Sew a Square Neck Dress From Scratch

By JoBelle
by By JoBelle
9 Materials
4 Hours

I had an idea for a dress that I wanted to sew but it wasn't until I got stuck into the project that my vision came to life. This square neck dress has so many gorgeous details that make it the perfect piece for a summer outfit! I am so pleased with how this stunning dress turned out!

Tools and materials:

  • Fabric
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Elastic
  • Hairpin
  • Needle and thread
  • Zipper
  • Sewing machine
Sew a square neck dress

Cut the fabric for the bodice 

To get started on this square neck dress I cut a rectangle for the front panel. I made sure that I had a double layer of fabric in order to give the body more structure. The rectangle piece was 18 inches by 14 inches. The 18 inches was based on half my body’s circumference plus 2 inches of seam allowance. 

Make two panels

I then cut another, double-layer, rectangular piece with the same measurements. I split the piece in half to create two equal pieces that would become the back panel for the bodice of the dress. 

Iron down the center

Fold darts 

Next, I folded the front panel in half and ironed it to mark the centerline. I then pinched 1 inch of fabric on both sides of the front panel which I would later sew into darts. 

DIY square neck dress

To make sure that my darts were equal, I created a small pattern on a piece of paper and then traced that onto the front panel. 

Mark the dart centers

I then used an iron to mark the center of the darts which would help make sewing them easier when I got there. 

Make a square neck dress

Cut the fabric for the skirt 

Next, I moved on to the skirt. I cut two big rectangles, 20 inches by 28 inches. The width of the skirt was based on half my hip circumference with an added 2 inches for seam allowance. 

Cut two pieces for the back

I folded one rectangle in half and cut it into two to make the back pieces for the skirt. 

Use a ruler

Add darts to the skirt 

Next, I added 2 inch wide darts onto the skirt panels. One on each of the back panels and two on the large front panel. 

How to sew a square neck dress

Sew the darts 

To get a nice, clean dart, I made sure that my needle was positioned at the very tip of the dart before I started sewing. I then continued sewing with a straight stitch. 

Tie a double knot

To lock the stitch, I left about 2 inches of excess thread that I then tied into a double knot. 

Attach the skirt pieces

Sew the dress together 

Finally, I could start to sew the parts together. I placed the three skirt panels down, with the wrong side facing up, and sewed each back panel onto the side seam of the front panel. I decided to already hem the sides of each piece to make the dress look neater and cleaner. 

Sew the bodice

I then sewed the bodice of the dress together in the same way. 

Sew the dress together

I realized that I had made a mistake because I didn’t check that the darts on the bodice and skirt lined up. I decided that redoing the darts was too big of a job and I just went ahead and sewed the bodice and skirt together.

Try on the dress

Mark the alterations 

I tried on the dress and realized that I needed to take some fabric off from the sides so I marked the excess so that I would know how much fabric to get rid of,

Sew on the zipper

Attach the zipper 

Next, I hand sewed the invisible zipper. I tried to do it with the machine but couldn’t sew close enough to the teeth of the zipper. 

Easy square neck dress

I still had the excess fabric next to the zipper and some on the top of the dress as well that I would get rid of later. 

Sew the bottom of the skirt

I sewed together the bottom of the skirt, leaving a 5-inch slit so that I would be able to walk comfortably. 

Cut two pieces for sleeves

Make the sleeves 

Next, I moved on to the sleeves of the dress, I cut two rectangles, 19 inches by 21 inches. 

Create a tunnel

I would be attaching an elastic to the shoulder and also adding string 4 inches below the center of the sleeve. To do this, I sewed a tunnel for the string across the sleeve. 

Attach the elastic

I then cut the elastic pieces, 9 inches long. I pinned each end of the elastic to each end of the shoulder seam. 

Sew on the elastic

I then sewed the elastic with a zig-zag stitch, pulling the elastic as I sewed. 

Fold and sew

Next, I folded the elastic inward and sewed with a straight stitch, again, pulling the elastic while sewing,

Cut two strips

To make the string for the sleeves, I cut two strips of fabric an inch wide and about 20 inches long. 

Fold the strips

I then folded the fabric twice and sewed with a straight stitch. 

Use a hairpin

I used a hairpin to help me thread the string through the tunnel. 

Make a hole

Using a seam ripper, I made a hole in the center of the tunnel and pulled out the string, leaving an inch sticking out on each side of the tunnel. 

Leave a slit

I sewed closed the side of the sleeve leaving a 7-inch slit open. 

Square neck puff sleeve dress

Sew on the sleeves

Next, I sewed the underarm of the sleeve to the top of the dress. 

Add a tier

Add a tier to the skirt 

I decided to create a tiered style for the skirt of my dress so I cut the skirt into a dome shape and then cut two pieces of fabric 5 inches by 30 inches. I then connected the two strips to make one long piece of fabric. 

Gather the fabric

To gather my fabric, I sewed a straight stitch with my stitch setting at its longest. Since I didn’t change the thread tension, the fabric started gathering as I sewed. This is a great technique but it only works with very soft or thin fabric. 

Sew on the tier

I pinned the gathered fabric to the skirt of the dress and sewed it on with a straight stitch. 

How to make a square neck dress

I am so in love with this square neck dress! I would love to hear your thoughts on this DIY sewing project! Let me know in the comments below! 

Suggested materials:
  • Fabric
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
See all materials

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