Make Your Very Own Off-the-Shoulder Dress With This Tutorial

Donlarrie Couture
by Donlarrie Couture
7 Materials
3 Hours

There’s nothing better than a cute summer dress. Besides looking good, they’re perfect for hot and sticky weather. In this tutorial, I will walk you through making your very own DIY summer circle dress from scratch. The off-the-shoulder look is cute and chic and the length and material will keep you cool.

Tools and materials:

  • Fabric
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Fabric chalk
  • Measuring tape
  • Safety pin
  • Sewing machine
Off the shoulder dress
Take your measurements

The first thing you’re going to do for this project is to take your measurements. The measurements you’ll need are your shoulders, bust, gown length, off-shoulder, and armpit-to-armpit. For the fabric, you’ll need two to three yards, depending on the length you want the gown to be. 

DIY off-the-shoulder dress
Fold your fabric

Take your fabric, already cut into your chosen length, and fold it in half. Then take one corner of the folded edge and fold it to the opposite corner of the open edge so that your fabric is folded in fourths and looks like a triangle. 

Off-the-shoulder summer dress
Mark down your measurements

Once your fabric is folded in fourths, you’re going to mark your shoulder measurement divided by half on the narrow part of the fabric. My shoulder measurement was 15”, so I measured and marked 7 ½”. Make sure your line is even by measuring the tip of the fabric to both sides of the line and making sure it’s the same length on both. Make adjustments accordingly. Then add a vertical line onto your horizontal one with half of your armpit-to-armpit measurement. Mine was 12.5”, so I measured 6.25” from the end of the line and marked it. 

Off-the-shoulder casual dress
Mark your armhole

Next, you’re going to create the armhole cuff. So take 4-6”, depending on how low you want it, and measure horizontally so that the measurement comes out to be on the horizontal line you already drew. Once you have it lined up, go down and mark your normal armhole measurement. Then measure the distance between your new line and the existing one, and go over to the other side and mark down that same distance, connecting both markings. So for me, it was 8”, meaning that my distance was 3.” I went over to the other side, measured 3” and marked that. 

DIY off-the-shoulder circle dress
Cut out the pattern

Now that you have all your measurements marked, go ahead and cut it out. Then cut open the bottom fold so that you can lay it out flat. 

How to make an off-the-shoulder dress
Cut out the strip

To cut out the long strip that you’ll be adding to the dress, you’re going to use excess fabric. Take your off-shoulder measurement and add to it 30” for seam allowance. For me that came out to just about two yards, so my length was already set. Then fold it into four and mark 2”, which will be the width of the strip, and cut it out.

DIY summer dress
Make the armhole facing

Take the rest of your excess fabric and fold it into four. Then take the cut-out pattern and place the top of it onto the fabric. You can make the facing 1-2”. I did 2”. Then cut the fabric, using the pattern as a guide. 

DIY women’s summer dress
Cut out the facing

Take the piece you just cut out and trace a curve 2” from the top to make sure it’s parallel. Cut out the curve and you’ll be left with four pieces of facing. Then overlock the edges to keep them neat. If you don’t have an overlocker machine, you can fold the edges twice and sew them down. 

How to make a circle dress
Stitch the facing

Separate the front from the back. You’ll be doing the same thing to both sides. Take one piece of facing and lay it on top of the armhole of the pattern, right side to right side, and clip or pin it in place. Do this on both sides of both the front and back pieces. Then stitch the facing in place, following the top curve. 

Circle dress DIY
Notch the armholes

Trim the edges of the armhole with the facing, then notch it all along the curve, making sure not to cut through the thread. Repeat the process on both armholes of both the front and back pieces of the dress. Then fold over and iron the facing so that it’s now wrong side to wrong side. 

Make your own circle dress
Make the casing for the top

To make the casing for the strip at the top part of the dress, you’re going to start from the corner and fold the top over ¼”. Then you’re going to fold it again depending on your seam allowance and stitch it in place. Just make sure that the casing is wide enough for the knot that you’ll be adding to it. 

DIY summer dress for women
Put together the front and back pieces

Now you’re going to take the front and back pieces and line them up together so that the edges are all matched up. Then stitch them together, using ½” seam allowance. You’ll do this by sewing together the sides, and then sewing a hem at the bottom with a double fold. 

Casual off-the-shoulder dress
Fold the strip

Take the strip you cut out before and fold one edge inward. Then take the side of it and fold it inward over the fold you just made. Do the same thing on the other side, and fold the whole thing in half. Now stitch from the top edge, along the open part of the fold, and down to the other edge, folding it like you did the top edge.

Off-the-shoulder women’s dress
Insert the strip

Take the folded strip and add a safety pin to the end. Then use the pin to feed the strip of fabric through the casing. Then continue on the other side until it’s all the way around the top of the dress. 

Completed off-the-shoulder dress

There you have it, guys! Here is my completed off-the-shoulder summer dress. I think it came out really cute and I’m definitely excited to wear it. You can make this dress with whatever color or pattern fits your style and personality. I’d love to see how your versions turn out, so be sure to show me in the comments! 

Suggested materials:
  • Fabric
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
See all materials

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 1 comment
  • Gillian Wilhelm Gillian Wilhelm on Nov 24, 2020

    Yes I might try this outfit for my granddaughter. I would like it for myself if it had some short sleeves to cover the tops of my older lady's arms. Mrs Gillian Wilhelm U.K