A DIY Bell Sleeve Dress Tutorial with Trash to Couture
There is nothing more luxurious and dramatic then a velvet fabric. I love the vibrant colors, texture, and softness the textile offers. Velvet is associated with nobility and dates back to the 700’s. A timeless fabric that’s been ruling fashion since the beginning of time and now a top trend this fall/winter 2016/17.
FWD and I designed this DIY Bell Sleeve Shift Dress using 2.5 yards of their micro velvet in plum here.
Begin by finding a shift dress that fits you well or a pattern. I like to keep basic silhouettes like this in my pattern trunk even if I’m over the print for projects like this. I’m not interested in difficult, descriptive patterns when all you have to do is simply trace the pattern from an existing dress and cut.
A shift dress is basically a dress that doesn’t have darts, zippers, elastic, and fits loosely so you can pull on and off with ease.
What I like about this type of silhouette is it’s simple to make and their are many way you can customized it through fabrics, sleeves, or an interesting neckline, etc.
Trace your silhouette onto the fabric folded in half with wrong sides out. I traced about 1/2 inch away from the edge for seam allowance. I also wanted my neckline to be high so I just used the back for both front and back.
Step 2 :
Cut both front and back out together.
Sew the shoulder seams, and side seams right sides together with about 1/4 in. seam allowance.
This is the best time to put the dress on and see if you’d like to edit anything...length, too big, too small etc. Remember if your fabric isn’t stretchy and since we aren’t adding a zipper you don’t want it too tight or you wont be able to put it on or take it off.
Repeat the same step for the sleeve. I made mine 3/4 in length because i will be added a Bell Sleeve Cuff.
Trace the sleeve and cut, then use the first sleeve as the pattern for the second.
For the bell cuff I cut 2 strips measuring 8 in. width and twice the measurement of the end of your arm sleeve.
Pleat the bell cuff by folding pleats and pinning them into place. You will pleat enough to make it measure the end of you arm sleeve. Once you get it to fit the arm sleeve width top stitch the pleats into place.
Sew right sides together the bell cuffs and bottom of arm sleeves.
Attach the sleeves to the dress by pinning them right sides together. I like to fold my sleeve in half and pin that point to the shoulder seam. I start sewing at the shoulder seam and go down one side then start again at the shoulder seam and sew the other side.
Sew the sleeve seams.
Hem the edges and collar.
I like to add a sash made from the same fabric or ribbon at the side seams near the waistline. This is a simple way to add a cute bow detail but also create a waistline to the shift dress.
Laura is the seamstress and designer of Trash to Couture. For more tutorials on sewing and repurposed fashion check it out.