DIY BELL SLEEVE SWING DRESS

Photography by Rad and Happy

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Bell sleeves and ruffles are two huge trends this season, and I can’t get enough of them! I’m adding ruffles to a few of the pieces I’m make lately (like this top) because it makes them so visually interesting, and they’re super easy.

I teamed up with Janome sewing machines today to create this pretty little fall dress and try out their brand new Janome Skyline S9 Embroidery and Sewing Machine. My original sewing machine that I got as a hand-me-down from my mom after I got married was a super old Janome, so I love seeing how far they’ve come since my days of using that old beater, and these are incredible!

Most of the clothing I create requires pretty basic techniques, but the S9 machine that I’m sewing on is a brand new machine in their Skyline collection and it has a bunch of new features that are actually super helpful in creating a smoother sewing experience. Like the amazing needle threader, the automatic foot lifter, and some new stitches. I also love the wide foot pedal (it took some getting used to) because my foot never slips off, the easy touchscreen to change options, and I love that it comes with a complete embroidery system, which I haven’t tried, but I’m excited to soon!

But more importantly than all the bells and whistles for me is that it makes the basics of sewing easy and efficient. I’m always sewing during naptime, so the time I have to sew is limited and super precious. The S9 makes it easy to add a quick zipper, put in a neckline, add buttons, or create pleates or pintucks, all so quickly and efficiently.

I’m excited to share this really cute fall dress on the blog with you today! It’s a perfect dress for wearing in the summer with sandals, but in the fall with boots. I paired mine with navy Hunter boots for a pretty “apple picking” dress and I love how it turned out.

Materials:
2 yards lightweight cotton (or whatever material you’d like — a knit or a soft cotton should be fine)
matching thread
apple-picking-dress



Step 1. Cut your pieces. You’ll need a DRESS FRONT and DRESS BACK, 2 SLEEVES, 2 SLEEVE RUFFLE pieces, and 2 NECKLINE LINING pieces. 


Step 2. Take your DRESS FRONT and cut it in half a few inches below the bust. Then do a 10-12 inch line of basting stitches along the skirt portion. 


Step 3. Pull your long strings on the basting stitch to gather the front of the skirt. I didn’t do much, but enough to add some visual interest. You can do more if you’d like, just cut the dress bottom separately and add a few inches to the width. 


Step 4.  With right sides together, sew the DRESS FRONT bodice and skirt back together with a straight stitch.

Step 5. Next, take the FRONT and BACK pieces and, with right sides together, sew them together at the shoulders. 
 
Step 6. Take your RUFFLE pieces and hem them on one of the long sides. Now do a basting stitch across the top of the ruffle, leaving your strings long on either end.



Step 7. Pull the strings of the basting stitch to gather your ruffle.


Step 8. With right sides together, attach the RUFFLE to the SLEEVE with a straight stitch. Repeat for the second sleeve.

Step 9. Now attach the sleeves. Line up the top of the SLEEVE with the shoulder seam of the bodice (right sides together), and then pin them together.
 
Step 10.  Then sew a straight stitch along the sleeve, attaching it to the dress. Repeat for the second sleeve. 
 
Step 11. Once both sleeves are attached, sew the FRONT and BACK (right sides together) together from the end of the sleeve to the bottom of the dress.
 
Step 12. Take your two NECKLINE LINING pieces and, with right sides together, sew them together at the ends. They should now form a circle. 
 
Step 13. Place the NECKLINE LINING on the dress with right sides together, matching up the side seams of the LINING with the shoulder seams of the shirt. Then streeeetch the LINING and pin it in place evenly along the dress neckline. Sew around the entire neckline with a straight stitch. Then trim the seam allowance and tuck the LINING inside the dress and iron in place. 
 
Step 14. Sew with a straight wide stitch around the entire neckline, securing the lining in place. Then try on the dress and determine your desired sleeve and dress length, then hem. And you’re done!
 
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  • Deanne

    Love this dress. Really wanting to try seeing this up. Would you mind giving me some feedback at to rough measurements on how you drafted you pattern? Or just trace out a similar pattern?