Simple Dress Pattern for Beginners

Hilary Pullen Free Sewing Patterns, Tutorial 5 Comments

Sew up this super simple dress pattern in no time at all! this easy-to-sew pattern is perfect for beginners looking to make a simple dress for the summer using cotton voile. Go bold with polka dots or choose a pretty summer pattern, this dress will work on the beach or add accessories for an evening look.

Is dressmaking for me?

Yes! Dressmaking is great fun and a wonderful  hobby to take up at any time of life. All you need is a basic sewing machine (which you can pick up second hand, or borrow from a friend) to get started. 

You’ll soon learn how much fun constructing your own clothes can be. There’s something quite special about wearing your own handmade clothing, not only do you choose the fabrics you love for comfort and design, but you can also achieve a perfect fit to flatter your body shape. Part of the fun of dressmaking is the making, spending time lost in choosing fabric and thread and planning your next make! Take a look at the hashtag #memademay on Instagram if you want to be inspired by dressmakers all over the world.

Sew up the Ava Dress in time for summer!

Try sewing up a simple dress pattern – we thin the Ava dress is ideal to get started with! You’ll learn how to use notches to make the simple gathered skirt and with just a simple neck tie you don’t need to worry about fitting sleeves and complex necklines.

If you are a complete beginner you can find a complete beginners guide to dressmaking here.

Ava Gardner exuded an inimitable, feminine, sexy confidence. She was an intelligent and feisty woman who could swear and drink with the guys. This dress is fun and flirty and, with its halter top and swinging skirt, it’s a modern take on Ava’s style.


Download the free full size dress pattern templates shown below at the end of the post!


Cotton voile, lawn, poplin or lightweight linen for dress Voile, lawn or lightweight muslin for underlining (optional) and lining


” 2.1m 114cm-wide main fabric or 1.8m 152cm-wide main fabric for dress

” 70cm 50cm-wide interfacing ” 1.2m 16mm-wide ribbon

” 14” zip ” co-ordinating thread

Note: If you wish to use a sheer fabric, underline all pieces in solid cotton voile by cutting a second set of pieces from underlining fabric using the main fabric layout. You should then baste the main fabric pieces and underlining pieces together and treat as one when reading the instructions. Even if underlining, you should still line the bodice and waist pieces.


Lay the pattern pieces on the fabric as shown in the fabric layout and cut them out. MAIN FABRIC

” 1 front bodice

” 1 front waist

” 1 back waist

” 2 rectangles (draw one rectangle onto pattern paper in the dimensions from the skirt size chart above. Label this piece “Skirt, cut 2 main fabric” and place the grainline along the length of the piece.)


” 1 front bodice

” 1 front waist

” 1 back waist

size guide for sewing up dress


 Transfer all pattern markings to the fabric pieces after cutting.

 Take one of the skirt pieces, fold in half by aligning the short ends together, and cut each piece in half along the fold. These will now be referred to as the back skirt pieces.

 Stay-stitch the armhole edges of the bodice lining pieces 12mm from the edge.

 Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the main fabric front waist and one set (mirror images) of back waist pieces. Fold the front waist and front waist lining pieces in half, and mark a small notch into the seam allowance of the waist edge along the centre front fold.


 Align the waist pieces RST matching notches. Stitch with 1.5cm seam allowance. Repeat for the waist lining pieces.

 Align the edges of the bodice and bodice lining RST, and pin along the sides, armholes and top edges. Sew together, grade the seam allowances and clip along the curves. Trim off excess seam allowance at the top corners. Turn the bodice RS out and press flat along the seams. Edge-stitch along both armhole edges.

 Treating the bodice pieces as one, machine baste three rows of stitching between each set of bust notches.


 Gather the bodice pieces between each set of bust notches to approximately the width of the corresponding notches on the front waist piece. Align the bottom of the bodice to the top of the joined waist pieces along the raw edges RST and pin. Make sure to distribute the bust gathers evenly, matching the bust notches, and the notches on the bodice to the side seams of the waist pieces. Baste the bodice to the waist pieces. (See Pic A.)

 Place the RS of the waist lining on top of the wrong side of the bodice pieces, and waist pieces, aligning the raw upper edges. With the bodice sandwiched between the waist and waist lining pieces, pin. Stitch in one continuous seam. Remove any visible basting stitches. Make a casing for the ribbon to be laced through along the top edge of the bodice. Fold over the top edge 2cm to the wrong side, then edge-stitch along the inner edge to form the casing.


 Align the front skirt and one back skirt piece along the side seam raw edge, RST, and pin. Sew together, press the seam open, and finish the raw edges in your preferred method. Repeat with the second back skirt piece on the opposite side seam of the front skirt.

 Machine- or hand-baste three rows of stitching along the top raw edge of the skirt. Gather the top edge of the skirt to approximately the width of the waist piece. (See Pic B.)

 Align the top edge of the skirt with the waist piece RST, and pin. Make sure to match the side seams and distribute the gathers evenly. Sew together in one continuous seam. Press the SA upwards. The bottom edge of the waist lining should remain loose on the inside of the garment at this time.


 Mark a notch into the centre back skirt seam allowance, 21.5cm down from the waist seam to indicate the end of the zip. Flip the waist lining out of the way, so it isn’t caught in the centre back seam.

 Align the centre back raw edges, RST, and pin. Make sure the waist seams match then baste the seam and press open. Place the zip with teeth face down along the seam, baste and stitch. (See pics C and D). Complete the back skirt seam.

 Fold the centre back waist lining edges under by 1.5cm, and slip-stitch the centre back waist lining folded edges to the zipper tape. Fold the waist lining bottom raw edge under by 1.5cm, and slip-stitch the waist lining to the waist seam allowance. Finish the skirt with a narrow 1cm hem. (See Pic E.)

 Finish the raw edges of the ribbon by pressing the ends over 6mm to the wrong side, then fold and press the ends over again 6mm. Edge-stitch along the inner folded edge of each of the folded ends, to hem the ribbon ends. Attach the safety pin to one end of the ribbon and lace it through the casing. Remove the safety pin. Tie the ends of the ribbon into a knot behind your neck to create a halter.

Download your free templates here, just complete the form and click enter!


Comments 5

  1. This was showing on the page advertised on today’s email update but when I followed the link the download is sadly no longer available. Hopes dashed!!! Any chance of releasing it again?

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