When you make your own dress, you can pick just the style and fabric you want. You can customize it to fit you, and in many cases you can also save a lot of money. There are many kinds of dresses, from evening gowns to sundresses, and some are easier to sew than others. First, you’ll need to pick a pattern for the type of dress you want, since this important choice will guide all your other decisions. Fabric stores have catalogs full of patterns, and often display a selection of less expensive (and often easier) patterns. Be sure to choose a pattern that suits your style and your sewing skills.
Choose a Pattern and Fabric
Look through the pattern section for the type of dress you want to make. Many pattern catalogs have separate sections for evening or bridal dresses and more casual dresses.
Look at the style of the dresses to find one you like. Be sure to look at any diagrams of the dress, not just the color photos or drawings, since it’s easy to get distracted by the fabric shown and not notice the actual cut of the dress.
Choose a pattern that matches your sewing level. In general, patterns with many pieces are more difficult than those with few pieces. A simple sheath dress will be much easier to sew than a Renaissance-style dress.
Use the information on the back of the pattern to figure out how much fabric you need, and what kind. Most patterns list recommended types of fabric for that style of dress, such as cotton for a sundress and silk or satin for an evening gown.
Use the information on the pattern to buy any other materials you need, such as lining fabric, interfacing, matching thread, buttons or a zipper.
Make the Dress
Cut out the pattern pieces. Many patterns have more than one size per pattern, so be sure to choose the size you need.
Adjust the pattern pieces if needed. Most patterns have markings where you can make the pieces shorter (by cutting or folding the pattern) or longer (by adding a strip of extra paper) if you’re shorter or taller than average.
Wash and iron the fabric, unless it’s dry-clean only.
Follow the directions that came with the pattern to cut the fabric. The pattern should have a guide showing which pieces you need (especially if the dress has several options, such as different sleeve lengths or collars) and how to arrange them on the fabric.
Sew the pieces of the dress together following the directions that came with the pattern. Make sure to use the seam allowance given in the instructions, as this will affect the size and fit of the dress.
Try the dress on before hemming it so that you can trim it to the right length if needed.