First I would like to say, one of these days my projects will go as planned from start to finish. In the meantime, this is my high low dress (this was supposed to be a whole different dress, but I’ll get back to it later).
Here’s what you’ll need:
knit fabric (I used 3/4 yard of the cream and about 1 1/3 yard of the turquoise)
trim or cording for your straps (I used about 1 yard)
The first thing you want to do is get some measurements. For the top, measure around where your top is to fall, then multiply it by 1.5. That is how wide your fabric needs to be. Then measure from where the top of the top of your dress will be to your waist. Add about 4-5 inches. This will give you the fabric you need to create the ruffle at the bottom of your top plus a little wiggle room. Once you get to a certain point you may want more or less ruffle at the bottom. Don’t worry about seam allowances. You’re using knit fabric with elastic. It will all stretch into place. I’ll get to the bottom of the dress a little later.
TIP: Cut your fabric this way so you don’t waste as much!
Once you have your fabric cut, fold it in half again so it’s easier handle. Line up your ruler and cut. Set this aside.
TIP: Pin your selvages together to help keep things smooth and straight!
For your skirt, measure from your waist to where you want the back of the skirt to fall. Include about an inch for your hem. Use the same double fold technique to keep things manageable. I also trimmed the uneven edges at the top so everything was nice and straight. My skirt is 36 inches. I also used the full width of the fabric. You can cut it down to 1.5 times your waist measurement. When you sew the two pieces together it all stretches anyway.
You can skip the next few steps to have a long skirt, otherwise open up your skirt leaving the selvages together. Measure from your waist up to where you want the high of your skirt to fall. Make sure you leave enough for your hem. Use a pin to mark the place. Next, use your tape measure or a piece of string to mark the curve of your skirt. Cut along the curve. NOTE: You could also do your curve the other way around and have your seam across the front of the skirt instead of the back. TIP: This leaves room for trim embellishments.
With your fabric still folded in half, use a pin to mark the center. This will help with keeping things lined up as knit fabric can get tricky to work with at times. Then with right sides together, pin the corners and center together. If you need to you can create more anchor points across the edge of the fabric. If you opted NOT to cut the dress to the same width as your top you will need to stretch the fabric as you go along. Sew these pieces together. Press your seam open being careful not to melt your fabric depending on which type of fabric you’re using.
When you are finished, you should have something like this (unless you’re doing a regular dress, then there should be no curve.
Fold your fabric in half and mark the center at the seam with a pin. Then mark again between the center pin and the edge of the fabric. Do this on each side. You can use your seams and pin your selvages together to keep things even.
Next, wrap your elastic around your waist. Cut your elastic 1-2 inches shorter than your waist. Fold your elastic in half. Use a marker to mark the center. Fold each end of the elastic to the center. Mark again on the fold. The more anchor points you have the easier it will be to mange when sewing. You should have something like this.
Pin the ends of the elastic to the ends of your fabric along the seam. Match up your anchor points. Sew along the center of the elastic stretching your fabric between anchor points. Don’t worry if it doesn’t fall exactly on the center of your seam (the top will fall over it), just don’t go past the fabric flaps of your seam. Confused? Watch this video for some help.
You should have something like what is seen on the top picture. Match your seams together and sew along the edges. At this point you can try your dress on and make any changes to the waist as you see fit. Remember the ruffle at the bottom will cover the ugly.
With your dress still on, fold the top of your dress over about an inch. The raw edge should be on the inside. Play around with where it will fall, then place a few pins to hold things in place. Take off your dress and place pins all the way around. Then baste stitch around. You should leave enough of an edge for your elastic plus about 1.5 inches. I used a different color thread so you could see.
With the same idea as before, pin your elastic around the top of your dress. The more anchor points the easier it is for you to sew. Your elastic should be about 1/8 inch from the top edge. Make sure when you sew your elastic you’re sewing down the center.
Use your seam ripper to tear away your baste stitch. Cut away the excess fabric so that the raw edge doesn’t show from beneath the elastic. You could stop here if you want, but for those of us who like straps, we’ll keep going.
TIP: My straps unravel when you cut them. Simply put some tape over where you plan to cut, then peel the tape away when you finish working with it.
With your dress and favorite bra on, measure what shows of your strap then mark where your straps fall on the back and front. It would help if you had a second person doing this part with you. Cut your straps plus an extra inch for a half inch seam allowance. I didn’t have an extra person so I couldn’t photograph all of this part. Sew your straps on, hem your skirt and you’re done!
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial! Please don’t hesitate to contact me. All of my social links are below as well as on my contact me page. I’d love to see pictures of the dress you made as well as how you styled it.
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