Late Christmas dress & sewing in the flat

This dress was supposed to be a party dress to wear on Christmas day; and to meet the December challenge for The Monthly Stitch. Unfortunately, I’m terrible with deadlines and despite almost finishing it, somehow it got hung up in my WIP closet with only the hem and neckline to finish.

ImageLast night I had plans to make the Deer & Doe Pavot coat – even had all the fabric washed, ironed and laid out ready to cut – but couldn’t find the pattern. Darnit! In the end I found it (in a plastic bag in the back of the wardrobe – why?) but not before I decided to just finish this dress.ImageArgh, my legs looks BLUE!!

I made it from my bodice block and sleeves (long-ish sleeves in summer, good thinking), with the skirt from New Look 6824, edited a bit to make it fit the bodice and match the princess seams. And, for fun, I added a huge bow which is (poorly) handstitched on in the middle, and on each side to hold the bow up.

The fabric is a polyester rayon blend that’s woven to look kind of like a linen. I think it would be best for autumn or spring, but also works when Wellington doesn’t realise it’s summer yet.

ImageNot much else to say about the dress, except I thought I’d mention how I put the dress together, as I could never find information about sewing in the flat. Basically, it involves constructing the whole dress while leaving the side seams until last (but before the hem).

Sewing in the flat is a technique I use when I think a pattern is a bit too big and am going to have to take in the side seams; when I’m using bodice and skirt pieces from two separate patterns (that won’t necessarily be the same size); or just when I feel like it. It’s similar to what you’d often do in knitwear, such as used with the Renfrew t-shirt and Tiramisu dress.

How to sew a dress in the flat

If using princess seams, sew and finish (using an overlocker, pinking shears etc) the front sides to the middle front; and the center backs to the side backs; if using darts, just make those. Leave the side seams and center back open (unless you’re going to use a size zip, then you could do the center back seam now). Now, stitch each bodice piece to the corresponding skirt pieces. If you’re using two different patterns, one piece may overlap a bit as mine did at the side seams, because the skirt pattern is slightly bigger than the bodice, or vice versa.

ImageNext, stitch the shoulder seams together and finish. For this dress I used an overlocker, then topstitched 2mm from the edge of the seam.

ImageDespite today being incredibly sunny, my house is always in the dark, making it hard to get indoor photos in natural light.

Now add the sleeves (gather before doing so if you need to ease them in).


I decided to do the zip next, using a lapped zip. A white one because, you know, that’s a great idea for a nectarine coloured dress. I would probably recommend doing the side seams first, because all that fabric laying around made it a bit difficult.

ImageNow, you sew up the side seams. Start by pinning the underarm seams and waist seams so they match, then pin the rest of the seam to your hearts content and sew away. I awesomely didn’t take any more photos (thought I did, can’t find them) but I know you know what a side seam looks like.

ImageSo, now I only have three unfinished dresses in my cupboard. Which annoys me. One just needs a hem; another needs a hem and the bias binding neckline swapped to a facing (I’ve decided that I dislike doing bias binding necklines, as much as I thought I would love them, because I can NEVER get them to lay flat); and the third needs the hem finished, the front stitched up somehow, and more fabric for the dickie.

This is how I feel about unfinished garments:

ImageIt’s also how I feel about still being semi-nocturnal after finishing a set of nights – sleeping in until 1pm (wasting almost all the day!) and not being tired until after midnight.


Pattern: Bodice and sleeve block (from a Made on Marion class), skirt originally from New Look 6824

Fabric: 2m of 78% polyester 22% rayon from Arthur Toye sale, down to $7.50/m = $15

Notions: thread, zip and bias binding, stash.

Total: $15. Wowsers!


11 thoughts on “Late Christmas dress & sewing in the flat

  1. Thanks for the write up on sewing in the flat. How did I not know about this? My life will be so much easier from here on out. Super cute dress! I love the bow!

    • Thanks! And yeah, I’ve never seen it written about on blogs and haven’t successfully googled anything (although the technique might have a different name), it is used in some vintage patterns. It can be a touch fiddle with three long bits if fabric to contend with, but trying on right before doing the side seams means its easy to gauge if you need to take more in

  2. Wow, this is so pretty, great job frankenpatterning it. Looks great on you. I have been the same with deadlines and such. My holiday dress for the Monthly Stitch, december, (deer and doe belladone) is hanging up and only needs the invisible zip and hem!! My get up and go is taking a vacation, it seems.

  3. Pingback: Late party dress | The Monthly Stitch

  4. Gorgeous colour, it suits you very well 🙂 I’ve never though of sewing on the flat for woven fabric, need to give it a try. I have a pair of work trousers I made for my husband, which have needed the legs hemmed for 3 weeks now 😦

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