How To Make A Dress: Supplies, Step-by-step Guide, Secret Tips & More

Ever wondered how to sew a dress by hand? Trying your luck at making a dress may seem overwhelming, especially if you’re a beginner, but it’s not impossible. Of course, you’d have to be consistent and patient during the procedure, as things could not go as planned at first. So, if you don’t know how to make a dress, worry not. We’ve come up with a straightforward, step-by-step method for making a dress that will enable you to sew your own dress and feel proud of yourself.

Do you have a particular question about making the dress? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page. 

Supplies you will need for making a dress

Sewing clothes for beginners can be made easy with a few essential sewing tools. So, make sure you have these below-mentioned supplies before you get before you start sewing dress: 

● Scissors
● Ruler
● Paper
● Measuring Tape
● Butcher’s Paper
● Pencil
● Sewing Machine
● Fabric
● Thread
● Chalk Wheel
● Seam Ripper
● Dress Zipper
● Dress Liner

Draft a Design, Measurements, and Stencils 

If you already have a design in mind, that’s excellent since all you have to do now is draw it on paper. Otherwise, you might look for a trendy design on the Internet before drawing a simple dress outline. 

Now that you’ve finished drafting the design, it’s time to take measurements. If you wish to be more specific with your dressmaking experience, use a dressmaker’s measurement guide and note the measurements alongside your drawing. This will also help you figure out how much fabric you’ll need.

Transfer your drafted design on butcher’s paper, as it is sturdy and difficult to shred and would help you sew a dress more exquisitely. Using butcher’s paper, create stencils larger than the actual measurements. Work on a hard surface to make your task easier and neater throughout the process. Also, verify your measurements with tape from time to time to ensure that all of the stencils are made to the right standards.

Select your pattern and fabric

After selecting the pattern and working on it, it’s time to choose the type of fabric you want to work with. This crucial step is frequently ignored, yet it is critical to successfully completing your entire sewing project. Because each pattern is made for a different type of fabric. So, based on your pattern, pick one.

Prepare the pattern

So you’ve finished drawing the design of your hand-sewn dress, took the measurements, created stencils, and chose your fabric? Now it’s time to start prepping your pattern before cutting the material. To ensure that your fabric is cut with the exact measurements, press the stencils with a dry iron to ensure no creases and folds. Set these stencils aside once they’re finished ironing and go on to the more difficult task of cutting the fabric.

Cut the Fabric

Now that the stencils are ironed, it’s time to cut the fabric. It’s better to iron the fabric before cutting it to ensure there are no wrinkles. Place the stencils on the fabric and trace them using a chalk wheel. However, keep in mind that sewing dresses for beginners require them to cut two dresses at this stage. One for the dress and the other for the liner. 

Sew the Liner Planes to the Outer Planes

It’s the right time to start sewing the liner planes to the dress’s outer planes. Pin around the edges if you want everything to stay in its place and not move about. Another thing to keep in mind is that these planes will eventually be turned inside out, so leave the bottom edge. 

Flip Inside Out and Iron

After having your planes pinned, it’s time to flip them inside out and get them ironed so that you would get neat and clear edges. 

Sew the zippers

If you’re a novice to how to hand sew a dress, know that sewing the zippers is also one of its crucial parts. Here’s an easier way to do it. It’s called an invisible zipper, and you can pull it off more quickly than the other methods.

Invisible zippers are sewed on the right side of the fabric when the pattern pieces are still spread flat out on the plain surface. 

Make a mark at the seam borders where the zipper will be inserted on both sides of the fabric. Mark 3/4″ from the top edges to ensure proper zipper placement. Place a 5/8″ vertical seam allowance where you want your invisible zipper.

Pin the zipper to the vertical seam allowance for a better result. The fabric beneath it doesn’t shift or slide throughout the stitching procedure.

After ensuring that the zipper coils are set out flat, begin stitching one side of the zipper. Once done, move on to the opposite side and at the top edge of the zipper.

Close the zipper after stitching it on both sides of the pattern. It’s time to stitch the seams together. Backstitch at both the beginning and end of the zipper to keep it secure and prevent it from loosening over time.

Sew the shoulder seams

After securing the zippers, it’s time you sew the shoulder seams. Choose a 5/8′′ seam allowance and press your seams wide open.

Here’s a pro tip: if your dress is made of stretchy fabric, it’s best to staystitch the front and back neckline edges together before sewing the shoulder. Though it’s an extra burden to shoulder, the result is worth the effort. 

This way, your stretchy fabric won’t move around while you’re sewing, thus making your sewing experience smooth and seamless.

Work on the neckline facing

Working on the neckline facing is the next stage. Begin by sewing the front and back neckline facings together. After that, sew the front and rear neck facings together. Finally, to give your dress a more professional appearance, understitch the outside edge of the facing.

