On Monday I shared pictures from my first evening at Alt Summit, wearing my handmade faux leather dress. As I mentioned, I found this gorgeous gold faux leather and quilted black faux leather at Michael Levine in the LA Fabric District, and instantly fell in love. After some sketching and trial and error in the construction, I made this color blocked fit and flare dress with a pleated skirt. The only thing that could make me love this dress more is if I’d put in pockets. Too bad.
Anyway, when I posted about it, I promised a tutorial, so here we are. It’s not a difficult tutorial, but is a bit lengthy. Forge through — you can do it!
- 1 yard fabric for skirt, bodice, and sleeves
- I used this gorgeous gold/tan faux leather from Michael Levine (I’ve purchased and handled lots of faux leather before and so much of it is super thick and has that horrible felted back. This does not have that and is incredibly soft, has a gorgeous drape (as you can see), and is really easy to sew. Highly recommend).
- if you’re not interested in using faux leather, a medium weight stretchy knit fabric, like a ponte knit, is a good substitute!
- the black fabric I used was a quilted faux leather with a similar weight to the gold faux leather. It’s not online, but this is similar.
Step 1. Cut a bodice front pattern piece out of parchment paper, making sure the length of the piece is your shoulder to natural waist measurement (use a shirt you own as a guide, if needed).
Step 2. Next, do the same thing to create a pattern piece for the back. Then cut it out (on a different fabric if you desire), adding a half inch seam allowance. Again, make sure the stretch is going across the back.
Step 3. Now cut the side panels. Use the front and back panels you just cut as a guide, if needed, to make sure this piece fills in the empty sides. CUT TWO (2).
This piece will need a dart to form around your chest. My dart was about an inch wide and went from one side of the fabric to the other. DO NOT sew the dart in until you’ve attached it to the front bodice.
Step 3. With right sides together, attach your side panel to your bodice with a straight stitch and a half inch seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance and serge or zigzag the raw edge. Repeat on for the second side panel on the other side of the bodice.
Step 5. Add your dart, making it the size you need to fit your chest. Make the point of your dart end right at the bodice seam (but not overlapping the seam!). Repeat for second side.
Step 6. Once your darts are done, it’s time to attach the back piece. Match up the sides and shoulders and sew up with a straight stitch and a half inch seam allowance. Trim your seam allowance and serge or zigzag the raw edge.
Now set your bodice aside. Let’s move to the skirt.
Step 7 (not pictured). Cut two identical rectangles (mine were roughly 35″x17″) for the front and back of your skirt. (I actually measured out and pinned all my pleats before cutting the skirt pieces to determine how wide my rectangles needed to be. I always cut big and then trim down if I need to as a construct the dress. I ended up cutting several inches off each side, but it was better to start big just in case).
Step 8. Determine how big you want your pleats and then pin in place, making sure their width is uniform. I also made sure that the width of the big pleat in the middle (5 inches wide) was the same with as the bottom of my bodice piece so those seams would match up when sewn together.
Once all the pleats are pinned down, baste stitch across the pleats to temporarily hold them in place.
Step 9 (not pictured). Cut the hemline pieces. Mine were 8″x35″ — make sure the width of these pieces is the same width as your skirt pieces.
Step 10. With right sides together, pin the hemline piece to the skirt piece and sew them together with a straight stitch. (the extra fabric above my stitch line (below) is just the extra length I cut off of the skirt piece — don’t let it confuse you!) Repeat with the second skirt and hemline pieces.
Step 11. With right sides together, sew the two skirt pieces together (as seen below on the left) at the side seams. Make sure the opening at the waist is the same circumference as the bodice!
Then, take the bodice piece and tuck it inside the skirt with right sides together, pinning the skirt and bodice together it at the waist (as seen below on the right) — make sure to match up your pleats and bodice seaming on the front of the dress!
Then sew around the waist with a straight stitch and a half inch seam allowance.
Step 13. Fold the sleeve pieces in half with right sides together, and then sew along the straight edge with a straight stitch and a half inch seam allowance.
Step 15. Now we need to put in a zipper so you can actually put your dress on. Cut a straight line all the way down the back of the dress from neckline to hemline, splitting it completely open. We’ll insert the zipper in a minute.
Step 16. Using the bodice and back necklines as a guide, cut two rounded strips of fabric (about 2 inches wide), as seen below. Sew the two strips together at the shoulder seams, and then pin the strips to the neckline with right sides together (you’ll have to cut the back strip since your dress is now cut open in the back too).
Sew around the entire neckline with a straight stitch and a 1/8″ seam allowance. Serge or zigzag the seam allowance.
Tuck the strip inside the dress and press into place, making a nice smooth neckline. Go back and top stitch around the entire neckline with a wide stitch.
Step 17 (not pictured). Insert an invisible zipper according to the instructions on the packaging, and then sew the remaining inches of the back of the dress closed.
Step 18. Hem the sleeves and the dress to your desired length. Press all your seams and you’re done!
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I will answer them as fast and as well as I can!