The $5 Dress, or Why Less is More When Cutting a Neckline

The finished product

So I made a dress for less than $5 back in May.  I feel like it was a success, however I was planning on being able to wear it to work but due to my over-zealous cutting of the neckline it falls off of my shoulders.  Which is cute, but not really work-appropriate.  Oh well, maybe with a sweater.  I think I will wear it on our trip up to Dallas next weekend anyway.

Here is some terrible self-photography of the finished product.  I will admit that it only looks good with a belt, but I have this great belt from UO that I don’t get to wear that often.

As I am writing this I am remembering all kinds of issues I had with this project, but my friend Kim from floating thru fields wanted me to post it.  She’s a much better seamstress than I.

I wouldn’t really call this post a tutorial – If I were to do it again I would do it differently, mostly because the way I finished the sleeves would probably make Tim Gunn slap me and confiscate my sewing machine.

But anyway, here’s a rough outline of what I did:

1. Discover cute print at Wal-Mart for a ridiculously cheap price, buy 3 yards thinking there will be lots of extra.

2. Formulate a simple shift dress pattern.

3. Discover that fabric is very thin and lining is not optional, become thankful for purchasing double the amount actually needed.

4. Fold fabric in half lengthwise and cut two rectangles the desired length and width of dress plus 1 inch for seam allowance (I don’t mess around with the standard 5/8″ seam allowance – that math is too much for me – I always just do a 1/2″ seam allowance). Measure twice, cut once.

5. One rectangle becomes the front, and one becomes the back.  Cut desired necklines.  I did a deep V in the back and a boatneck in the front.  Be sure to measure that the sleeve length is the same on both front and back.

6. Sew together neck opening and bottom hem of each respective rectangle, right sides together.  Turn right side out and press the hem and necklines crisp and flat.  The sides and sleeve/shoulder will be open – that’s where we stich the front and back together.  See how we are creating a self-lined dress?

7.  Carefully line up hems and pin the sides like crazy, remembering to stop at the top for the arm opening.  Stitch sides together.  Repeat with necklines and shoulder/sleeve seam at the top.

8. Spend an hour creating 1″ binding tape to finish sleeves.  Go cross-eyed trying to pin and stitch it evenly and not crooked.

9. Do a terrible job of adding an elastic waist and then decide to never tell anyone how you did it.  Cover up with cute belt.

10. Get over disappointment of the requirement of a strapless bra and enjoy the fruits of a few hours’ labor.

I haven’t done a sewing project since this one.  I obviously need to plan better :) But for $5, still not bad.


One thought on “The $5 Dress, or Why Less is More When Cutting a Neckline

  1. Can I just say I think you’re amazing :)
    Binding tape…..that’s dedication!
    I don’t really mess with elastic anymore, but I’m proud that you battled the beast ;)
    It’s a super cute dress that looks AWESOME with a belt! You need to give yourself more credit friend

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