Folkloric Dress + Sewing Tutorial







The other day I was walking through Hancock fabrics, looking for some denim. I found this great Denim Mexican Poncho Autumn Cotton Fabric, and knew right away that I had to make something out of it. I love the ethnic, folky print of this fabric, and the colors are so on point for fall. I decided to go with a dress: an easy fitted bodice and gathered skirt. I used two patterns that I really like, and mashed them up to create this dress. I used McCall’s M5927 for the bodice front and back, and Simplicity 2444 for the sleeves. You could use any basic bodice and sleeve pattern to create this dress. I created the neckline facing and skirt myself, and I’ll tell you how!

For the neckline facing, simply line up your two bodice pieces shoulder to shoulder, and trace the neckline edges in one continuous line, and make it about 2-2 1/2 inches wide.

For the skirt, measure your waist, then times it by 2. (This is your width). I divided this number in half and cut two pieces- a front and back. (I needed to do this in order to get my stripes going vertical, you can skip this step depending on your fabric, and cut one long piece). Cut your back piece in half again, so you can add in a zipper. For length, measure from your waist to where you would like your dress to end, add 3″ for seam allowance. I always cut the length a little longer than I want so I can decide where the length looks best after the dress is finished.

Materials needed:

-2 1/2 – 3 yards of fabric

-20-22″ zipper

-matching thread


-basic sewing tools

Lets begin!

  1. Mark + sew darts. I always like to mark with thread using the pattern, then gently remove the pattern and cut threads, threads still intact in fabric. Using a ruler and chalk I mark where the darts will be on the wrong side of the fabric.


Tip: Start sewing from the bottom (back stitch) and move towards the tip. Once you get to the tip, do NOT backstitch, leave long threads and hand tie a knot. Once you are finished it will look like this:

OFullSizeRender (1)

2. Iron darts towards the outside edges. Repeat for bodice back.

FullSizeRender (2)

3. Pin + sew bodice side edges together, RST.

FullSizeRender (3)

4. Iron seam, finish seam. I just used a zig zag stitch to finish my seams.

FullSizeRender (4)

5. Pin + sew shoulder edges together. RST.

FullSizeRender (5)

6. Prep the sleeves. Mark your center top with chalk or a marker. Also mark about 1″ from armsyce ends as shown below. I used yellow pins.

FullSizeRender (6)

7. Baste sleeve at 1/4″ + 1/2″ from yellow pin to yellow pin. Leave long threads on either end for pulling.

FullSizeRender (7)

8. Sew each sleeve RST.

FullSizeRender (8)

9. Pin sleeve to arm hole. Make sure to line up seams and centers using your marking we just made with chalk.

FullSizeRender (9)

FullSizeRender (10)

10. Pull threads gently and gather evenly on either side of the armhole until everything fits just right. I did not have to ease that much, just a little until sleeve fit just right. Sew at 5/8″, trim seam, finish with a zig zag stitch all around the edge. When you’re finished it will look like this:

FullSizeRender (11)

11. Prep your neckline facing by finishing the outer edge. I used a zig zag stitch.

FullSizeRender (13)

12. Pin your neckline facing to bodice neckline, RST. Line up centers and edges. Sew at 1/2″.

FullSizeRender (14)

13. Flip neckline facing to the inside of the bodice, and iron over about 1/8- 1/4 ” to hide facing from front view. Using a needle and thread, hand tack facing to seams and center front.

FullSizeRender (15)

FullSizeRender (16)

14. Prep skirt. Sew side seams together. Sew back seam together stopping about 7 1/2- 8″ from the waistline in order to leave an opening for the zipper, back stitch. Iron seams, finish seams.

FullSizeRender (17)

15. Once the skirt is sewn together, prep for gathering. Baste 1/2″ + 5/8″, again leave long threads for pulling. Pin skirt front center to bodice front center, pin back edges of skirt to back edges of bodice. Gently pull threads until gathers are evenly distributed and everything fits in place. Make sure to line up side seams of skirt and bodice. Sew at 5/8″.

FullSizeRender (18)

FullSizeRender (19)

16. Unpick any basting threads that show on the front of the dress.

17. Sew in invisible zipper, follow instructions on packaging. FInish off zipper and neckline edge by folding zipper tape backwards to the seam, and hand tacking down.

FullSizeRender (20)

FullSizeRender (22)

FullSizeRender (23)

18. Hem sleeves and dress bottom edge to desired lengths.



9 thoughts on “Folkloric Dress + Sewing Tutorial

  1. It’s wonderful to read and learn from your blog. I usually make simple gathered skirts but my tops haven’t been coming out too well. I think I need
    to recheck my measurements. I look forward to your blog now. It’s helpful and thank you. Your clothes are wonderful!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: