Sunday 13 December 2015

How To: Ruffled Hem Shift Dress [+ Sewing a Bias-Bound Round Neckline]

photo GreenRuffleHemDress4.jpg
I've been travelling to warm countries for the Holidays for several years, but let me tell you, it really messes with your perception of time in a whole new way to be living close to the Equator. Christmas time has completely snuck on me and I haven't even made gingerbread O_o Based on seamstress logic, the cure is to still not make gingerbread, but a dress that kind of resembles a Christmas tree. Bonus instructions for how to finish your round neckline with bias tape.

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photo 0 Tools.jpg
2 m of fabric (I used a poly-cotton)  |  Scissors  |  Pins  |  Needle, thread, sewing machine  |  Bias tape (less than 1 m)

I. These measurements will result in a dress that fits EU36/38 with the loose fit you see in the images. Note that you need 2 of each of these pieces. The image here might look a bit distorted cause I originally cut the skirt 90 cm long (I had a different plan of over-knee length) but as I was assembling I decided I wanted a shorter length. So if you're comparing the measurements and wondering what I'm smoking, I put 70 cm for clarity since that was the length the main piece after I snipped it. The main idea is that the total length of the dress will be the length of your main piece + the ruffle, in my case 70 cm + 20 cm = 90 cm.
photo 1 Cut pieces_zpscj2yqvb9.jpg II. I noticed it was tough to get clear images with all the detail of the green fabric, so I'll show the bias-bound neckline with a white basic tee I made a while ago. Start by pinning your front and back piece together, right sides facing, and sewing the shoulder seams.
To finish the shoulder seams, I zig-zagged the seam allowances together and pressed the allowance towards the back piece:
.. Then flipped to the right side and sewed another stitch to secure the seam allowance on the reverse in its flat position.
To prep the neckline for the bias tape, first sew a straight stitch all around it. This is called a stay stitch and it helps prevent the neckline from distorting, essentially gives it a bit of firmness as you work with it. With some fabrics this isn't that necessary but if your fabric has any stretch at all, highly recommended.
Next, start pinning the bias tape onto the neckline, on the right side, opening up one of the folds as you go. As you see here, you want to fold the tape about 0,5 cm when you start. Important: As you pin, make sure the crease of the fold you opened is <i>just below the stay stitch</i>. A good trick here is to insert your pins exactly through the crease as I have done here, and check on the reverse that they come through below the stay stitch.
Continue all around the neckline, and when you get back to the starting point, continue the tape about 1 cm over the starting point, like this:
Then just sew a straight stitch all around, exactly in the crease.
Clip little notches all around your neckline. This is super important, otherwise you won't be able to turn the bias tape onto the reverse side without it puckering and looking like crap.
From here, you have a few options. 1) You can fold the bias tape fully onto the reverse side, like I've done below on the right. 2) You can fold it onto itself, so it stays visible around the neckline (this can look nice if you are working with contrasting bias tape or just prefer that little detail). 3) After folding the bias tape onto itself, you can fold it again so it is hidden on the reverse. This does the same thing was option 1, just results in a bit of a firmer feel since the the tape ends up being thicker.
Here's an image from the reverse of alternatives 1 and 2. For this top, I ended up going with the option on the left, and hand-stitched the bias tape in place.
Here's what it looked like on the right side (the little holes of hand-stitching usually go away with a good steaming). You could of course finish this with a machine stitch as well.
Back to the present dress. Once I was done with my neckline, I pinned the sleeves to the arm holes, right sides facing, and sewed them in place.
photo 10 Pin Sleeves.jpg Here's a look at the finished seam - I just zig-zagged the seam allowance and pressed it away from the sleeve.
photo 11 Sleeve seam finish.jpg IV. Next the side seam. Just like with attaching the sleeves, I sewed it, zig-zagged the seam allowance, and pressed the seam flat.
photo 12 Pin sides.jpg V. Last is the installation of the ruffle. To prep the hem, I cut a slight curve upwards to the front piece and a corresponding downwards curve to the back piece - just for some added flow when wearing. Also zig-zagged the hem as well as all the raw edges of the 2 long rectangles that will make up the ruffle.
photo 13 Curved hem.jpg VI. Sew the two rectangles together to form one really long one, and sew a basting stitch (your longest stitch) on one of the long edges. Start pulling on the bobbin thread to gather the fabric. Continue doing this and distributing the gathers until the length of the ruffle matches the hem. Then pin the ruffle onto the hem, starting from one side seam (right sides facing) and sew all around. Leave about 1 cm un-sewn when you get to the open ends of the ruffle, so you have room to attach the rectangles.
photo 14 Ruffled.jpg VII. Finally, sew the open ends of the ruffle together to complete the side seam. As the last step, hem the dress and the sleeves (I zig-zagged and hand-stitched).
photo 15 Sew ruffle seam.jpg Level of comfort: 10.
photo GreenRuffleHemDress2.jpg photo GreenRuffleHemDress.jpg photo GreenRuffleHemDress3.jpg xo,



  1. Julia! Wowie. This is so freakin gorgeous. Like all your stuff. Seriously.

  2. Hello! I have to say that I just found your blog and I love it ! <3 Your ideas, your minimalism, your style is what I love. I can't stop looking at your projects.
    Could you please tell me how tall are you? I'd love to make that dress on my own, but I can't estimate length that would be good for me. You look so petite, I guess you are about 160cm?;)
    Hugs from Poland, you are the best!

    1. Thank you so much Magdalena, what a lovely thing to say!! So happy someone's inspired:) I am actually taller than you would apparently think, 175 cm, I hope that helps in the sizing! One thing that I also find more helpful than measuring your own body is taking an existing, well-fitting garment that is the length you are looking for, and measuring from it. Happy sewing!!!!


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