The Sheath Dress is a gorgeous dress that you will want to make again and again! It works in so many fabrics making it really versatile!
A perfect project for beginners as it is so easy to put together. The whole front of the dress including the sleeves are one piece, cut on the fold! The back is two pieces with an invisible zip. We have a great tutorial for the invisible zip! We spent many years fiddling with regular zips and then once we taught ourselves the invisible zip, we have never looked back!
This dress has a flattering round neckline, elasticated waist and an invisible zip at the back. Your options are endless; make this dress with short or mid-length sleeves, with
inner pockets or without. You could even make the Sheath Dress without the elasticated waist for a more casual dress.
View A has stylish inner pockets & View B has outer pockets for a more relaxed look.
This dress has a slim shape from the hip to the bottom of the dress. We advise you make a toile of this dress to check the fit of the dress.
The most important element of choosing fabric for this pattern is that it must be at least 128cm wide! This is because of the shape of the sleeves which are formed as part of the body of the dress. Allow extra fabric to match one way designs, plaids or stripes.
Suggested fabrics: Lightweight wovens, chambray, jerseys, crepes, silk, viscose and cottons.
You’ll need 2.5metres of fabric for all the sizes in this pattern.
- 40cm/16″ invisible zipper – ensure that you buy an invisible zip not a standard zip
- 1 metre of elastic – this is of course if you are making the version with the elasticated waist. You can decide whether you want thin elastic or thicker elastic – max 25mm wide
Check your hip measurement against the body measurements – as this dress is slim you need to make sure it fits your hips and lower body. You can always go up a size – this will make it more roomy and comfortable.
- Pattern printed on high quality white pattern paper
- Beautiful step by step instruction booklet
- Guide on taking your measurements
- Fabric and Sewing basics help card
- Sewing Terms Demystified card
- Checklist card to ensure you have covered everything before starting your project
- Information on The Avid Seamstress
Before you start- Overlock / zigzag the raw edges. Overlocking is not required for the neckline of A and B or the neckline edge of the facing.
Open out B so that you have each piece separately. Stay stitch the neckline on the two pieces of B and the front neckline of A.
“Stay stitching” is a row of stitches that prevent the piece from becoming stretched. The stitches are created within the seam allowance so that you don’t see these stitches once the garment is sewn. The guideline is 5mm from the edge of the fabric.
You ready to put in the invisible zip?
What’s the difference to a standard zip?
A lot! The way it looks is different and the way you insert it into a garment is different. You always work on the right side of the fabric when putting in an invisible zip. The “teeth” of the zip are on the inside of the zip, whereas the “teeth” of a regular zip are on the outside.
Preparing the zip
When you unzip an invisible zip you will notice that each side of the zip “rolls” to the side. With an iron and on a warm, but not hot setting, iron the zip so that each side lies very flat.
How to insert the invisible zip into The Sheath Dress:
1. On B make a mark on each CB side 34cm from the top.
2. Place B right sides facing you. Working on the left side of the garment, place the zip right side down (look at the images above to check which is the right side of the zip), along the CB edge.
3. Pin the right side of the zip to the left side of B. The loose side of the zip will be on the left.
4. Pin the zip in place ensuring that the top of the zip is flush with the top of the CB. The edge of the zip should lie against the edge of the fabric.
Zipper presser foot
5. Using your zipper presser foot and starting from the top of the zip create a row of stitches next to the zipper teeth. Don’t sew too close to the teeth – just a few mm next to it. Sew until as far down the bottom of the zip as you can. Don’t forget to reverse stitch at the top and bottom of the zip.
6. Place the back pieces right sides together.
7. Take the loose zip side and pin it to the left side of the garment. Only pin zip and edge of fabric.
8. Ensure that the top of the zip is flush with the top of the garment. Pin in place.
9. Starting from the bottom of the zip this time, instead of the top of the garment, sew this side of the zip.
10. Zip up your zip checking that the zip starts at the same point on both sides of the back.
11. If you are happy that the top of the garment matches nicely, we then need to complete the unsewn bottom part of the zip. Pin the remainder CB sides of the back garment, matching up the fabric edges.
TIP: Place a pin lining up the bottom edges first and then work you way upwards. This will ensure that you don’t stretch the fabric down as you are pinning, leaving you with an uneven bottom edge!
12. Push the loose unsewn zip piece to the right hand side and starting just above and to the left of the zip stitches, sew down to the hem, completing the centre back. You’ll notice that if you start next to the zip stitches you will need to guide your stitches back onto sewing your recommended seam allowance stitches so that when you get to the bottom of the piece you are sewing 1.5cm from the edge.
Tip. The trick here is to start as close as possible to the zip stitches and try to get back to sewing on a 1.5cm seam allowance.
Iron open your seam allowance.
Now you have your zip sewn in to your garment. When you turn it to the right side you shouldn’t be able to see it.
How does it look?
Skip this section if you are not putting in inner pockets and move to SIDE SEAM instructions below.
13. Place B right side facing you.
14. Place your inner pocket F pieces RST matching up the pocket notches. Sew the pocket to the dress on the side seam only –using a 1cm seam allowance.
