Two dresses, both identical (figure A). But are they? The one on the left was sewn following the pattern instructions, while the one on the right benefits from a few dressmaker's secrets to produce a better fit and a more professional appearance.


  • 2-3/8 yards fabric (silklike broadcloth, silk dupioni, linen)
  • 2-3/8 yards silk organza
  • 2-3/8 yards lining fabric
  • 1 yard 1" grosgrain
  • 6 5" bones
  • 1 yard bone casing
  • 16" zipper
  • Seam binding
  • Skirt hook and bar
  • Vogue pattern
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Hand-sewing needles
  • Pins

Figure A
An underlining adds weight and definition to the dress (and also hides the hemstitching).


  1. Begin by underlining the skirt panels with silk organza (figure B). Sew the fashion fabric to the silk organza using 1/2" seam allowance and the largest machine stitch.
  2. To finish the raw edges, machine stitch 1/4" away from the raw edge. Use pinking shears to pink the edges by the stitch line.
  3. Repeat underlining for all skirt and bodice pieces.
  4. Stitch seams of skirt.
  5. Stitch the bodice darts and the side seams. Stitch the bodice to the skirt.
    Note: At the bottom of each back dart, leave an opening the width of the waist stay. The ends of the stay will emerge through these openings and hook together at the back.

Figure B

Hand-Applied Zipper

The zipper in one dress was applied by machine, following pattern instructions. Applying a zipper by hand, however, ensures that the stitches will be hidden (figure A).
  1. Thread-mark the zipper opening. On the dress right back, mark a second line 1/8" into the seam allowance. Stitch the right side of the zipper so the teeth are next to the new line (figure B).
  2. On the left side of the zipper opening, press the center back seam along the original seam line. Close the zipper and pin through all layers. Open zipper and stitch the zipper tape to the seam allowance only.
  3. Do a hand-prick stitch through all layers, using seam guide tape as a guide, if necessary.
    Note: Run your thread through beeswax and press with a warm iron to help the thread go through the fabric more easily.

Figure A

Figure B

Waist Stays

Adding a waist stay helps ensure that the skirt falls from the waist, not from the shoulders.
  1. Stitch bodice lining. Leave openings in side back dart seams to pull waist stay through. Stitch lining to bodice along top.
  2. Center grosgrain tape to inner waist, tacking at the darts and side seams (figure A).
  3. Fold lining down into place and thread the grosgrain waist stay through openings of back darts (figure B).
  4. Slipstitch lining into place along the waistline. Sew skirt hook and bar to waist stay (figure C).
    Note: For added security, fold the ends of the grosgrain ribbon back a couple of times before attaching the hook and bar.

A piece of grosgrain ribbon acts as a waist stay and helps the skirt to fall correctly.

Figure A

Figure B
Michael Levine Fabrics Inc.
Michael Levine Fabrics Inc.
Los Angeles , CA 90015-1812
Phone: 213-622-6259
Email: sales@mlfabrics.com
URL: www.mlfabrics.com

Figure C