This DIY formal dress post is a collaboration with JOANN. All opinions and ideas are my own.
This DIY formal dress is easy–no buttons, zippers, pleats, or darts. Thanks to the stretch-factor of this beautiful stretch velvet with sequins from JOANN, this dress turns out looking really fancy, without actually being hard to sew. I have made it several times, including for maternity photos and this red carpet party. Each time I’ve made it, I’ve done it a little bit differently. For today’s formal dress tutorial, I made it with a slit and a curved hem. Let’s get started!
Materials Needed for your DIY Formal Dress:
- 2-3 yards of the stretch fabric of your choice. ( I used this one because #sequins they have this color too, I only used 2 yards, and I’m 5’9. It was also on sale, so all in, it was $35)
- Stretch thread.
- Stretch needle for your sewing machine
- Foldover elastic (I used this to basically create stretchy bias tape)
- Shirt to help with pattern (Use one without a separate sleeve piece, I use the Downeast Wonder Tee)
- Other basics like a sewing machine and scissors/rotary blade
DIY Formal Dress Video Tutorial:
The first thing I want to emphasize is that you have to make this DIY formal dress with stretchy fabric. You also have to make sure that the direction of the stretch is going across/around your body instead of up and down your body. It’s the stretch that eliminates the need for things like buttons and zippers, but if you accidentally cut your fabric the wrong way, it will not work. You also need to use a ballpoint/stretch needle for the best results.
I also recommend using stretch thread because it’s more forgiving. It lends itself to the flexible nature of the dress, so you’re less likely to hear popping seams when you put it on. The dress will be much more durable with elastic thread; but you can use all purpose thread if you’re in a bind. I did use a stretch stitch on my machine as well. Look at your manual to see what options your machine has.
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, you’re ready to go and start sewing your DIY formal dress. The first thing you want to do, is fold your fabric in half. For my fabric, that meant the fold ran parallel to the selvage edges. You need to be sure the direction of stretch is perpendicular to the fold. See the video for a visual reference.
From here, I used my shirt as a guide and cut around it, adding seam allowance as I went. I also cut an A-line skirt by moving out from the waist as I cut towards the bottom. Again, watch video for the visual reference.
Once you have finished cutting your fabric for your DIY formal dress, place the pieces together with the right sides facing. For me, this meant the sequined sides were touching. Then pin, or clip, the shoulder seams and the side seams together. If you don’t want a slit, go ahead and sew from the underarm all the way to the bottom. If you do want a slit, mark where you are going to stop so you don’t accidentally sew too far.
You’re actually not too far from being finished with your DIY formal dress, once the shoulder and side seams have been sewn, . For the sleeves, I simply turned in the raw edge, and stitched it in place. You should use a stretch stitch for this, especially if you are using all purpose thread. Also, if you are using sequined fabric, be sure to carefully remove the sequins that will be resting against your arm on the inside of the sleeve. Your skin will thank you
For the neckline, I sewed foldover elastic on top of the right side fabric, around the neck opening. I sewed close to the bottom of the elastic, so when I flipped it to the inside of the dress, it was hidden and only needed to be topstitched.
With the sleeves and neckline being completed, your DIY formal dress is now done!