How to Use Dress Pattern: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you tired of spending a fortune on store-bought dresses that don’t quite fit your style? We will show you how to use dress patterns to create beautiful garments that are tailored specifically to your measurements and taste.

Using dress patterns may seem intimidating at first, but once you understand the basics, it opens up a world of possibilities. With a well-fitted dress pattern as your starting point, you can customize every aspect of the garment – from choosing different fabrics and prints to adjusting hemlines and necklines.

So dust off that sewing machine and let’s dive into the exciting world of using dress patterns!

shallow focus photography of white flowe
Photo by Ales Maze on Unsplash

Choosing the Right Dress Pattern

Here’s what you need to know:

Body Shape: Start by understanding your body shape as different dress patterns flatter different figures. For example:

  • A-line dresses are great for hourglass figures.
  • Empire waist dresses work well for apple-shaped bodies.
  • Sheath dresses complement rectangular shapes.

Style and Occasion:

  • Casual daywear: Opt for simple patterns with comfortable fabrics like cotton or linen.
  • Formal occasions: Look for more elaborate patterns featuring details such as pleats or ruffles.

Skill Level: Assess your sewing skills before selecting a dress pattern:

  • Beginners should start with simpler designs that have minimal seams and details.
  • Intermediate sewists can experiment with slightly more complex patterns involving zippers or buttons.
  • Advanced makers may enjoy intricate designs like tailored dresses with lining.

Pattern Sizing: Pay attention to the size range provided by the pattern manufacturer: Size Bust (inches) Waist (inches) Hips (inches) XS-XL 30-36 23-29 32-38 XXL+ 38-44 31-37 40-46

Fabric Type:

  • Lighter fabrics like chiffon work best for flowy designs, while heavier fabrics lend structure to tailored styles.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to make a mock-up or toile before cutting into your desired fabric.

With these considerations in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the right dress pattern for your next sewing project. Happy stitching!

Check this video

Understanding the Measurements

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Bust Measurement:

  • Wrap the measuring tape around the fullest part of your bust.
  • Make sure the tape is level all around.
  • Keep a relaxed posture while taking measurements.

Waist Measurement:

  • Locate your natural waistline by bending sideways; where you bend is your waistline.
  • Place the tape around this point and ensure it’s snug but not too tight.

Hip Measurement:

  • Find the widest part of your hips, usually about 7-9 inches below your waist.
  • Wrap the measuring tape around this area while keeping it parallel to the floor.

Back Waist Length:

  • Measure from your natural waistline up to the prominent bone at the base of your neck (C7 vertebra).

Shoulder Width:

  • Measure across from one shoulder joint to another at their widest point on top of each arm.

Armhole Depth:

  • Start measuring from outer edge of shoulder down towards armpit crease in straight line

Remember these tips when working with dress patterns:

  • Always use accurate measurements for better fitting garments.
  • Use a flexible measuring tape for precise readings.
  • Have someone assist you if necessary, especially for hard-to-reach areas like shoulder width or back length.

By understanding these essential measurements, you can confidently select and adjust dress patterns that will suit your body shape perfectly.

Check this video

Preparing Your Fabric

To achieve the best results when working with dress patterns, it’s crucial to properly prepare your fabric before cutting and sewing. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth and successful project:

  1. Wash and Iron: Before starting any dressmaking project, always wash and iron your fabric according to its care instructions. This step helps remove any dirt, chemicals, or starches that may be present in the fabric.
  2. Prewashing for Shrinkage: If your fabric is prone to shrinkage (such as cotton or linen), prewashing is essential. Machine-wash the material using a gentle cycle with cold water, then tumble dry on low heat or air-dry if recommended by the manufacturer.
  3. Ironing Surface: Set up an ironing board or a flat surface covered with an ironing mat where you can easily work with your fabric.
  4. Pressing Techniques: Use a hot iron (with appropriate temperature settings for your specific type of fabric) to press out any wrinkles from both sides of the material before laying out and cutting pattern pieces.
  5. Pattern Layout Planning: Carefully examine your dress pattern layout guide included in the instruction booklet or printed on tissue paper within the pattern envelope. It will show you how each pattern piece should be placed on the fabric efficiently while considering grain lines, seam allowances, and directional prints.
  6. Pinning/Cutting Tips: Securely pin down each pattern piece onto your prepared fabric following guidelines provided by individual patterns—using sharp scissors specifically designed for cutting fabrics—carefully cut along designated lines without distorting them.

7 .Markings/Notches: Transfer all necessary markings from the paper pattern onto your cut-out fabric pieces accurately using tailor’s chalk or removable marking tools like disappearing ink pens/pencils.

Remember that proper preparation of your chosen textile plays a vital role in achieving professional-looking results when sewing a dress using a pattern. Taking the time to wash, iron, and correctly lay out your fabric will ensure that your garment fits well and looks its best when completed.

Check the video

Cutting Out the Pattern Pieces

This process ensures that you have all the necessary shapes and sizes required for creating your garment. Follow these simple guidelines to cut out your pattern pieces accurately:

Prepare Your Materials

  • Gather all the materials needed, including fabric, scissors or rotary cutter, pins or clips, and a marking tool.
  • Ensure that your fabric is pre-washed and properly ironed before starting.

Layout and Pinning

  • Lay out your fabric on a clean, flat surface.
  • Place the largest pattern pieces first while considering grain lines (directional arrows) indicated on the pattern.
  • Securely pin or clip each piece onto the fabric to prevent shifting during cutting.

Tracing or Cutting

  • Depending on your preference and convenience:
    • If using tissue paper patterns: carefully trace around each pattern piece with a marking tool directly onto the fabric.
    • If using printed paper patterns: cut along designated lines through both layers of fabric simultaneously.

