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Make a Simple Knit Sheath Dress

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Learn how to make a simple knit sheath dress using no matter—only two pieces of fabric that you trace and cut on your own!

How to make a simple knit sheath dress

Since I’ve pared down my wardrobe, I don’t really do too much shopping anymore. But I’ve given myself a pass for any article of clothing that I make myself. I’m trying to improve my sewing skills, and I’ve always thought that being able to make clothes would be so rewarding, so I’ve recently graduated from pillowcase covers to experimenting with clothing patterns.

The real motivation was inheriting one of my grandmother’s sewing machines a few weeks ago—I sold the Target clearance Singer machine and got to work. I quickly realized that patterns were really confusing, so I decided to wing it for a bit while I learned the ins and outs of my new machine.

I have a simple black knit sheath dress that I really love; it’s stretchy, it doesn’t have any zippers, buttons, hooks, or elastic, and I could make it by sewing only two pieces together. It’s also very versatile and machine washable, so it’s a great piece if you have a small work wardrobe.

Since it is only two pieces—a front piece and a back piece—I created a pattern using tracing paper. I made sure to use sew-through paper so that I could sew the pattern on to the fabric. I’ve found that using sew-through paper is really helpful as a beginner. Sewing through paper is also a great trick for sewing even seams on stretchy knit fabrics because it helps prevent the stitches from bunching as you sew.

finished simple knit sheath dress

Supplies

And here’s how to make a simple knit sheath dress.

Step 1: Trace the dress

Lay your dress on a piece of sew-through tracing paper and carefully trace the dress. Use measuring tape to measure the bust, waist, hips, and length of your dress to ensure the measurements are roughly correct on your pattern. Then, trace a second outline about 1 inch out from the dress’s outline. This is to account for your seam allowance. Cut out the pattern.

tracing paper laid out on fabric

Step 2: Pin all three together

Cut the front and back pieces and lay them together with the right sides facing one another. Then lay the tracing paper pattern on top and pin all three together.

Step 3: Sew the sides up

Sew up the sides and the small shoulder straps by sewing along the inside line on your tracing paper. I used a zigzag stitch, from which I learned it’s much harder to remove sewn-through paper.

Like easy sewing projects? Check out my tutorials for how to sew a simple circle skirt, how to sew an easy wrap shawl, and how to sew an envelope laptop sleep!

Step 4: Remove the paper pattern

It’s okay if you leave some of the pattern in the stitches for now. Removing it from a zigzag stitch is annoying, but since I’m a beginner, sewing through the paper really helped me sew in a straight line.

Flip the dress right-side out and try it on. Make any adjustments to the fit (I had to make my arm holes a bit wider and deepen the neckline).

photo of the inner seam

Step 5: And hem the dress

Hem the neckline, armholes, and bottom. Hemming will be easier if you fold over the fabric and press using spray starch first. Press seams.

Here it is! I’m so pleased with the result! This piece will be an excellent addition to my work wardrobe because it’s so low maintenance and versatile. I want to make this in another color, but I want to sew that one without using sew-through paper to see if the result is much different.

finished simple knit sheath dress
finished simple knit sheath dress
finished simple knit sheath dress

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