$1.25 Red Carpet Dress

This girl made this dress in less than 2 hours.  Tutorial on her blog.  So simple, but elegant.

A while ago I hit up a high school marching band yard sale in Orem.  It was there that I scored 9 yards of black fabric for $1.25.  It was a cotton knit, so the possibilities were endless.

Fast-forward four months, Provo City and Allegiant Air threw a family-friendly red carpet party to launch their new flights to LA.  I needed something to wear, but didn’t have anything in my closet that spoke to me.  That’s when I remembered that fabric.  Inspired by some recent red carpet trends, I set to work and made my dress in about an hour’s time.

At the event with Camden.

One of my main inspirations was this Stella McCartney dress.  I had recently purchased a gold belt from ebay, and was excited to finally have something to wear it with.

My inspiration was this Stella McCartney dress.

I took this inspiration and decided that I wanted to keep it as simple as possible–I was short on time!  So I choose to go with an all black dress to avoid having to use multiple fabrics.  I took advantage of the stretchy jersey knit fabric, and came up with a dress that could slip over my head without requiring buttons or zippers.

To create the pattern, I used some of my current clothes.  I tried on the red shirt with my maxi skirt and decided how long I wanted the dress to be, and marked where the skirt sat on the shirt with a piece of tape.  (Unfortunately, I forget to add a few inches for my high heels.)

I then placed my “pattern” onto my fabric and cut around the edges, generously adding a few inches to create the seams and hem.  You can always take things in, but it is really hard to add additional space.  Keep that in mind!

The tape marked where to place the skirt for the pattern.
I wanted to add a train to give the dress more of a formal feel.  I used one of my older dresses with a train to help me create the pattern piece for the back.
I wanted to keep the back high, so I left it straight across with the shoulders.

Because I used a shirt with wide shoulders, I did not have to add any technical “sleeves.”  This saved me a lot of time from having to create, cut, and sew sleeves along with the rest of the dress.

Here’s what both of my pattern pieces looked like side-by-side.

The Sewing:

1. Sew pattern pieces together by placing the right sides facing each other, and sewing side seams from just under the sleeve opening, to the bottom of the front piece.
2. Hem the bottom of the dress all the way around–a bit lenghty because of the train.
3. Hem sleeves, and neckline.
4. Add belt, and voila!
This girl made this dress in under 2 hours!  Tutorial on her blog.
Black formal dress tutorial
Easy black formal dress with train.  Took her less than 2 hours to make.
Easy tutorial on how to make this fantastic dress in less than 2 hours.

The necklace below is from Tiny Dazzles and right now they are offering 20% off everything in the store with promo code camden20.  They also offer free shipping on orders of $50 or more.  The necklace I’m wearing is only $13.60 with the promo code.

Dress: Made from yardsale fabric, less than $1.25 because I didn’t use all the fabric.
Necklace: c/o Tiny Dazzles
Shoes: Old, similar here
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  1. You are a genius! I love this!

  2. Super, super impressive!!

  3. beautiful! Geez, you make me want to find fabric and send it your way!!!

  4. This is super cool, I’m glad you posted this. It just inspires me. I think I can do it! :)

  5. This is really beautiful,
    Get the fashionable clothes with discounts by using our venus promo code.

  6. Love this but am nervous about working with knits. Did you use an overlock?

    • No, but I do recommend doing a little research on knits. This one wasn’t too bad, I just used a regular needle and had a little bit of puckering. I have learned a lot more since then and recommend getting a ball point needle that you can use with any standard sewing machine. A twin needle is also great for hemming knits. I’ve also heard that using an iron on hem first is a good way to get a knit hem to lie flat.

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  8. I was just wondering how many yards in total did you need to make the black dress? I am trying to make this dress but I dont know how much yard of fabric to buy. Also, what is the name of this type of fabric? Which belt did you order from ebay, there are 4 options on there? And, what is the exact measurements for this dress?

    Thanks in advance

    • Kara.muehlmann

      When I made the red version, I bought 2 yards of spandex knit fabric in chili pepper from JoAnn’s, its super wide (60 inches) but there wasn’t enough to make the train like I did on the black one. The black fabric I purchased at a yard sale, and I got 9 yards. I brought it into the fabric store to try and find out the exact fabric, but couldn’t match it. It’s a little more lightweight than the spandex knit. If you want the train, but can’t find wider fabric than 60 inches, I would do two pieces for the back so you can make it wide enough. Depending on how tall you are will affect how much fabric you need. Four yards would definitely be enough, but you might only need two if the fabric is wide and you are petit or don’t want as much train. I bought belt A that’s 38 cm of metal. Hope that helps!

      • Hey thanks for your quick reply. So I really love the style of this dress but I was wondering if it is possible to use velvet to make this dress?

        • Kara.muehlmann

          The stretchiness of the knit makes it super easy to sew this dress and have it fit without using darts, pleats, zippers, or buttons. I don’t think you could make it the same way with velvet, but you could come up with a similar dress in velvet (with some serious work) if you are an experienced seamstress.

  9. Celia Garcia


    what other kinds of fabrics you can recommend for this design? i don’t know what kind to look for just in case. Fabric that is not too clingy i hope. Thank you in advance and this design rocks!

    • I really think knits are the only way to go. Other fabrics might require zipper insertion and fitting alterations like pleats and darts in order to fit the contours of the body the way knits do on their own.

  10. Celia Garcia


    Will fleece be okay with this?

  11. is there a seam on top of your shoulder from the neck hole to the outside edge of the sleeve??

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