Crazy Polka Dots Dress for #polkadotjanuary

Crazy Polka Dots Dress - Title - Make It NiftyThis is my first finished project for 2015  and the first project to get posted on my new blog. Hooray!

I’ve had this fabric in my stash since June last year so the #Sewcialists January Polka Dots theme#polkadotjanuary – was the perfect time to use this fabric from my stash.

I used the pattern I drafted for the Bridesmaid dress I made last year, but I wanted to change the sleeve a bit. To get to the final sleeve pattern I ended up drafting 4 different sleeves and toiling them all. So that took a bit of time, but I’m happy with the outcome and I’ll be able to use that pattern again in future – as long as I don’t lose it :). The bodice is lined and I made sure to include side seam pockets in the skirt – of course!

Crazy Polka Dots Dress - Front,Side,Back - Make It NiftyInspiration

After the success of my Spot the S2444 Dress. I’ve been meaning to make another dress with spots/dots so the #polkadotjanuary was the perfect time to make a dress I wanted to sew anyway. I really like wearing clothes I’ve made, but I hesitate to wear the dresses I’ve made so for ‘everyday’ wear, so I’m hoping this dress fills that gap.


Self Drafted Bridesmaid Dress pattern with new self-drafted sleeve pattern

Pattern Adjustments

  • Drafted a cap sleeve that is self lined by cutting the hem on the fold
  • Shortened skirt hem by 7cm

I want to record what I did when drafting my sleeve pattern so expect a Behind the Seams post about that.

Crazy Polka Dots Dress - Side - Make It NiftyMaterials

  • Cotton Multi Spot fabric from the Spots & Stripes range at Spotlight
  • Black cotton lawn for lining
  • Black invisible zip
  • Black thread
  • Black overlocking thread


Here is a quick construction run down for dress. Initially I wrote a very in-depth construction list because I wanted to record how I sewed this self drafted pattern because I don’t have set of instructions like I would with a commercial pattern. All that detail made this post waaay too long so I’ll do a Behind the Seams post for that too.

  • Fabric Cutting
  • Cut bodice lining with centre back (CB) on selvedge so I didn’t have to finish the seam allowance
  • Cut skirt pieces on crosswise grain because the fabric wasn’t wide enough to cut the skirt front on the fold
  • Cut sleeves with the fabric folded along the crosswise grain
  • Sewing
  • Sewed bodice and lining darts
  • Sewed bodice and lining shoulder seams
  • Sewed lining to bodice at neckline
  • Sewed bodice and lining side seams
  • Sewed sleeve under arm sleeves
  • Inserted sleeves into armhole in the round
  • Sewed pocket pieces to skirt pieces
  • Sewed skirt side seams and around pocket bags
  • Attached skirt to bodice
  • Inserted zip
  • Sewed the lining CB and waist
  • Finished skirt hem


Crazy Polka Dots Dress - Front - Make It NiftyChanges I made this time

  • Used different sleeves
  • Trimmed off some skirt length

What I Like

  • The fabric! The print is crazy and great. I really like that the whole dress is cotton too.
  • I really like the shape of the sleeves
  • I think I prefer this skirt length and have made notes on my pattern for next time.

What I don’t like

  • Sometimes the pocket fabric peeks out
  • The bodice side seams and the skirt side seams don’t match up, but it won’t stop me from wearing this dress 🙂
  • The zip isn’t long enough to make this a ‘step in’ dress so it’s an ‘over the head’ dress.

Crazy Polka Dots Dress - Back - Make It NiftyChanges for next time

  • Stay stitch the skirt waistline
  • Attach the pockets to the skirt side seams with a smaller seam allowance so that when I join the skirt front to the skirt back the pocket pieces don’t get caught in the side seam and hopefully not peek out.
  • I would like to try not cutting the sleeve on the fold and instead cut a piece from fashion fabric and one from lining fabric so I can underline the sleeve and then insert it in the flat after sewing the shoulder seams. Then sew the lining to the bodice at the neckline and armholes so that the sleeve is tucked into the shoulder ‘tube’ and the sleeve seam allowance will end up between bodice and lining. Sew up the bodice, lining & sleeve side seams then hem sleeve by stitch hem to lining fabric – hope that makes sense :-\  I’m not sure if it will work, but I’ll find out 🙂


Recently as I’ve been buying fabric, I’ve been keeping better notes on the fabric so when I can (be bothered) I’ll add more detailed notes about the fabric and pricing.

Pattern Self Drafted Bridesmaid Dress – Free (drafting time included below) $0.00
  • Spots & Stripes Multi Spot, Black, 112cm wide; 3m x $5.99 (discounted price) = $17.97 (saved $12.00 – 40% off)
  • 0.5m Black cotton lawn – in stash
  • 50cm Black Invisible Zip
  • Thread – in stash
  • Black overlocking thread – in stash
Time 13 hrs 30min (* $17-ish Australian minimum wage)

  • Fabric Prep – 30min
  • Cutting Fabric – 30min
  • Drafting sleeves – 30min
  • Toiling sleeve – 2hrs
  • Sewing final garment – 10hrs
Total   $252.46

So not the cheapest make, however some of the time for this dress was to draft and toile a new sleeve pattern.

I’m really satisfied with the finish of this dress and I really like the changes I made to the pattern – new sleeve and trimming skirt length. I skipped overlocking seam allowances that would be hidden by the bodice lining to save time, and thread (and because I was being lazy).

Final Comment

I’m so glad I finally made this dress and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s nice that my first project of the year meets many of my 2015 Top 5 Sewing Goals.
It’s sewn from stash fabric; I reused a pattern I already had; I played around with my block to draft a new sleeve; It’s a project made as part of a sewing community challenge. All in all I’m very happy with this dress and I hope it gets heaps of wear.

Crazy Polka Dots Dress - Fist Pump - Make It NiftyAre you a fan of polka dots?
How has the first month of your 2015 been?
Are you participating in any challenges this month?
I really love hearing from you, so leave me a comment 🙂

Until next time,


12 thoughts on “Crazy Polka Dots Dress for #polkadotjanuary

    • Thanks Elizabeth,
      I thought that a cap sleeve would broaden my shoulders to balance out my pear shape
      Also, the polka dots would have been too much if I had longer sleeves.
      V 🙂

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  4. Awesome dress fist pump!! 🙂 Vanessa, this dress is really gorgeous and looks fabulous on you. Congrats on a beautiful project! I love how well your self-drafted pattern fits you (hooray for drafting!), and it’s great to see that you’re getting more use out of the original pattern. This is a true WOW project – I love it!!

    As always, I think it’s really interesting to see your cost analysis. Yes, this was a relatively expensive make, but if you think about it, you probably couldn’t get a custom-fit dress for anywhere near that price unless you made it yourself. It also goes to show how special a handmade garment really is.

    Looking forward to reading your Behind the Seams posts on this dress. I love reading about all the gritty details.

    • Hey Carolyn,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m loving the mix of colours in this dress. I don’t usually buy fabric with such a mix of colour, but it works in this because I don’t have to worry about matching the colours to other garments.
      You’re absolutely right, I would never be able to buy a custom-fit dress for that price. Hooray for drafting and sewing skills!
      You know I love me a fist pump 😉
      More details to come 🙂

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