This dress has been a long time in the making. I knew ages ago I had a gala to attend for my hubby’s work (how fancy do I sound!?) so I obviously started pinteresting very early. I had a pretty clear of what I wanted (high neck, pleats or gathers and some kind of tie at the waist). I scoured the internet for hours looking for a pattern similar that I could make do with, but couldn’t even find something I could hack into submission.
And then. I got to thinking, “really, this is basically a raglan sleeve top without the sleeves.” And realized I already had the exact pattern. Read on if you are interested in learning how I hacked the Megan Nielsen River Dress into this flowy, halter beauty.
There are very few alterations you need to make to this pattern to transform it into a breezy cocktail dress. You basically omit the sleeves, slap on some bias tape around the neck and add extra volume to be gathered at the neckline. Here are the full instructions:
Alter your pattern:
-add 10 inches extra width to your front and back pattern pieces (to create an extra 20 inches in the front and another 20 in the back
-add seam allowance along centre-back seam (formerly to be placed on the fold) to add a zipper
-add desired length to front and back. I added 6 inches to make my dress midi length
-cut a strip of fabric 2 inches wide to act as your neck and
-if you are lining this dress, do not add extra volume to the neckline of your lining pieces and make sure your lining is at least 1 inch shorter than your actual dress
Sew your dress:
-gather neckline in front and back pieces to match size of lining (or unaltered pattern)
-sew side seams of fabric and lining
-attach lining to outer fabric by sewing the “sleeve” seams together (ie front lining to front fabric where the sleeve would normally go) do all four of these seams
-check gathering at neckline in front and back. Baste outer fabric to lining.
-attach zipper to outer fabric.
-attach zipper to lining
-stitch closed centre back seams on both fabric and lining
-fold your neck and strip in half and press.
-Now, figure out how much you need to leave the neck and open to attach it to your dress.
Measure your neckline across the front and the two back panels. Add these numbers together and add four more to the sum (ie front neckline is 12 inches and back are six each, so 24 plus four equals 28 inches.) Divide this number in half (ie 14inches in my example) Mark the centre of your neckband and then out from that point how ever many inches you calculated (ie 14 inches to make a centred opening of 28 inches)
-with right sides together, with 1/2 inch seam allowance, stitch your neckband closed starting at the fold pivoting at the corner and stopping at the point you marked earlier. Repeat on the other side.
-clip corners and grade seam allowance. Turn and press.
-on one side of the open part of the the neckband, press up the seam allowance.
-marching centre front with the centre of your neckband, pin the dress front to the neckband on the side you did not fold and press.
-leaving a one-inch gap, pin the back pieces to the neckband. I recommend basting here and checking the fit. You might find one inch in between is not enough. This is why I have you two extra inches of wiggle room.
-stitch neckband to dress front and backs.
-fold under seam allowance on other side. Stitch neckband to neck as as well as close any openings in the neckband. I chose to hand stitch for more control.
-hem both dress and lining
Voila! Flowy halter dress! This dress is so easy to wear and really comfortable. PLUS you don’t have to worry about any fluctuations in size and you can wear this dress for years to come, even if you don’t stay one consistent size.