Created by: The Sara Project
Velvet is one of this season’s biggest trends. You see it used with skirts, shoes, dresses, blazers, etc. and I just can’t get enough! Fabric.com has a fabulous selection of stretch velvets, and I’m here to show you how to use them!
I love stretch velvet because it’s not very complicated to use. Basically, think of it as a knit fabric. The only thing you need to be aware of is the nap. When you pet the fabric, you can feel the fabric laying smoothly one way, and pushing against your hand (a little rough) the other way. With stretch velvet, you have to decide which way you want the nap to go for your project, the light hits it differently both ways. For this project, I decided to go against the nap.
I recently came across a boho designer dress made in a stunning yellow velvet, and the rest was history. I knew I had to make my own version of the eye catching frock. I really love the different design elements to this dress, specifically its yokes, gathered waist and tiered prairie style skirt.
I have a really fun tutorial planned for you that will walk you through how to make and draft your own pattern for this dress as well as a sew-along that take you through the entire process of sewing your dress together. Let’s get started!
- 3-4 yards of velvet fabric (Make your pattern pieces first to decide how much you will need- for me making a size Small, I need about 3 ½ yards)
- About 4 yds of Cording (I used this one).
- 1/4" elastic
- Polyester thread
- Ball Point Needle
- Plantain tee pattern by Deer and Doe (it’s free!)
- Pattern paper or white computer paper can work too
- Clear tape
- Fitted t shirt you already own for reference
Creating your pattern:
1) First of all, print out your Deer and Doe Plantain Tee pattern, and tape it together according to your size. You will need pieces 1,2 and 4.
2) Grab your fitted t-shirt (a crew neck or slightly lower neckline you like is best). The plantain tee pattern has a really low neckline, so we are going to use this t-shirt to draw a new, higher neckline.
3) To get started, tape a blank sheet of paper or tracing paper under the neckline area of both your front and back bodice pattern pieces.
4) Fold your t-shirt in half long ways, with the front side out. Lay it on top of your bodice front pattern piece, lining up the shoulder edges.
5) Mark the new neckline according to your t-shirt. We will be adding another ½” to the neckline with your neckband, so keep this in mind as you are drawing your new neckline.
6) Trace and mark the neckline of your t-shirt to the shoulder seam.
7) Before moving your T-shirt off the pattern, trace along the side seam of your t-shirt as well, marking it straight onto the plantain shirt pattern. (We’re basically making a pattern block). Add an additional ½” grading down from the underarm seam to add your seam allowance along the side seam.
8) Cut along these new lines we just drew. Mine are all in red.
9) Repeat for your back bodice, but this time only tracing the side seams (don’t worry about the back neckline, it’s already high enough). I also did not add seam allowances to my back bodice, it ends up being wide enough as it is that you don’t need to add them.
10) Now we are going to make our front and back yokes. Take your front bodice pattern, and measure down from your mid top shoulder seam to mid armhole (6 1/8” for me), and mark this measurement on your pattern mid armhole.
11) Draw a line from this marking we just made to the center front of your bodice, make sure it’s exactly straight from your armhole measurement to the center front.
12) Cut along this line. Add ½” seam allowance along both the yoke and new bodice edge.
13) Repeat for back yoke and bodice. (steps 10-12). Label front and back yoke piece, we will cutting one front yoke and one back yoke on the fold.
14) It is important in pattern making to true your patterns. To do this, lay the front and back yokes on top of each other, and make sure they are the same. I had to add a little to one piece and subtract a little from the other. Do the same for you bodice front and back pieces too.
15) Now find your waist measurement, and mark it on your front and back bodice pieces. Lay them on top of each other and make sure these measurements are exactly the same for both pieces so your casing will line up correctly along the side seams when sewn together.
16) Now we are going to apply a method called slash and spread to our front and back bodice pieces. This allows us to add extra fullness to this pattern piece. We are going to be slashing and spreading these pieces by 1.5 for equal fullness. So to figure out how to do this we need to make a few quick calculations, it’s really quite simple!
a. Total Waist Measurement x 1.5= Added Fullness Measurement (ex: 32 X 1.5=48)
b. Added Fullness Measurement / 4 = How much fullness we are adding (ex: 48 /4=12)
c. How Much Added Fullness / 4 pieces= total amount we need to add to F and B bodice pieces (ex: 12/4= 4” needed per piece).
