Learn How to Make a Beautiful Empire Waist Casual Dress

14 Materials
6 Hours

Watched Bridgerton and want to wear an empire waist casual dress? This Regency-inspired fantasy show has made the short puff sleeve, ruched bodice dress, and the Jane dress style wildly popular.

My empire waist dress pattern features a beautiful, ruched bodice dress with charming short puff sleeves, and the prettiest soft flared skirt. If you want to look like Daphne, Edwina, Eloise, Kate, or Penelope, this empire waist casual dress will help you channel that look. You choose the length: mini, knee, or maxi. Gather your supplies and let’s get started.

Tools and materials:

  • Empire waist dress pattern: https://dressmakingamore.com/products... 
  • 1.5-3.3 yds of stretch knit fabric - this depends on your length & size
  • 3 yards of ¼” elastic 
  • Bra cups - optional 
  • 4-thread serger
  • Sewing machine
  • Machine needle for knit fabric 
  • Matching or contrasting thread
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Iron
  • Clapper
  • Safety pins

Tip: This pattern is only made for a medium-weight stretch knit fabric that has about 5-9% elastane. Use jersey knit, French terry, brushed poly, soft ponte knit, or a jersey rayon fabric for best results.

Pattern for empire waist casual dress

1. Make the pattern

Purchase, download, and print the pattern. Follow the instructions on cutting the fabric.

Making the bodice

2. Make the bodice


Place two gathering stitches at the top and bottom of the front bodice piece. Mark the center of the front and lining pieces. Pin them wrong sides together.

Marked line across fabric

Staystitch between the marks sewing from top to bottom.


Pin matching the marks at the sides.


3. Make the front gathers

Pull the two bottom threads to gather on one side.

Gathering the fabric

Pull the top two threads to gather on the same side. Evenly distribute the gathers. Pin to the lining. Repeat for the other side.

Gathered fabric

Staystitch the gathering to the lining at the top and bottom.

Ironing the gathers

Spread out the gathers. Gently press so they remain stable. Cool.

Finishing the bodice

4. Finish the bodice

Check the bodice for symmetry and even edges. Place the front and back pieces right sides together. Pin and sew the side seams. Press and cool the side seams.

Making the sleeves

5. Make and attach the sleeves

Fold the sleeves in half, right sides together. The marks at the back will tell you which sleeve is which. Pin the sleeve side seams. Sew. Press.

Pinning the seam

Place the right sleeve to the right armhole, matching the marks on the sleeve back, bodice, and side seams. Pin the left seam using the same method. Sew both sleeves into the armholes.

Pinned fabric

6. Make the skirt

Pin the back center seam and sew together. Press and cool the seam. Place the front and back pieces right sides together. Pin the side seams and sew together. Press and cool.

Attaching the bodice and skirt

7. Attach the bodice and skirt

Turn the bodice inside out. Mark the center front of the bodice. Match up the marks of the center front of the skirt.

Pinned fabric

Place the bodice and skirt right sides together. Pin matching the center front, center back, and side seams. Pin in between these marks and sew the empire waistline.

Measuring elastic to cut

Cut the elastic to your underbust measurements. Mark the elastic at the half and quarter measurements.

Pinning the elastic

Pin the elastic at the marks at the center front, center back, and side seams. Sew the elastic to the waistline, slightly stretching it. Lightly press and cool the waistline.

Creating the neckline

8. Make the neckline

Serge around the top edge of the bodice. Serge the top and bottom of the sleeves. Press the serged seam to flatten so it is embedded in the fabric. At the neckline, fold in ⅜ to ½ inch into the wrong side.

Pins in fabric

Pin all across and press to flatten. Either baste stitch or use lots of pins to keep the gathering in place.

Sewing the edges

Sew at the edge of the fold to form a casing. Leave 1 inch unsewn.

Inserting elastic

Insert the elastic using a safety pin through the space. The elastic should feel comfortable on your shoulders so check before you insert it for softness.

Once the elastic is tunneled through, stitch the two ends together. Reinsert into the space. Evenly distribute the gathering. Sew the opening closed.

Finishing the empire waist casual dress

9. Finish the dress

Make a casing on each sleeve by folding, pinning, and pressing in ⅜ inch to the wrong side. Sew, leaving a space. Insert the elastic through the space. Join the elastic edges and reinsert through the space. Sew the space closed. Evenly distribute the gathers.

Ironing fabric

Hem the dress either by using a narrow serger seam or a rolled seam. Give the pretty dress a final press.

Inserting bra cup

Optional: Insert bra cups for some extra coverage through the opening at the side seams of the lining.

Redistributing the gathers

Redistribute the gathers.

Completed empire waist casual dress

Empire waist casual dress

You’ve made this beautiful empire waist casual dress.

Completed empire waist casual dress

To quote Daphne Bridgerton, “I burn for you” and would love to hear your comments on this pretty dress.

Completed empire waist casual dress

Please let me know which length you chose.

Suggested materials:
  • Empire waist dress pattern: https://dressmakingamore.com/products...
  • 1.5-3.3 yds of stretch knit fabric
  • 3 yards of ¼” elastic
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