How To Make A Dress: Part 1 – Getting Started & Cutting Out Your Pieces

17 Aug

I recently went to a dress making course & I’m now making my second dress, I’ve decided to document it, so I won’t forget what to do! Hopefully you’ll find this resource useful if you’d like to make your first simple dress or need a reminder on what to do.


What you’ll need:

  1. Fabric (most fabric is 44″ / 114cm wide & for this width you’ll need 2m drop – if it’s a smaller width, you’ll need a longer piece).
  2. Pattern
  3. Tape Measure
  4. Sewing Machine
  5. Fabric Scissors
  6. Pins (the longer the better)
  7. Seem Unpickers (not essential, but very helpful!)
  8. Zip (22″ long)
  9. Thread (best to match the type with the fabric, e.g. cotton fabric use cotton thread)
  10. Sewing Needle

What to do:

  • Choose your pattern & check the measurements

Tape Measure How To Make A Dress

Measure yourself – you need your bust (around the widest point), your natural waist and your hips (or the widest point, this may be your bum or thighs). Make a note of these measurement, e.g. 36″, 32″ and 40″. For this pattern the ones that really matter are bust and waist.

The pattern I’ve chosen is a simple dress, with straps and an aline skirt. The pattern has 6 pieces. Front and back bodice, front and back facings and front and back skirt.

Now measure your pattern to check that it’s going to fit you. You need to be super precise with your measuring. Time for some maths!

Your measure across at the bust. Remember to subtract the seem allowance (5/8″ or 1.5cm). Does this equal your body measurement?

Next measure the pattern at the waist. Again, remember to subtract the seem allowance. Does this equal your body measurement?

If these measure are correct, time to move on to the next step. If they are under – they you need to make sure you increase your pattern. If they are over then you can always adjust your dress when sewing.

  • Choose your fabric

Fabric How To Make A Dress

I’ve gone for a vintage flowery blue and black patterned piece.

It’s quite narrow so to compensate I’ve got 3m length.

  • Pin your pattern to your fabric


  1. Fold your fabric in half (don’t iron the fold, just flatten it with your hand).
  2. Lay out your pattern pieces. Ensure you lay the pieces with the grain of the fabric (e.g. see above).
  3. The front pieces of the garment should be put along the fold (don’t cut along the fold).
  4. Lay the back pieces of the garment on the fabric.
  • Pin the pattern pieces to the fabric


Pin your pattern pieces on the fabric to ensure they don’t move when you’re cutting them out.

  • Cut out your dress!


Now cut out your dress (remember not to cut along the fold on the front pieces).

Leave your pattern pieces pinned to the fabric for now.

Part 2 coming up soon…


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