Maybe I am just a sucker for tie dye, but lately I am addicted. It’s like I cannot get enough of the fun patterns and textile designs! So when I stumbled across the new line of knit tie dye fabrics at JOANN Fabric & Craft Stores, I snatched them up faster than a New York minute. The elastic waist ruffle dress design came together as I was sewing. What started off as a simple swing dress in my mind continued to evolve as the sewing process endured. I love how it turned out, comfortable yet flattering in every way. A simple, bohemian style knit dress to last me through the Summer. Hi there! Jess from The Sewing Rabbit, and today I am going to show you how to make this fun, summer dress.
How to sew an elastic waist knit dress with bottom ruffle:
Skill level: Intermediate
Time Needed: 3 – 4 hours
● 2 – 2.5 yards knit fabric
● Bodice sloper, or nice fitting shirt to trace
● Tracing paper, or large white craft paper
● 1 – 1.5 yds ¼” elastic
● Ruler / measuring tape
● Ball point sewing needle
● Coordinating thread
● Basic sewing essentials (available in-store)
*Note – when using knits, you want to be careful not to stretch the knit fabric when you sew. Some things you can do to help include: using a spray starch, sew with an even feed or walking foot, sew with an overlock machine or serger if you have one, always sew with ball point needles, try sewing with some scrap fabric first to test your needle and machine settings, and always press/steam your project throughout the creation process.
1. Place your bodice sloper, or a t-shirt that fits well on tracing paper. (This is assuming that your bodice sloper neckline lays right around your neck.) Determine where your center bust measurement is, and alter your neckline accordingly on the front and back pattern pieces. You want to create a nice scoop or rounded neck pattern. If desired, bring in the shoulder seams ¼ – ½”. Determine the length you want your dress, and subtract 9” from that number. Create the new pattern length by arcing out at the sides to your desired length (minus 9”). Repeat for both front and back pattern pieces. Cut (1) on fold of front and back dress pattern.
2. Cut (2) 10” x width of fabric ruffle pattern pieces, (2) sleeve pattern pieces (You can use your sleeve pattern sloper, trace around your T-Shirt, or learn how to draft your own sleeve pattern HERE.), (1) 2” strip of fabric for neckline finishing, and (1) 2” x width of fabric strip for waist tie.
3. Sew a gathering stitch along the top of each ruffle pattern piece, and gently pull the bobbin threads to gather the ruffle. Gather the ruffle evenly until it is the same width as the bottom of your dress.
4. Place the top of the gathered ruffle right sides together with the bottom of your front dress. Pin in place and sew to secure. Repeat for second ruffle and back dress pattern.
5. Place front and back dress patterns right sides together, matching up shoulder seams. Pin and sew. Turn dress right side out and press seam open.
6. Measure around your neckline, and subtract 3” from that number. Cut the neckline finishing fabric strip to this measurement. Fold the neckline finishing in half, so that the short ends meet up right sides together. Pin, sew, and press open. Fold the neckline band in half lengthwise, meeting up the raw outer edges wrong sides together. Press. Slip neckline binding around the right side of the dress neckline, matching up the raw edges. Pin around, gently stretching the binding to match the width of your neckline as you pin. Sew using a zigzag stitch, serger, or other stretch friendly stitch on your machine, stretching the binding as you sew to match the width of your dress neckline. Press neckline up when finished.
7. Turn neckline binding to the inside of your dress, and pin. Sew around, using a double needle or long straight stitch. Be careful not to pull the fabric this time when sewing, so that you do not get a wavy neckline. Press when finished.
8. Line up the top center of the sleeve curve with the shoulder seam. Pin right sides together, pinning the rest of the sleeve curve to the armsyce on either side. Sew using a zigzag stitch, serger, or stretch friendly stitch. Repeat for both sleeves.
9. Fold dress right sides together matching up the side seams. Pin and sew. Repeat for both sides.
10. Fold the sleeve hem ½” towards the wrong side and press. Sew around using a double needle or long straight stitch.
You can finish here if you want a nice, loose hanging ruffled dress. For the elastic waist, continue below.
11. Determine where your waist is on the dress. Place your dress pattern wrong side out on a flat surface, and using a ruler and fabric marker, draw a straight line across 1 – 2” BELOW your waistline.
12. Measure around your waist with the elastic, and cut to size. (You can cut smaller if you want a dress that cinches in more.) Using the marked line as your guide, pin the elastic in place all around. Sew around to secure, using a zigzag stitch, stretching the elastic as you sew to match the width of your dress.
13. Turn dress right side out, and tie a strip of fabric around or use a belt you already have on hand to complete the look.