Avoid the embarrassment of turning up in the same dress as another guest at a festive engagement by stitching your own bespoke outfit. Designed by Amanda Walker, this simple dress is in a curve-hugging wiggle style evocative of the 1950s. It features two dart positions and is a flattering knee length; with a pretty bow detail at the neckline. From the Sew archive, it has had a modern revamp with two striking prints from John Kaldor – perfect for turning heads at all your seasonal soirées.
- Fabric, 110cm; lining,
- 1m Zip, concealed, 56cm
- 1. Front, cut one on fold in fabric, cut one on fold in lining
- 2. Back, cut one pair in fabric, cut one pair in lining
- 3. Collar, cut one only
- 4. Bow, cut one only
- Sizes 8-16
Stitch a wiggle dress
Download the pattern below. Print and piece together. Lay the pattern pieces onto fabric and cut out. The two darts that are featured on each side of the dress front are positioned at the side of the bust (from the side seam with the point towards the bust point) and at the front (from the waist section with the point towards the bust point). Match the vertical dart dots together, fold the fabric from the dot at the top point and the base of the dart, then match the dots at the centre waistline together. Pin and stitch from the base of the dart to the point, securing the stitches at the top and base point. Repeat the process on the remaining dart. Press them towards the centre front. Stitch in the bust darts, match the notches at the edge of the bust darts together, then the point and stitch. Press the darts downwards. Repeat this process so there are four darts on the front main fabric and four on the front lining piece.
Insert darts to the back of the dress. Stitch the darts into the back pieces; follow the same method as for the front piece. The two darts are positioned at the waist, one on each back piece. Press the darts towards the centre back. Repeat the process on the back lining pieces.
Stitch the shoulder seams together. With the front piece facing uppermost, lay the back pieces onto it matching the shoulder seams together, pin, then stitch together. Press the seams open. Repeat the process with the lining front and back pieces.
Stitch the centre back seam. First neaten the edges of the seams by either overlocking or zig zag stitching. With the right side of the back pieces facing, match the notch at the base of the zip together, pin along the seam as far as the top of the pleat, then stitch the seam together from the top of the pleat, as far as the zip notch; back tack to reinforce the ends of this seam. Clip the seam at the top of the back pleat, then press the seam open. The lining pieces have a straight centre back seam, so repeat the previous process, but stitch from the top of the pleat to the zip notch.
Stitch the side seams together. First neaten the edges of the seams by either overlocking or zig zag stitching. Lay the back dress onto the front dress, with the right sides of the fabric facing. Match the side seams together, pin, then stitch together. Press the seams open. Repeat the process on the dress lining.
Insert the zip. Stitch the concealed zip into the back opening using a zip foot or a concealed zip foot. Fold and press the seam allowance along the two sides of the back opening. Open out the seam allowance and with the right side of the fabric facing, place the opened zip face down matching the teeth to the crease line in the seam allowance. Pin in place. If you are using a concealed zip foot then place the teeth of the zip into the groove and as you stitch, the foot will uncurl the teeth and the stitching will be placed right alongside them. If you are stitching with a normal zip foot, you will need to uncurl the teeth with your fingertips; stitch to the top of the centre back seam. It is impossible to stitch to the end of a concealed zip, so leave approximately 5cm of the zip base un-stitched. Back stitch, then sew the other side of the zip in place. Carefully thread the zip pull through to the right side at the top of the centre back seam and pull up to close.
Stitch the armholes. Place the dress lining inside the dress, which is turned to the right side. Run your hand up in between the lining and the dress at one of the side seams and pick up the end of the side seam on both the dress and the lining. Pull the two ends out and, in doing so, the dress will be turned to the wrong side. Pin the ends of the seams together, then stitch the front armhole of both the dress and the lining together as far as the shoulder seams. Trim the seam allowance and clip the curve. Pull the front armhole to the right side, then do the same on the back part of the armholes. Repeat the whole process on the remaining armhole.
Stitch the collar to the neck. With the dress turned to the right side, match the neckline of the dress and lining together; turn in the seam allowance of the lining at the top of the zip. Pin, then stitch them together near to the edge. With the right side of the collar and the dress facing, pin and stitch the collar band in place, leaving 1.5cm protruding from the top of the zip at both ends. Fold and press up the seam allowance on the opposite long edge. Fold the collar in half along the length with the right sides facing. Stitch across the ends in line with the zip. Trim away the corners, then turn the collar to the right side and hand slip stitch in place. All the raw edges of the neckline should be sandwiched inside the collar.
Make the bow. Fold the bow piece in half lengthways and stitch. Turn to the right side and press. Bring the two raw ends together and slightly overlap them. With a hand sewing needle and thread, make a running stitch through the overlapped area, pull the thread to gather the centre slightly, then fasten off the thread securely. Cut a small strip from a scrap of fabric, then fold in the raw edges. Wrap this around the centre of the bow; hand stitch to secure at the back. Position the bow on the collar, then hand stitch in place.
Turn up and hand stitch the hem. On the lining, press the seam allowance back so it continues from the centre back seam and machine stitch the seam allowance in place. Turn and press 1cm around the base of the lining and press up another 1cm. Pin, then edge stitch the hem in place. Overlock or zig zag the base of the dress, then press up the 3cm hem. Fold and press the lefthand side of the pleat along the centre back line, the right-hand side of the pleat will be laying underneath. Fold the hem back onto the right side of the skirt on the corner of the pleat and stitch close to the edge along the end of the hem, then turn the hem back onto the wrong side. To the lefthand side of the pleat, fold the pleat onto the right side of the skirt, then stitch along the fold line made while pressing the hem. Turn the hem and the pleat back to the wrong side. Machine stitch the top of the pleat to the back of the skirt. Hand stitch the pressed hem with a hemming stitch.