Free Little Black Dress Pattern

Party season is coming!  It’s time to think about what you’ll wear for the holiday season this year.  Want to wow them at the office party?  Then you’ll need something ‘on-trend’ and with lace, one-shoulder and asymmetrical dresses all being in fashion, I’ve combined to create a free little black dress pattern that I think is a winner.

 Little Black Dress pattern - free sewing pattern for the perfect party dress from So Sew Easy.

(Excuse photos for this one – stormy weather this week and my hair just won’t lie flat!)

Features:

  • Lace, net, mesh or chiffon overlay
  • Lined bodice, lined skirt optional
  • Darted bodice, and straight skirt with small pleats or darts
  • Invisible side zipper
  • Overlay can hang lower than the inner skirt if you like
  • Range of sizes
  • Super flattering – sexy but not revealing

Skill level:

Intermediate.  The instructions for this dress assume that you already have experience in sewing with non-stretch fabrics and making basic fitting adjustments necessary in any pattern to achieve a good personal fit. You should know how to sew an invisible zipper.

Experience in lining a dress is also useful but not essential.  The instructions provided for this project assume a certain level of knowledge and experience and don’t go into details on how to finish your seams, insert a zipper etc.

Little Black Dress pattern - free sewing pattern for the perfect party dress from So Sew Easy.

Where can you get the little black dress pattern ?

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Download the Little Black Dress pattern

As usual, to make downloading easy and reliable, the pattern is hosted in my design account with Craftsy. If you don’t already have an account, you will need to sign up to download, but don’t worry, it’s free, quick and easy. Add the pattern to your cart, and then checkout – no payment/address details etc needed.

Download multi-size pattern pieces from my design account at Craftsy...

 

Can I see some more pics before I decide?

Of course you can.  Here are some other views of the little black party dress.

Little Black Dress pattern - free sewing pattern for the perfect party dress from So Sew Easy.

Choosing your fabrics

For the inner fabric you will need a non-stretch fabric with some body to it.  I used a crepe backed satin, as it is slightly thicker and easier to sew than a regular satin might be.

The overlay may be in a sheer fabric such as lace, net, mesh or chiffon.  This can either have some give to it or be fixed depending on what you have available.  A decorative fabric with embroidery, sequins or lace would look lovely. See some examples at the bottom of the post.

I’m using a mesh with ribbon decoration and sequins.  My overlay comes with a ready made scalloped edge which I used for the hemline. For the lining fabrics, something lightweight such as a pongee, bemburg lining or a cotton voile.

Making up your pattern

Your pattern is conveniently split into 2 pieces to make it more manageable – the front and the back.  Each piece is labeled with a letter and number – B for back an F for front.  Numbers run top to bottom and left to right.  Cut off or turn under the page edges and match the borders with the adjoining pages.

If you need more information on how to put together your pattern, you can read more in the Summer Drape Top.

Each pattern piece has one bodice and one skirt piece, and front and back look similar.  Lay out pieces 1 to 6 in the top row, then 7 to 12 in the second row and lastly pages 13 and 14 complete the skirt at the bottom right. Your completed pattern should look something like this (excuse the state of my patio!):

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy.

What Size Do I Need?

The dress is made from a non-stretch fabric and therefore takes more fitting and includes more ease and fitting allowance than some of my earlier knit patterns.  Fitting ease is included in the pattern so you can adjust and take in for your own personal measurements. Please use this table as a guide only as although our body measurements may be similar, different body shapes may require fitting differently.

I highly recommend the Sew the Perfect Fit course if you want to learn more about how to pick the right pattern size, make a muslin and get the correct fit. Making a muslin is always recommended prior to cutting your good fabric.  If you are in between measurements, do measure the actual pattern pieces to determine what size would suit you best.

  Bust Waist Hips
Extra Small  30-31.5  23-24  32-33.5
Small  32-33  24.5-25.5  34-35.5
Medium  34-36  26-28  36-38

If you fall in between sizes, you can also cut between the lines, and you can ‘grade’ from one size to another by, for example, cutting a small in the waist curving out to a medium at the hip if you need to.   The pattern is fairly simple, so you should be able to upgrade to a larger size if you need to.  I added extra to the waist and hips for my dress. Always test the fit using the paper pattern pieces, or an inexpensive test fabric before cutting your expensive fabric for this dress.  