15. Repeat on the front A. Once sewn, iron the pocket pieces open to the side.
16. Place A and B right sides together. Only pin the right hand side of the dress, as we need to open it out to add the pocket casing. Pin the side seam of your dress starting from the sleeve, matching up the waistband notches, the pockets and the hem. At the pocket, mark the side seam and pocket seam allowance 1.5cm. Where the seam allowance marks cross each
other is where we will pivot when we sew this section.
17. Sew this section.
18. Snip into the seam allowance on the underarm curve and iron open the seam allowance.
If you are not putting in inner pockets, sew as above, ignoring the pocket opening notches.
19. Open out your dress with the wrong side facing you. Place your elastic casing piece E across the width of the dress. Starting from the left hand side and using the elastic casing notches as your guide, line up the elastic casing across the width of the dress. Let some of the elastic casing piece E hang over each side of the dress.
20. Starting from the top left hand side of the elastic casing, stitch your elastic casing to the dress (if you are going to use wide elastic in your dress use a 1cm seam allowance, if you are going to use thin elastic use a 1.5cm seam allowance). Then, starting again from the bottom left hand side of the elastic casing, create a row of stitches along the bottom edge.
21. Using a safety pin connected to the end of the elastic, feed the elastic from the right hand side through the casing until it comes out the left side, ensuring that the elastic is still visible on both ends. Don’t try to adjust the elastic yet – we will fit the dress later and then adjust the elastic to fit your waist perfectly. On the left hand side, sew the elastic onto the side seam – you will need to backstitch over the elastic to ensure that it is firmly stitched in place. Keep the right hand side loose and unsewn.
22. Move to the other side and use the safety pin to keep the elastic from slipping inside. Fold your dress so that the unsewn side seams match up, matching up the notches and elastic casing. Sew this piece together but DON’T sew across the elastic casing. Keep the casing section free. We will complete this section later.
If you are not putting in inner pockets, continue to sew across the section.
23. Right sides together, pin your sleeve pieces together. At the neck point the two pieces don’t match up perfectly – this is because of the shape of the neckline. This is what I love about sewing, sometimes pieces look odd when you are pinning them but when you turn it to the right side it the finished edge looks right!
24. Sew these pieces together and iron open the seam allowances.
Can you see that once you open out this piece the neckline has a lovely curve?
With neck facings, it’s important to always keep to the seam allowance guide that is on the pattern. If you take your time here then, when you place your neck facing onto your dress, the pieces will match up beautifully. You are working with such an intricate details of the dress and it’s worth taking the time here to get it right.
25. Take your facing pieces and place the front facing piece right side facing you. Place the two back facing pieces onto this piece, lining up the shoulder pieces. Can you see how these pieces also don’t match up perfectly – this is because of the shape of the neckline.
26. Sew together using a 1.5cm seam allowance.
27. When you open out the facing piece the neckline should have a lovely curved shape! Iron open the seam allowances.
28. Turn your dress to the right side and place the front of the dress facing you. Place the facing right sides together onto the dress neckline. Work your way around the neckline matching up the sleeve seams and the CB. This piece fits perfectly, so take your time here.
TIP – Place your pins pointing down instead of across to help you shape the neckline.
30. Check that when you do the zip up both sides are the same. Now is the time to fix it if one side is higher than the other. Once you are happy with this piece then snip into the curve of the neckline.
UNDERSTITCHING THE NECKLINE
Under stitching helps a facing or lining stay inside a garment. A line of stitching is made on the facing or lining and the seam allowance but not the main piece of fabric. The stitching is seen just inside the garment, for example on the facing, but not on the right side of the garment.
31. Starting at the right hand side of the CB, push the facing and seam allowance to the right. Create a row of stitches on the facing piece 3mm from the edge. Continue all the way around the neckline.
Tip: As you are working your way around the neckline, use both your hands – one to keep the left side flat and one to push the seam allowance and facing to the right. If you work on a little section at a time using both your hands here will keep the fabric nice and flat. You could also make your stitch length smaller as this will help your accuracy.
32. Once sewn, look at the right side of the fabric to ensure that it’s all looking good! At the CB, turn in your seam allowance and pin. Hand stitch the facing to the zip, making sure no stitches are visible from the right side.
We are almost there! Next step is finishing the sleeves, outer pockets and hem!
I can’t wait to see your dress!
34. Turn over the sleeve hem (3.5cm) and stitch in place.
35. Turn up your hem and iron in place, ensuring that the seam allowances stay open. Stitch in place.
Top tip – place the dress over your ironing board and work your way around the hem using your measuring tape to keep the seam allowance accurate. You can iron as you go or place pins to keep in place.
Congratulations! Your dress is now complete! We’d love to see! Share your creation with us!
If you have made the dress without the inner pockets and wish to sew outer
pockets, follow these instructions.
a. Mark the notches on the pocket. Fold on the first notch and iron.
b. Create a row of top stitches on the right side between the second notches.
d. On the wrong side of the pocket, turn in 1.5cm (or 1cm if you want a bigger pocket) and iron in place. You could baste the pocket to keep it in place before sewing it to A.
e. Decide where you would like your side pockets. Pin your pocket to your dress and topstitch in place.
Congratulations! Your dress is now complete!