Posted: January 22, 2011
By Andrea Swatski Mikesell
DIY Convertible Dress: level: Beg/Intermediate
*This dress is a great first dress to make! We’ll be using my measurements to figure out patterns, I’ll give you formulas to insert your measurements. Can’t emphasize this enough: WRITE ALL YOUR MEASUREMENTS DOWN! You’ll be doing math with them. And it will be more rewarding than math class.
Materials: (6 items)
1. Fabric: Stretch (stretches up & down, and left & right), with a minimum of 40% stretch. This fabric does not unravel when cut.
Suggestions: Jersey Knit (Rayon/Spandex blend)
*Width: The wider the fabric the longer you can make your skirt.
skirt: 1.5 yds for skirt
band: 1/4 yard
straps: Height in inches x 1.5 for straps (look at strap section to figure out amount for you)
(I used 4 yards)
2. Ball point needle
3. Tape Measure
4. Pattern paper (I used a large roll of kraft paper (brown packaging paper) from Staples.
5. Scissors (paper and fabric)
6. Polyester Thread that matches your fabric (it is better to go darker than lighter with thread color)
ZigZag (if on stretch setting, the double zigzag)
1. Circle Skirt
2. Waist Band
3. 2 Straps
Use this calculator to figure out Radius.
First measure around your waist (for this dress, at the narrowest part. This usually below your ribs and above your belly button).
My waist measured to 27.5.
Find the radius of your skirt (this is where you want to use the calculator). Enter your waist measurement into the circumference slot. Calculate. Subtract 1.5 inches from radius measurement for stretchy fabric. The stretch has a tendency to make the circle even larger as it may not be able to hold the shape.
Ex: 27.5 circumference = 4.37 in radius -1.5 inches= new radius
Then measure how long you want your dress. Stand up straight. Hold tape measure at waist inline with the front (or side) of the leg and pull tape down leg until desired length. I made mine 24 inches in length, and it hits below my knee (I am 5’8″).
You can always cut it shorter, but you can’t cut it longer!
How to Make Circle Skirt Pattern
1. Lay out your piece of pattern paper. Top Left corner label “A”.
2. From “A” measure down left side the measurement of your radius. Mark where radius is. Mark this B.
Ex: Point A to Radius mark on left edge is 2.37 inches.
3. Repeat on top, from “A” measure across top to radius. Mark this C.
Ex: Point “A” to Radius mark across top edge is 2.37 inches.
4. From point “B”. measure down left edge the length you would like your skirt (22inches, 38 inches, etc). Mark the end of the length “D.
5. Repeat with skirt length starting at point “C’ and measure length of skirt across top edge. Mark end of skirt length E.
6. From Point B to C:
Hold Measuring tape at point A. Place pencil point into measuring tape hole at beginning of tape. Place pencil point on point B. Holding tape firmly at A and keeping tape taught between A and B, bring pencil from B to C. The tape end at point A will need to rotate in conjunction with the pencil point. This should create an arch on your paper from B to C. You may want to go halfway from B to C, and then C to B, to make sure the circle is a consistent measurement.
7. Repeat for Point D to E. Hold tape end at A and pencil point at D. Bring Pencil to point E, rotating A as needed to keep line straight and flat. You will end up with an arch form Point D to E.
8. Draw the work Fold on the left edge of paper and draw arrows pointing to edge. Repeat at top. This is to remind you where the pattern goes on your folded fabric.
9..Once you have checked and double checked your measurements and drawing, Cut out your pattern from the paper.
Fold, Pin & Cut:
1. Fold fabric Horizontally. Then Vertically. Pin fabric in place. If it slides around your circle skirt will be wacked out.
(if your fabric is not wide enough to do two fold, fold in horzontally only. You will have to pin your pattern, cut, then pin again to a new section of fabric and cut. This will give you two halves of a skirt. Place right sides together, lining sides up. Pin in place. Sew down each side to create seams. These seams will be on the sides of your skirt when faced right side out.)
2. Lay pattern piece on fabric, making sure the folds on the pattern match the folds on the fabric.
3. Pin pattern piece to fabric.
4. Cut from point B to C.
5. Cut from point D. to E.
6. Stop cutting. Unfold, you now have a circle skirt (or two halves, which you will sew together as described above).
How to Make the Band:
1. Take your waist measurement and divide by 2. This is the length of the band on the pattern. You can make the width of the band whatever you’d like. I made mine band 4 inches wide to start, which will end up being 2 inches as the fabric is folded.
2. Make a rectangle on your paper with the width of your choice (if you want your band width to be 3 inches, make your width on the paper 6 inches and 1/4 for seam allowance).
and the length the length of your waist divided by 2.
Ex: 27.5 waist divided by = 13.75 inches long
and I want a 2 inch wide band, so it will be 4.25 inches wide
3. Cut out paper pattern. *Pin pattern end on fold. This will double the length of the band, making it the correct measurement for your waist!
4. Fold band horizontally (hot dog style), right sides facing. Pin edges together. Sew a 1/4 seam at edge. Turn inside out.
5. Place band on skirt,with band seam either in the middle or aligned to edge, right sides facing each other. Pin beginning of band at the back middle of your skirt. pin around skirt, matching edge of band to edge of skirt. Pin all the way around.
Don’t worry if your band has extra fabric after pinning all the way around. The fabric is stretchy and remember the waist of your skirt was purposely made smaller to allow for stretch of fabric to fit around your waist.
sew the band and skirt together with 1/4 seam allowance. Use a Zigzag stich. If your sewing machine has a stretch setting, make sure its set to that. You may want to take the sewing machine arm off for this part.
<span style=”font-weight:bold;”>How to: Straps:</span>
The straps should be Looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong. The recommended length is 1.5 times your height. (Ex: Height= 5’8″. Math= 5 feet at 12 inches a foot is 60 feet, plus 8 inches =68 inches. 68 times 1.5= 102. 102/12=8.5 feet. For an 5’8″ person, the straps are suggested to be 8.5 feet)
To find the width, measure from a just a little past the middle, under the bust, to under the arm pit where you want the straps to stop. I would suggest crossing the straps in front, overlapping, to give more coverage, and going just past your arm pit. My straps were 11 inches in width, and gave coverage without looking frump or looking like a school marm.
On your pattern paper, (you may need to tape paper together to make a sheet this long, or you can pin and cut in a progression, moving hte paper down the fabric as needed) map out width and length.
My straps ended up being about 6.5 feet instead of 8.5 because of fabric being damaged in the mail, and that was plenty for me at height of 5’8″.
Attaching Strap to Band:
1. Keep skirt right sound out. Attach straps to band, with right sides together. Easiest way is to pin on strap onto the band and then attach the other, both beginning to pin from the middle front.
2. Double check the pins to see if any skirt fabric has gotten caught in the pinning process.
3. Sew straps to band, starting at the back, using the zigzag pattern. Begin with one strap in the back, sew around sewing the overlapping bands and continuing to the end of the other strap. Always check to make sure the skirt is not being sewn in. You may have to take the arm of your sewing machine off to sew this part.
In the pictures below, I’ve left the straps unwrapped so you can see how the dress lays.
and here is one alternative way to wrap, out the many many many ways
feel free to leave comments with questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.