How to Make an Ankara Dress With a Pretty Ruffle Hem & Sleeves

Made By Deola
by Made By Deola
9 Materials
2 Hours

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to make an Ankara dress. This gorgeous DIY Ankara dress will be a frilly, flirty, and fantastic addition to your wardrobe. The sturdy fabric is easy to work with and the pattern is simple to follow, even for those just learning how to sew. Let’s get started!

Tools and materials:

  • Ankara fabric
  • 7-inch invisible zipper
  • Fabric chalk
  • Measuring tape
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Seam ripper
  • Sewing machine

What is Ankara fabric?

Ankara is an African wax print fabric, also known as Dutch wax print, and a common 100% cotton material used in clothing in Africa, especially West Africa. The textile is industrially produced and usually features colorful, batik-style prints. Other names include kente cloth and kitenge. The word Ankara can also refer to the traditional African style of clothing.

Ankara dress sewing patterns

1. Marking the pattern

Follow the instructions in the video from 0:06-4:36 to draft the pattern for the front of the dress. 

Cutting the ruffle hem dress sewing pattern

2. Cut out the pattern

Cut out the front piece. 

Pinning and cutting the Ankara fabric

3. Pin and cut

Fold the remaining fabric and lay the front piece on top of it, with the folded edge of the front piece 1 inch from the folded edge of the fabric. This will be the extra allowance needed to attach the zipper to the back.

Pin the front piece to the fabric, and cut all the way around it to create the back piece of the dress. 

Cutting the neckline of the DIY Ankara dress

4. Cut the neckline

Cut the neckline on the front of the dress. 

How to easily make an Ankara dress

Cut the back piece along the fold.

Cutting out ruffles for the DIY Ankara dress

5. Measure and cut

Cut out 4 rectangles, each measuring 29 in x 4 in. These will be joined to create the sleeve ruffles. 

Making pockets for the DIY Ankara dress

6. Cut pockets

Place your hand on the fabric and cut around it to create a pocket pattern piece. Use that piece to cut three more identical pieces. 

Making a DIY ruffle hem dress

7. Cut the hem

Cut the hem of the front piece so it curves upwards slightly at the sides. Use the front piece as a guide to create a symmetrical hem on the back. 

How to make a ruffle hem midi dress

8. Measure and mark

Measure 8 in from the underarm, and make a small notch to mark where to attach the pockets. 

Pinning the pockets to the dress ready to sew

9. Pin and sew the pockets

Pin the pocket pieces in place on both the front and back pieces, and sew them down. 

Topstitching along the pockets

10. Topstitch

Then, fold each pocket piece outward and topstitch along the fold. 

Make a ruffle hem dress out of Ankara fabric

11. Pin and sew the dress

Pin the front and back pieces together at the shoulders, along the side seams, and around the pockets. Then sew. 

How to sew a ruffle hem dress

12. Pin, sew, and press the back

Pin and sew the back seam, leaving a 1-inch seam allowance, where you will later attach the zipper. Once sewn, separate the sides of the seam allowance, and press them flat. 

Ripping the seams to add the zipper

13. Rip the seam

Rip open the back seam to the same length as the zipper. 

Sewing a zipper into the DIY Ankara dress

14. Pin and sew the zipper

Turn the dress so the fabric is right side out. Open the zipper and pin it in place along the seam allowance, so the edge of the zipper tape is aligned with the fold. Then sew it down. 

Sewing a DIY Ankara dress

Repeat on the other side. 

Measuring the ruffle hem for the Ankara dress

15. Cut and sew the ruffle hem

Cut two rectangles, each measuring 60 in x 9 in. Sew them together along one short edge. This will be the hem ruffle. 

Gathering the ruffle at the hem of the dress

16. Hem and gather

Hem one long edge of the ruffle by folding the fabric once and sewing it down. Run a basting stitch across the second long edge, and gather the fabric along the thread to create a ruffled effect. 

Pinning the ruffle ready to sew

17. Pin and sew

Pin and sew the ruffle along the bottom edge of the dress. 

Attaching the sleeve ruffles

18. Attach sleeve ruffles

Hem one long edge of each sleeve ruffle, and gather the second long edge, just as you did for the ruffled hem. Then, pin and sew the sleeve ruffles in place around the armholes.

Pinning the fabric to the neckline

19. Cut, pin, and sew the neckline

Cut a strip of fabric equal in length to the neckline of the dress. Pin the strip along the neckline, right sides together, and sew it down. 

Sewing the neckline of the DIY Ankara dress

20. Fold, pin, and sew

Then, fold the strip towards the wrong side of the fabric, making sure you cover the top of the zipper and all the raw edges around the neckline. Pin it in place and sew it down.

How to make an Ankara dress

How to make an Ankara dress tutorial

You’re done! I hope you found this tutorial helpful. If you use this ruffle hem dress sewing pattern to make a DIY Ankara dress of your own, please post your results! We’d love to see how it turns out. 

Suggested materials:
  • Ankara fabric
  • 7-inch invisible zipper
  • Fabric chalk
See all materials

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