Sunday, October 20, 2013

tutorial - adding a front opening to the sally dress

I am always flattered when a reader likes something that I made. And it's even better when they like it so much that they ask for a tutorial! So, by request, here's how I added an off center front opening to the Sally Dress that I blogged about hereAnd make sure to get your own Sally Dress pattern here if you haven't already!

Making the new pattern pieces:

1. Print the bodice piece from the Sally Dress pattern.  Trace the piece onto another piece of paper.  Flip it over, line it up and trace again to get a complete front bodice.

2. Draw a line continuing the right shoulder line all the way to the bottom of the pattern - shown in red

3. Cut out the new pattern pieces.

4. Set aside the left side for now.  Trace the right pattern piece onto yet another piece of paper.  Yes, I do feel like I use too much paper, but at least I recycle most of it :)  You can also tape the pattern piece down if you prefer not to trace again.

5.  Draw a line 1 1/2" away from the edge of the pattern - shown in red

6. Place the original pattern piece over your traced pattern, line up the edges, and trace the pattern until it meets the line you drew in step 5.  Sorry, I don't have a picture of this, but you can see the results in the next picture.  Cut out your new pattern piece.  Also, make a note on the left side bodice piece to add 1/2" seam allowance when cutting your fabric.  This is really important!  I will show you why at the end of this tutorial :)

Constructing the dress:

7.Cut out the bodice pieces.  Make sure to cut the lining as a mirror image of the main fabric.  If you are adding buttons, you should add interfacing to the lining pieces at this point along the front opening where your buttons and button holes will be.

8. Sew the shoulder seams right sides together.  Repeat for the lining.

9. Place the main fabric and lining right sides together and sew along the neckline and front opening.  If you are making a sleeveless version of the dress, sew the sleeves together at this point as well.  Please ignore the inconsistency of my seam allowances.  I made some adjustments to help the dress fit Mae's narrow shoulders, but you should use the 1/2" seam allowance included with the original pattern.

10.  Clip the curves and corners making sure not the cut through your seams and turn bodice right sides out.  Press well.  You can topstitch at this point if desired.  I chose not to for this dress although I did for the first version I made which is shown at the top of this post.

11. Place the left side of the bodice over the right side, overlapping by 1".  Now you can do one of two things. Either baste the front pieces together or apply your snaps/buttons to the front bodice.  I've shown both options below.  It may not be obvious in these pictures, but I made a little boo boo while cutting out this dress ;)  I forgot to add my 1/2" to the left bodice pieces, so the front of my dress is slightly narrower than the back.  Mae is pretty skinny, so it doesn't matter too much, but I would advise you to pay attention a little better than I did when you cut your fabric :)

12.  From now on you will need to treat the bodice as one piece instead of finishing it like in the pattern directions.  If you are adding sleeves, do it now.  Pin the sleeve to the bodice right sides together and sew/serge.  Then sew the side seams of the bodice (and sleeves if needed) and you are done with the top.  Follow the original pattern directions to make the skirt portion.  Then gather the skirt top, pin to the bodice right sides together and sew/serge.  I don't have any pictures of any of this since I haven't actually finished sewing it yet :) But if you need help visualizing how to finish the dress, just let me know and I will take pictures of the rest of the steps.

Edited to Add:  Part 2 of this tutorial (includes everything in step 12) is now available here


  1. Thank you so, so much! Your tutorial is beautifully done for my pictoral mind :-) I am so excited to make your changes. I would always appreciate any extra pictures that you have a moment to take and post too, but if you don't have a chance to, what you have done is more help than I can tell you. Hugs and Thank You!

    1. Even before your comment, I had decided to finish both the dress and tutorial :) I will post the rest tonight.

  2. Awesome tutorial, thank you so much!!

  3. Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial and pictures..thanks for sharing.!!! Do you have a picture of the complete dress.

    1. You can see the finished dress in part 2 of the tutorial: