Chic Sheath Dress :: 30 Min Sewing Pattern

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Yep. 30 minutes is all that it took to put together this highly fashionable, elegant fitted dress. If designer Melissa Esplin* can do it, perhaps we can do it too.

She skipped making a pattern and she went straight from cutting the fabric (using another fitted top and skirt) to sewing this gorgeous dress.

*read more about her below

What a glamour dress!

sheath dresses free patterns

Photo credit/pattern:

Sheath Dress Sewing Pattern

Melissa sets out how she made her dress on her blog. Meanwhile, let me give you my usual 1,2,3 Quick Howto, on how I would make it:

1. Fold your fabric double, lengthwise. Take one of your tailored dresses that fits well (or a fitted skirt + top). Lay these in overlapping manner on top of your fabric, so that the ensemble forms a dress shape.

2. Cut the fabric leaving seams where you need them. If your fabric does not need hemming, no need to add that extra fabric. Choose a hemline that’s flattering. I find that for a dress that might be shorter than for a skirt.

3. For the sleeves and neckline, use your existing top as a guide. Don’t cut the neckline too rigorously. Rather, first pin the dress together, or better, pre-sew the dress with rough stitches by hand and do a fitting. Pin a neckline that’s flattering for your body, taking note of how the fabric drapes around your body. Then, cut the neckline (with seams) with the guidance of these pins.

Tip: I have found that this method of using existing clothes as a guide to make new ones, just like you would for your 4 year old niece, indeed works fine for adults too. Most often, but not always. If you have a few more pounds around the waist and hips than stunning Melissa here, you may need to make adjustments to allow those curves to be beautifully dealt with.
Best advice is to choose as a guide an existing skirt/top/dress that highly flatters you.
Simplest is best, and I love Melissa for her complete no-nonsense approach to dressmaking. Way to go.



Fabric Needed

Want to make this dress?

At 50” width, how much fabric do you need? Melissa needed just one of the two yards she had. If you want a longer dress than 36 inches from the shoulder, you’ll need more yardage, she said.


Wood Grain Fabric

Melissa’s dress fabric is named ‘wood grain’. Technically, it isn’t a wood grain print however, but rather a taupe and black striped fabric. Like stripes? Here are 380 different types of taupe and black stripe fabric.

If you are interested in super-hip wood fabric, then check out these realistic wood grain fabrics.  Note however that these beautiful wood print fabrics do not have stretch in them. They are 100% cotton, which makes them instead perfect for any kind of quilting, home decorating or crafting.  I can see a bag and pillows made from these fabrics. (Check out the ‘often bought together/related fabrics when you click this link. You’ll fall in love, like I did.)


OK. Back to dresses. We need stretchy fabric for this dress. What makes Melissa’s fabric special is that it has been rolled and twisted in irregular manner. It’s  50” wide polyester/cotton. However, any stretch fabric is suitable for a Sheath Dress.

Here’s a fun striped jersey ruffle fabric that is going to work as well. Any fabric will give a different look. For fun & funk, I would pair this zebra fabric with trims and necklaces in pinks, reds or bright greens, or alternatively with classic white, taupe and black. Or, I’d pair this dress with an over-sized fringed suede duffel bag and matching cowboy boots.

This fabric is a beautiful fabric for this dress: Slinky Stretch Poly Jersey Knit Mixed Animal Print Fabric By the Yard, Brown/Multi

Are you a beginner when it comes to sewing rather than being an experienced seamstress? Then realize that ruffle stretch fabric is not the easiest to work with; albeit worth the efforts of those with a tat of experience and/or patience.


The secret to success here is either sewing this dress by hand, or using good sewing machine and a serger.  A serger is a handy dandy foot for your sewing machines.

There are different kinds of sergers. There are those that are specifically good for piping (serger piping foot), filled bias cording, spaghetti and other custom straps; and there are other ones (serger elastic foot) that help you with stretchy fabric.  In either case, you won’t need (as many) pins as a serger is meant to give you accuracy.

Usually, each sewing machine brand makes its own type of sergers. So if you are going to buy one now, first remind yourself of the exact make and  model of your sewing machine and check that the serger you are getting will fit your particular sewing machine.


Dress pattern details on i still love you blog.

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