In today’s post: Looking for a summer dress that’s casual enough for everyday? Download the free pattern in women’s size L.
I’ve waxed poetic about my love for comfy dresses before, so today I’ll just give you the short explanation of why I love them so much: They are cool, they are comfy, and THEY HIDE MY MUFFIN TOP. What’s not to love? The only thing I don’t like about dresses is when they feel a little too dressed up for everyday life (i.e. a Walmart visit). So I’ve been on the lookout for the perfect casual, everyday dress that I can wear all summer long…but some of them are too short, and some of them have no sleeves, and some are made out of fabric so sheer I have to wear a slip – and who wants to bother with extra layers in the summer heat? So I finally abandoned the search and drafted up a pattern.
I had some requirements for the perfect everyday summer dress. My perfect summer dress must:
- Be super comfortable
- Have sleeves + go down to my knees
- Be really, really easy to sew
- Have pockets!!!!
So today’s free pattern fits the bill on all four of these requirements. I’ve made one so far and I’m planning to make about a jillion variations.
The Everyday Dress Pattern
Click here to download the free Everyday Dress pattern in women’s size large. My size large patterns are made to fit a 38 inch bust, but since they’re all made for stretchy knit fabrics they will also fit a bit larger and a bit smaller. This pattern has an elastic waistband and roomy hip area.
This pattern is designed for 55-60 inch wide knit fabric only. Wash and dry your fabric before you cut out your pattern pieces. You’ll need 2.5-3 yards of fabric for this dress (although you can squeeze it out of 2 yards if you are willing to have a seam down the back of the skirt – more info on that below).
Print out the pattern pieces at 100% or full size. You can print page 2 first and check to be sure the test square measures exactly 1 inch. Butt the pages together without trimming and tape. There is a bodice pattern piece:
And a skirt pattern piece and pocket pattern piece:
You will also need to cut a neckbinding piece. It should be about 26 inches long (with length going along the stretch) and 1.75 inches high. Additionally, you’ll need about a yard of 3/8 inch wide elastic.
Cut your pattern pieces
You’ll need to cut two bodice pieces, both on the fold, one with the front neckline and one with the back neckline.
You’ll also need to cut two skirt pieces, both on the fold. At the skirt hem, you can choose to follow the line that curves up as it gets to the outside edge for a shirttail hem that’s a little shorter on the sides. Or you can follow the lower line for a standard hem.
NOTE: If you cut both skirt pieces on the fold, you will need 2.5 to 3 yards of fabric for this dress. I wanted to squeeze the whole thing out of 2 yards, so I cut one skirt piece on the fold, and then a second skirt piece that is NOT on the fold, as you can see in the diagram below. I added half an inch seam allowance along the straight edge of the skirt piece that is not cut on the fold, and then sewed those pieces right sides together. This means my dress has a seam down the back of the skirt. It doesn’t bother me and it saves quite a bit of fabric.
Also cut 4 pocket pieces. If you are using a medium to heavy weight knit, you might want to cut the pockets out of a lighter weight material. I used a lighter weight knit for my pockets, but you can also use a soft lining material. Otherwise, if you use the heavier material for the pockets they can make the sides of the skirt really stand out at the hips.
Also remember to cut the neckbinding piece. It should be about 26 inches long (with length going along the stretch) and 1.75 inches high.
How to sew the Everyday Dress: Pockets
We’re going to start by sewing in the pockets on the dress. There are dots on the dress pattern that show where the pockets should be placed. Begin by placing one pocket piece in between the dots on the skirt front, right sides together.
Sew the pocket to the skirt using a straight stitch and a 3/8 inch seam allowance. Backstitch at the start and end of this seam.
Then flip the pocket out and press. Topstitch about 1/8 inch away from the seamline:
Repeat this process on the other outside edge of the skirt front. Then repeat with the remaining two pockets on the skirt back.
Now you’ll have a skirt front piece with two pocket pieces attached and a skirt back piece with two pocket pieces attached.
Lay the skirt front onto the skirt back, right sides together. Match up the pockets and pin all the way around them. Also pin down the side seam.
You will sew down each side seam starting at the top, using 1/2 inch seam allowance. When you get to the pocket, make a tidy right angle and sew all around the outside edge of the pocket, continuing to use a 1/2 inch seam allowance. When you get to the bottom of the pocket, make another right angle and then sew down the rest of the skirt side seam.
Repeat with the other side.
At this point your skirt is sewn together with pockets installed. Press along the side seams, pressing the entire seam allowance (including pockets) toward the front of the skirt.
Please note that because you need to make tidy right angles, you cannot serge this seam. However, after you have stitched it you can use your serger to finish of the edges of the seam allowance.
How to sew the Everyday Dress: Bodice
Place the bodice front on the bodice back, right sides together. Line up shoulder seams and side seams and pin. Sew across the shoulders and down the sides using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
Try the bodice on, and if it is too roomy take it in along the side seams now. (If your fabric has lots of stretch you may need to take it in here.)
How to sew the Everyday Dress: Attach the skirt + bodice
Lay the skirt down on a flat surface, INSIDE OUT. Lay down the bodice, RIGHT SIDE OUT, with the shoulders facing the skirt:
Slide the bodice inside the skirt and match up the raw edges. Line up the side seams. Pin and sew the bodice to the skirt using a 5/8 inch seam allowance and a straight stitch. This seam will need to be able to stretch a bit when you put the dress on and take it off, so gently stretch your material as you sew.
Once the bodice is sewn to the skirt, turn the dress inside out. Flip the seam allowance up and pin it to the bodice. We are making a casing for your elastic waistline.
Sew the seam allowance to the bodice very close to the edge of the seam allowance. Again, use a straight stitch but gently stretch the material as you sew. When you get all the way around and back to the beginning, leave a 2 inch opening:
Use a large safety pin to thread 3/8 inch elastic through the casing you have just created.
When you get the elastic all the way through the casing, try on the dress and decide how tight you’d like the elastic to be. Sew the elastic together and trim any excess. Then go back and sew the opening closed.
How to sew the Everyday Dress: Finishing
At this point, all of the basic dress construction is done. You just need to hem the dress and sleeves and finish the neckline.
Hem the sleeves by turning the fabric under 1/2 an inch and sewing with a stitch that will stretch, such as a zigzag or a double needle stitch. Turn up the bottom hem to your desired length and hem with a stitch that will stretch. I am 5’3″ and I cut off almost 2 inches before turning up the hem 1/2 an inch, and the dress reaches just past my knees.
Finally, you’ll use the neckbinding piece you cut to finish off the neckline. For detailed instructions, watch the video here: How to finish a t-shirt neckline
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