Now that warm weather is here to stay, I’m finding myself addicted to making dresses. After several California Dresses, I decided I needed to change it up a little, though. So this time I added a full skirt to Kymy’s Dolman and I adore it! Read on for the tutorial.
Sorry I forgot to take pictures along the way, but I’ll try to explain well and you should be able to follow along. This is a pretty easy skirt that you can add to most any top pattern to convert it to a dress. You just need to do some simple measuring. First, I measured from the top of my shoulder down to my natural waist (you can make yours longer or shorter, if you want). Once I had that measurement, I added a seam allowance, marked the length on my Kymy’s Dolman Top pattern, and cut my solid green jersey for the top/bodice of the dress. I purposefully chose a jersey with only two-way stretch so that the weight of the skirt wouldn’t pull/stretch it vertically while wearing the dress.
Next, I measured from my natural waist to my knee (you can measure to wherever you want your dress to end). I used a twin-size cotton bedsheet to make the skirt for my dress. Because I wanted a full skirt, I cut two pieces the width of my sheet by my waist-to-knee measurement plus seam allowance and hem allowance (I added 2.5 inches … 1/2 for the waist seam and 2 for hem allowance). For the width, you can use twice the width of the bodice bottom or use the width of your fabric.
After sewing together the top/bodice, I pinned to mark the bottom into 8 equal sections. I sewed the skirt side seams and finished the raw edge in the seam allowance and around the top edge, then used pins to also mark 8 equal sections on the skirt’s top edge. Next, I ran a gathering stitch around the top of the skirt. I used a long straight stitch and I stopped/started new (leaving long tails) at each side seam and center front and back. This way, if my gathering stitch accidentally popped while I was pulling the bobbin thread, I would only have to redo one fourth instead of the whole thing. Feel free to use your favorite method of gathering to make the skirt top just a little bigger than the bodice bottom.
With the skirt inside out and the bodice right side out, slip the bodice inside the skirt upside down so the bottom edge of the bodice meets up with the skirt top. Match up the 8 pins on the skirt to the 8 on the bodice and pin together (making sure skirt side seams match to bodice side seams). Since the skirt is slightly bigger, you’ll need to gently stretch the bodice as you sew it to the skirt. I recommend trying it on after attaching the skirt to check that the waist seam hits you where you planned and adjusting if needed.
Now, we’re going to add clear elastic to stabilize the waist seam and keep it pulled back in after stretching to match the skirt width (which I did since I was attaching knit to woven and didn’t want it to be too tight or for the seam to pop when I pulled it on over my head). I measured around my bare waist where the seam hit and cut my clear elasitic to that length. I overlapped the ends by a half inch and sewed it into a circle, then divided and used pins to mark into four equal sections.
After turning the dress inside out with the bodice in the skirt and waist seam visible at the top (just like when sewing the waist seam originally), I matched the pins on the elastic up with the side seams and center front and back and pinned it in the seam allowances. Stretching the elastic, I carefully sewed it to the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch all the way around the waist. Now the elastic will keep the waist seam pulled back in so it doesn’t look baggy during wear!
The final step for the Kymy’s Dolman to full skirted dress hack is to hem the bottom edge of the skirt. If you want, you can try it on again to check length before hemming. I ironed the bottom up 1/2 inch and then another 1.5 inches to conceal the raw edge before stitching the hem.
Voila! The top-to-dress hack is finished! I love how playful the full skirt feels when I wear this dress! I also love how easy dresses are to wear … I like not having to think about matching a top to bottoms when getting dressed. 😉
Happy Sewing!! ~ Joelle