How to Make a Dress from Scratch in 15 Minutes!

Today I'm going to teach you how to make a dress that's stylish and convertible, in just fifteen minutes. Really. It requires only four seams, and looks deceptively simple before you put it on; the success of the dress lies in the way you wrap the ribbon around your body. This project is easy enough for almost anyone to do - all you need to know is how to sew in a straight line.  

How to make a dress from scratch - sewing tutorial


I used jersey material for my dress, but most fabrics with some stretch will work. Experiment with different types and colors of ribbon to create even more looks. Below are the materials you'll need. With these, and a little bit of sewing, you'll know how to make a dress you can wear out anytime!

materials for making a dress

1) Cut two rectangles. Measure or hold fabric up to your body to establish the garment length; it should be about the distance from your armpit to your knees. For the width, measure from the edge of one hip to the other. Add six inches and this is your width. Cut out two rectangles of this size.

cut the fabric

2) Stitch the hem (optional). I didn't sew a hem on mine because I prefer a raw edge on jersey. If you'd prefer a hem, fold the raw edge of the shorter side of the fabric over and press. Stitch along the fold with a tight, even stitch. Do the same for both sides. By the way - a sewing machine is not necessary for this pattern, a needle and thread will do the trick also.
3) Create a casing for the ribbon. Iron the top of each piece of fabric, pressing the edge over about an inch and a half. Stitch along the folded edge with a tight, even stitch. This creates space for the ribbon to be threaded through. Do this with both rectangles.
sew the front and back together
4) Put the front and back together. Lay the rectangles flat, with the right (outside) sides facing towards each other. Pin the sides together from the bottom hem up to about six inches short of the top. Stitch the two pieces of fabric together on each side.
align the edges
5)  Thread the ribbon through the casing. Now, take your ribbon or tie and clip a safety pin onto one end. This will help you thread the tie through the casings. Thread through the casing on the front of the dress, and continue right on to the back side so that you end up with the two ribbons emerging at the gap on one side of the dress.
thread the ribbon through the casing
how to make a simple dress
And believe it or not, you’re done!

Here's Another Dress You Can Make in 20 Minutes

created at: 03/16/2012

This tutorial will show you how to make a v-neck style dress in 20 minutes! This little frock is very versatile - it can be worn over leggings, or if you leave the hem a bit longer it makes a wonderful everyday dress. 


  • 1 - 1.5 yards of stretch fabric
  • 1/4 inch wide elastic (see tutorial for instructions on length)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine or a needle and thread

I love that this dress can be worn for a fancy occasion if made with a dressier fabric, or it can be worn to the beach as a cover up if you use a casual printed jersey fabric.

Check out the rest of the dress tutorial over on Design Fixation.


How to Make a Dress Form Based on Your Own Body

Your body is unique. Here are four tutorials from Threads magazine, with instructions to create an exact replica of your own torso:



Here's a video that helps explain the process a little better:

Once finished, stick one on an adjustable microphone stand or an old floor lamp to mimic your own height. 

Even if you're not one to sew your own dresses, make one anyway. There are bound to be all kinds of uses for it. Post your ideas in the comments below!

Faith Towers is a creative media artist in Boston. Check out her full range of projects at Faith Towers Media.

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faith-towers on Jan 18, 2015:

Thank you! I used about 14 feet of ribbon, and then trimmed it to be a bit shorter after....

Lizzy on Jan 18, 2015:

This dress is AMAZING! How much ribbon did you use?

LOLFRA on Nov 15, 2013:

brilliant im gonna make one now. Thanx!!!

faith-towers on Jun 03, 2013:

@Anonymous I would buy a yard and a half of fabric just to be on the safe side....

Anonymous on Jun 03, 2013:

Hi! I love the dress! I was just wondering how much fabric you used? We look about the same size and I just wanted to know how much to buy. Thanks!

faith-towers on May 08, 2013:

@d yes I think it would work as a maxi, good idea! The only thing I would suggest is to use a lighter fabric so it doesn't weigh it down.

d on May 08, 2013:

I love this idea! But, I'm considering making it a maxi-dress. Do you think that would work? 

faith-towers on Apr 20, 2013:

Thanks @Kaira, glad you like it!

Kaira:) on Apr 20, 2013:

I find this idea amazing! I had just made me & my little sister matching dresses of leopard print with shimmering golden ribbon around the waist line with a layered skirt of 4 fabric strips. I love this dress expecially because there is no other just like it. I find it so much better to have something you put work and dedication into!

Avalona on Mar 05, 2013:

Yes it's fantastic and super cheap and easy and because I'm unemployed this is a great way to make money. I needed to build a business that made me happy and sewing does just that and makes me happy and helps me earn money where I would have had none.

faith-towers on Feb 26, 2013:

That's great Avalona! Isn't it nice to be able to have a new outfit in under an hour?

Avalona on Feb 25, 2013:

I really like the dress and I am a big fan of 10/15min dresses and tops. I have made a few things myself and made some money from it as well.

faith-towers on Feb 21, 2013:

I like to use a jersey knit fabric for this dress, but really any thin, flowy fabric will work!

Anonymous on Feb 21, 2013:

What kind of fabric did you use?

Faith Towers on Feb 03, 2013:

Hi Lily - It depends on how thick the curtain material is... if it's on the thinner side, it should drape well. Try wrapping it around your body like a dress to get a feel for how it will look.

Lily on Feb 02, 2013:

I'm kind of young but I do have a machine and the proper measurements. Do you think that curtain material will work?

Zoe on Jan 16, 2013:

Hi, I'd really like to make two of these dresses for a costume in a play, what other materials do you think it would work with?  I've not done much sewing before, so this looks ideal!

Faith Towers on Dec 29, 2012:

Oh good, I'm so glad Claire!

Claire on Dec 28, 2012:

I made this dress in navy with a gold ribbon and wore it to a black tie gala...it was a huge success!!! Thank you so much!

Faith Towers on Dec 12, 2012:

Hi Isabella - I think it would! Just keep in mind that it would be a much bulkier look, so you might want to go with a wider ribbon.

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