DIY Friday: Tiered Sleeve Midi Dress

Partnership with Rifle Paper Co

Photography by Gabi Wells

Merrick's Art | DIY Midi Dress

Floral Dress made by me (tutorial below, similar dress here), Fabric c/o Rifle Paper Co., Heels c/o Rack Room Shoes

One of my favorite holiday traditions is making myself a new dress, and Easter is always a good excuse to make a new one. A few days into March I started thinking about my dress design, and just wasn’t feeling inspired. Then randomly one of my readers mentioned that Rifle Paper Co. had just launched a fabric line, and the second I saw it I fell in love. The line is inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and it’s perfectly feminine, whimsical, and modern, and I’m so obsessed.

Most of the fabric in the line is cotton or canvas, which can be tough to use for clothing, but a little section of the collection is rayon — my favorite!

Merrick's Art | Blue Floral Midi Dress
Merrick's Art | How to Sew Tiered Gathered Sleeves
Merrick's Art Loose Curls and Floral Dress

Rifle Paper Co. generously sent me a few yards of this gorgeous light blue floral rayon to make this dress, and the moment it showed up I was anxious and giddy to start sewing. I knew I wanted a midi dress with a fitted waist, but I couldn’t decide on the sleeve design; so I turned to Instagram Stories with two sleeve options, and the vote for these tiered sleeves was almost unanimous!

Today I’m so excited to share the tutorial for this dress!

Merrick's Art Tiered Sleeves Midi Dress
Merrick's Art Rifle Paper Co Fabric
Merrick's Art | Floral Dress with Rifle Paper Co Fabric
Merrick's Art Floral Midi Dress with Fabric from Rifle Paper Co
Merrick's Art | Rifle Paper Co Rayon Fabric

To make this dress you’ll need:

  • 3 yards of fabric (mine is this rayon, but you could also use a heavier weight knit, or other medium weight woven fabrics)
  • 20-22″ invisible zipper
  • matching thread

NOTE: I don’t provide patterns for my tutorials, only the instructions. I make all of my patterns using the instructions I share in this video.  

Merrick's Art | DIY Tiered Sleeve Midi Dress Tutorial

First, cut your pieces. You’ll need 4 bodice pieces (2 front and 2 back). Then 4 neckline lining pieces (2 front and 2 back). Then 6 sleeve pieces (3 on each side). You’ll also need your skirt piece, which you’ll see in step 11. It should be a large rectangle of fabric. Width = waist measurement x 1.5, length = desired length + 1/2″ for seam allowance.

Step 1. Take your FRONT NECKLINE LINING pieces and sew them together at the point to make a “V.”

Step 2. If you’re inserting darts, do so in the FRONT BODICE pieces now. Then take your two FRONT BODICE pieces and sew them up the front with right sides together.

Step 3. Then take your V-LINING piece and sew it to the FRONT BODICE piece, matching up the V’s. Now flip the lining inside the bodice and press flat with your iron.

Step 4. Take your two BACK BODICE pieces and attach them to the FRONT BODICE at the shoulder seams, right sides together.

Step 5. Take your first SLEEVE piece (the largest of the three) and hem it. Then pull the ends of the horseshoe shape to open it up and create a ruffle.

Step 6. With right sides together, pin this sleeve to the arm opening of the BODICE. Attach the ruffle sleeve with a straight stitch. Repeat for the other sleeve.

Step 7. Once both sleeves are attached, turn the whole bodice inside out and sew up the side seams with right sides together.

Step 8. Repeat step 5 for the other four sleeve pieces.

Step 9. We’re going to tack on the second and third tiers. Fold the edge of the sleeve under (like a tiny hem), and pin in place on the sleeve. I made mine about 1/2″ above the original shoulder seam. Repeat for the other side. [note: I wanted a little more lift and ruffle to these sleeves, so I added a few small gathers in the 2nd and 3rd sleeve and tacked over them). 

Step 10. Repeat Step 9 for the last sleeve.

Step 11. Now take your large skirt piece and do a basting stitch along the top.

Step 12. Pull your basting threads to gather the skirt. Gather it until its width is the same as the width of the bodice.

Step 13. Tuck your bodice inside the skirt (with right sides together), and match up the waistline. Sew around the entire waist with a straight stitch, attaching the bodice to the skirt.

Step 14. Add your invisible zipper in the back using the instructions on the zipper. Then sew up the back of the skirt.

Step 15. Hem the bottom of your dress to your desired length and you’re done!

Shop this Post