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Learn to Sew with Lauren
The beauty of making your own clothes is that there are so many ways to modify and alter the pattern to suit your own style. It may be as simple
as changing the shape of a collar or more involved, such as changing the shape of a sleeve. Don’t stop there, though – add pockets, alter the length, bind the hem, put piping around the collar edge . . . The possibilities are endless, so don’t be scared to try!

This dress offers two collar and sleeve options. The one shown here has a rounded collar with halfway sleeves and the variation has
a pointed collar with puff sleeves. It is quite fitted around the bust and waist and then flares out slightly with a gathered skirt. It looks great worn
with a narrow belt.

Posted by Octopus Publishing Published See Octopus Publishing's 53 projects » © 2021 Lauren Guthrie / Mitchell Beazley · Reproduced with permission.
  • Step 1

    Cut out and prepare fabric pieces
    Cut out the appropriate fabric pieces. Transfer the notches and other pattern markings, using tailors’ tacks to mark the darts. Iron interfacing onto two of the four collar pieces, the front and back neck facing pieces, and the sleeve facing.

  • How to make a dress. Have It Your Way Dress - Step 2
    Step 2

    Stay-stitch the neckline
    Machine-stitch along the neckline of all three bodice pieces 1.2cm from the edge, starting at the shoulder seam and sewing towards the centre point.

  • Step 3

    Make the darts
    Sew the darts. Start with the bust darts and then make the front and back waistline darts. Press the bust darts downwards and
    the waist darts towards the centre.

  • How to make a dress. Have It Your Way Dress - Step 4
    Step 4

    Make the collar
    Place each inner collar and outer collar together with
    right sides facing. Pin (tack if you wish) and stitch
    the outside edges of collar sections from the shoulder
    edge to the centre front, taking 1cm (⅜in) seam
    allowance. Notch the seam allowances to reduce bulk.
    Turn both collars right side out and press them flat.

  • How to make a dress. Have It Your Way Dress - Step 5
    Step 5

    Attach collar to bodice front
    Pin both collar sections to the bodice front with the
    wrong side of the collar facing the right side of the
    bodice. The centre edges of the collar will overlap
    slightly at the centre point. Tack the collars in place
    1cm (⅜in) from the neck edge.

  • Step 6

    Join front and back bodice sections
    With right sides facing, pin one back bodice to the front bodice at the shoulder. Stitch the shoulder seam, enclosing the edge of the collar. Repeat to join the other back bodice at the shoulder. Now join the side seams. Finish off the seam allowances. Press the side seams open and shoulder seams towards the back – this reduces excess bulk caused by
    the collar. It is a good idea to try the bodice on at this point to check the fit, but you need to get someone to pin the back opening closed. Places where the dress is too large can then be taken in and re-stitched.

  • How to make a dress. Have It Your Way Dress - Step 7
    Step 7

    Construct the sleeve
    On each sleeve stitch two lines of gathering along the sleeve head
    between the two dots, 1cm and 1.5cm (⅜ and ⅝in) from the edge; these will be used to ease the sleeve into the armhole.
    On the top edge of each sleeve facing, press under 1.5cm (⅝in). Open out this fold, then join the underarm seam of the facing; press the seam allowances open and finish them off.
    Join the underarm seam of each sleeve; press them and finish them
    off as for the facing.
    Pin the sleeve facing to the sleeve, right sides together, along the
    bottom, curved edge. Tack if you wish and stitch with a 1cm (⅜in)
    seam allowance, pivoting at the dot. Notch the curved edges and press the seam flat, then turn the facing to the inside and press it flat. Turn the sleeve wrong side out again and catch-stitch the folded edge of the facing to the wrong
    side of the sleeve.

  • Step 8

    Insert sleeve into armhole
    Insert each sleeve into the bodice armhole, with right sides facing.

  • Step 9

    Join side seams of skirt
    With right sides facing, join the skirt front and back side seams. Finish off the raw edges, then press the seam allowances open. Alternatively you could use a French seam here.

  • Step 10

    Gather skirt and attach to bodice
    Sew three rows of gathering stitches along the top edge of the skirt
    section, 1, 1.5 and 2cm from the raw edge, leaving long thread tails at each end.

    Pull on the threads to gather up the skirt. Pin the skirt to the
    bodice at the centre notches and side seams and distribute
    the gathers evenly. Pin the bodice and skirt together at the
    centre back edges. Tack if you wish and stitch the seam.
    Finish off the seam allowances together and press them
    towards the bodice.

  • Step 11

    Insert invisible zip
    Insert the invisible zip. Pin and stitch the remaining centre back seam of the skirt. Finish off the raw edges, then press them open.

  • Step 12

    Join facing sections
    With right sides together, join the front and back facing sections at the shoulders. Press the seam allowances open. Finish off the bottom edge of the facing.

    Lauren’s Tip
    Don’t worry about getting the
    gathers even when you first pull up
    the threads; just get some gathers
    to work with. After dividing the skirt
    into four sections by pinning at side
    seams and centre front, start at the
    centre and even out the gathers one
    section at a time, pushing them out
    to the side if there are too many
    or pulling on the threads if
    there are too few.

  • How to make a dress. Have It Your Way Dress - Step 13
    Step 13

    Attach facing to bodice
    Turn the dress right side out, with the back on top.
    Open the zip about 13cm (5in). Turn the inside
    edges of the zip towards the opening so that you
    can see them. Using the ordinary zip foot on your
    machine, sew the right side of the facing to this part
    of the zip, taking a 1cm (⅜in) seam allowance, and
    with a regular zip foot on your machine.
    Turn the zip edge again away from the opening and
    pin in place. This might seem a bit strange but it
    will make the top of the zip really neat on the inside.
    Pin the rest of the facing to the neckline, matching
    up shoulder seams and notches. Tack if you wish
    and stitch the neckline seam.

  • How to make a dress. Have It Your Way Dress - Step 14
    Step 14

    Complete neckline facing
    Trim the seam allowances of the neck seam and clip
    them to enable them to lie flat when you turn the
    facing to the inside. Understitch the seam allowances
    to the facing 2mm (scant ⅛in) from the seamline.
    Try to get as close as you can to the zip, but you will
    have to end the stitching about 4–5cm (2in) away
    from it.

  • Step 15

    Hem the dress
    Turn up and press 1.2cm (.in) along the bottom
    edge of the dress, then turn up the same amount
    again. Pin or tack the hem in place, then finish it with
    topstitching or catch stitch.

    Lauren’s Tip
    If your fabric is slippery it’s a
    good idea to wind one end of
    the bobbin threads around a
    pin while you’re pulling on the
    threads at the other end
    to make sure the stitches
    don’t come loose

  • Step 16

    Variation dress with pointed collar and puff sleeves
    Cut out and assemble the dress as for the main version, steps 1–6, applying interfacing alsoto the cuff pieces.

    pointed collar
    Using the pointed collar pattern pieces, make
    and attach the pointed collar as for the main
    version, Steps 4 and 5. Before turning the
    collar right side out, cut diagonally across the
    corners to help reduce bulk.

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