If you’ve always wanted to make your own clothes but had no idea where to start then, follow this easy step-by-step guide to making a simple T-shirt dress and kick start your dressmaking skills. This dress doesn’t even require you to use a pattern but if you’re still not convinced, why not try making a smaller version for a little girl and see just how easy it is.
Buy a selection of Mini Dresses at a reasonable price, study them and how they are made. Look at the design and the colours used. Then look a T-shirt dress because it has just four basic panels – a front, back and 2 sleeve parts. The first thing you need to do is find a dress you already own that fits you well and trace around the front and back panels with dressmaker’s chalk onto your chosen fabric. The great part is you don’t have to rely on what’s in the shops but can choose whatever colour, pattern or style of fabric you desire.
Make sure you leave a 1cm gap between the edge of the dress and the chalk outline on the sides for hem space and about a 5cm gap at the bottom. If you don’t have a dress to outline, then you can always measure yourself from across your chest and from your shoulder to your waistline. You can then decide on the length you want the dress to be. Cut out your outline, making sure you have two panels for front and back.
Making sure that the ‘right’ sides of the panel fabric is facing inwards, sew the top parts of the vest panels together so it resembles a tabard.
For making the sleeves, simply take some fabric that is big enough to fit around your arm. Folding it in half, position it underneath the curve of the shoulder on your vest panels. Mark the curve with the chalk onto the sleeve fabric and then cut along the line. The curves should match when unfolded.
Sew the sleeve piece onto the shoulder. Curved sewing can be awkward, but it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect as it won’t show. Use some pins to position the sleeve in place and then sew from top to bottom into the armpit.
Now you need to sew the sides of the sleeve from armpit to cuff and then the sides of the tabards together too, from armpit to bottom. This is the perfect opportunity to try on the dress and check the sizing is good. If all is good, then let the hemming commence!
It’s a good idea to fold over the material twice when hemming to avoid any fraying issues. Sew along the fold in a straight line. The neck curve can be tricky so it’s best to do it slowly and not to pull the material too much in any one direction. Trim any loose threads that might be showing, iron the hem lines and you have just made your first dress!