series: Choosing the right fabric The perfect DIY dress pattern (with only 3 measurements) DIY dress sewing success Getting the perfect finish The easiest elastic waist ever Finishing the […]

  17. Reply
    The ultimate guide to sewing a killer DIY dress | finishing sleeves - Randomly Happy

    […] making your own delicious DIY dress? Check out the whole of the series: Choosing the right fabric The perfect DIY dress pattern (with only 3 measurements) DIY dress sewing success Getting the perfect finish The easiest elastic waist ever Finishing the […]

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