17) To figure out how to space your slash and spread pieces, calculate:
a. Front Bodice Waist Measurement / Fullness to Add= Spacing.
b. Ex: 8 ¼ / 4”= 2” Spread
18) Mark this spacing measurement along your bodice piece. So I marked every 2” and then drew a perpendicular line to the top of my bodice piece. (photo: fullsizerender(45) ).
19) Next, we are going to cut along these lines one at a time. On tracing paper draw a straight horizontal line along the bottom as a reference. Cut along your spacing lines one at a time. So cut, tape, measure 1”. Repeat adding 4 “ total. It will look like this once finished. Label your pattern piece, we will cut one on the fold for each Front and Back piece. Draw a horizontal line along your waist measurement we previously marked.
20) Repeat for back bodice (steps 16-19).
21) Now we need to add the first section of our skirt, and we are going to add it directly to the front and back bodice pieces to make one whole piece. Using a tape measure, measure from your waist to about mid thigh. I’m 5’4”and it ended up being 16” for me.
22) Tape your Front and Back bodice pieces to tracing paper along the bottom edge. Draw a line from the side and center front seams using this new measurement we just made. (Mine was 16”) and make the width the same as your bodice piece. Add ½” seam allowance along the side seam for both pieces.
a. Label your pattern pieces; we will cut one Front bodice on the fold and one Back bodice on the fold.
23) Now we are going to make the last two tiers of our dress.
Length wise I decided I wanted my tiers to be: tier 1: 6” and tier 2: 5 ½” when finished. Don’t forget to add 1” for seam allowance to your length. Here’s how to figure this out:
a. Tier 1: Waist Measurement x 2.7 / 2 = width x desired length. (ex: 40” width x 7” length)
b. Tier 2: Waist Measurement x 4 / 2= width x desired length + 1” for hem). (ex: 56” width x 7.5” length)
c. Draw out these two pieces, label each pattern piece, we will cut one of each tier on the fold.
24) Almost there guys! I promise it’s worth it! Just a few more pieces to go. Next, we need to make our casing piece. This will go right along our waist on both front and back bodice pieces. So here is how you calculate this pattern piece:
a. Measure across the waistline on your pattern that we marked.
b. Subtract 1 ½” from this measurement = (casing pattern width x 1 ¼” length)
c. Mine ended up being 11” x 1 ¼”
d. Draw this pattern piece (a rectangle).
e. Repeat for back bodice piece. Label this pattern piece, we will cut one on the fold for the front and one on the fold for the back.
25) Now our neckband pattern piece (another rectangle):
a. Using a tape measure, measure along your front and back neckline on your yoke pattern pieces. Multiply each measurement by 2 since we are only measuring half of each neckline. I ended up with 23”. (13” Front and 10” for back)
b. Subtract 4” from your total measurement. Ex: 23” -4”= 19”. Divide this number by 2 to get you neckband width and add ½” for seam allowance. (ex: 9.5 + ½” x 2” length)
c. Draw this pattern piece out using a flat ruler. Label, we will cut one on the fold.
26) Last but not least, the sleeves! Using the plantain shirt sleeve pattern, we are just going to make a few quick adjustments. This pattern is a for a fitted long sleeve. First, find your desired sleeve length, plus 1” for the hem and adjust your pattern accordingly. I wanted my sleeve to be 16” long, so I measured from the top middle of the sleeve to 17” down and drew a horizontal line, and cut.
27) Next we need to add ½” to either side of the sleeve, grading from the underarm edge to the hem of the sleeve. Tape some tracing paper along each side of your sleeve, and add ½”. Label your pattern pieces, we will cut two.
Phew! You made it! Now, for the fun part!
Sewing your dress:
Before cutting out your pattern, find the direction of the nap you like best, and make sure to cut your patterns out in this direction so they all look the same when sewn together, there is a big difference in the way the light hits velvet. I decided to cut against the nap.
Cut out your pattern pieces according to your labels you marked on your pattern pieces.
Before we begin sewing, make sure to use a ballpoint needle with a zig zag or lightning stitch unless otherwise mentioned.
