How to Sew an Evening Dress
I will show you how you can sew an evening or a Sunday dress. To make it you will need a meter of a wide fabric, it should be 1.5 m in width. Choose any piece of fabric that you like. Let’s begin with measuring.
The first one is chest. Measure it obligatory in brassiere. Take the measurements according to the most prominent points of the chest. It’s necessary to write down all the parameters, say chest is 98. Then measure the waist, for example I have 78 sm. Before measuring the waist, bind yourself up with a cord, but not to the limit, you should have freedom of movement. You should have your natural waist measures. I’ll use another cord. So, the waist is 78 sm. We will measure the hips according to the most prominent points of the backside, probably lifting the tape to the belly. I’ve got 100 sm. Then we measure the bodice length. The bodice is beginning from this place – 4 sm will be used for a trimming turnup, plus the bodice length of 21 sm and 30 sm up to the waist, write it down. The bodice length with the turnup is 21 sm, 30 sm up to the waist and the length of the whole dress is at your option, e.g. I will have 80 sm. Write everything down. The length of the whole seaming is 80 sm. Now we are going to make an outline frame.
I have pasted 2 pieces of a newspaper together as an outline frame – cheap and nasty. First of all we make a bodice according to our measurings. The chest, the waist and the thigh is divided by 4. We will begin with the chest, it’s 24.5 sm. The length of the bodice is 21 sm. Here is the grid for our bodice. Mark 4 sm to know the location of our turnup. Here will be a side seam, which is divided in halves. And we get…17 divided by 2 equals 8.5 sm. Put aside 2 sm up and down. Draw a line from these 8.5 sm. It should be about 10 sm. Mark it and we get a length of the breast gore. This triangle forms such a gore. We will have a fold of 1.5 sm, which is situated 11sm far from the middle, i.e. the face centre. Just mark it this way. Then we cut away the bodice and the gore. As you can see, when it is situated on the chest the side seam is not straight. These ragged edges should be immediately cut away. We will mark it and clip all the undue parts in order not to do it while fitting. This fold should be also cut away, so that we can see its location. The bodice is ready. The turnup will be situated here; it will be on the front for sure. That’s it. This is our bodice. The next thing is a skirt 100 sm long. We divide it by 4 and get 25. We lay 25 sm off along the whole length of the skirt, which is at your choice. For example I have…just a second, I’ll draw a full-length line. Now we calculate the results: the length of the bodice and waist… Ok, this is the necessary width under the chest, i.e. the bodice width under chest. We need to join, i.e. combine this thing with a side seam. But I wouldn’t cut it away at once. I would save this stock. During the fitting you will see what should be downsized and what should be saved without changes. Ok. Now we measure it. So, I’ve got my 80 sm right here. Draw a straight line in the following way. We lift a side seam for 2 sm right here as we have to do it later anyway. We get this skirt as a result. It looks like a rectangle now. After fitting we will choose a necessary form. Cut this rectangle out to transfer it to the fabric. We don’t make any outsizes yet. We have these two details as a result. Now we are going to spread everything on the fabric.
The width of my fabric is 1.10 m. I guess yours is 1.50 m. It’s better to have a wide piece of fabric as the skirt will be looser. Now I’m going to show you a bodice layout. If you use silk, please, lay it this way to form a straight line here, because its surface is usually irregular. I’ve got a convenient tablecloth for that. I have located the edges abreast and outlined the front part in chalk. We don’t make any outsizes yet. But we are going to cut it out with outsize of 1 sm along the side seam. We don’t cut away a gore. Cut the bottom in the following way. Transfer it so that the upper part (the bodice) would lie flat. You will probably have to apply pressure from above. This is an upper part. We can also put a mark up here, signifying a place of the trimming turnup, which is 4 sm long. Actually it will be just 3 sm long, but we will need 1 sm for turnup – yes, a turnup of the turnup. That’s it. We are going to cut it away. Then we proceed to the back. Cut a back out in the following manner: measure a side seam without a gore, say I have 16 sm plus 1 sm for seam allowance. 17 sm in all. 16 plus 1 sm for seam allowance equals 17. We have this back bodice as a result. We also make a seam allowance of 1 sm along the side seam. Ok, now we can cut it out. We make a turnup right now in order to transfer it a little bit later. Cut the back bodice according to these edges and the bodice, including seam margins, according to those edges. Make splittings on the gore…as well as 2 splittings here. Ok, now we can cut it.
