A Friendly DIY Dress

Before I start let me just give a heads-up about this dress. This is not a fashionable dress! It’s meant  to be reasonably easy to put together and comfortable to wear.

OK. First get yourself a tape measure and make some measurements.

1. Top of your shoulder to the floor. (If no one’s around to help make a mark on the wall where your shoulder is while standing up straight, then measure from there down to the floor.)

2. Armpit to the tips of your fingers (keep the arm straight)

3. Your outspread hand.

4. The base of your neck to your waist.

Don’t be too fussy with the numbers. If it says 10 and a half round up to 11.

sewadress 1

Now look at the picture. These are the pieces of cloth you’ll need to put the dress together.

Dress Body  2 of these

Sleeve 4 of these

Underarm gusset   2 of these

Make sure the fabric you choose is at least 45” wide so you’ve got room to walk and wear other clothing under the dress  if you want.  I always wear pants under a dress so I can go up a ladder or crawl out of a car without messing around.

5 yards of fabric should be more than enough. Ideally the fabric should be something that can go in the washer and dryer. Cotton blend broadcloth or twill are usually reasonably priced and come in nice colors. Light weight denim or chambray works. I’ve also used thrift store bed sheets and a light weight blanket. Spills don’t show as badly on prints.


This shows you how to cut the head hole. You’ll cut the triangle out of ONLY one of the Dress Body pieces. That will be the front. The back will not be cut. The measurements are a guide only, you might need to make the hole a bit smaller or bigger to suit yourself. Right sides of fabric together sew the two shoulder seams.



This is an attempt to show how to put one sleeve together. I just realized I’ve never tried to explain this to someone who wasn’t sitting next to me before. I hope it’s clear. The big thing is to make sure the raw seam edges all end up on the same side. I still mess this up sometimes, and I don’t know how many of these I’ve put together.


This is how to attach the sleeve to the body. Start sewing up at the shoulder seam and go down one side to the point of the gusset. Then go back up to shoulder seam and sew the other side of the sleeve to the other side of the dress the same way. Then sew the side of the dress shut. Repeat on the other side.


This is how the dress looks when you get both sleeves on. Put it on and see how much you need to shorten it so you can walk without tripping. Don’t shorten the sleeves, just put some 1/4” elastic in the cuffs. Use bias tape to finish the edge of the neck.  If you need to nurse a baby cut along the red line to about waist or hip level, whatever length makes the dress work for you. Finish this edge with bias tape too, and use snaps or hook-and-eye to fasten it up. I haven’t tried velcro, but that would probably work too. I personally don’t use zippers, having had zippers jam on me one too many times! But a light weight zipper might work for you.

Two big patch pockets in the front are a very useful addition.



This shows how to make a khimar. The fold goes down the back and the seam goes down the front. You cut off the grey part and hem or sew bias tape along the curve. This should land somewhere between your elbow and hip, which should be long enough to nurse a baby under, but not so long it ends up being a total pain.  Make a test one and try it out, nursing like this doesn’t work for everyone! It works if you don’t have a baby too, ‘cause it’s quick to put on and off. You’ll want to put on some kind of bonnet under it, the tie on kind work best for me.


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