How I Made A Linen Dress.

How I Made A Linen Dress.

The Big Decision.

Linen Dress

If this is your first time sewing a dress, don’t worry. I’ve been there. I know how intimidating the idea can be. However, the point is to have fun and let loose with your imagination. Who cares if you don’t get it right the first time?

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I remember the first time I tried sewing a dress. I remember how daunting the idea seemed at first and how I felt sure that I was going to fail. Nevertheless, I decided that I would not let my fears hinder my creativity. I decided to sketch a simple design and focus on one step a time.

The design I’m going to share with you today is the same one I tried my first time designing a dress. My first experience sewing a dress showed me one very important thing: you don’t need to be a fashion designer to make your own design. I knew what styles of clothing I liked and began formulating an idea of how I wanted my dress to look. In the end, I created something simple and chic that I still love to wear today.


Where to begin?

Linen Dress

First, I wanted my design needed to be fairly simple.  I didn’t want to spend too much time or money on this project. I just wanted something simple with clean, crisp lines.

Personally, I love it when I find pockets on a dress so I made sure to include some in my design.I also really like the bat wing style of sleeves, so I threw those in there as well.

As for my fabric of choice, well, the answer to that was a given. Linen!

What type of linen exactly though? There were so many weights and colors to consider!  I finally settled on IL020 because I wanted something light to keep my dress from looking drab or too much like a shapeless smock.  The color I chose was Duke Indigo; a darkish navy color that I think will be suitable for any season.  I like the dark color because it’ll allow me to accessorize in a variety of ways.

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I ordered two yards of linen for my dress and ended up having a little extra once I was done cutting it.  It’s a good idea to wash and dry your linen before your begin making any clothing.  Laundering before you measure and cut the fabric gets rid of any future shrinkage issues.


Pattern-making time.

Once I made a sketch of my design on paper, I needed to make a pattern.  The pattern would then be traced onto my fabric with chalk so I wouldn’t make any mistakes.  The pattern shows two side views of my dress.

I measured myself to get the size right, although I chose a loose design so sizing didn’t need to be precise.

LinenDress

The first image shows the initial sketch I draw for my design.  The second image shows the shape of the actual patterns I needed to cut.

In order to waste as little linen as possible, I traced my patterns onto my fabric onto a double-folded piece of fabric.  The second middle image shows how I arranged these onto my fabric.

As the image shows, I doubled my linen and placed the folded edge on the left side.  I then traced the front pattern along the folded left edge.  This will leaves me with one single piece once cut.  The back pattern is inverted next to the the front pattern.  This does not have any folded edges and leaves me with two separate pieces of cut fabric.

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Why did I cut the patterns like this? Well, as I said, I wanted to waste less linen.  Also, I chose not to have the back be one single piece of linen.  My plan is to have a seam going down the back of the garment that joins these two pieces.  It is a detail I think will look nice on the dress, as well as keep the back looking more tidy by reducing the wrinkles caused while sitting.

The images on the bottom show the measurements I wanted for my dress.  It also give you a better idea of the slight differences in the front and back pieces.



Let the Sewing Begin!

Linen Dress

 

To begin, I traced my patterns onto my linen with fabric chalk.  The linen is double folded with the fold going vertically down the left.  The drawing from before demonstrates the position of the two pieces.


Linen Dress

Then I cut out each piece.

Linen Dress

 

At this point, I don’t want to completely sew the two pieces together.  I only made a seam along the top (the arm and shoulder area) and kept the sides open for now.


Linen Dress

After I cut these,  I sewed the two back pieces together down the center with a double-hem.


Linen Dress

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To finish the collar area, I cut two strips from a double-folded piece of linen.  The folded ran along the bottom of my linen.


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The cuts were measure from the front and back of the back of my dress. You can get an idea of the shape and size needed for these from the picture.  The width of both measures 2 inches.


Linen Dress

Here is the collar with the attached pieces.


Linen Dress

Now for the pockets!  I began by cutting two 12” squares from the linen (shown folded).  This is the reason I held off seaming the sides earlier.  Sewing the pockets on will be much easier this way.

Linen Dress
I altered the edges of the pockets slightly before sewing them on to give them more of a slant.  I then steamed and ironed them for a wrinkly effect.

Linen Dress
After the pockets are done, I finished the seams on the armholes and sides.  Then I flipped my dress right-side out to examine all my hard work!


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*I hope you are inspired to test out your design skills too!  Tell me all about your sewing endeavors by leaving a comment. Also, don’t forget to  “Like” us on Facebook!
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21 comments

  1. Terri

    YES! Exactly what I have been trying to make! I added three inches to the length and one inch to the width of the body and it made the perfect tunic dress – not snug, not too slouchy. I used a natural colored linen and I love it! Thank you!!!!!

