- Measuring up: Dresses are among the easier of sewing projects, which is good to know when you are already getting in a holiday frenzy. You will want to check the measurements for bust, waist and hips on the pattern envelope to determine your size. If you don't follow standard pattern sizes (your hips are bigger than your bust or vice versa), remember that most patterns come with multisizing. If you think you will need special fitting, it's also a good idea to make a pattern mockup, called a muslin.
- Pick your pattern: It takes just a little imagination to get from vision to dream dress so don't be put off by a pattern that isn't quite right. Remember, sleeve and skirt hems can be shortened or lengthened. With basic pattern-drafting skills, collar lines and other garment pieces can also be adjusted. (Note: It's not recommend to try to convert a regular dress to a one-shoulder garment. Better to start out with a one-shoulder dress pattern.) You can also find indie and free patterns online.
- Patternless dresses: For a really quick frock, you don't necessarily need a pattern to get stitching---just a gorgeous piece of fabric and a little research. The always chic Weekend Designer has simple instructions for a column dress, halter dress, caftan, satin stole, and more. If that's not enough of a selection to prepare you for festivities, how about a gathered skirt or circle skirt fashioned from a luxe textile? No pattern required.
- Adding girly details: Don't get discouraged if your pattern doesn't have the exact embellishments that you want. Want sequins? Even if it's not a suggested fabric for your style, you can work it in as a little bolero jacket, clutch or wrap, for instance. Craft a pretty ruffle for a hem or one-shoulder collar line by measuring the circumference and cutting the desired width and two-and-a-half times the length. Or add a lace insert for a feminine touch at the bustline or at the side seam to add flare with a small godet. Once you get started getting creative with your dress design, the possibilities are endless!
For more DIY Design columns, click here. Next week, DIY fashionista gifts.