Time for another beginner sewing tutorial! If you missed the one last month, you can find it HERE. I’ll be sharing a new beginner sewing project every month, so those of you just learning to sew can confidently create some amazing pieces!
Today’s sewing project is a long sleeve midi dress with a slit on the side. There are no darts, no zipper, and no waistline, so it’s quick and straight forward!
I dressed it down with a baseball cap and sneakers, but I’ll be showing you later this week how to dress it up.
Ok, let’s get down to the tutorial. If you’re brand new to sewing, check out my ONLINE SEWING COURSE right HERE. It’s all the basics, from how to turn your sewing machine on up to creating neckline and sleeves and more. It’s an amazing resource.
But for this tutorial, you really can be a beginner and pull it off.
1 1/2-2 yards sweatshirt fleece material (something like this would be great. I got my quilted sweatshirt fleece fabric at my local JoAnns)
Matching thread (use an all purpose thread – I like Gutermann brand)
Iron + Board
T-shirt/Tank, or Shift Dress(to use as a pattern)
Pattern Paper (optional, but recommended. I use THIS)
Creating Your Pattern
If you’re new to creating patterns, I have a free video on the Modern Girl Sewing YouTube channel that walks you through how to create a pattern using your own clothing as a guide. Use those instructions to create your pattern. You’ll need pattern pieces for a DRESS FRONT, DRESS BACK, LONG SLEEVE (cut two of these), and NECKLINE LINING (you’ll need a back and front piece).
For the DRESS FRONT and DRESS BACK, they should be identical except for the neckline. Make the front neckline lower by about an inch or two, as show in the illustration.
For the SLEEVES, you can make them any length you want. Just cut them shorter to make them half or short sleeve.
For the NECKLINE LINING, cut pieces that are identical to the necklines of the DRESS FRONT + BACK. Make them about 2″ wide, as show in the illustration.
Cutting out your pieces
Lay your pattern pieces flat on your fabric. Make sure the direction of the fabric’s stretch is across your hips and bust, as shown in the illustration.
Pin your pieces to the fabric and cut around them, adding about 1/2″ of seam allowance to each side.
You should have six cut pieces (2 DRESS pieces, 2 SLEEVES, and 2 NECKLINE LINING pieces).
Step by step instructions
Step 1. Take your DRESS FRONT and DRESS BACK pieces and pin them together at the shoulders. The right sides of the fabric should be facing each other. Sew across the shoulders with a 1/2″ seam allowance (ie. 1/2″ from the edge of the fabric).
Step 2. Take your NECKLINE LINING pieces and pin them together on the shoulder seams with right sides of the fabric facing each other. Sew across each side with a straight stitch and a 1″ seam allowance. Note: you need a bigger seam allowance here because you’ll need to stretch it in the next step and you need it to be slightly smaller than your dress neck hole. Now your lining will be in the shape of an “O.” Trim off the extra seam allowance.
Step 3. Now take your NECKLINE LINING and DRESS pieces and (with right sides of the fabric together), line up the lining directly over the neck hole of the dress. Line up the shoulder seams on either side and pin in place. Now stretch the LINING slightly to evenly pin it around the DRESS neck hole. Once it’s pinned all the way around the opening, sew around the entire opening with a straight stitch and a 1/2″ seam allowance. Note: As you sew, you’ll have to stretch the neckline slightly to get the LINING to lay flat with the DRESS in between pins. But DO NOT stretch more than that or your neckline will be wavy!
Step 4. Once the NECKLINE LINING is attached to the dress, trim your seam allowance (or serge or zigzag it) and then tuck the lining inside the dress. Pin it in place and then sew around the entire neckline with a straight stitch to hold the LINING in place.
If your neck hole is large enough for your head to go through, you can do a regular straight stitch (just turn your stitch width up to like 4.0 — shorter stitches will make your neckline wavy too!). If you need some stretch to fit your head through, use a double needle and do a double stitch around the neckline to allow for some stretch.
Step 5. Now it’s time for sleeves. Take your DRESS and lay it open flat, right side of the fabric up. Line up the top of the shoulder curve of the SLEEVE with the shoulder seam of the DRESS (right sides together), as shown in the illustration. Pin in place. Now pin down both sides of the shoulder curve, pinning the SLEEVE to the DRESS.
Step 5, continued. Once it’s pinned, sew them carefully together, up and around the curve. Repeat for the second SLEEVE on the other side.
Step 6. With right sides of the fabric together, pin the dress from wrist to armpit, and armpit to hemline. Make sure those armpit seams are matched up. Then sew from wrist to armpit to hemline with a straight stitch. Repeat on the other side, but stop when you get about 10″ from the hemline (we’re leaving it open for the slit).
Step 7. Now for the slit. Press open your seam allowance on the side seam of your dress and pin the remainder of the seam allowance down each side of the slit. Then sew with a straight stitch up one side of the slit, across the top, and down the other side, stitching that seam allowance in place.
Step 8. Now fold the end of your sleeves up twice and stitch around the opening (use a double needle again if you need some stretch!), and do the same for the hemline of the dress.
Step 9. Press all your seams flat with a hot iron and you’re done!