So sleeves are going a bit crazy this season, have you noticed? Ruffled sleeves and bell sleeves are EVERYWHERE. I made a ruffle sleeve tee a few months ago, and despite early misgivings, I actually really like it. So I’ve taken the next logical step and made a ruffle sleeve dress.
(Why do I make so many dresses? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, dresses hide muffin top like nothing else on earth, which means they’re a staple in my wardrobe. Second, dresses are easy to sew, which means a lazy gal like me can whip one up in an afternoon and still have time to read a book before deciding to order pizza for dinner. Aaah, pizza… And so reason #2 leads us back to reason #1 and so on and so forth.)
This dress is actually a mashup of a couple different tutorials I have posted previously, so I’ll be referring you to a few different posts to learn how to make one. This tutorial is meant for knit (stretchy) fabrics, and you will need 2 yards. Wash and dry your fabric before beginning.
I started with my classic tee pattern, which you can download here. If you haven’t sewn up a classic tee before, you may want to give one a try before attempting this project. At least read through the tutorial to familiarize yourself with the sewing process.
Print out the pattern at 100% or full size and tape the pages together with no overlapping. It looks like this:
Cut out the sleeve pattern to about 1 inch longer than the short sleeve mark. Cut out the shirt pattern, but then cut it straight across about 1 inch below the bottom of my logo (for a high waisted dress – if you want a natural waist dress, cut a few inches lower).
Use the pattern to cut 2 bodice pieces out on the fold, one using the front neckline and one using the back neckline.
Use the pattern to cut 2 sleeve pieces on the fold, using the narrower sleeve line.
You will also cut 2 skirt pieces. These should be the full width of your fabric (generally 56-60 inches), and 32 inches long. You may round the bottom of the skirt pieces a bit if you like.
You also need:
- 1 neckbinding piece that is 24 inches wide (along the stretch) and 1.75 inches tall
- 2 sleeve ruffle pieces that are each 21 inches wide (along the stretch) and 5 inches tall
To start sewing, we will begin with the sleeves. Sew two gathering stitches along the top (long edge) of each sleeve ruffle. Pull on the bobbin thread to gather up each ruffle until it is the same width as the bottom of the sleeve (top photo below). Then flip the ruffle up and place it on top of the sleeve, right sides together, and sew using a stitch that has some stretch, like a narrow zigzag or serger stitch. Remove the gathering stitches if desired. Flip the ruffle back down and press (bottom photo below).
NOTE: You can hem the bottom of the sleeve ruffles BEFORE sewing them to the sleeves if you want. It’s easier to hem them first, but if you aren’t sure how long you want them you can wait and hem them after the shirt is put together.
Now you will sew up the shirt portion of the dress as directed in the classic tee post. You may finish the neckline and hem the sleeves at this point if you like, but do not hem the bottom of the shirt.
It will look like this:
Next, place your two skirt pieces right sides together and sew down each side seam. It will look like this:
You’re going to sew two rows of gathering stitches along the top edge of the skirt, and then pull on the bobbin threads to gather up the skirt until it is the same width as the bottom edge of the shirt.
Sew the shirt to the skirt, using a stitch that will stretch. Add elastic along this seam. Find detailed instructions on how to do both of those things in this post.
At this point, you can hem the skirt to your desired length. If you didn’t already finish the neckline and hem the sleeves, do both those things now, and your dress is done!