DIY Shift Dress + Tie Belt

We recently had a Target store open in our town (ooohs, aaahs) and while I don't usually spend the money on their collaboration lines, I do like to check them out for inspiration. On one visit, I spotted an adorable pink dress with flamingos on it that I really admired. Later that day at the fabric store sale table, I came across some vivid floral print pink fabric that just seemed serendipitous. No flamingos, but sometimes crafters can't be choosers. I decided to make a simple roomy slip-on dress with a belt to add shape. If you wanna mimic the resort life, recreate this pattern with your own wacky Hawaiian floral print! Read on for directions.

lightweight fabric**, pre-washed & dried (I used 1 1/2 yards of 45" wide fabric)
scissors, thread, sewing machine (or a chunk of time to hand sew it)
a loose-fitting top to use as a pattern
**I highly recommend sticking to a lightweight fabric or knit for this dress. Make sure to hold a length of the fabric up and see how it falls and drapes over your hand and arm, how it moves (or doesn't move). As for quantity, I'll address that in a second.

Let's start with your loose top. Choose one that you can pull on over your head without any trouble. Basically, you will be cutting out a slightly wider shape then your top, and extending the sides down to the length you desire. You'll need a front and back dress piece, with enough extra fabric left to cut our a strip for the belt, at least 2" wide and 30" long. I cut the pattern larger than the shirt to make sure I'd have a roomy dress with enough fabric to create a gathered look when belted. You could, of course, use this same tutorial to made a slimmer fitting dress.

Now, I'm naturally small and mainly make clothes for myself, so my knowledge of other sizes is pretty limited. I was sad to hear from curvier ladies that my tutorial couldn't work for them. So I estimated some basic fabric lengths to purchase for a medium/short length dress in different sizes. Please account for individual differences when you go to buy, and remember you can buy too much, but not too little. You can always cut the dress too big and tailor it down, but if it's too small, it's too small. Estimations based on 45" wide fabric, refolded into a squarer shape.

child size: 0.5 - 1 yd // adult small-medium: 1.5 yd // large: 2 yd  // xl: 2.5+ yd

Okay, on to the dress making! Cut a notch into the center of your pattern so you'll know where to cut the neck hole. Then, tracing around your top as a guide, outline the dress pattern. I like to cut out one half of it, then fold it over lengthwise to use the cut side as a guide for the other side, insuring it's symmetrical. Once it's folded like this, you can also cut a shallow hole for your head to pop through. Start small! You can enlarge it later. It will probably be easiest to cut the tie belt material from the excess fabric at the fold.

With the right sides of the fabric facing each other, sew the shoulders and side seams,leaving the armholes open. Turn the dress inside out and try it on. How do you like the neck hole? Does it need to be bigger, or deeper? Are the sleeves short enough for you? Is it too long? Belt it: is it too full or just right? Now's the time to make adjustments with scissors and sewing machine.You can shorten the hem and sleeves, slim the width, and play with the neckline. I cut mine pretty straight to make hemming it easier.

Fold under the raw edges at the sleeve, neck and bottom, pin, and sew. I later ironed the hems to keep them from looking so "puffy." To make the belt, sew the length of the folded strip (right sides together!), leaving both top and bottom open for turning. At either end on the tube, attach a safety pin to one side of the fabric. You'll turn it inside out by inserting the safety pin into the tube and slowly inching it along and out through the other side. Iron flat and hem the ends.

Now you can put the parts together, slip on some cute sandals and 
perhaps a sun hat, and jet out for some fun in the sun!