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Bon ton dress

4.5/5

Style analysis: ankle-length, A-line gown that features a high, rounded neckline and short sleeves. The waistline is accentuated with a belt or sash that includes a decorative buckle or brooch at the center front. The back of the dress shows a seam that runs vertically down the middle, contributing to the structured fit. The design is simple yet elegant, suitable for formal occasions.

Fabric: stretch wool crepe or other medium weight fabrics with a little structure. A small amount of stretch (2 to 4%) makes the dress more comfortable but is not mandatory. We suggest to add full lining, cutting it with the same pattern of the dress (just shorten skirt lining) - if you like, you can create neck facings in self fabric.

Step 1

Trace a copy of your basic dress with darts and 8cm wearing ease at bust circ.

You can learn our method for drafting perfectly made to measure basic blocks (and much more) in our basic blocks course/module 1.

Then, lengthen front and back to ankles or desired measurement and flare both of them so that hemlines are 10 to 14cm wider than matching hiplines.

Draw the slash lines separating bodices from skirts:

  • start in center (back and front) 5 to 8cm above hip level
  • square across up to 3 to 5cm past the dart
  • curve downwards so that the line reaches hip level at side seam
  • if needed, lengthen or shorten waist darts so that their bottom apex is on the slash line
  • cut through the lines to separate bodices and skirts.
Step 2

Let’s start from front bodice.

Draw a curved line from armhole 6 to 8cm above armpit level to create a princess cut – all techniques of dart manipulation are included in our course. Redraw waist dart shifted by 5 to 8cm toward side seam, dart bottom apex is on bodice bottom line.

Draw also a slash line starting from bust point and ending to the princess cut at right angle – this line is needed to manipulate shoulder dart.

Step 3

Cut through the princess line and discard new waist dart (or trace copies of the two pieces separate), then cut through the short slash line from princess line to bust point, tape shoulder dart closed.

Now you have center front and side front panel, but there’s still a small thing to be done.

Step 12

We suggest a center back invisible zipper.

Sew the dress without hemming it. Press all seams when sewing + give a gentle ironing at the end and leave the dress hanging or on the mannequin for few hours (or one night, or few days..).

Gravity will stretch the fabric where the bias direction is, and then you can check the hemline to be even by measuring its distance from the ground. If skirt has stretched on sides, trim it even and then hem it 😉
Lightweight and loosely woven fabrics might stretch a lot (silk chiffon could easily end up being 10cm longer ) while denser fabric might not stretch or do it very little (as taffeta, denim..).

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