DIY, Fashion, Featured, Sewing, Sewing Tutorial

DIY: Off the Shoulder Dress

I am loving all of the off the shoulder pieces this year!  I’ve come up with a very easy DIY off the shoulder shift dress!  Here are some pictures of the final product followed by a step-by-step tutorial to make your own.

How to Make Your Own:

What You Need:

  • tissue paper, tracing paper, or pattern paper
  • pencil
  • paper scissors and fabric scissors
  • 1-1.2m of fabric (I used a fairly lightweight knit)
  • matching thread
  • sewing machine (I also used a serger)
  • ¼” elastic
  • iron & ironing board

Getting Started:

Making Your Pattern Pieces:

In order to make your pattern pieces, you need to first take your measurements.  Measurements that you will need include:

  • around your chest and upper arm (where the elastic will sit at the top of the dress)
  • chest measurement
  • waist measurement
  • hip measurement
  • desired length from the top (where the elastic will sit)
  • length from top to waist
  • length from top to hip

Once you have your measurements you’re ready to draw out your pattern pieces (see image below).

Cutting Your Pattern Pieces:

Because both the front and the back are cut on the fold, in order to save fabric,  you may want to change the original fold of the fabric to have two folds. (see image below).

Pin your pieces to your fabric.  I also pinned the selvage (the long side of the fabric) to the centre to help hold the new fold lines in place.

Trace your pattern pieces and cut them out.  Since we’s working with a stretchy knit fabric, I always trace the pattern in case my fabric moves as I cut.

Cut out your pieces along your traced lines.


Start with the ruffle band.  Turn up the long edges ¼”, press, and pin in place.

Baste stitch (long temporary stitch) close to the fold.

Decide which of the long edges will be the top of the ruffle, where the elastic will go.  Turn that edge over again ½-¾” depending on the size of your elastic. Press and pin.  Place pins perpendicular to the fold to facilitate top stitching.

Top stitch.

Repeat this process for the bottom edge turning over the hem ¼”.

Gathering with the Elastic:

This is the where you will need to do a little bit of math.  Take your “around the chest and upper arm” measurement and subtract a few inches depending on how much stretch your elastic has.

Divide your elastic into even pieces.  My elastic measured 100cm.  I chose to divide by 5 because it kept my sections in whole numbers. So I marked off every 20cm.

Do the same using the long side of the ruffle fabric.  I used the entire width of the original fabric so my length was 60″ or roughly 150 cm.  Divide this measurement by the same number as you did for your elastic (mine was 5) and mark the fabric along the top edge at those points.  I marked mine every 30 cm.

Pin the end of the elastic to the top edge of the ruffle piece.  Stretch your elastic so that the first marking on the elastic matches up with the first marking on the fabric.  Pin the elastic in place, on top of the baste stitch.

Stitch to the first marking, keeping the elastic stretched so the fabric lies flat.  Stretch the elastic to match the second markings, pin, and continue stitching.  Repeat this process until you get to the end.

You now have a perfectly even gather.

Double check that the length still works around the upper arm and chest.  Because the elastic is now somewhat stretched, I had to trim mine another couple of inches.

Once you are happy with the length, pin the shorter sides of the band together, with right sides facing.  Stitch and finish raw edges.  I used a serger to do this.

Your ruffle top is done!

On to the dress.  Turn up the top and bottom edges of both the front and back pieces ¼”, press, pin, and baste stitch (the same as you did with the ruffle band top).

Once you have turned over and baste stitched all 4 top and bottom edges of the front and back pieces, pin the front and back pieces, with right sides together, at the side seams.

Stitch the sides and finish raw edges. Again, I used a serger.

Turn up the top edge ½”.  Press and pin in place.

Top stitch the top of the dress.

Now it’s time to add the ruffle band to the dress.  Try on the band with the dress as it would sit when it’s sewn together.  Place a pin, on the ruffle band, to mark where to stop sewing the band (so it can go around your arm).  This should be fairly close to the armpit on both the front and the back.  I had my husband help me identify the placement in the back — you may want to ask someone to help you.  If you don’t have someone handy, you can also use a measuring tape to measure the distance and transfer that to your band.

Pin the band to the dress so that the wrong side of the band is facing the right side of the dress.  Be sure to line up the front and back centres of the dress to the centre points of the marked pins.

Top stitch between the marked pins.  Repeat for the back.

Try the dress on before finishing the hem.  I was happy with the length of mine so I turned it up ½”, pressed, pinned, and top stitched.

And voilà!  Your off the shoulder dress is done!





3 thoughts on “DIY: Off the Shoulder Dress

  1. I loved it and it worked out perfect. I would like to learn how to make a tube dress exploded to the body, with uncovered shoulders without flying but that is exploded rather it is overturned or folded.

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