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Make Your Own Dress with Buttons

A classic button-down midi dress should grace every closet. It’s feminine, flattering, and pairs easily with many other accessories to create different looks for different times of the year. It is also one of the more advanced dress patterns to use. As a bonus, this one has pockets!

The Pattern and Materials

You’ll need:

  • 3 ¾ yards of the main fabric- keep in mind that you want breathable fabric, consider cotton and cotton chambray.
  • 2 ½ yards additionally of the main fabric
  • 1 ¼ yard fusible interlining (iron-on)
  • 13 buttons
  • Sewing machine (Bonus if you have an overlocker)
  • Thread


Then when you cut your pieces, you want to give fair weight to the measurements for your chest, true waist, and hips. Note as well that all pieces will have a 3/8-inch seam allowance. Because of size adjustments, we have not provided exact measurements for pattern pieces.


Cut the following pieces. Throughout the project, we'll refer to these by the number shown here:

  • #1 - 2 front bodice pieces
  • #2 - 2 front side bodice pieces
  • #3 - 1 back bodice piece cut on the fold
  • #4 - 2 backside bodice pieces cut on the bias
  • #5 - 2 front strap and bodice pieces
  • #6 - 1 back strap portion with interlacing
  • #7 - 2 pockets
  • #8 - 1 back piece cut on the fold
  • #9 - 2 front panel pieces (together should match #8 - DO NOT CUT ON FOLD)
  • #10 - 2 center strips for buttons

Step One: Prep the Pieces

Like every good garment project, do you need to start out by properly preparing the materials and the pieces themselves. Because we suggested a cotton or cotton chambray, it is important to wash, dry, and iron the material before you cut it. Most medium-weight garment materials will shrink and change shape after washing. It's best to do this first before you go through the effort of creating a dress.


Once you have your material prepped, you'll want to cut out all the pieces. Again, all of these pieces depend on your body’s shape and size, so it may take some tweaking to get it just right. There were a few particular pieces that you'll want to give some extra care to. First, the center back or piece #8 Is cut with a direct center on the fold, so when you cut it, it'll look a bit like a rhombus shape rather than as a dress skirt.  The other pieces to concern yourself with are the side bodice pieces, which need to be cut on the fabric's grain bias.

Step Two: Shoulders and Bodice

When you're ready to start bringing the shoulder and bodice pieces together, you're going to start with #1 and #2 pieces face up and then align those together at the notches. They should have a very natural fit for each other. Then flip #2 against #1 and align the seam. You're going to do this for both sides of the top bodice piece.


Align the seams together and ensure that the notches meet where there's a bit of excess, which allows for the curve of the bust. Use a straight stitch with a ⅜-inch seam allowance.


Take #3, and #4 with both pieces face up and align the notches again. Bring #4 over #3 with right sides facing and line up the seam. Pin, and there will be some excess in the curve near the waist. Sew the seam with a 3/8-inch seam allowance and then notch along the hem with small slits, so the piece lays flat.


If you have an overlocker, you will use that on the piece from #3 and #4 now. Then iron the front seams you created and the center front, as well as the center back. Overlock or serge all of your seams on the edges around the bodice.


Place the front bodice pieces against the back bodice piece and align the shoulder seams. Pain and then so the shoulder seams than with #5 facing #6, sew the shoulder seams together. Iron those seams open and then pin them along with the piece you initially created with the back and bodice. Ensure that the neckline, back, and armhole seams align. Pin and then sew.


Along the neckline, you will notch the allowance so it can lay flat. Then reach in and grab the front of the shoulder area and turn the garment. Finish the bodice by aligning the seams of the side bodice and sewing the side seams into place.


It's recommended that throughout constructing the bodice, you frequently try on the garment to ensure that it's fitting snug through the chest and will comfortably meet the waist. Iron it all and place a topstitch along the neckline toward the facing.

Step Three: Pockets and Front Panel

If you're working with this pattern, then making pockets should be a breeze. Use #7  two creature Pockets. Pain, iron, and then sew with a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Iron over the three sides that will close and then align them over the front panel pieces, #9. Pockets should be between 4 and 5-inches from the top of the front waist.


Take #8, and both #9 pieces, then sew a baste stitch along the waist seam first with a 1/8-in allowance and then sew another baste stitch below that at a 1/4-inch allowance. Stop both baste stitches with 1 ¼-inch from the side seams. Keep the threads long and no backtracking.


Place the pieces together so that the front skirt pieces lay against the back skirt piece, then you will use a baste stitch to close the side seams.  Iron those seams open and using the baste stitch, pull only the bottom thread to create a gathering across the waistline. If you've created ruffles before, this is the same process. Continue shirring, or pulling on that gathering until the top of the waist panels are the same size as the bottom of the open bodice.

Step Five: Joining the Bodice and Skirt

Place the face of the bodice against the face of the waist seam on the skirt. Align that seam, pin, and then sew using a ½-inch seam allowance. You are going to sew in a way that will cover those baste stitches and create a cinched-at-the-waist look.


At this point, you should have no problem trying on the breast to ensure that the length and the waist set appropriately on your body.

Step Six: Completing the Button Line

Fold #10, or the plackets, in half, hotdog style. Pin only one ends so that it doesn't try to turn on you, and with the right sides facing, then iron along the fold.


Align the placket with the dress and mark where you want to place your buttons. Fold both plackets and pin both plackets into place across the front center of the dress.


Sew the plackets into place with a 1/4-inch allowance. Clip the excess of the placket at the top of the neckline and miter the corners. Create your buttonholes along the right side, as buttons for women's clothing are traditionally on the left of the garment. Sew the buttons into place on the other side.

Step Seven: Hemlines and Finishing Touches

These few final touches will give a professional look to the garment. First, pin down the neckline so that it faces a toward as a back princess seam. Sew the facing into place, keeping that seam under wraps.


Then finish the hem across the bottom with a 1/2-inch hem or an invisible stitch. Now you can iron the dress and feel great wearing it!

Now that your dress is complete, you can rock it on the town! If you enjoyed this tutorial, check out our blog. We have various fun tutorials and sewing tips for beginners and our more advanced audience! If you have any questions about our products, feel free to contact us.