Alright you all have been asking, so I did it. A nap dress sewing tutorial. This dress is self drafted off of measurements so no pattern required!
I do believe beginners can do it, so don’t be afraid to give it a go!
Step 1: Measuring Your Body
You need two measurements: the fullest part of your bust and how long you want your dress to be.
Step 2: Cutting out the Pieces
Now take your bust and multiply it by about 1.5 (you may need to adjust this, but it is a good starting point.)
Then do 1.25-1.5 times that number for your next tier, then multiply that number 1.25-1.5 times for your third tier.
You’ll also need to figure out how long you want each tier to be.
I do 19″ for the top, 15″ for the middle tier, and 9″ for the bottom tier.
Step 3: Hem your fabric
Now that you have your pieces cut out, do a narrow hem on the top and bottom of all three pieces. I have a video on how to do that here.
Step 4: Shir the fabric
Next start shirring the fabric.
Set your machine to its longest stitch and wind your bobbin up with elastic thread. Start sewing row after row until you have the amount of shirring you like.
Step 5: Gather your skirt tiers
Set your machine to its longest stitch again and put your regular thread back in the bobbin.
Sew two rows of basting stitches at the top of your two skirt tiers.
DON’T back stitch at the beginning or the end of your rows.
Step 6: Add side seams and gather
To make things easier for me, I try to do one piece of fabric for each section just for ease of sewing.
For my top, as an example, I cut one big rectangle, shirred it, then folded it in half right sides together and sewed a straight stitch down the middle to create a seam on the outside. This is not structurally necessary, but gives a more symmetrical look since we will have a real seam on the other side.
Sometimes though, I do have to cut out two pieces of fabric and attach them on both sides because my fabric is not long enough for one piece.
Which ever method you choose to do, now is when you want to either do that “fake” seam or sew the two pieces together. DON’T sew it into a full loop just yet, we still want it to be able to lay flat. We just want one seam in the middle, the other ends will be sewn up when we finish the dress.
Once you have one seam for each piece, you can start to gather your fabric by pulling the two bobbin threads underneath. Pull and distribute the fabric until the width matches the width of the piece it is getting attached to.
Step 7: Pin tiers to the dress/each other and sew
Now pin the skirt piece to the top of the dress. I like to do this by lining up the second basting stitch row with the stitch of the narrow hem of my bodice piece.
Then stitch the tier to the dress by sewing a straight seam between those basting stitch rows.
Step 8: Sleeves
Here are the sleeves. You can definitely (and probably should) do this when you cut the rest of the fabric out, I just didn’t feel like it yet.
I do by sleeves by first cutting up two pieces that are 24″ x 7″.
Then I put them on top of each other and fold in half. Then starting at about 6″ up I cut a mark on the folded side, then I cut a mark 3″ up on the raw edge side. Then I use my ruler to cut a diagonal line to connect the two.
When you open them up you get this slight bell curve shaped sleeve.
Then do narrow hems on the rounded and straight side of the sleeve.
Shir four rows on each sleeve, 1″ in from the straight edged.
Then finish of the raw edges by either doing a zigzag stitch or by folding the edge up twice and sewing a hem that way.
Step 9: Sew up side seam and attach sleeves
Now you should have an open dress with all the tiers attached and the sleeves.
So next you should sew up the open side of the dress. I like to do a french seam (here is a good YouTube tutorial) but you could also serge it or do a zigzag stitch
Now you can attach the sleeves. I do this by starting the sleeves about 2.25″ in from the middle of the bust.
I line the bottom hem of the sleeve with my third row of shirring and sew a seam (at my longest stitch to match the shirring) on top of the second row of shirring. Do that for all four edges of the sleeves.
And you’re done!