When it comes to ironing this fabric, we won’t be ironing very much. Put your iron on it’s lowest setting and hold your iron about ½” away from the fabric and just steam. If you over steam with the iron placed directly on your fabric, it may discolor your fabric slightly. So be careful! I did lightly touch my iron to the side seams and casing. When doing this make sure to place a towel underneath your fabric so as not to crush your velvet.
Let’s put it all together!
1) First we are going to attach our casing to our front and back bodice pieces. Mark your waistline previously marked on your pattern along the front and back waist marking. I used pins to mark this line on my fabric.
2) Lightly fold and iron both ends of casing pieces in at ½” wrong sides together. Top stitch to finish this edge.
3) Now, fold both long edges on each casing piece in at ¼” on each side wrong sides together, lightly iron.
4) Line up your prepped casing along the pins marking your waist on your front and back bodice pieces. Pin in place.
5) Topstitch 1/8” away on either side of casing, leaving ends open. (Make sure to use a straight stitch)
6) Along the top of your front bodice piece, sew basting stitches at ¼” and ½”, leave long tails on either end.
7) Gather along this top edge, lightly pulling your threads, and match up to your front yoke piece. Make sure to evenly spread your gathers. Before gathering I like to match up the centers of both pieces, and ends, (right sides together) pinning in place. Then I gather my long edge to fit. Either way works.
8) Sew the bottom of the yoke and top of front bodice pieces right side together at ½” using a zig zag or lightning stitch. Remove any basting stitches you can see on the right side.
9) Repeat for back bodice and yoke.
10) Now we are going to sew tier one to the bottom of our front bodice piece. Again, sew basting stitched to the top of your tier one piece at ¼” and ½”. Pin the pieces together RST at centers and ends, lightly pull threads to gather the long tier one edge to fit the bottom of your front bodice edge. Pin, and sew ½” with a stretch stitch, and remove any visible basting stitches on front side.
11) Repeat for Back Bodice.
12) Next we will sew our final tier, tier 2 to the bottom of tier one. Again, sew basting stitches at ¼” and ½” along the top of tier two. Match center and ends for both pieces, lightly pull threads and evenly space gathers to fit, pin in place. Sew at ½” using a stretch stitch, remove any visible threads on the right side.
13) Repeat for back bodice.
14) Next we need to sew our shoulder seams together. Pin front and back shoulders right sides together. Sew at ½” using a stretch stitch: zig zag or lightening stitch.
15) Now it’s time to sew in our sleeves. We are going to pin our sleeve cap into the armhole, right sides together. Match up your corners at the end of your cap and armhole, and the center of your sleeve to the shoulder seam. Sew at ½”using a stretch stitch.
16) With right sides facing, pin your side seams and sleeves together from sleeve hem to dress hem on both sides of your dress. Sew each side at ½”, with a stretch stitch.
17) Almost done! Now let’s finish our neckline. Fold your neckline band in half along the fold, right sides together. Sew at ½”.
18) Now fold your neckband piece in half wrong sides together and pin in place instead of ironing.
19) Using pins, mark the front, back and sides of your neckband, quartering it. This helps keep it even when pinning it to the neckline.
20) Pin your neck band to your neckline, right sides together, pinning first at shoulder seams and front and back centers. Lightly stretch your neck band (not your neckline) to fit and pin the rest of your neckband in place.
Sew at ½” using a stretch stitch. Trim your seam allowance, and topstitch along the neckline to keep the seam allowance laying down.
21) Now let’s hem our sleeve. Wrap your ¼” elastic around where your sleeve will end along your arm to where it’s just fitted, and cut two pieces to this length.
22) Using my fingers and no iron, I folded each sleeve end in at ¼” and then ½”. Pin this in place. Edgestitch around your casing using a straight stitch, making sure to leave about ½” opening to insert your elastic. Repeat for your other sleeve.
23) Attach a safety pin to one end of your elastic, and insert it into your sleeve casing. Sew your two elastic ends together (make sure there’s no twisting inside your sleeve casing before sewing). Push the elastic into your casing completely, and edgestitch your opening closed.
24) Hem the bottom of your dress. Again, using my fingers, I folded my hem at ¼” and then ½” and pinned in place all the way around.
Edgestitch using a straight stitch
25) Cut your cording in half exactly and insert your cording into your waist casing. Insert each piece like the letter U into each side, so two ends come out on each side. Tie a little knot at the end of your cording once it is inserted.
You did it! I hope you enjoy your new dress! Thanks for following along!