Sometimes dresses are so gorgeous they can be intimidating to imagine making it yourself but just take a calm look. Their beauty is in the fabric and in the most simple way all you need to do is add a little basic sewing skill.

Featured: Empire waist dress with a ruched bodice and off-the-shoulder ruffled neckline and long sleeves with elasticized cuffs created by Notte by Marchesa

In many cases, your use of fabric as inspiration and the theme for the piece begins there. There are so many things you can do with luxurious fabric and a bit of elastic … who knows, you may become a famous dress designer one day!

You will need:

  • 2 yds. of fashion fabric, 60″ wide
  • 3 yds. of shirring elastic. 3/8″ wide
  • 2 ¼ yds. of single fold bias tape, 1/2″ wide
  • Coordinating thread


Cut block layout according to your measurements as illustrated. Cut 1 front, cut 1 back, and 2 sleeves cut on the fold. For the bust measurement, measure just under the arms around the fullest part of the chest. For the finished length, measure from the armpit to the desired length (above the knee in this case).


  1. With right sides together, layer the fabric squares and match the edges along the length. Pin or baste and stitch to create a tube, using ½” seam allowances. Press seams open.
  2. Repeat for each sleeve piece. You now have 1 large tube of fabric for the body and 2 smaller tubes for the sleeves.
  3. On the sleeves, turn under the bottom edge by ¼” and press. Make a ½” casing by turning under ½” hem and stitching along the pressed edge, leaving a 3″ opening for the insertion of the elastic.
  4. Cut 2 lengths of elastic equal to the distance around your closed fist. Thread the elastic through the casing and sew ends securely together. Slipstitch opening closed.
  5. Turn the top edge of the sleeves under by ¼” and press. Turn again by 1 ½” and press.
  6. Stitch the turning along the bottom edge, leaving a 3″ opening. Parallel to this stitching, sew a second row of stitching ½” apart. This will create a casing for the elastic.
  7. Cut 2 lengths of elastic equal to the bicep measurement. Thread the elastic through the casings and secure the ends together. Machine-stitch the opening on the casing closed.
  8. On the body, turn under the bottom edge twice by ½” and press. Topstitch hemline.
  9. On the body, turn under the top edge by 1 ¼” and press. This will be the ruffle.
  10. Place the bias tape along the ruffle overlapping the raw edge by ¼”. Pin/baste the bias tape around the top edge and fold back the short ends and butt together at one of the side seams. Stitch the edges of the bias tape.
  11. From the bias tape, measure a parallel distance of  7-8″. Place a second row of bias tape on the body and stitch tape as in the prior step.
  12. Cut 2 lengths of elastic equal to the bust measurement. Thread elastic in each casing and gather up excess to create the ruching. Sew elastic ends together. Slipstitch ends of bias tape closed.
  13. Match up each underarm seam of the sleeves with the sideseams at the ruffle edge. Tack together.