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tutorial: how to make a ruffle off the shoulder dress

Hey guys! Holly here, again. You all know how much I love all of my Megan Nielsen Pattern makes, but I wanted to take a minute to share with you something a little different today. I’m obsessed with the off the shoulder trend going on right now, and realized it would be super easy to make! So would you mind if I share a little tutorial with you? It’s really simple to draft the patterns, as it’s only a few rectangles. Add some elastic, and voila! A super on-trend piece that will make you feel oh-so fancy.


All you need is:

aprox 1 1/2 – 2 yards of fabric

1/4 wide elastic

sewing machine

iron and ironing board

scissors, measuring tape, pins, etc.


So come on makers, check out the tutorial after the jump!


cut your fabric:

– For the main body of the dress, you will need two identical rectangles. Measurement A is your desired length. Measure from right above your bust (where you want the dress to sit) down to where you want it to end. Add 2” for seam and hem allowance. For the width of your rectangle, Measure right above bust (about a couple of inches or so), all the way around. This is your Measurement B. Each rectangle (front and back) should be this wide. This will make for a really full dress. So if you want something not quite so big, you can shave off a few inches from this measurement now.

Then, on both the left and right sides of both rectangles, mark 3 inches in along the top edge, and 5 inches down along the side. Draw a curved shape connecting each two points (pink lines in the graphic above), and cut out. These are your armholes.

– For the ruffle, you will also need two identical rectangles. Measure all the way around your shoulders for Measurement C. Again, each rectangle will be this wide. Measurement D is how long you want the ruffle to be. For reference, I cut mine at 10″ (that includes seam and hem allowance).


1. With right sides together, sew your front and back pieces together at the side seams. Finish your seams with your desired method.

Now also finish the edge of your armholes. You can do this with bias tape, or, like me, by turning under a small baby hem.


2. With right sides together, sew the two ruffle pieces together at the side seams to create one big tube. Finish your seams.

Mark your tube at the center of each piece. Also mark the center of both the front and back dress body pieces.


3. With both right sides of the fabric facing up, lay your ruffle tube around the dress, matching the center marks. Pin, and stitch the two together on both sides using a long basting stitch.


4. Time to create the tunnel for the elastic along the top edge of your dress. Turn the top edge under 1/2”, and then again another 1/2”. Pin, and stitch close to the edge. But don’t stitch all the way around. Leave a couple inch opening to insert the elastic.


5. Remember Measurement C? It was your shoulder measurement. Subtract 2” from that, and cut a piece of 1/4”  wide elastic at that length. Attach a safety pin to the end, and insert it into the opening you left in the tunnel. Use your fingers to move it along the tunnel until it comes out the other side.

Stitch and secure the two ends of the elastic together.

Pulling slightly on the elastic while under the presser foot, stitch the tunnel opening close.


All you have to do to finish your dress is hem the bottom edge of the dress and the bottom edge of the ruffle. Really, thats it! Wasn’t that easy? Give it try, let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to share your versions with us! I’ll be busy over here making a whole closet full of these. Psssst – you can see a starry printed version I did here.


Top: handmade // make your own with the instructions above!

Sunglasses: Warby Parker

Temporary Tattoo: Tattly

Sandals: Wanted // similar

About Author

Holly writes part time for the Megan Nielsen blog– sewing like crazy, creating tutorials and sewalongs. She has been sewing since she was a little girl, and has her degree in apparel design. Now she’s a stay at home mama, and spends all her free nap times at her sewing machine.

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8 years ago

Very nice Megan! Thanks sew much and also thanks to you Holly ,beautiful work!!

8 years ago

So cute!! I love the starry version too.

8 years ago

I really fancy the style. am sure going to make my own version with African prints and a mix of denim. ur sandals are appt

6 years ago

Double Frill Open Shoulder

[…] n both the left and right sides of both rectangles, mark 3 inches in along the t […]

5 years ago

Thanks for the great tutorial, it was much easier than figuring it out on my own. :)

4 years ago

I would like to purchase this dress pattern, is it possible?

3 years ago

Wonderful tutorial! Just wanted to know if this ruffle need to be cut longer than length C (shoulder circumference) to make frills?

3 years ago

Hi Gishanthi! The ruffle ends up being 2x the shoulder circumference – I hope that helps!

3 years ago
Reply to  Meg

yea, right, I was wrong. thank you for quick response. I’m making it today.

3 years ago

here’s mine

2 years ago

I love this pattern, I’m going to make it with a steel blue grey, raw silk Ikat fabric, I hope it turns out ok, it’s been ages since I’ve made anything, let alone followed a pattern!