  2. Meg

    Hi, I love this pattern tutorial, only one question – have you added a seam allowance all round, I can only see a seam allowance for the middle of the two back pieces. I may have just misunderstood. Can’t wait to make it. Thank you

  3. Bethany

    This is the words only of a class handout I did for our medieval group. Same principles apply to this dress.
    If you want to see the diagrams and proper formatting I’ll try to post it in the arts and crafts section of my facebook page. Bethany Theilman btheilman@comcast.net

    T–Tunics for the Sewing Impaired
    Find/buy a tape measure (not metal) and write down some numbers. For yourself, get a friend
    to help.
    Center Back (CBack) is where the neck attaches to the backbone.
    CBack to Chest _______ Circumference around head ______
    CBack to Waist _______ Circumference around neck ______
    CBack to Hip _______ Circumference around chest ______
    CBack to the Shoulder _______ Circumference around waist ______
    Circumference around hips ______
    Circumference of Arm at the armpit. = Armseye ________
    Fold your fabric in half with the two finished “selvedge”
    edges out. Part of these will usually end up as the end of
    an adult tunic’s sleeves and will save hemming!
    Iron to crease the shoulder fold
    Fold it in half again matching the finished edges.
    Doesn’t hurt to put a pin or two in to keep the layers
    from slipping on each other.
    Iron to crease the center fold.
    The point is your center back.
    Layout measurements Horizontal
    Measure down fold from CBack to chest, waist
    and hip, mark each with a washable colored pencil
    or sliver of bath soap for dark fabrics.
    Fabric is now 4 layers thick. Take the
    measurements for Chest, add in about 10-15 percent
    (usually 4-6 inches) for ease of movement
    then divide the whole by 4 and mark the resulting
    distance from CB fold on your fabric plus an inch
    for seam. Repeat process with Waist and Hip.
    Connect the dots.
    Layout measurements Arms/Length
    Measure CB to shoulder. From shoulder, measure down
    the (armseye divided by 2) plus 2 inches for comfort and seam.
    From the Chest/4 +1” measurement mark, carry over armseye
    line to finished edges or mark diagonally from armpit to make
    swoopy sleeves (dotted line under sleeve in diagram)
    For full skirts, go from waist to finished edge of fabric. You
    will need to measure along the diagonal and mark it the same
    length as along the fold to the desired length. Eyeball an arc
    connecting the two to make the skirt even all the way around.
    Connect your marks to make a cutting line and cut the fabric
    through all the layers — following your lines and making sure
    fabric isn’t creeping on the inside of the fold. Pins help.
    BEFORE seaming the sides, calculate the neck and keyhole
    required to get it over your head. The circle is the
    neck measurement. Divide your neck measurement by 3.14
    and find a dish with that diameter to draw around..
    Keyhole length is 1/2 (Head – Neck). Your seams will take up
    some fabric and make the holes bigger.
    Cut out neckhole and keyhole slot. From a scrap make a
    facing with the same neck and keyhole slot and hem the
    outside edges so it doesn’t fray. If fabric has “grain”,
    match grain.
    Matching keyholes, and with the good sides together, sew
    the facing to tunic about 1/4 to 3/8 inch from the edges.
    Clip curves, turn to inside and press. The neck and keyhole
    should now be finished seams. Trim and turn keyhole
    corners carefully. Sew 1/4 inch in to keep neck neat.
    Tack the edges of the facing to tunic.
    a. Quick and dirty: Pin and sew “right” sides face to
    face together about 3/4 inch from the edge. Sew again
    under arms for strength. Use pinking shears or fray-check
    to keep the raw edges from fraying too much.
    OR
    b. French seam: With “right” sides facing out, pin and
    sew along arms & sides 1/4 inch in.
    Turn inside out, press and sew over same seams again
    about 3/8 inch in trapping the raw edge inside seam.
    2. Turn right side out. Finish bottom edge by folding up
    1/2 inch (to inside) and pressing around edge. Fold up
    again to the desired length, pin and tack finished edge to
    outside layer from the inside.

    Decorate as desired with period appropriate trim or
    embroidery. If trimming bottom you can hem to outside
    and then cover with trim to hide raw edge.
    There should be no visible Zigzag stitch
    for general garb, none at all for anything
    you want to enter in Arts and Science competition.

  4. Bethany

    Relative to the sleeves, it looks more like a medieval tunic. Need another 2 to 3 feet length for a dress or nice nightie. Exactly same process, just more fabric and embroider some pretties around the top and sleeves.

  5. Patricia Ankrom

    I do not usually care for the one size fits all sort of thing. Any chance of a tunic with pleated front shoulder instead of darts. that might be something from a soft linen to wear over pants.


  6. Author
    nicole novembrino

    The dress is 32.5 inches in length. I’ll try to post a photo of it being worn as soon as possible! Thanks for all the great feedback :)

  7. Anne Bobo

    I don’t understand enough about the pattern making. When you measured yourself, where did take measures? How did you apply them to the pattern? I think you assume some knowledge of this process in your instructions. Would you please fill us in?

  8. (Elizabeth) Betty Stroble

    I really like the dress design! Nothing was mentioned about the length of the dress?? It looks more like a long jacket? I’m a little confused!! Thanks for an answer!!

  9. Angela

    Nicole, I would like to attempt making this dress. However, the photo of your sketch did not post so I have no idea as to what the components shoul look like prior to cutting. I it possible to send or re-post the photo?
    Thank you and best regards,
    Angela

  10. Lisa

    I love the this colour and have posted a link to this great tutorial on the Fitzpatterns Facebook page. Am so inspired I’m going to come and buy some fabric from you.


  11. Author
    nicole novembrino

    Thanks, Cherie! That’s a good point. I just included a tip about pre-shrinking the linen before you begin.

    @Pam- I have 2 yards of fabric to work with initially. There was some linen left over though. I would order two yards and use the remainder for another project. Maybe a simple skirt? That’s my plan!

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