Monday 21 September 2015

Reformation -Inspired Tie-Front Sun Dress

photo ready1.jpg
After a painfully long separation from a sewing machine, I'm back! Our move to Dubai is done and I finally got my new sewing station set up.. Just in time for W to leave the country for 2 weeks = The apartment looked like a fabric tornado came through for a good while... I'll start with this, but more is coming!

I missed the boat on the Reformation Riley dress and was emotionally over it being sold-out, until I saw Natasha Oakley wearing a white version on IG. Turns out it was pretty easy to re-create! Btw if you have a longer button-front skirt lying around, Geneva from a pair & a spare shows you how to make a similar dress with less work.

Tutorials take a lot of time & effort to create, and I choose to make mine available for free. If you enjoy this guide, you can support me with a donation that feels right for you, here.

photo 0 Tools.jpg
Fabric - I used 100% cotton - 3 m  (If your white fabric is really see-through, you might need some nude/white fabric to line the skirt, if not, ignore the other fabric in the photo, I actually ended up using it to make a separate underskirt I can use with other dresses that require one)  |  Thread & Sewing machine (with button hole foot)  |  Pins  |  Fabric marker  |  Buttons (I used 7)  |  Scissors

I. Cut out your pieces, like this (measurements indicative of my EU size 36/US 4).  Zig-zag raw edges if your fabric frays a lot. We'll cut pieces for the waist band further down (step IV).
photo 1 Cut pieces.jpg
II. Starting with the button band. Take the two long rectangular pieces and press a 1 cm or so fold on one long side.
photo 2 Fold button bands.jpg
Pin the band to either front piece of your skirt, right sides facing. Sew about 0.5 cm from the edge.
photo 3 Pin button band to skirt.jpg
Then fold the band on itself, again right side to right side, and sew the corner at the bottom. Trim excess, focusing on just around the corner..
photo 4 Sew botton of button band.jpg
.. So you can turn the band right side out and push the corner open. Press.
photo 5 Fold and press.jpg
Pin the band in place, making sure the edge on the wrong side is just over the first seam you did.
photo 6 Pin and sew button band.jpg
This way, when you sew the band in place on the right side, you're sure to catch the edge of the band on the reverse side as well. Repeat for the other front piece of the skirt.
photo 7 Sewn button band.jpg
III. Now for the skirt side seams. Place the skirt back piece and the two fronts where you just attached the bands together, right sides facing. Then pin the sides together, leaving the front piece seam allowance about 0,7 cm longer than that of the back piece. Sew 0,5 cm from the shorter seam allowance edge.
photo 8 Pin skirt sides.jpg
Use your iron to press the longer seam allowance on the shorter one, wrapping it in there.
photo 9 Press seam allowance.jpg
Fold the neat package you just created flat and pin in place.
photo 10 Pin seam flat.jpg
Sew on the right side, about 0,5 cm from the original seam, and you should have a nice, neat flat-felled seam that's clean on both sides. Repeat for the other side seam.
photo 11 Ready seam.jpg
IV. For the waist band, I did it the hard way and made it out of 3 pieces (I have a funny waist shape where a waist band needs to have a a bit of angle to fit perfectly - You probably don't, so feel free to make yours out of a single piece of fabric). Cut the piece(s) - about 5-6 cm in width:
photo 12 Darts and cut waist band.jpg
.. And press a fold on each edge, and one width-wise:
photo 13 Prep waist band.jpg
You can then place the band on the skirt, wrapping the skirt waistline inside.
photo 14 Pin waist band.jpg
Pin in place and sew a straight stitch right at the edge.
photo 15 Pin other side.jpg
photo 16 Sewn waist band.jpg
V. Next up: button holes. Your sewing machine manual will give you the lowdown on how this works - and this post has a pretty comprehensive overview. All I'll say is that it's really not as difficult as you might imagine, the machine does all the work for you. When done, mark the button spots through your completed holes, and sew the buttons in place (I'm weird and actually enjoy sewing buttons by hand, but if your sewing machine has the option to lower the feet dogs, you can machine-sew the buttons - You'll see this as well in your machine manual).
photo 17 Button holes and mark button spots.jpg photo 18 Buttons done.jpg
VI. The last bigger thing to complete is the top portion. The very first thing I did was added darts to each of the 4 pieces that will be in the front - the ones that have a cone-like shape. This will help the top have more form when you tie it in the front. Then pin the two layers of the top together, right sides facing, like this, and sew a straight stitch at each 4 seams.
photo 19 Pin top pieces.jpg
Press the seams and now you can pin the two completed pieces to each other at the edges, right sides facing.
photo 20 Pin top sides.jpg
What I also did at this point was to mark the spots where my shoulders straps were going to go with different pins - so I know where to leave a gap when I stitched around the top. If you're not doing shoulder straps, just ignore this step. Either way, remember to leave a 5-10 cm gap at the bottom so you have a hole through which you can turn the top right side out. Sew and turn around, press the seams.
photo 21 Mark strap spots.jpg
VII. Then it's just a matter of attaching the top to the skirt! I pinned mine on the reverse side, right below the seam that attaches the waist band to the skirt, from one skirt side seam to the other. Then sewed on the right side along the pre-existing waist band seam.
photo 21 Pin top to skirt.jpg
Once that's done, slipstitch the upper edge of the waist band to the top to make it all stay in place.
photo 22 Hand sew.jpg
VIII. Finally, add your shoulder straps (I made mine using this technique). Maybe you won't even want to add any - especially if you're curvy your bust may be enough to hold this baby in place. I added mine to the spots I had left open when sewing the top, and hand-sewed them in place. After that, you're just a hemline away from being done - I did mine with a double fold and slipstitched to avoid any visible seam.
photo 23 Sew straps.jpg
Tie it up!
photo Ready3.jpg photo ready4.jpg




  1. I'm so glad I found your blog. Thank you Google!! I have plans to start sewing my own clothes based of the reformation style. I love love love their clothes, but unfortunately I don't fit their clothes. I have a thicker curvier body and I am 5'3, pushing 5'4. However, I look forward to keeping up with your blog. You have really inspired me as a woman. Thank you!

    1. I am so so humbled by this comment and beyond happy you're picking up sewing!!! Looking forward to hearing how it goes - making your own clothes is definitely the way to get the best fit!! And yes, the reformation fit is pretty much exclusively for people that don't think food is important in life:)

  2. WOW Julia! This dress turned out amazing! I like it even better than the Reformation Riley dress because of the flowey fabric you've used instead of a rather stiff one :). I really want to try recreating your design but I'm quite a sewing newby. Will this be too difficult then? And how do I adjust your measurements when I'm a EU34 :)? I'd be so happy if you could help me!
    Have a sunny week! Lots of love xx,

    Frieda :)

  3. Hi! Did you make the pattern yourself? I have pattern lying around that could be used for the skirt, but how do I achieve the pattern pieces for the top?

    I would love to make one myself, but I am not a pattern maker! Thanks!


I would love to hear what you think and learn about your DIY adventures! If you use one of my tutorials, tag me on social @contour_affair, I'd love to see!


Contour Affair Copyright © 2011 -- Template created by O Pregador -- Powered by Blogger