Thursday, August 26, 2010

Falling Leaves Dress Tutorial

My little sister starts college tomorrow. Wow. I am really excited for her, and a big ole ball of nerves even though I am a bagillion miles away from her. I mainly just want her to have as fun a time as I did. I have been thinking about her a lot and also mulling around wether or not to enter the Shabby Apple "Dare to Design" contest. I wanted to practice making my own dress completely from scratch, zero pattern. I was perusing a certain website and found this dress

I really liked it but there was NO WAY I was going to fork out the $158.00, nor could I wear wool ha! I wanted to make one for myself but also for my sister. I did a rather poor job photographing Claire's which is MUCH more like the one pictured above. But believe me if you are brave you can totally make one! Mine cost $4.25 and that includes new thread and a zipper! The fabric cutting guy even matched them all perfectly for me. I think it is because he loves practicing his english with me and gets a kick out of my pathetic attempts at Tetun. Anyway, I made Claire's out of the gorgeous "Banana Republic" fabric.

again sorry for the lame pictures, Claire is tiny, thus the dress doesn't fit well on the "my size" mannequin ha! I really loved how the embellishment turned out.
For mine I wanted something plain that I could dress up with big brooches and funky belts. I went with the navy counter part fabric and then used my favorite tie of my Hubbies as a belt
You can print out the pattern HERE but do so with these warnings: It was made with my 18 year old sister in mind, thus I would HIGHLY suggest you enlarge it to fit you. As you cut etc. make sure to measure it to yourself. What makes this dress rock is when it fits like a glove, like it was made for you and you alone, which it was! After making Claire's the only major changes I made were as you continue down from the back bodice portion I make it wider. I also made the side part wider as I went down. Aside from that it was okay. But seriously, you can always cut more fabric off it doesn't look so good to glue it back on :) Aside from that it is a pretty simple dress to make (although it was a PAIN to design a pattern for ha!) There are only four main pieces and you just fit them together like a puzzle.
What You Need
1 1/2 yards fabric
Sewing Machine
Jersey Fabric for embellishments (if you choose to make them)
Beads (if you want to use them)

Once the pattern pieces have been cut out, grab your front piece and one side piece. Keep in mind these are not going to look like they line up but I swear they do. That is what makes it fit like a glove. Take the side piece and you are going to place them right sides together:
(this is them lying next to each other you will need to lay them right sides together to sew them, I know common sense but I had to say it)
When you have sewn all the way down you can open it up and check it out
Now you are going to repeat this process on the other side, when done you should have something like this:
Now to make it look nice and neat and more like the one pictured above top stitch down both sides:
Now you are going to connect your back piece. Again it will look like it doesn't match up but it does :) Also the lines on the pattern are very sharp, (I am not good at making soft corners) they do not need to be this sharp, you can totally round them a little.
I made this point blunt because once you sew it will lay down nice and flat and match up to your arm hole much nicer and look like this when you open it up
Now you are going to repeat on the other side and once again top stitch it all down. Now flip the entire dress inside out so that right sides are facing each other. Pin your shoulder pieces and then sew them together.
Now to make a nice clean neck line, take you two neck flaps (that is a funny term, neck flap) and place them right sides together
Now sew the two ends together.
Now you are going to attach it to the neck of your dress. Turn your dress right side out, place your neck flap (seriously so weird) right sides to the dress and line up the seams and pin it all the way around.
Once it is pinned sew all the way around. Once it is done flip it inside the dress and topstitch around the outside of the neck line. I actually did a second one a "foot" lengths away from the first to give it some structure
Now you are going to finish your arm holes by hemming them up. This can get tricky and I highly suggest ironing the hem over before sewing. It makes it so much easier and the result is always more even. I am sorry I don't have a pic of this step but you get it right? Next you are going to put in your zipper. I am sure most of you know how to put in a zipper and if not there are some fantastic video tutorials on UTUBE on how to do it. I can't find my zipper foot. I was all a dither last night at 12:30 am trying to find it. Then I broke what I thought was my last needle and thought I was going to have a break down ha!! But I found more needles and all is well. I am pretty proud of how this zipper turned out.
Now if you choose to add embellishments you can grab any color jersey you like. I cut up some of my boy's sweats and an old onsie. Then I cut them into petal shapes and stacked them willy nilly on top of each other.
I first pinned the groups of petals to see where I wanted them to be. Then I hand stitched them on.
I liked it plain but thought some fun beads would add a little kick and make it look less "homemade". I have a gorgeous necklace that Evie broke and I used random beads from it.
So, there you go Bink, You will receive your dress in about six weeks ha! Just enough time to really want something new to wear. I think I am going to make another one in Olive green! But for now I will enjoy my Navy one!
Hope you have fun on this sewing adventure!


  1. They are great!!
    And seem really simple (you make wonderful tutorials!!)

  2. I love both dresses! I love reading your blog...just adorable ideas!!!

  3. Too beautiful! I'm going to try this one day when I am visiting my Mum and can get her to help me.

  4. love the dress with the tie!!! Too cute.

  5. You are incredible. I swear you are a model. I LOVE LOVE your style!

  6. Hi there! I was printing the pdf pattern for this, and on one of the pages - pg 3 back top - it says 'this should go into a point but was cut off.' Can you clarify? Looking at your pictures I cant tell, but want to make sure the pattern piece is correct. Thank you so much for these, I have printed three of your patterns to make this weekend!!

  7. I also might add you'll need to hem the bottom of your dress somewhere in here... I'm in the middle of making one now!!

  8. Did anyone actually finish the dress i would love to know and see pictures. I am a little scared to start making this dress, I just started sewing.


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