Accuracy Matters

  • Take extra care when cutting notches (small triangles), darts (folded areas), or any other specific markings mentioned in the instructions – they are crucial for proper assembly later on.

Repeat if Necessary

  • Repeat Steps 2-4 for any remaining smaller pattern pieces until you have cut out all required components.
  1. Marking Additional Guidelines
    • Use tailor’s chalk or washable markers to transfer any additional markings like dart points, pocket placements, etc., as instructed by your particular dress pattern.
  2. Finishing Touches
    • Once you finish cutting out all necessary pieces according to their respective numbers mentioned in instructions/layout diagrams provided by your dress pattern:
      i) Neatly fold and store the remaining fabric for future use.
      ii) Carefully remove pins or clips from pattern pieces.

Remember, accurate cutting is crucial to ensure your dress fits perfectly. Taking your time and paying attention to details during this step will save you potential fitting issues later in the sewing process.

Sewing the Bodice

Prepare your fabric and pattern:

  • Choose the appropriate fabric for your dress bodice according to the pattern recommendations.
  • Cut out all necessary pieces from your fabric, being careful to follow the cutting lines on the pattern.

Pin and sew darts:

  • Match up dart markings on your fabric pieces.
  • Fold along the center line of each dart, with right sides together.
  • Pin in place and sew along the marked lines starting from wider end towards pointy end.

Assemble front and back panels:

  • Align front and back panels at shoulder seams with right sides facing each other.
  • Pin in place and stitch shoulder seams using a straight stitch or as directed by your pattern.
  1. Attach sleeves (if applicable):
    • If you’re adding sleeves:
    • Place sleeve piece(s) onto armhole edge aligning notches or markings for proper placement.
    • Pin in place before stitching around armhole edge.
  2. Sew side seams:
    1. With right sides together, match up side seam edges of front and back panels.
    2. Ensure that any additional elements like pockets are correctly positioned between layers if required by your design.
    3. Pin carefully along both side seam edges before sewing them together.
  3. Finish neckline and hemline:
    • Use bias tape or facing to finish off raw edges of neckline as per instructions provided by your dress pattern
    • Hem bottom edge of bodice according to desired length mentioned in your chosen design
  4. Press and trim excess threads:
    • Press all completed seams flat using an iron set at appropriate temperature for selected fabric type
    • Trim any excess threads for a neat and professional finish.

Remember, each dress pattern may have specific instructions or variations, so always refer to the pattern guide included with your chosen design.

Attaching the Skirt and Sleeves

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Prepare the pieces: Before attaching the skirt and sleeves, make sure you have cut out all the necessary pattern pieces accurately.
  2. Attach the skirt: Start by placing the skirt piece right side up on a flat surface. Align one of its raw edges with the corresponding raw edge of your bodice or waistband piece (depending on your dress design). Pin them together in place.
  3. Sew or serge: Using a sewing machine or serger, stitch along the pinned edge with a straight stitch or overlock stitch respectively. Remember to backstitch at both ends for added durability.
  4. Press open seams: After stitching, press open any seam allowances using an iron set to an appropriate temperature for your fabric type. This helps create smooth and professional-looking seams.
  5. Attach sleeves: To attach sleeves, start by matching their notches to those on your bodice or armhole openings as indicated in your pattern instructions.
  6. Pin and stitch: Once aligned correctly, pin each sleeve in place along its designated armhole opening — starting from shoulder point down towards underarm area if applicable — ensuring that right sides are facing each other.
  7. Sew around each armhole following guidelines provided by your pattern instructions while removing pins as you go along to avoid damaging your machine needle.
  8. Finish off: Finally, press open any sleeve seams before proceeding further with constructing other parts of your dress according to individual pattern steps.

Finishing Touches

Here are some tips to help you add those final details:

Hemming: A well-executed hem ensures that your dress falls nicely and gives it a polished look. Follow these steps for a clean finish:

  • Measure and mark the desired length of your dress.
  • Fold up the fabric towards the wrong side, aligning with the marked line.
  • Press along the fold to create a crisp edge.
  • Stitch close to the folded edge, ensuring an even stitch length.

Seam Finishes: To prevent fraying and give your dress longevity, consider different seam finishes such as:

  1. Fastenings: Depending on your pattern’s style and design, you may need closures like buttons or zippers. Here’s how you can attach them neatly:
    1. Buttons:
    • Sew buttons securely using double-threaded hand stitches or by following your machine’s manual instructions for buttonhole stitching.
    • Ensure proper alignment before sewing each button in place.
    1. Zippers:
    • Install zippers using either centered zipper installation or invisible zipper techniques – choose one based on your preference and skill level.
    • Take accurate measurements before cutting out corresponding notches or slits in your fabric for smooth zip insertion.
  2. Pressing: Throughout garment construction, pressing is crucial to achieve professional-looking results. Remember these key points:
  • Use a pressing cloth when working with delicate fabrics or to protect your iron from sticky residue.
  • Press seams open or towards one side, following the pattern’s instructions.
  • Steam can help remove wrinkles and shape stubborn fabric areas.

Remember, the finishing touches are what elevate a homemade dress into something special. Take your time and pay attention to detail for a beautiful end result. Happy sewing!


By following these simple steps and tips, you can create unique garments that fit perfectly and reflect your personal style.

Take your time when sewing, paying attention to details like seam allowances and finishing techniques. With practice, you’ll gain confidence in manipulating patterns to add your own customizations.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different fabrics and styles to keep things exciting.

So go ahead – unleash your creativity and enjoy the rewarding process of bringing beautiful garments to life!

Was this article helpful?