So, this is our skirt. We are going to cut it out in the following manner: draw dotted lines full-length. We need to expand it to the limit in this place. If the width of your piece of cloth is 1.50, it will be wider downwards. As I’ve got just 1.10, the skirt will be narrower. It does not matter whether you work with a front or a back body. My fabric is gathered at brims, that’s why I’m smoothing the surface. Draw a line up to the very bottom. My bottom is little pitched at the edges. So, the side seam is expanding to the limit. In this way. Cut out the skirt according to the chalk line. These are the side seams.
We have cut our parts away, that is front and back bodies of the skirt, front and back parts of the bodice. On top of that we need to cut away the shoulder straps with the length of 40 sm and the width of 7 sm. We also need to transfer this gore at a later stage. I’ve made this turnup in advance. We need to transfer this breast gore beginning with the side seam to the opposite side. We do it in the following way: pin together the first gore edge, smoothing the surface from above, the second one and a lower part of the bodice. In this way. Smooth it right here. It’s difficult to work with silk but it’s worth it. Mark these places of the gore with chalk in the following way. Transfer our gore. This is the wrong side. You need to tack gores, trimming turnup, which is situated in the upper part of the front face, together for fitting. The same trimming turnup will be situated on the back. Then we tack the bodice and the skirt together and baste a side seam. Now I am showing you how to tack a gore: piece them together so that the edges coincide with each other. You can put a pin here. Ok, we have tacked a gore. Fasten it off. Do the same with the second gore. Ok, we have tacked the gore.
Now we can baste a side seam. Push the gore downwards to prevent balking of the trimming turnup. So push it downwards. The seam will be about 1.5 sm far from the edge, though it seems to me that we made a margin of 1 sm. But I can see that it’s here, because we marked it with a chalk line. Fix the gore so that it’s directed downwards. As you can see I tack the gore, in beveling manner in order not to stretch it out. Continue tacking up to the very top. Ok, we have finished. You can see a chalk line here; we fold the fabric according to this line and fasten it with pins. Then make a turnup of 5 mm and tack it this way. It won’t be essential for fitting but I just wanted to show you how you can make it. Tack it till the end. Then we take the skirt and fold it front to front according to the side seam. Tack the front part full-length according to the side seam, leaving 1.5 sm from the edge. Ok, we have tacked the side seams. Put the pins right here. All of this is situated on the front part. We have basted the side seam and I can see that my skirt is wider under the chest, that’s why I’ll do the following: I am going to make a wide seam here simply to fit the skirt in the bodice width and bring it to naught downwards. But as you know my width is 1.1 m (as you see the skirt will occupy the whole width of the fabric in the bottom) and yours is 1.60. So you can make a wider bottom if you want the dress of a certain width. When the side seams are ready we can tack the bodice and the skirt together.
We try our dress for size. We fit it in brassiere without shoulder straps, though this dress should be wore without brassiere. We need it to measure the shoulder straps length, e.g. I have 36 sm. Keep it in mind and go on. It’s a little widish for me, that’s why I put 2 pins here, reducing the width for 2 sm. I take it off, leaving the pins in the places of shoulder straps to know their position. The same with the back.
We mark a pinned side seam from the wrong side by drawing a line right on the pin. It’s about 2 sm far from the old tacking. Now we need to reduce the side seam for 2 sm. We do it in the following manner: rip the connection between the bodice and the skirt in the region of the side seam. Put aside 2 sm far from the old seam. 2 sm right here; so we just put aside 2 sm far from the old seam. Draw a line. Do the same with the side seam and tack it according to these lines. Put 2 sm aside right here and bring it to the naught downwards. This should be tacked. Then we just tack this piece and try it on once again.
So we have tacked the dress anew by reducing it for 2 sm in these places. I can feel that the dress is too tight for me, that’s why I’m going to remove a new tacking, put an old one and enclose these 2 sm in the pleat on the chest. I will do the same right here. These 2 sm, released in the skirt, will be situated in the gore. It’s because I have a little belly and I need to free it. We will have the gores of 2 sm in these places. Therefore it won’t be so tight in hips. I have just folded the shoulder straps and pinned them to the right place. The front and back parts are ok. So the gores will be situated in these places.
