One of my goals for the month was to sew a dress. Yes, I have weird goals. And last weekend I finally got to mark that one off the list! For all you super experienced seamstresses out there, this likely doesn’t impress you much. But, I’m pretty new to using my sewing machine (it was a wedding gift two years ago), and I’ve been making 2015 my year to try and learn and grow in my sewing skills.
I’m actually a little intimidated to show you all my latest project if I’m being honest. I feel confident in the kitchen and happy to share whatever I’m up to in that department, but sewing is a whole different thing.
But hey, we’re all friends here. So here you have it—I made a dress. And I want to share a little more about how I did it with you all, but this isn’t really a full-on DIY tutorial. It’s just something I did last weekend that I want to share. I like to make things and I like to share them, which I guess is how I came to be a blogger in the first place. 🙂
For this dress I used my very favorite green Mexican embroidered dress as my template to figure out what size I wanted. I LOVE this dress and wear it all the time (see me wearing it last year in Costa Rica and in Hawaii three years ago). I thought this would be a good dress to use because it doesn’t have a zipper but can easily fit over my head and shoulders. I’m still working on mastering zippers, so I wanted to make a dress that I could easily take on and off without one.
You can kind of see in this photo that I have scissors at home labeled “fabric” with black Sharpie, which totally reminds me of that old Ryan Gosling meme that said, “Hey, girl, don’t worry. I know which scissors you use for fabric and which scissors you use for paper.” I always thought that one was the best one of those. It’s funny AND a real issue. 🙂
I drew out my design (which is basically a rectangle with sleeves) with measurements and cut out my front and back pieces. I pinned the edges in place and stitched the dress up.
For me, when I’m making a garment or tailoring something I already own (which I do more often since ALL my jeans tend to need hemming), I put the garment on inside out, over and over as I work to make sure things are fitting and falling in a way I like. If something isn’t, I can usually just undo my last stitching and try again. I never cut off extra fabric until I’m sure it fits how I want.
You can kind of tell from this photo that I used the opposite side of a denim fabric because I liked the color better (sort of chambray). Just a tip in case you’re fabric shopping and just don’t see a denim you like…check the other side. 🙂
Can I just say that my least favorite part about sewing is pressing seams. I just don’t like ironing very much. I don’t know why. It’s not hard. It doesn’t take very long. But I just don’t like it.
And now you know me a little bit better.
I wanted to add some kind of weaving piece to the front of my dress. I saw something kind of like this (but much more intricate) at a store in Kansas City a few weekends ago when I was there with some friends. (I wish I had written down the brand name!)
I used Fray Check to seal the edges of the rope so it won’t fray (too much) over time.
I’m not sure if you can tell from any of the photos, but the weaving piece attaches by removing the last two rope strands and looping through what are essentially two button holes on the dress. I wanted the piece to be easy to remove so I can wash the dress as needed.
The weaving piece makes it just a little different, which I love. I can’t wait to wear this out on a date night soon. Anyway, thanks for letting me share my latest exploits in learning to sew. xx. Emma
Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.
Whoa! oMGosh! Aside from this being a wonderful on its own account, I’m commenting here because I am wearing THAT GREEN MEXICAN DRESS right now as I read your post! What!? I got it in Santa F, NM in 2008 from a street type vendor. It was floor length, but I hemmed it quite short. Also my fave dress! And now, I shall make another dress using it as my pattern just as you have. Rock on, little green Mexican dress!
Love this a lot. I like your weaving piece as a necklace so I can wear it with several dresses. Thanks for the idea! I’m sort of an advanced sewer, but I almost never make all the ideas I want to for myself. Thanks for inspiring me with this cute little dress!
This diy comes in so useful, because I´ve wanted to buy a denim dress for a long time now and just can´t seem to find one that fits me well. So maybe I´ll follow your idea and make my own after I nice dress I already have. I actually have one in mind already.
So cute! You’ve inspired me to add make a dress to my goals list!
I think you did a fab job! Thanks for sharing – I’m inspired! xx
That’s such a cool dress! I would love to learn to sew, it’s definitely on my list of things to do. My main motivation behind it is I find it so hard to find clothes that I like and that fit me. Clearly I’m not a traditional size or shape haha! I’m so happy to see someone just learning, it gives me inspiration to get a sewing machine and start things as well.
A cool one! Thanks for sharing it! This is my version, with skull print: http://www.lessisyes.fi/2015/06/06/tee-denim-mekko-joka-tilanteeseen-diy-denim-dress/
Way to go, Emma! Love that you used the inside of your fabric on the outside of your dress! Very cool “art” for the dress front and it’s detachable! Great effort and I admire your talent!
I would love to be able to make something like this, great inspiration! Thanks for sharing x
ISOSCELLA | isoscella.blogspot.co.uk
So so beautiful! I love this style of dress and the weaving is a really stunning detail. Sewing a dress has been on my list of goals for MONTHS. I need to be brave and get on with it!
awesome job!! i am one of those seamstresses but don’t worry, we love when people start sewing and join the magical world of making your own clothes! the more the merrier! Your dress reminds me of when i started sewing – doing little fold over hems and hating ironing, but the more you do it, the best you get (obvi) and it all becomes just part of the process. And if you ever decide to start using patterns there is a wonderful world of indie patterns out there that are cute largely made by lady bloggers and small business types that you should totally check out! the “big 4” pattern companies have cute stuff too but definitely check out places like Papercut patterns, Colette, By Hand London, Tilly and the Buttons, Sewaholic etc. there are so many!
Super cute … and I dig the glasses!
Love the style of your dress – great job! I always think sharing sewing projects is a bit intimidating too. Definitely have my eye on something chambray now!
Zoe | floral and feather
I’ve always wanted to sign up for that sewing course but I still don’t have a sewing machine! Been tempted to buy one but with my impending move to New York which requires me to move across the globe, buying one wouldn’t be such a great idea and I don’t know if buying one in New York would be a good idea as well since I’m not yet sure if the move will be permanent.
Your first attempt at sewing your own dress looks pretty good from a non-seamstress perspective. Just keep practising and I’m sure you’ll improve your sewing skills. 😉
Can’t wait to see your future sewing projects soon!
This dress is so cute. And simple to make! I especially love the weaving piece. I used to sew when I was younger (member of 4H). Maybe one day when I have the space I’ll get back into it.
Yep, definitely making this! I am loving the dress that I made with the E-course and I wear it allll the time. I love using the other side of the denim…I love it so much more! The weaving piece just puts this dress over the top into the love category…it is such a marvelous idea and really makes the dress unique and special. The only thing I’m unsure about is the sleeves…I am terrible at them. Did you just lay the sleeves on the green dress out and use the same method for those?
So cute! Does the denim you chose have some stretch to it?
That dress is so cute! I definitely want to try making one!
wow. and right front and center with the details. looks cute on you, for sure!
Cute dress. Just a tip for ironing. First iron the seams as they are (flat) and then open them. It kinda embeds the seam and will make it way easier to iron it open. This is something I learned after several years and it is a game changer for those who don’t like the ironing part.