How to Sew a Pretty Beginner-friendly Dress

10 Materials
4 Hours

Today, I’m showing you how to sew a dress by using my free PDF pattern to make a lightweight summer dress.

I used a 100% cotton bedsheet for this project, so it’s eco-friendly and sustainable as well.

My pattern comes in a wide range of sizes and I show you three ways to calculate the fullness of your skirt, so you can customize the dress to your exact requirements.

Tools and materials:

  • Free PDF pattern 
  • Lightweight cotton or cotton mix fabric
  • Paper for pattern
  • Tailor’s chalk
  • 0.75 inch (2 cm) wide elastic
  • Safety pin
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Serger (optional)

1. Cutting out

Print out my pattern if you don’t already have it, and cut out the pieces in your size

Cut 4 pocket pieces from a contrast or lining fabric.

Cut one front and one back skirt, your choice of length plus a hem allowance. 

For skirt option one, cut each piece your full hip measurement wide.

For option two, each piece will be your full bust measurement wide. 

For option three, use your full waist measurement for the width of each piece.

Cut two straps, each 39 inches (100 cm) wide and 1.6 inches (4 cm) long.


Extend the bra cup center pattern, as shown. Cut four center pieces and four side pieces.


Angle the front and back band patterns as shown. 


Cut two underbust band pieces for the front on the fold and four back pieces.

Pattern pieces

Mark the cup extension on the fabric by cutting a notch on all the pieces.


2. Straps

Fold the long edges of the strap to the wrong side and fold the strap in half. Pin and sew the long edge and press.

Knot one end of each strap.

Bra cups

3. Bra cups

Join each side piece to a center piece along the curved edge, with the right sides together. Snip the seam and press it.

Bra cups

With the right sides facing, pin the lining to the outer fabric of each cup. Sandwich the unknotted end of the strap between them at the point.

Sew the two side edges.

Snip the excess allowance at the upper point and turn the cups right side out.

Underbust bands

4. Underbust bands

Attach the outer edges of each front band to the angled edge of two back bands, with the right sides together.

Notch the center of each band on the upper edge.

Underbust bands

Matching the notches and with the right sides facing, pin the bra cups to the top edge of the front band. 

Underbust bands

Pin the lining over the cups.

Sew the bands together along the top and side edges, and the lower edges of only the back band. Leave the lower edge of the front band open.

Trim the excess from the corners, turn the band right side out and press.

Creating the skirt

5. Skirt

Cut a piece of elastic to half your waist measurement.

Finish the top and side edges of the skirt with a zigzag or overlock stitch.

Turn the top edge of the back to the wrong side to make a casing for the elastic, and sew it.

Thread the elastic through the casing and pin it securely at both ends.

Sew two rows of gathering stitches along the top edge of the front skirt.

Pull on the ends to gather the fabric to the width of the front band.

Creating pockets

6. Pockets

Measure 4 inches (10 cm) from the top edge of the skirt pieces.

Pin and sew the straight edges of the pockets to the side edges of the skirt pieces, with the right sides together. 

Creating pockets

Pin and sew the front and back skirt pieces together at the side seams, sewing around the pocket bags.

Attaching the skirt

7. Attach the skirt

Pin the gathered front of the skirt inside the open section of the band, matching the side seams.

Top stitch in place on the right side.


8. Finishing

Turn 1.2 inches (3 cm) of the short edges of the back band to the inside, to make a casing for the straps.

Sew them in place, leaving the top and bottom edges open.


Feed the knotted ends of the straps through the casing on the opposite side, so the straps cross over at the back.

Tie the ends of the straps together in a bow.

Sew a narrow double hem at the bottom of the skirt.

How to sew a dress: DIY dress

How to sew a dress: DIY dress

How to sew a dress: DIY dress

I hope you found this tutorial easy to follow and helpful.

You could make it in any lightweight fabric and lengthen the skirt for a summer evening dress.

It’s a great starting point for learning how to sew a simple dress for beginners.

I’d love to know how you get on with it - please let me know in the comments.

Next up, check out my post on How to DIY a Beginner-friendly Midi Skirt.

Suggested materials:
  • Free PDF pattern
  • Lightweight cotton or cotton mix fabric
  • Paper for pattern
See all materials

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