If in doubt test the larger size and adjust for fitting at the side seams during construction. Adjustments to length.  The dress is designed to fit an average height – I am 5’6″. If you are taller or prefer the skirt to be longer, simply add some length to the skirt piece at the bottom. If you are using a pre-finished fabric with the hemline already made, check the skirt length before cutting your fabric and attaching the skirt to the bodice.

Cutting your fabric

Start by using your pattern pieces to cut your inner fabric.  You will need a bodice front and back, and a skirt front and back.

You can then lay your inner fabric either on top or underneath your sheer overlay and if there is a pattern to your lace, you can line up your pattern as you want it prior to cutting using your lining fabric as a pattern.  I suggest leaving some excess around the overlay fabric as it can be delicate and shift during cutting or sewing.  Allowing a little extra in the seam allowances will help with this and can be trimmed off later.

If your overlay has a pre-finished edge, take this into account when you cut your fabric, allow for the inner layer to be hemmed and for the outer layer to hang lower if you want.  You can also finish them so they are both the same length.  The finished look and length is up to you.

You may also use the inner fabric pieces to cut your lining.  You can choose either a bodice lining or a full lining.  The lining pieces will be the mirror image of the inner fabric pieces and will finish with wrong sides together, so lay your fabric this way to cut.

Little Black Dress Sewing Instructions

Seam allowances – 5/8th of an inch throughout unless mentioned.

Abbreviations used: RST – right sides together.

Note on skirt darts – darts are shown on the skirt pattern should you wish to use them for a closer fit, or you may simply chose to pleat the fabric as I did in this example.

Our first step is to join the inner fabric with the overlay fabric and then we can treat them as one going forward.  Simply baste the two pieces of fabric together, with the right side of the inner fabric facing the wrong side of the over lay.  In the seam allowances, baste the two pieces together using large fairly loose stitches.

I have done mine in white so you can see them better, but you should probably use a matching thread in case your basting just peeps out anywhere later on.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Baste together the two bodice pieces on all sides.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Baste together the skirt pieces at the waist and on the side seams until you get near to the bottom.  If you overlay has a pre-finished hemline, you will need to keep this free from the inner fabric which is to be hemmed.  So do not baste the two together for the last few inches to allow for this later.  Make sure your hemlines are parallel.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Once the pieces are all basted together, we will treat them as one piece of fabric going forward. Stay-stitch neckline edges in the seam allowance to prevent stretching on the bias as we work.  (Read this tutorial on staystitching.)

Mark, pin and stitch all bodice darts, front and back.  Make sure your two fabrics are lying flat together as you sew the darts.  (Useful tutorials – How to mark darts accurately.  How to sew darts perfectly.)

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Press darts down or to the center. Join bodice at the shoulder, RST.  Press seam open.

little-black-dress-006 Join the shoulder seam of the lining fabric, RST.  Press seam open.

Pin lining to dress bodice, matching shoulder seam, RST. Pin along neckline and around armhole.

little-black-dress-008 Stitch lining in place, leaving 2 inches free and un-sewn at each end under the arm where the zipper will go. Trim and grade seam allowances and clip around curves.

little-black-dress-009 Turn the bodice the right side out by turning through the tunnel at the shoulder seam.  Magic!

Understitch as far as possible to keep the lining in place and then press well, paying attention to press along neckline and armhole making sure the lining fabric is turned well to the inside so it doesn’t show on the outside.

little-black-dress-012little-black-dress-014 Sew the side seam on the bodice and lining under the arm hole.  Match up under the arm and pin. Pin sides seams front and back and the lining.