Take the skirt. As you remember we marked a gore from the outside. We transfer it by splitting: find it from the front part and make a splitting. Done. Fold it four times and make a splitting on all the four levels, thus marking the location of the gore. Then find the front and back centre of the skirt and draw a gore of 17 sm (16 sm cut and dried) over the centre. Put aside 1 sm on each side. We have this gore triangle bodice as a result. Now it can be pinned, tacked and stitched. We also need to mark with chalk the side seam of the bodice. Make a thick line as we will remove the tacking later. Let’s mark it from the other side because we don’t know from which side we are going to stitch it. Now we are going to stitch the gores. Mark the location of the shoulder strap on the back part of the bodice in the following way. The same with the front part. You had better mark it with a pin in this way. We have created a second pleat under the chest; we have 2 gores right here. Take the gore and make a bartack. Do the same with the rest 4 gores. Now we loose the side seam. Stitch a gore in the same manner as a skirt. Put away the tacking.
Now we need to iron the gores out. You had better begin with the centre. Iron the first gore, then the second one. The same with the back part. The side seam needs complete unseaming; we will stitch it according to the chalk line. Iron the chest gore, pushing it downwards. Ok. Then make a small crease in the place of the shoulder strap and iron it out. This is the back part. Iron the location of the shoulder strap from the front part. Stitch the shoulder leaving 55 mm from the edge and turn it out. We have this tube as a result, now we just have to iron it. The edges should be serged. That’s it.
Now we need to serge the shoulder straps edges, lay aside 36 sm from edge to edge and stitch it to its place. Roll the bodice turnup out. Match the centers and stitch it in this way in four places. We still need to tack the bodice turnup, and we will get this as a result. Tack it once again…
After having tacked the bodice turnup stitch it, leaving 1 mm from the edge. Do the same with the front part of the bodice. Then we stitch the side seam of the bodice and the skirt according to the most suitable line which was defined after the fitting. It’s no big deal if any of the parts come out. The fabric is quite unamenable. Now fasten the pleats under the chest on the front bodice part. Do the same with the second one. Now we are going to stitch the skirt and bodice side seams. Stitch this side seam of the skirt. Leave 6 sm of the side seam unstitched. Why do we need this? After we have ironed it to the one side and serged it, stitch the left 6 sm in the following way. To make our turnup even full-length you need to draw a line 0.5-0.7 sm far from the edge in the following manner. This is our future turnup. The turnup length equals the circle of the bodice top. Then we tack our turnup along the whole circular length. Serge the side stitch, ironing it to the back. You need to attach the bodice to the upper part of the fabric, e.g. sew it with a needle in the way it lays itself out.
I have tacked the bottom as I have marked it and ticked a fold above the bottom turnup in the following way: make splitting in the distance of 5 and 2.5 sm on the chalk line full-length. So you make splittings in the distance of 5 and 2.5 sm along the whole circular length and tack it. I have pinned it. Then start stitching the turnup from the side stitch. Stretch it under the sewing machine. We have a turnup and a fold here; now we just remove the tacking and iron it this way. We will mark a second fold here after ironing.
We are ironing the bottom turnup by folding it downwards and ironing it circle-wise. Mark the location of the second fold: put aside 5 and 2.5 sm from the upper fold stitch. 5 and 2.5 sm circle-wise. Then we tack it in the following manner. You can pin or tack it. Now stitch it. That’s it… Besides I would like to show you how to iron the bodice side stitch to the back part. Press it in this way; you had better do it on the ironing board. Tuck a serged piece right there. You have to tack it to prevent its dangling. I will pin it now and tack it later.
The bodice and the skirt are pieced together in the following manner: find the bodice centre and make a splitting. Do the same with the skirt. Then match the centers of the front part and the centers of the back part. Stitch it beginning with the center; you may even do it along the side seam. Don’t forget to tack it or fasten with pin. That’s it. The seam is about 1 or 0.7 sm far from the edge. Now run the edges using a serging machine, zigzag stitch or do it manually.