Sew side seams

Sew the side seams of your dress, and don’t forget to leave the seam allowance. The commercial ⅝” seam allowance is preferable for beginner sewers. However, if the pattern of your dress indicates a specific range of seam allowance, go for it to get the best optimum results. After doing that, press the side seams open at the end of the step. 

Attach the armhole facings

Now you must connect the armhole facings to the garment, but first, you must prepare the armhole facings. It’s quick and straightforward and won’t take much of your time since they’re made the same way as neck facings.

You need to make back and front armhole facings, with the back armhole facing requiring a double notch and the front armhole facing requiring only a single notch. Keeping things this way is to make it easier to tell the front from the back.

Stitch the two facings together by lining up the seams at the shoulder and underarm. Finish preparing the armhole facings by understitching the facings once more, and you’re done. 

It’s now time to put the armhole facings you just made into place. Pining the armhole facings to the armhole is a clean and straightforward way to do this. Don’t forget to attach the double notches in the back and the single notch in the front of the armhole while you’re doing it. After that, you’ll need to sew them together at both armholes.

If there is any excess fabric at the armhole seams, cut it off because it will just bulk up your dress and make it look unappealing. Then, on the inside of the garment, turn the facings and understitch them all the way around the armholes. At the end of this step, the armhole facings should face the dress’s inside.

Finish back neckline

Finish the back neckline once you’ve attached the armhole facings. Stitch through all layers of the fabric after inverting the end of the facing. Return the facings to their original position and flatten them down to create a crisp and precise edge.

The next step is to hand stitch the facings on both sides along the line where the zipper meets the facings. 

At this point, you might feel a little impatient. Don’t lose patience. You’re almost near to complete making your first dress ever. 

Secure the facing edges

You’ll also need to keep the facing edges of the garment from wearing and sliding out. For that, you’ll require stitching in the existing seams to mark those facings down. It’s not as difficult as you may assume. Simply stitch a seam line through the fabric’s outside. This will keep the layers covered beneath the garment in place and prevent them from fraying and flapping outside. Secure the neck and armhole facing edges in the same way.

Hem the dress

And lastly, it’s time to hem your dress and make it secure from wearing and tearing out. Hemming your dress could be done manually or by machine or serger, but we would recommend you do it by hand to make it last longer. 

Speaking of which, there are a variety of stitches that you can opt for. But slip stitch is the best and easiest one to go for as it will give your garment a neat and finished look. 

Run a thread (of desirable length) through the needle’s eye and tie a knot at the end. Make the knot Anchor the thread by inserting the needle into the fold between the layers. However, make sure you don’t pierce through the right side of the cloth.

Grab a tiny bit of the fabric with the needle after bringing it outside the fold. Re-stitch where your last stitch was in the fold of the hem. Repeat the process with a 1/4″-1/2″ long stitch until the hem is complete. Make a final knot by piercing the needle a few times in the initial layer of the fabric to secure your work.

And voila! Your dress is ready. 

Tips for making your first dress

If you’re a novice and have a little know-how of how to make your own dress, here are some useful tips on how to make a simple dress on the first attempt. 

Owning The Right Tools 

One of the most essential aspects of sewing is having the correct tools. That doesn’t imply you need to invest in high-end sewing machines. Just make sure you have a nice pair of scissors, an invisible zip foot, a point-turner, and some pins and pens to mark out your darts before you start.

Fabric Selection 

Another crucial aspect to remember for inexperienced sewers is to choose your cloth carefully. Otherwise, your project will be a complete disaster if you don’t match the fabric to the pattern you’re constructing. Cotton and linen are recommended for amateurs since they are easy to pin and iron. They’re also reasonably priced, which is a plus.

Pre-Washing Your Fabric

Getting your dress shrunk after you’ve made it out is definitely what you don’t want. That’s why Pre-washing your fabric before sewing is a must. Especially cotton and linen, since they can succumb to shrinkage after the first wash. 


Another advice for new seamstresses is to iron everything before starting to stitch. This helps to smooth out the fabric’s creases and wrinkles. Furthermore, it flattens the cloth, giving your seams a sharp edge and enhancing your dress’s overall appearance.

Press Your Seams

Pressing the seams of your dress is also often overlooked by many sewers. No matter what, do press your seams if you want your sewing project to look neater. 

Take Proper Measurements 

Make sure you obtain correct measurements if you want your dress to be the perfect fit. It is never a good idea to rely on yourself to take measurements. You can always seek the help of a buddy in this matter; otherwise, you’ll end up with an ill-fitting dress.

Keep Trying On Your Dress

Despite the fact that you’ve invited a buddy to assist you in taking correct measurements for your garment. If you want your dress to be the exact size, keep trying it on during the sewing process so you can make the required alterations as soon as possible.

Don’t Give Up

Finally, don’t lose patience if things don’t go as planned at first. It’s natural for a newbie to make blunders. Even professional sewers do it. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right the first time. Things take time, so learn from your blunders and try again with renewed energy.

Credits: photos by Canva

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