Open out and sew in one seam from the waistline of the bodice through to the waistline of the lining.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Clip away excess fabric at the underarm point to reduce bulk.  Press seams open.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Take skirt front and back and hem the inner fabrics separately on each piece.  If your overlay fabric needs hemming, do this too.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Join the skirt front and back RST at the side seam that goes under the shoulder strap, leaving the other seam open for the zipper.  Neaten and finish your seams.

Trim and neaten seams on the lace overlay if this hangs below the inner fabric.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Match side seam on skirt with side seam on bodice RST, pin at this point.  Match opposite side seam where the zipper will go, matching bodice and skirt edge.  Skirt piece should be too wide for the bodice.

little-black-dress-024 Pin skirt to bodice at waist seam, starting at side seams and working in.  At the dart points on the bodice,  evenly place a small pleat on either side in the skirt fabric to make it lie evenly with the width of the bodice.

Repeat for skirt front and back.  Check that pleats are correctly placed from the outside.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Stitch skirt to bodice at waist. Grade seams to reduce bulk and press seam upwards towards bodice.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Pin invisible zipper to side seam.  Check zipper length and reduce if necessary.  Zipper will need to be long enough to allow the dress to pass over your widest point at the hips. Keep the lining fabric clear.

(Tutorial on how to reduce length of zippers and insert invisible zipper.)

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Try on dress and make any fitting adjustments necessary. Sew zipper to side seam, matching the waist seam and checking fabric layers are lying flat and not puckered.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Finish the side seam below the zipper and press the seam open.  Neaten and finish seams.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Return to the lining at the top of the zipper.  Turn the dress inside out and even up by stitching the remaining lining to the outer fabrics crossing over just above the top zipper stop on each side.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. If you are adding a skirt lining, pin and stitch this to the bottom of the bodice lining now, matching side seams and pleating excess fabric as you did for the outer skirt pieces.

If you are only lining the bodice, like in my example, turn up the bottom of your bodice lining to the inside and stitch a 5/8 hem.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Turn the dress completely inside out exposing the zipper tape.  Pin the edge of the lining fabric to the zipper tape matching raw edges.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Turn over the top corner at the lining stitching line, turning towards the lining fabric.  Pin in place.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. Stitch lining fabric to the zipper tape on each side using your zipper foot.  Don’t sew the lining in too tight to the zipper or it might catch – leave a small gap. Press lining at the zip to neaten.

little-black-dress-053 If the skirt is lined, finish the side seam in the lining and hem the lining fabric. If only the bodice is lined, slip stitch the bottom of the bodice lining to the waist seam allowance, pleating excess fabric at the darts.

Free little black dress pattern.  Sew your own party dress, from So Sew Easy. And you are finished!  Wear and enjoy your new dress and don’t forget to send me your photos.   Suggested overlay fabrics:

1 12398590 zprd_12478319a

Little Black Dress pattern - free sewing pattern for the perfect party dress from So Sew Easy. Authored by: Deby at So Sew Easy

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27 Responses to Free Little Black Dress Pattern

  1. LInda says:

    Such a beautiful dress, but I’m a plus woman, Do you have anything in the plus size woman catagory??? Don’t leave us plus size women out of this.

    • Deby Coles says:

      I wish I could do more sizes Linda, but I start by drafting something for me then grade it up and down several sizes to try to ensure a good fit. Drafting for plus sizes is a whole different matter – just because a person might have a waist 50% larger than a smaller person, it doesn’t necessarily follow that their shoulders are 50% wider or their arms are 50% longer, etc. It requires another pattern to be drafted again from scratch based on the larger size and then graded up and down again. Usually the shape is entirely different. My pattern drafting skills are still in their infancy and without having any way to test a plus sized pattern, I’m very reluctant to draw one up, only to find that its not very good, the shape is all wrong and people end up wasting their time and fabric on it (and being annoyed with me). Some of my patterns that aren’t so fitted do come in a larger range of sizes, but sorry, not this one. Sorry to disappoint you.

