Lace is a huge trend for this Spring and Summer – and its delicate, airy quality lends it to a variety of applications. I’ve been wanting a lace dress for awhile, but I wanted to make one that was both easy and extremely versatile (I’m a BIG fan of multifunctional garments, as most of you already know;-). I finally created this pattern for an incredibly easy lace dress – that only uses straight cuts in the pattern and allows you to customize it to your size and shape – and that can be worn a multitude of ways since it – *GASP!* – contains no lining. Let’s get crackin’!
* 1 and 2/3 yd lace (mine is 68″ wide; poly, with no stretch. If you can, get lace that is soft since you’ll be wearing it against your skin…and a little stretch can be helpful. You can also repurpose a table-runner, tablecloth, or lace curtains!)
*sewing machine needle for lightweight wovens
Cutting Notes: The gray areas in the diagram are just unused areas of the fabric. You can choose Dress A if you’d like a one-piece sheath, or Dress B if you’d like a drop-waisted dress with attached skirt. I chose to cut using Dress B, so the instructions are for that one. If you’re making Dress A, just substitute the Dress Front/Back Pieces wherever it says “Bodice” in my instructions below. The instructions are for a size M Misses’. If you’d like to make larger/smaller, add or subtract width from the Dress Front/Back Pieces [Dress A] or Bodice and Skirt Pieces [Dress B]. (No need for the sleeves, which are quite large anyway.) A good rule of thumb is to measure the width of a dress in your closet that has no stretch to it, and alter the width of the pattern pieces to match. Also, the Dress Front of Dress A and the Bodice Front/Back of Dress B are placed cross-grain. If your lace has a pattern that does not allow you to place the pieces cross-grain, place on-grain and buy 77″ of fabric. (This will also mean your Front neckline will not utilize the decorative edge unless you cut a separate piece from the edge to do so.)
1. Cut the lace according to the diagram above.
2. Fold down the top edge of the back bodice piece about 1/4″, and sew. Fold down one more time 1/4″ and sew again to encase the raw edge and create a French seam.3. Lay the front and back bodice pieces on top of one another, placing the hemmed top of the back piece about 1/2″ below the scalloped top edge of the front piece (see the scallops sticking out to the left of the photo??). Measure 12″ from the top edge, mark (mine is marked with a pin) and pin the front and back bodice pieces together below that mark at the sides. These will be the side seams.
4. Sew the sides together where you pinned.5. Pin the the scalloped selvage edge of the front bodice piece on top of the back bodice piece, overlapping about 1/2″ or so at the shoulder seams. Allow 10.5″ in the center for the neck opening.
6. Stitch the shoulder seams, stitching the scalloped edge of the front bodice piece onto the hemmed back bodice piece.
7. Try the shell on, and mark it at your arms where there is too much excess fabric. (It will be trimmed off in the next step.) Also allow the front of the shirt to drape down slightly, and fold the decorative edge down and over onto the front bodice piece to create a curved neck. Pin.
The front of the neck folded and pinned down to make a slight curve. (done while on my body)
8. Lay the shell flat, and cut off the excess in the arms.
You can see the two rows of stitching holding the collar fold down.
9. Stitch down the top of the front collar (I used two rows of stitching so it stays in place).
10. Fold each sleeve-piece in half and sew the bottom seam of each sleeve together. (not pictured)
I know it’s hard to see the 5″ mark – but it is at the top of the photo where the measuring tape starts, in blue.
11. Lay each sewn sleeve flat, and mark the top center of the sleeve with a pin. Also measure 5″ up from the bottom seam and mark the raw edges, both front and back.12. Use a double-knotted thread to stitch a line of long basting stitches near the edge of each sleeve where it will connect to the bodice. Lay your stitches in-between the marks you made, all the way along the sleeve from the front to the back.
13. Turn the bodice piece inside-out, then place one sleeve inside (right side out, so the right sides of the bodice and the sleeve are together). Match up the bottom sleeve seam with the bodice side seam at the armscye opening. Match the pin you left in the sleeve (marking the center top of it) with the bodice shoulder seam at the opening. Pin together at those points.
14. Pull on the basting thread to gather the fabric of the sleeve so that it matches the size of the armscye opening. Pin. (not pictured)
15. Sew the sleeve to the bodice at the armscye (but don’t sew over that basting thread). Once you’ve sewn the seam, cut the basting thread and pull it out of the fabric.
16. (FOR DRESS B): If you are making a 2-piece dress, sew the side seams to the skirt piece. Place skirt piece top under the bottom of the bodice piece, bodice wrong side on top of skirt right side, underlapping about 1/2″. Sew bodice to skirt, easing excess fabric from skirt to side of bodice. (not pictured)
17. Don’t forget to hem the bottom of the dress with another French seam to enclose the raw edges! (not pictured)
Now here’s what’s so great about this piece:
*You can wear it over a similarly-colored slip or slipdress for a breezy, angelic feel.
*You can layer it over a slim-fitting dress and belt it, folding the fabric up underneath the belt, to create a retro-inspired lace overlay dress.
*You can gather up the bottom and wear it over a T-shirt or cami, tucked into jeans, for a pretty lace blouse.
*You can wear it as a chic-looking beach cover-up or for lounging by the pool. (Though I’ll spare you a photo of me wearing this over a bathing suit.;-)
How many ways can you think of wearing it?
(And if you really want to, you can certainly create a lining specifically for this piece using a simple pull-on dress style (like BurdaStyle Anda #7969).)
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