I made this dress for my daughter last night, and I just love it! I went ahead and took pictures as I went, just in case it turned out well, and I think it did!
Here is the finished product:
You'll want to start by laying out a button (or snap) up shirt on your mat or cutting table. I used a ladies' shirt, but a men's would give you more fabric to work with.
Find a sample dress in the size you'd like to make, and lay it on top of your shirt. Cut off the sides off the shirt, leaving about an inch of shirt fabric sticking out on each side for seams. Set sleeves aside.
Then line up the neckline of the sample dress with your shirt, and mark with a sewing pen. Cut the collar of the shirt off, and set it aside.
Take your shirt sleeves and cut them to the length of your dress sleeve (including seam length!), being sure to leave the cuffed edge of the sleeve intact. Then, using the seamed edge of your shirt sleeve, fold the sleeve over until it is the same size as the sample dress sleeve, and pin.
Sew sleeves along pinned edge, and cut off extra fabric.
Turn your shirt inside-out, and lay the sleeve down to match it up with the rest of the shirt. Mark with your sewing pen, or a pin, where the the bottom of the sleeve will be. Then sew the sides of the shirt, from your mark, to the bottom of the shirt, on each side.
When you're done sewing the sides together, thread the left shoulder strap through the left sleeve, with right sides facing each other.
*Note: I sewed my dress with the sleeve seams purposely facing outward. If you prefer to go with the traditional seam, you'll want your garments to be right sides in, with wrong sides facing each other.
Pin very well, and sew all the way around sleeve. Repeat steps for right sleeve.
Turn your shirt right side in, and this is what you should have so far. Almost done!
Set your machine to the widest strait stitch, to sew a gathering stitch all the way around the neckline.
Then pull one of the threads to gather your neckline. Use your sample dress to see how big you want the neck to be.
Take your shirt collar that you set aside, and pin it to your gathered neckline, starting with each open end of the neck, and finishing in the center of the back. Pin well....
Your shirt collar should be larger than your neckline, so take the extra in the center of the back of the neckline, and sew it together, being sure to make the seam show on the under side of the collar. Then trim the excess.
Throw a ribbon or belt around it, and your done! I actually added a skinny elastic to the inside of the waist of mine also by simply pinning it in place, and sewing it on while stretching to to fit the fabric. If you'd like a short-sleeved version, simply shorten the length of the sleeve on the unfinished side, and sew as usual.
I think I should add that this is my very first attempt at sleeves! It wasn't nearly as difficult as I imagined. I'm not sure if I did it the easiest way, but it worked!