  2. Andrea says:

    Deby, just wanted to say thank you on a wonderful website! I have just started sewing after attending a “how to make a cushion and learn how to use a sewing machine course” so Im very new at sewing/dressmking but have managed to make 2 tops and 2 simple shift dresses. My next project will be your gorgeous wrap dress! What a lovely pattern. I bet you receive many nice comments from the local Caymanians on your lovely wardrobe! I used to live in Bermuda for 10 years so am well aware of the limited clothes shops and reasonably priced nice garments! It is really so nice of you to share such wonderful patterns and easy to follow steps. I am so excited!! Thanks again Andrea

    • Deby Coles says:

      I’ve not ever been to Bermuda but I understand that is probably even more like Britain than it is here in Cayman. I must visit one day. Yes, choice is very limited or unaffordable so sewing is the way to go here for a cheap casual wardrobe. Welcome to sewing and to the site – I hope you find it as exciting and absorbing as I do.

  3. tracie says:

    deb
    I love this look .you look fab in it. I can only make something with a pattern. but I am goning to have a go at this fab dress. thanks for shareing with us

  4. Janee says:

    “Recently started to be interested in sewing?” Wow, you’re a natural! I would love try some of your patterns. Wondering if you’ve tried adding in a built in bra? That’ s a favorite feature of mine, but don’t find many patterns that include one.

    • Deby Coles says:

      Hi Janee and thanks for dropping in. It’s been just over a year since I started sewing, and blogging and yes, I LOVE it! But I’ve had a lot of help along the way with the online sewing classes I have taken that have lifted me up from absolute beginner to enthusiastic novice. I’ve never yet tried adding in a built in bra to anything I’ve made. I’ve seen it mentioned sometimes in swimwear and exercise wear tutorials, but I simply don’t have access to the right kind of fabrics here in the Cayman islands. Plus these tutorials always seem to be tight ‘minimisers’ which support by squishing and I prefer a good bit of padding and uplift at my age! I’ll certainly keep it in mind for the future.

  5. Annie says:

    I am new here how do you download the pattern.

    • Deby Coles says:

      Click on the big download box Annie. There is an orange box with the heading Download The Little Black Dress pattern, and inside an orange button which says Download from here. It takes you out to my designer account at Craftsy. Once there, you add the pattern to your cart and checkout. If you haven’t used Craftsy before you will be asked to register but they don’t ask for an address or any payment details. Add the pattern to your cart, check out, no payment etc required. I hope this helps but if you have any questions, just let me know – Deby

  6. nester rathamana says:

    deby,thanks for the extensive instruction and that is a gorgeous dress its lovely.

  7. Krista says:

    I love it! I also love the fabric you used, it is so elegant! If I can find a fabric that is suitable, I will definately add this to my project list. Thank you for this wonderful pattern and the extensive instructions!! :)

  8. its gorgeous! You look terrific in it too. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. You help to make it so much fun.♥

  9. That’s a gorgeous dress! I LOVE one shoulder dresses! Thanks for the free pattern!

  10. Carla Proffitt says:

    Woman, you look HOT! That LBD is so becoming on you!

  11. Stunning, Deby! I had a similar dress but gave it away ..why,why?? One can do really stupid things sometimes ;-)

  12. Jill in NJ says:

    This dress is very nice and you are so generous with the free pattern and great tutorial! I am still astonished that you haven’t been sewing for years! Good for you.

  13. Starry A says:

    Thank you for a lovely pattern and the detailed tutorial :)

  14. CreativaCale says:

    You are pretty women and dress is for You.Tut is the best.Thanks!

  15. Jenya says:

    Stunning! Simply stunning. I think lace is suich a gorgeous feminine material. The dress looks fantastic on you.

  16. ROBIN says:

    That is a gorgeous dress, and nice tutorial! Thank you again!!

  17. Diane Cullum says:

    It’s beautiful and looks really great on you!

  18. Sandy says:

    Just Lovely!!!! Wonderful of you to share the pattern :O)

  19. I think it looks great – I hope I get occasion to make and wear one!

  20. CarmencitaB says:

    Thank you very much!

  21. Hesther x says:

    Wow Deby you’ve done it again. What a stunning dress…..i cannot wait to get better at sewing so i can make this….i am just learning to machine sew.

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