Wash, dry, and iron your fabrics.
We’ll make the straps first. Fold the straps in half lengthwise, right sides together. Sew down the open side with a quarter-inch seam.
Turn right side out. It may be helpful to use tweezers. Then press the straps.
Put a safety pin in one end of the half-inch elastic. Thread it through the strap. Zig-zag the ends of the straps to hold the fabric and elastic together. Adjust the ruffles so they are even.
Now we’ll work on the dress panels. Pin two pieces of the same fabric right sides together, then sew down both long sides, one at a time. Use a quarter-inch seam. Repeat with the other dress panels. You should now have two fabric tubes.
Press the seams of these tubes open flat.
Turn one tube so that the patterned side is facing up. Pin the straps to the top layer of fabric, aligning the strap’s end with the top raw edge of the tube. Space the straps so that the top is divided into thirds.
Roll up the end of the fabric a bit, then wrap the loose end of the strap under and around the bundle. Pull the strap’s end to match where the other strap is. Pin it to the backside fabric.
Now tuck this bundle into the other tube. The other tube should still be inside out, so when you pin, the fabrics will have right sides touching. Line up and pin the seams first, then pin the whole way around.
Sew the fabrics together using a half-inch seam. Make sure that the straps are secured in these seams. Remove the pins, then reach inside the tube and pull on the edge of the fabric to pull it inside the tube. Press the top edge of the dress very neatly.
Now topstitch all the way around with a half inch seam. Always start and end at the seams, to minimize the noticeability of your backstitches.
Now draw a chalk line below the seam, all the way around. It should be slightly wider than your elastic. Sew on top of the chalk line, stopping 1 inch away from the end. This is the casing for your first row of elastic.
Reach between the layers of the dress, and find the casing’s hole. Thread the safety pin and elastic through the casing. Then line up the ends of the elastic, and zig-zag together. Adjust the ruffles.
For the next chalk line, you will need to divide the armpit-to-belly measurement by two. Measure down from the top of the fabric, and draw your chalk line. Sew all the way around, spreading the fabric flat on either side of the machine foot.
Make the last chalk line the same width as the first casing. Sew on the line, stopping 1 inch before reaching the end. Thread elastic through the casing and zig zag the ends.
Now go back and finish sewing the seams shut.
If you’d like to add trim, now’s the time to do it. I’m only adding it to one side of my dress. Fold under the raw end of the trim to minimize fraying. Begin sewing at a seam. Keep it even all the way around. Don’t forget to change your thread to match. Sew along both the top and bottom edges of the trim. Be sure you’re only sewing through one layer of fabric.
Finally, we’ll make the hem. Fold the raw edge of one layer under about 1 inch. Press in place. Line up the inside fabric and fold it as well, matching up the edges perfectly. Take your time to make this edge really sharp, because you don’t want the opposite fabric to show at all. Repeat these steps on the other side of the dress.
Topstitch the edge with a 1/8 inch seam.
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