Summer is well underway and I find myself lacking an essential summer wardrobe dress staple; the French Striped Dress. No one can deny that the French have some serious style and some of their pieces seem to never really go out of style. This French-inspired dress is one of them. When I came up with it, I was thinking of something that a 1960s Brigitte Bardot would have worn. So, to remedy the deficiency in my wardrobe, I’m going to make myself a comfortable French Striped Dress to have to wear in the months (and years) ahead. This tutorial will have instructions on how to first make the pattern, and then make the dress from scratch. Read on for my full tutorial!
My French Striped Dress will be a very simple dress to make. The sides of my dress will be slightly curvy because I want it to hug my body a little around the tush area, so no fit and flare here! I’m going to add some patch pockets to the front of the dress matching up the stripes as best as I can. The stripes should sort of camouflage the pockets making them not stand out as much. I’m also going to give it a boat neckline, to keep with the French theme, which is basically a wider, shallower neckline that sort of looks like the rounded shape of the bottom of a boat.
Now this tutorial includes making the pattern pieces as well as the dress. It’s all laid out step by step. If it seems confusing just reading through it, I swear it will make sense as you actually make the dress!
Here’s my initial sketch…
- pattern supplies (pattern paper, pencil, scissors, rulers)
- a dress that you can use as a guide
- 1½ yards of knit striped fabric
- matching thread
French Striped Dress Tutorial
MAKING THE PATTERN
1. Fold your pattern paper in half lengthwise. Take your dress that you are using as a guide, fold it in half so that they back of the dress is on the outside (and the front of the dress is inside the fold) and lay it on top of the pattern paper matching the fold of the dress with the fold of the pattern paper. If your guide dress has sleeves, tuck them in so that you can see the curve around the armpit. Trace around the dress.
Now is the time to edit the neckline of your dress pattern, giving it a boat shaped neckline. Add your desired seam and hem allowances. Cut this out. Unfold it, and you now have the pattern for the dress. With a boat neckline, the front and the back are traditionally the same depth, so I don’t need to make a separate pattern for the front and back of the dress.
2. Next we will make the neckline lining. Trace around the neckline of your dress pattern. Using a ruler, make the necklining pattern piece 1½” wide and cut it out.
When this neckline lining is sewn together, you want it to be about 1″ inch or so shorter than your actual neckline, depending on the stretch of your material (more stretchy=1-2″ shorter; less stretchy=0-1″ shorter). To do this, you must cut a bit off each end of the neck lining patterns. I will cut ½” off each end to err on the side of caution, as I can always cut more off later.
3. Now we will make the sleeve pattern. I’m going to make mine a little longer and little more form fitting to my arm. Measure from the top of your shoulders down to how long you want your sleeves to be. Write this down (my measurement is 11″). Now find out the circumference of the width of your arm where you desired sleeve length ends. Write this down (mine is 9½″). Take this measurement and divide it in half to get the length you draw down at the edge of your sleeve (so, 4¾” for me).
Take a piece of pattern paper, fold it in half, and tuck it under either sleeve opening of the dress pattern so the fold matches up with the top of the shoulder. The fold will be the top of your sleeve. Trace around the sleeve opening. From the top of where you traced the sleeve opening, measure your desired sleeve length down along the fold (my 11″).
Draw a straight line down to that measurement that was half the circumference of your arm (my 4¾”). Now draw a line from the edge of your sleeve just up to the bottom armpit area of the sleeve. Draw a little curve near the armpit connecting up to the straight line you just drew. This will be the bottom of your sleeve. Add your desired seam allowance. Cut this out. Unfold it and you now have your sleeve pattern.
4. Finally, we just need a pattern for our patch pocket. I’m going to use the pattern I made for my Hooded Wrap because while wearing that top, I have found those pockets to be perfect. It’s just a rectangle that is 7″ x 8″, which includes seam allowances
MAKING THE DRESS
I’m going to fold my fabric in half before laying my pattern pieces onto it, so I can cut two of everything at once.
1. Pin/trace your dress, sleeve, pocket, and neckline lining pattern pieces onto the wrong side of your fabric, keeping sure to orient the grain of the fabric so that the stripes are horizontal. Cut these out. *Warning – Striped jersey knit can be a huge pain to work with. You think matching the stripes up can be easy, but it’s not always so. Try to keep things as straight as possible, but don’t fight the fabric too much! Only because you might not win…*
2. Take your main dress pieces, and right sides together, pin then sew across the top of each shoulder. Trim off any excess fabric.
3. Next we will attach the sleeves. Right sides together, match the middle of the shoulder part of the sleeve to the shoulder seam on the dress, pin the sleeve in place, making your way down to the armpits. Sew this together. Repeat with the other sleeve. Trim off any excess fabric.
**If you have really stretchy fabric, don’t fight it and stretch the material to make it fit. That will give the seam some funky rippling that you probably don’t want.
4. Now we will sew the sides of the dress together. Right sides together, starting with the end of one sleeve, pin and sew along the bottom of the sleeve, to the armpit, along the side and down to the bottom of the dress. Repeat this for the other side and cut off any excess fabric. Try your best to match the stripes together!
5. Next, the neckline. Right sides together, pin and sew the ends of your neckline linings together so it forms an oval, of sorts. When this neckline lining is sewn together, you want it to be about 1″ inch or so shorter than your actual neckline, depending on the stretch of your material (more stretchy=1-2″ shorter; less stretchy=0-1″ shorter). This lining must be stretched as you sew it onto your dress. The reason for this is that it will help your neckline keep its shape and not sag.
Now, right sides together, pin the neckline lining to the dress. To make sure it is put on evenly, first pin each seam of the neckline lining to the to top each shoulder, then pin the middle of the front of the lining to the middle of the front neckline, and then the middle of the back of the lining to the middle of the back of the neckline. Add more pins as you want but you will have to stretch the neckline lining as you pin to make sure it’s pinned evenly. Sew these together, stretching the neck lining as you sew.
Tuck the neck lining fabric into the inside of the dress so you see right side of the seam. Pin the lining in place on the wrong side of the dress and again sew around the neckline, but this time use a wide straight stitch.
At this point, try it on and make any alterations as you see fit. I actually took in my dress around the waist just a tad more.
6. Okay, we are almost there! Hem your sleeves to your desired length. I’m going to do a rolled hem (fold it in twice and then hem it). This is actually kind of easy since we have stripes to use as a guide!
Then hem the bottom of your dress to your desired length.
7. Finally, we are going to add the pockets. Fold in all four edges of your pocket fabric to your desired hem allowance, pin, and sew in place.
Try on your dress and mark where you want your pockets to go. Pin and sew your pockets to the right side of the dress.
And we are done. I hope you enjoyed my French Striped Dress tutorial! I’ve gotten loads of compliments wearing this piece! ♥
This tutorial is also available right here → at AllFreeSewing.com.