How to DIY a Gathered Bust Dress Without a Pattern

JRenee DIY
by JRenee DIY
10 Materials
3 Hours

I had some material lying around that I decided to make into a satin white mini dress. I used two types of white satin for this gathered bust dress and even though they're not exactly the same color, they worked fine together.

I'll also show you how to sew a zipper on a dress my way, which is probably nothing like you've seen before! So, let's get started.

Tools and materials: 

  • Satin or similar material
  • 8 - 9 inch zipper
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Seam ripper
  • Sewing machine with zipper foot
Cutting fabric

1. Cut skirt

I cut the material into 2 approximate rectangles and pressed the satin really well with a steam iron.

Then, I folded the larger piece in half and used a mini skirt I already had as the pattern for the main part of the dress.

I cut around my skirt about 1.5 inches outside the skirt outline, because satin has no give, and I didn't want it to be too tight.

I cut along the fold line too, so I had 2 skirt pieces.

Inserting zipper

2. Insert zipper

Place your zipper on one side seam and double pin where it ends as a marker. Pin both side seams from the waist to the hem.

Taking a half inch seam allowance, sew from the waist to the end of the zipper section of the side seam with a long straight basting stitch.

Then, continue the seam with a regular stitch. Stitch the other side seam as normal. Press the seams open.

Inserting zipper

Place the zipper right side down on the inside of the seam, lining up the top of the tape with the top edge of the skirt.

Make sure the zipper teeth are directly over the basted seam and pin the tape to the seam allowance.

Attach the zipper foot to your machine, open the skirt flat and stitch the zipper tape down around the 3 sides.

Inserting zipper

Use a seam ripper on the right side to remove the basting stitches.

Back darts

3. Back darts (optional)

Try the skirt on inside-out. My skirt was high waisted and when I tried it on, I realized I needed to take in some darts on the back.

I pinned the darts in place, then neatened them when I took the skirt off. I made the darts 4 inches long, made sure they were equal on each side, and stitched and pressed them.

Cutting top

4. Cut top

Measure from above your bust down to the top of the skirt and add 1 to 2 inches for seam allowances.

For the width, measure yourself across the front just above the bust and multiply this by 1.5.

My rectangle ended up 28 inches wide by 11 inches deep.

Gathering top

5. Gather top

Leaving long ends, run a line of basting stitches along the lower edge just inside the seam allowance and gather them to fit the top of the skirt.

Sew a narrow hem along the other 3 edges of the top, double rolling the side edges if your material frays.

Attaching top

6. Attach top

With right sides together, pin the gathered edge of the top to the front of the skirt and stitch into place.

Make a double rolled hem at the top of the skirt back and sew. 

Top stitch all the way around the top of the skirt and hem the bottom edge.

Top casing and strap

7. Top casing and strap

Turn in and sew the top edge of the gathered piece by about half an inch as a casing for the neck strap.

Top casing and strap

Cut 2 long strips of fabric about 1 - 1.5 inches wide and join them together.

Turn in the short edge and each long edge and fold the strip in half lengthways with wrong sides together so the edges are hidden, and stitch.

Completed DIY gathered bust dress

Completed DIY gathered bust dress

DIY gathered bust dress

And here is my finished satin sleeveless dress. Considering I made it from scratch, I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

Next time I would plan for the back darts in advance and maybe not make the skirt so high waisted.

Overall though I think this is a super cute look for a party. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more gathered bust dress patterns.

Suggested materials:
  • 8 - 9 inch zipper
  • 8 - 9 inch zipper
  • Pins
See all materials

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