The other day I needed to make an Easy Party Dress for Summer in a hurry. A long-forgotten invitation at the bottom of my daughter’s school backpack and just a few hours of warning led me to realize that she had nothing appropriate to wear. I’m sure all those that have kids, especially teenagers, can relate to what was happening. Suddenly, overnight it seems that my daughter went from a little kid to a female taller than I am, so I couldn’t even lend her something of mine to wear.
Panic-stricken and looking in my fabric stash, I spotted a print that looked fancy although if I recall, the price I had paid did not reflect that –I think I payed only something like $2 dollars a yard. I got some elastic and some lace and sat at my sewing table to plot. When I encounter this circumstances, (sadly this is not the first time as I am always procrastinating) I find the best thing is to drape the fabric on the mannequin and let the fabric speak to me. I know I didn’t have have much time, but still the dress needs to be elegant, perfect for the warm climate where we live and most of all, it needed to be easy to make.
So, if ever wanted to sew a dress in the morning and wear it that very night or, if like me, you need a last minute project to get your daughter something to wear, or if you just want to get your wardrobe into warm weather mood or need a gift for your grand daughter’s birthday, this project is for you. This tutorial will show you how to make a very easy party dress and the best part is you won’t have to spend more than $40 dollars making it. Gather your supplies from the list below and meet me at the table.
This project is for adventurous beginners and intermediate sewers. Knowledge of box pleat, shirring, zipper and bias tape skills are needed. I have done a detailed video tutorial to guide you the whole way through the process.
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- 2 yards of any woven fabric with good body, 100% cotton, cotton gingham, cotton eyelet.
- 1/2 yard of fabric lining (optional). I have used cotton and the print is so dark it does not need lining.
- eyelets. These eyelet pliers would be great for this project.
- 1/2″ satin bias tape 2.5 to 3 yards.
- fusible interfacing 1/2 yard to 1 yard depending on the size you are making
- thread to match your bias tape
- 1 yard of elastic 1/4″ wide for the skirt
- 3 1/2″ wide lace (optional) or you can always add to the length of the skirt
- 1 1/2 yards of ribbon matching your bias tape and lace
- 2″ wide elastic (black or white) (if you are not using a zipper for the skirt)
- here are a couple of good fabric options: brocade or cotton lawn
- downloadable pattern
This a very versatile outfit that can be worn with skirt and top together or separately. The top would look great under a shrug or a cardigan and the skirt will look great with a tank top. I have made this outfit for a sunset garden party. It is warm where I live and my daughter required something fun and elegant to wear. However, done in a soft pretty print and worn with a cardigan on top is the perfect outfit for a summer wedding.
Step one: putting the pieces together
After you have downloaded the FREE easy summer party dress pattern, collect all your supplies and lay pieces A and D (see above picture) on the fabric and cut twice on fold. (We are using the same fabric as lining). Then cut four pieces of B and C.
Cut the fusible interfacing the same way and apply the interfacing to all the pieces. Pin and sew B and C to create the inner side or lining. Follow the diagram for easy reminder of how to sew the top. Please remember that the front piece (A) is cut on fold twice, on and here is how it looks:
Please remember that the front piece (A) is cut on fold twice, on and here is how it looks:
Repeat the process with the lining. Because we are using the same fabric as lining basically you are making the same top twice. Trim the seam allowance, stay stitch the inside if your fabric lacks body. Mine does not since it’s a stiff cotton and it has a double layer and fusible interfacing. The inside and the outside of the top will look exactly the same way.
Step Three: Shirring without using elastic thread
I will be using a way of shirring without elastic thread. Please follow our tutorial linked above for more information. I prefer this technique when the garment requires more stability and body as in the case of this crop top and because we are using fusible interfacing in both pieces of the fabric. We will be using elastic to make it easy to sew and gather.
Step Four: Adding the back
Once you have gathered the back piece (D). Sew the back and sides together, trim the side seam with your serger or simply zigzag the edges and stay stitch it down. Here is the inside view.
And the outer view.
Step Five: Attaching the eyelets and bias tape
Using the pattern mark the placement of the eyelets and with an embroidery scissors or your seam ripper make a tiny hole to place the eyelet. Open a whole and insert the front part of the eyelet.
I have used 10 eyelets on each side. Here is the sequence on how to use the little tool that comes in the packet of the eyelets.
Take your bias tape and pin it starting on the inside of the top leaving at least 1/2″ of tape , continue pinning all around the on the right side of the fabric around the bottom of the crop top making sure, sew the tape on the first fold.
Sew all around taking care you are making a very straight stitch, turn the bias tape and pin again, stitch on the space between the fabric and the bias tape, this way you will make sure you caught the tape on the inside.
To finish the top, take the remaining bias tape and fold it in half and sew very close to the edge, creating an elegant cord to lace through the eyelets.
Step Five: Making the skirt
Decide how long you want the skirt, in my case and because I am making it for my teen daughter and I do not have much fabric, I made it 19 1/4″ long and 55″ wide. Decide how many pleats you want. Divided the cloth in 5 or 7, this depends on how wide your fabric is and taking in consideration that each box pleat takes 4″ of fabric to make.The one in the center will represent your front of the skirt. The sides will be where you will sew the zipper. On each segment you will make a box pleat. To make each box pleat add 4″ to the amount of fabric required.
Sew a zipper to the skirt in any way you prefer. For an invisible zipper, please review the video below.
Cut a piece of fabric the size of waist plus 2 inches by 3 1/ 4″. Fold it in half and iron it.
Fold the sides 1/4″ iron and another 1/4.Sew a stitch line to 5/8″ on both side and iron. You will have a strip of fabric as a waistband that is 1″ wide. This step although tedious will save you a lot of time and help you be accurate when sewing the waistband. You will sew this waistband the same way you sew bias tape. On the outside or right side of the fabric pin the waistband starting on top of the zipper and sew. Turn the waistband in and sew on the outside, the fold you made previously with the iron will help guide you to catch the waistband on the inside just as you would when sewing a bias tape. Pass a ribbon through the waistband and tie. Yes, you read right, no buttons, no hooks! Easy!
Step Six: Finishing your easy party dress
Hem the skirt by folding the edge 1/4″ iron, fold again and iron one more time. Pin the lace and sew both hem and lace at the same time, you can use a twin needle if you want.
The flexibility with this skirt is that you can make it above the knee, below the knee of mid calf, but I wouldn’t go any longer than that. The techniques you have learned on how to attach the waistband and the making of the top without any support were used before the invention of the corset by Catherine de Medici in the 1500s. To many this may seem a lazy way of doing things, but what would you do if only had 4 hours to come up with something?
Have a go, make your own and don’t forget to post your pictures for all of us to enjoy your creation! I can’t wait so see what you come up with!!!