BOLD FLORALS: High-Low Dress Tutorial

Back in January, Kayla, from See Kayla Go, came to visit me here in SoCal. She was only here for two nights, but she managed to sneak out to the LA fabric district one afternoon and she came back bearing gifts. She picked up this gorgeous floral silk (for $2 a yard!) in two colors, so we each took a color and set off with the goal to make something pretty and report back. 
The fabric sat in my stash, untouched, for about a month until I was looking through my pinterest DIY board for some inspiration and saw this dress from ModCloth and knew instantly that I wanted to recreate it with this fabric. This dress ended up taking way longer to make than I expected because I hit a few road blocks and ended up unpicking more seams than I’d like to discuss. The only positive thing about it taking so long is that Kayla had moved down to Huntington Beach by the time the dress was finished, so we were able to do a photoshoot together in our matchy outfits. It felt like elementary school matching with your friends all over again (and yes, people stared). 
dress: made by me // belt: thrifted (similar) // shoes: kohls (similar) // clutch: thrifted (similar) // necklace: forever 21 (similar) // watch: michael kors //  bracelets: target & c/o poshlocket (here & here

Materials:

  • 2 yards of fabric (mine is silk, but a polyester or lightweight cotton with a nice drape should also work well)
  • matching thread
  • 1/8″ wide elastic 

Step 1. Using a loose blouse as a pattern, cut out the top part of your dress. Add a 1/2″ seam allowance around the entire shirt. Also, note that the top part of your dress will only go down to your natural waist, so measure and cut the top length accordingly.

Now cut a large, slightly tapered toward the waist, rectangle for the bottom half of your dress. Make sure the shirt and skirt are the same width where they will connect at the waist. Mine was 19 inches, as seen below.

Step 2. With right sides together, sew up the sides of your skirt with a straight stitch with a 1/2″ seam allowance, and then serge or zigzag the raw edge. Next, lay your skirt out with the side seams on the top and bottom (as pictured below), and cut your high-low hemline to your desired length.
Step 3. With right sides together, sew the sides of your top with a straight stitch and a 1/2″ seam allowance. Trim and serge or zigzag the raw edges.

Step 4. Cut the front neckline to your desired depth.

Next, cut the neckline “ribbing.”  Measure your neckline front from shoulder to shoulder, but measuring around the scoop of the neckline, and then subtract an inch from that measurement. Now cut a 1″ thick strip of fabric on the bias (so it should be as stretchy as possible) in that measurement length.

Repeat for the neckline back.

Fold your two strips of fabric in half (wrong sides together) and press. They should now be two long strips, 1/2″ wide each.

Pin the “ribbing” strips to the front and backs of your necklines (as seen below), making sure that the ends of your “ribbing” match up with the shoulders. The neckline will be bunched to accomodate the “ribbing’s” shorter length. Sew around the neckline, as close to the raw edge as you can, stretching the “ribbing” in between pins as you sew.

Press the ribbing flat and repeat for the neckline back.

Step 5. (not pictured). With right sides together, sew the shirt together at the shoulders with a straight seam and a 1/2″ seam allowance, and then hem the sleeves to your desired length.
Step 6. Now it’s time to attach the top to the skirt. With right sides together, pin the top and skirt together (matching up the side seams) and sew around the entire waist with a straight seam and a 3/4″ seam allowance. 

serge or zigzag the raw edge, but do not trim the large seam allowance since this will become the casing for your elastic.

Next, pin the large seam allowance up toward the top of the shirt and sew around the waistband again, 1/4″ above the previous seam. Leave two inches open at the end of this seam so you can insert the elastic.

Measure your natural waist and cut a piece of elastic in that length. Thread the elastic through your casing, then sew the two ends together to make a circle. Sew up the two inch opening in the casing.

Step 7. Hem the dress to your desired length and you’re done!