How to Make Your Own Summer Dress: A Beginner’s Guide

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By Alex Moore

Are you bored with the state of your summer wardrobe? If you have a flair for artistic
expression, arts and crafts, or just find yourself enamored by following patterns and losing
yourself in a fun project, why not try to make your own summer dress?

Sewing isn‘t just a skill with useful daily life applications, after all, as it can also be a lot of fun to cobble together outfits out of interesting patterns and strange fabrics that show off your
personal style without calling for a trip to the nearest Prada storefront.

Step 1: The Absolute Basics


First things first: There are some basic techniques to consider before diving into a sewing project.

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with basic terminology and ideas in sewing, such as transferring pattern marks and cutting proper button holes.

This is also a good time to consider the tools you’ll be using. Needles and thread are universally useful, of course, but you may also find yourself needing a seam ripper for fixing unkempt seams or a bundle of zippers to practice aligning them properly.

If you’re serious about getting into sewing, you could consider sewing machines as well. If you find yourself tending to needle wounds more than sewing you might go ahead and find some tips to choose a sewing machine and save yourself some skin!

Step 2: Start Off Small

You may be tempted to start off with a complicated pattern sourced from Pinterest, but you’ll be happier in the long run if you start off with something simple. Consider straightforward starter projects in the realm of:

  • Pillowcases
  • Scarves
  • Simple repairs on your household’s loose buttons and frayed hems
  • Tiny outfits for your favorite stuffed animals


A smaller starter project helps you practice your stitches on projects with a less drastic investment of time and money. You’ll even get to try odd fabrics and stitching styles to boot, or even break out a sewing machine to save yourself even more time.

Step 3: Pick a Pattern and Some Fabric


If you’ve made it this far you’ve probably sewn together a few scarves and potholders. Congratulations, you’re well on your way!

This is the part where exploration and personal expression blossom in the sewing process given the sheer volume of patterns available to help you make your own summer dress. It may even be a little daunting at first.

Shift dresses are a great place to start, as they don’t often require special stitch knowledge or terribly fancy techniques. It’s important to find a fabric that works well with your desired project, so try to steer clear of anything too thick or slippery for your freshman voyage.

Step 4: Prepare Your Pattern/Fabric


Every finished project starts with proper preparation, so now’s the time to lay out your fabric and transfer your pattern appropriately. Beth Galvin breaks down the process in exquisite detail, but here are a few highlights to keep in mind as you transfer your pattern:

  • Directionality counts! Fabrics with patterns need to all face the same direction
  • Keep the grain of the fabric in mind, both lengthwise and crosswise
  • Make sure you pin the pattern to your fabric to maintain consistency

Step 5: Darts, Zippers, and Seams, Oh My!

Once you have the basic shape of the dress cut out of your fabric of choice, it’s time to move on to the finer details!

If your pattern includes darts to improve the shape of your dress, sew them in before you move on to adding zippers and seams, as not to disturb the dress’ proper shape.

Zippers are much easier to anchor before the halves of your new dress are sewn together. Once the halves are melded, you’ll want to work on the facings and the stitching to keep the armholes and neckhole, which may require stitching fabrics together via some clever understitching.

However, these are completely optional. It is better to start off with an easier project, sewing a dress that doesn’t involve additional work. In time, you will improve your sewing skills and then you can take up more challenging projects.

Step 6: Hemming and Beyond


After you’ve secured your facings, all you have left to do is hem your new dress. Visually striking fabrics tend to hide hems better than muted and reserved colors, so if you’re worried about the quality of your hem work you may want to let a machine do the work on something bold while reserving hand-stitched hems for delicate fabrics.

From there, you’re free to start a new project or broaden your sewing horizons! For example, a sewing mannequin helps you visualize your final product and keep you on task, but their body style may not fit yours. Try your hand at a customized mannequin for a body that perfectly matches yours, guaranteed!

Summer Dress – Final Form

If you’re patient and you follow the steps above, your work will definitely pay off!





With your new dress on you’re sure to turn some heads and have a wonderful talking point to bring up with your friend circle.

Consider forming a sewing club with your fellow hobbyists the next time you make your own summer dress, and don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t turn out perfect!

It may take a long time to learn a new skill, but sewing is a strong contender as your newest lifetime hobby that is both functional as well as enjoyable.

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