Updated on July 25, 2022 by Sarina
A panel dress is, as the name suggests is a dress made of many panels of fabric stitched together. The advantage of panel dress is the flair the panels give to the hem. You can have a nicely flared dress which will drape and falls beautifully, especially when sewn in a flowy drapy fabric like chiffon or crepe. I have sewn this one in a cotton net fabric with embroidery, perhaps not the best choice for this style.A very flowy fabric would do true justice to this dress.
You need about 3.5 meters of cloth to make a flared dress 40 inches long ( This will give you about 20+ panels for front bodice and back bodice. ( 10 panels * 2 inch would give you a stitched fabric panel of 20 inches – so 10 panels would be right till a bust round of 36 inch ; you need more panels for increased sizes ; just do the maths)
How to cut the fabric – I took the length of the dress I wanted and added 2 inches . Cut this length from a 45 inch wide cloth. Now fold this length by 3 1/2 inches, ensuring each fold will have two sides on either side.
LINING – If you are lining the dress, you need more fabric. To cut the lining – you donot have to sew lining the same way by sewing panels together. Just keep the lining on top of the stitched panels after the bodice is cut to your size and trace the outline and cut the lining.
Infact you donot need to cut the lining with as much flare as the outer fabric ; as it is sewn separately you can reduce the flare of the lining considerably – just make sure that it is atleast 4-6 inches more than hip round at the hem ; more if it is longer and has walking ease.
Place the folds in place with a clip. Cut out the pattern pieces. Remember the fold on one side for each piece. When opened the pieces will measure 2.5 inches on top and 6 at the bottom
I have twenty panel pieces
Zig zag the seam edges individually of all the pieces. This is optional ofcourse but highly recommended especially if you have a fabric which frays.
Sew these pieces together 10 each with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. One sewed panel is for the front bodice and the second for the back bodice. . Press the seams open after every seam is joined. This will make sure that the joints look nice.
Mark the following pattern on each of the pieces. Remember one panel is front bodice and next is the back bodice. Fold by the center and mark the following bodice pattern. This diagram markings are same for everything else except the neckline and the armline. Those are different for front and back.
Remember that necklines are to be marked on the facing piece,not on the bodice pieces
Cut out the pieces.
Make facing for the neckline. Sew the neckline . Checkout this post on how to sew the neckline with facing or this post for different ways to draft necklines. I lined the bodice as the fabric is sheer. I am treating the main cloth and lining as one piece and basted them together at the armline before sewing the neck facing.
I have added a piping to the neckline . Sew the readymade piping to the neckline after the facing is completed with two stitching lines.
Cut out the sleeve piece. Checkout this post on drafting sleeves. I chose to make a very small sleeve. See how the armline is almost touching the hem of the sleeves
Gave a little border and a piping sewn to the hem
Joined the shoulders with a 1/2 inch seam allowance
Join the sleeves to the armline – to join keep the sleeve piece right side down on the bodice armline which is placed rightside up ( ie rightsides are together).
Ensure that center of the sleeve is on the shoulder seam. Start sewing from the shoulder seam to both the directions . This way the sleeve will be correctly aligned
Sew the side seam of the sleeves.
Now you have to Join the side seams of the dress. You will have to stitch the side seams of the lining and the main dress separately for better drape.
Turn the dress inside out . Bring the lining to one side and outer fabric to other side of the neckline. Now join the side seams of lining and the main fabric on both sides . Turn the dress right side out now. You will find that the lining seam allowances will be nicely inside and separate.
Finish the hem of the lining and the main fabric. You can add piping here also. I have not. Just turned under 1/4 inch twice and stitched .Fini !!
Checkout the neck depth, neck width and armhole table according to your bust round measurement