I’ve always wished I lived in the late 60s for fashion. I love a more bohemian look and have been loving some of the new trends that have a more modern spin on the ’60s style. I’ve been eyeing bell sleeves for a while now and was contemplating adding them to a pattern because I wanted them so badly, so you can imagine my excitement when Megan told me about her newest pattern, the Dove Blouse. I thought a dress with bell sleeves would be so much fun, so I decided to do a little hack to extend the Dove pattern into a simple A-line dress, while still maintaining that beautifully curved hem that makes the Dove so special. So let’s make a start on the Dove dress hack!
This is a fairly simple tutorial, but in order for the dress to fit you properly it’ll be important you get a few measurements along the way. Resist the urge to just follow the angle of the side seam to a longer length. That might work for some, but if you are more of a pear shape like me, that will not work. To create a dress from the Dove pattern you will need to adjust the front and back pieces, as well as create new bottom hem facings if you choose the facing option as opposed to a rolled hem. Once you create your new pattern pieces, the garment will be sewn up just like Megan describes in the pattern instructions. So, let’s get started!
- Dove Blouse Pattern
- Extra yard of fabric for added length
- Paper for drawing out new pattern
- A shift dress you already own (optional)
CREATING THE DRESS PATTERN PIECES
BACK PATTERN PIECE
Step 1: First trace the front and back pieces of the Dove shirt pattern in your appropriate size on a large piece of paper with an extra foot or two of space below to extend the pattern. If you normally extend or shorten top patterns, do so now as you normally would using the lengthen or shorten line on the pattern. This will make certain the waist hits you at the right spot.
Step 2: Now we can begin making the changes. We will start with the back pattern. Identify the “waistline” on your new pattern 1″ above the lengthen or shorten line. If you had shortened the shirt pattern, you may choose to raise this line slightly higher. Draw a straight line perpendicular to the fold line. This line will determine where the dress side seams begin to flare in order to properly fit over your hips if needed.
Step 3: Next you will draw another line parallel to the waistline for your hip line. This will be the point on your hips that is the widest. An easy way to determine this point is to try on a dress you currently have, find the widest point on your hip and place a pin along the side seam at that point. Measure from the armscye down the side seam to determine how far down your hip line is. Keep in mind your pattern piece includes a 5/8″ seam allowance at the top of the side seam.
Step 4: Draw line A extending the fold line of your pattern.
Step 5: Now, we will determine the point along the hip line where line B will pass through. In order to have enough ease through the hips to move freely and sit comfortably, we will add ease of 5.5″ to the hip area. Take your hip measurement and add 5.5″. Take that number and divide it by 4. Then add 5/8″ for the seam allowance. The resulting number will be the distance from the fold line to the hip point.
Step 6: Draw a line from the intersecting point on the waistline to your original shirt pattern through the hip point. Continue the line to the bottom of your page. This is line B in the graphic above.
Step 7: We will be keeping the curved hem of the Dove shirt pattern as much as we can. In order to have a starting point for that curve, we will first identify the side point along the side seams. This will be the shortest point on your dress. Similar to finding the hip line in Step 3, an easy way to find this point is to try on a dress you already have and find the ideal length. For reference, I stand 5’8″ and my side point is 22.5″ down the side seam from the top of the pattern (this includes all seam allowances). Some things to consider:
- The center bottom point of the front of your dress will be 5″ longer than your side point.
- The center bottom point of the back of your dress will be 7.75″ longer than your side point.
- Remember, the pattern includes a 5/8″ seam allowance where the armysyce will be and 1/4″ seam allowance at the bottom hem.
Step 8: Draw a straight line “C” parallel to the waistline and hip line from the side point to the fold line.
Step 9: Draw a point along line A, 7.75″ below line C. This will be the centre bottom point of your dress.
Step 10: Using the original Dove pattern in your size, place the bottom back curve lined up on the fold line and match up the centre bottom points. Trace part of the original bottom curve onto your dress pattern (see green line on the graphic above). Because your dress hem is wider than the shirt hem, we will not be able to straight trace the curve, but we will take the important parts and fill in the middle.
Step 11: Move the original bottom curve to the outside seam edge, matching up the side points on both patterns. I chose to match up the side seams here as well just so I would be able to create the same side curve as the original pattern. Trace the outer hem edge onto your dress pattern (green line).
Step 12: Connect the original hemlines to create a smooth curve on your new pattern (blue line). Your back pattern piece is now complete!
FRONT PATTERN PIECE
Step 13: Creating the new side edge for the front dress pattern will simply be tracing the new back pattern piece. Make sure you have your front shirt piece traced on paper with an extra foot or two below. Again, if you need to lengthen or shorten the original pattern, do so now.
Step 14: Before tracing the side edge “X” for your new front pattern piece, make sure to match up the waistline and match the edges above the waistline and below the french darts. The centre edge along the front pattern piece and the folded edge along the back pattern piece should be parallel, they will be about 3/4″ apart. Go ahead and trace the outer side edge for your new front pattern piece. Stop when you reach the bottom of the back side seam.
Step 15: Extend the centre edge from the shirt pattern down your page, line “Z” in the graphic above.
Step 16: Draw a straight line “Y” parallel to the waistline from the bottom side point to the line “Z”.
Step 17: Measure 5″ down from line Y to create a point on line Z that will be your centre bottom point.
Step 18: Repeat the same process in Steps 10-12 to create the curved hem for the front of your dress using the original shirt pattern. You now have completed your front pattern piece!
Step 19: The last patterns we need to create are the hem facings. The hem facings keep the same curved edge as the bottom edge of the front and back pattern pieces and are 2″ wide. To create your back hem facing, simply trace the bottom edge curve, the side edge 2″ up and the centre fold edge 2″ up. From here, mark 2″ up along the curved edge about every 1-2 inches. Lastly, connect the marks to create the upper curved line of your pattern. The back pattern piece has an angled curve at the bottom outer edge for the seam allowance. For the top of the hem facing create more of a curved edge for that outer edge of the pattern.
Step 20: Repeat the same process from Step 19 for the front hem facing. The only difference, is that the front pattern piece has a 5/8″ seam allowance for the centre seam. Your hem facing will be one solid piece cut on the fold. Therefore, your hem facing pattern will not include the last 5/8″ edge of the front pattern piece.
Now that you have all your new pattern pieces, you will simply follow the directions of the Dove blouse pattern in constructing your garment. I hope you found this tutorial helpful. I used this process to create a bell-sleeved dress, but the process could certainly be used with the flared sleeve or short sleeve options of the Dove pattern as well. If you enjoyed this tutorial and we haven’t been introduced yet, I’m Sarah and you can find me on Instagram or on my personal blog Lace & Pine Designs. Come say hi! And, lastly, let’s just admire this lovely bell sleeve…
LOOKING FOR MORE DOVE POSTS?
Here’s the full list of Dove Tutorials:
- How to sew French darts
- 4 ways to sew beautiful centre front seams
- How to sew Neckline facings
- 3 ways to sew finish the raw edges of a facing
- How to sew flared cuffs
- How to set sleeves
- How to hem flared sleeves
- How to sew a hemline facing