Cinch waist dresses are definitely a wardrobe staple! I think it’s one of those garments you can wear in any season by simply using different fabric weight, adding sleeves, pair them with
tights and boots or some simple flip flops like me! I made this elastic waist dress using a lightweight knit fabric – the drape and hand of this fabric feels absolutely divine. This is one of my
favorite garments to wear when I have flare ups. Another thing is, as I was drafting and sewing this dress I had swollen fingers but since it didn’t require much pulling like when sewing the
elastic, it was really easy to make.
Are you ready to make this dress? Go grab your favorite t-shirt and let’s get started!
Things you will need:
1. Knit fabric
2. Knit elastic – 1/4″ wide
Video tutorial also available *HERE*
Draw a straight line and place your folded t-shirt against this line which will be your center front/back line. To find your waist, just put on your t-shirt and measure from the armhole to
right below your rib cage. Draw a straight line at a 90 degree angle from your center front/back line. Then add 5/8″ seam allowance to the waist. Draw along the side seam, shoulder and back neckline.
For the armhole and front neckline, use a pin to poke holes through the t-shirt. Then draw the lines out later.
Square off where the armhole meets the side seam so that when we put the front and back pieces together the armhole will be nice, round and smooth. Also smooth out the side seam with a curve ruler.
Draw a straight line for the shoulder. (Green) My t-shirt’s a crew neck so I moved it back by 3/4″. I did later cut the front neckline to more of a scoop neck. Extend a slanted line 3/8″ (orange) down from the shoulder line. I wanted a slight cap sleeve so I marked 1 1/4″ out from the shoulder point. Then a straight line from there (yellow) . Using a French curve ruler connect that line to the side seam – this front armhole will be about 3/8″ below the original t-shirt armhole in dashes which we will keep as the back armhole. Blend the dashed lines to the new armhole.
Oops! A quick correction on the necklines. They need to meet at the shoulder 🙂
For the neck, draw 1/4″ straight lines from the center front/back line. I lightly penciled the shaped I wanted for the neckline and then smoothed out the curve with my French curve ruler.
For now, add 3/8″ seam allowance to your side seam.The other seam allowances we will add later. To get 2 separate front and back pieces, I stapled and pinned the original pattern to a blank paper. Cut out the pattern. I did put a few pins in so it wouldn’t shift .
Now we have 2 separate front and back pieces. Check to see if the armhole is smooth and round by folding and placing the side seams together.
Cut the front neckline and armhole on the front piece.
I also shaped the armhole at the shoulder seams and cut off that pointy part.
I smoothed out the neckline at the shoulder seams by gluing the 2 pieces to a small blank paper.
Glue the pattern to a blank paper and add the seam allowances. 1/4″ for the neckline and armhole. 3/8″ for the shoulder.
Pin the pattern to the folded fabric and cut it out.
Sew the shoulders and side seams first. I zig zagged the edges to keep them from curling.
To finish the armholes, cut out 2 5/8″ wide crossgrain strips and also about 1/2″ shorter than the measurement of the entire armhole. Then sew the strips with a 1/4″ seam to form a ring and divide them into 4 equal sections. Divide the armhole into 4 equal sections as well. The shoulder seam will not be the halfway point because the front and back armhole measurements are not the same. Pin the strip to the armhole and sew with a 1/4″ seam. Then fold it in and sew it down a 1/4″ from the edge. Trim off any excess fabric.
I used the top stitch binding method on the neck and I think next time I will use the same method on the armholes as well because it looked so much neater. Divide the neckline into quarters.Cut out a 1″ strip cut crossgrain that’s a bit shorter than the neckline measurement. Sew to make a ring and divide into quarters. Place the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the neckline and sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Then fold the binding over twice onto the right side of the top. Pin it in place and sew close to the edge.
Moving onto the skirt, after determining the width and length of your skirt cut out your fabric and sew into a tube. My hips are 36″ so I cut my fabric out 50 3/4″ wide (including 3/8″ seam allowances at each end) by 22 3/8″ (including 5/8″ seam allowance at the waist and 3/4″ hem). So my skirt is really 50″ x 21″. One thing to keep in mind is, the wider we go with the fabric the fuller the skirt will be so depending on how full you want your skirt to be adjust the width of the fabric. I also sewed a 1/4″ guide line for the elastic.
I normally cut my knit elastic about 2″ short of my waist measurement but you can also just wrap the elastic around your waist and check for a comfortable fit before cutting the elastic.
Match the 2 ends with no overlapping and sew with a wide zig zag stitch to form a ring. Divide it into quarters and mark them. Divide the skirt into quarters and mark them as well. Pin the elastic to the skirt and sew it along the guide line with a zig zag stitch.
It’s already looking so pretty!
Now it’s time to attach the top to the skirt. Divide the top’s waist into quarters and match them to the quarters marked on the skirt. Sew them together with a 5/8″ seam allowance. Then fold the seam allowance up and sew it to the top. Make sure that you’re not sewing right on the elastic.
Hemming the skirt is the last step – fold up 3/4″ and sew 2 rows of stitching or use a twin needle if you have one.
And now the best part is to enjoy your new cinch waist dress! I love this fabric to pieces – it drapes beautifully and feels wonderful against my skin in this Oklahoma summer heat. You can see the original neckline below. The dress looked a whole better after I cut more of the neckline – it really shows how one simple adjustment can really make a garment! By the way, that’s Teddy aka Theodore Jeremiah Harris. He’s a Corgi/Lab-mix and he’s trying to “herd” me back into the house 😀
If you have any questions or comments, I will reply as soon as I can!