It is on tops and skirts. It is on bathing suits. Even sandals! The tie-front trend is everywhere. The best part is that it speaks directly to the petite lady. The tie at the front has the same effect as ruffles and creates dimension at the bosom area. But, you don’t have to worry about spilling out and having a wardrobe malfunction. To keep the focus on the dress, I added a simple necklace. A pair of simple, nude heels I picked up on a solo trip to Singapore last year completes the look!
This dress was designed with a few things in mind:
- The exposed midriff looks incredible on some ladies. But personally, a little hint of skin is more sexy and tasteful. The longer bowtie serves this purpose by hiding much of the cutout. Yet, there is still a little bit of skin exposure when you move around.
- Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the midi length on the petite frame. In this case, the midi length balances out the skin exposure at the top.
You’ll need the following:
- Tank top
- 3 yards fabric
- 1 yard elastic
- Basic sewing tools
Because the front has a cutout area and is secured with a bowtie, the shape of the bodice is slightly different from your traditional top. I suggest using scrap fabric or pattern paper to play around with the fit. Try it on and adjust it to your body before cutting the final pattern. I went through three revisions before I was satisfied with the fit!
MAKING THE PATTERN: THE TOP
There are three bodice pieces.
- Pattern A = Front bodice
- Pattern B = Back bodice
- Pattern C = Straps
STEP 1. With the tank top on, mark the smallest part of your waist. Fold the tank top in half. Trace the shape of the front and back. Trace only to the mark you made on the tank top.
STEP 2. On the front bodice (Pattern A), create a sweetheart neckline by drawing an arc towards the center.
STEP 3. Create the cutout at the bottom by drawing a tall arch at the center. Since the pattern makes up only half of the bodice, the arc should be only half of the desired cutout. Mine was 1 ½ inches wide and 3 inches tall.
STEP 4. Extend the remaining area between the top and bottom of the bodice into a horizontal band. Taper the end into a point. This band will become the bowtie. Mine was 1 ½ inches wide.
STEP 5. Add ½ seam allowance to the front bodice. Cut two pieces of the front bodice on fashion fabric and two pieces on lining fabric.
On the back bodice (Pattern B), add 1 inch seam allowance to the top. Add ½ seam allowance to the remaining edges. Cut one piece on fold.
STEP 6. Cut two 1-inch strips for the shoulder straps.
MAKING THE PATTERN: THE BOTTOM
The skirt is an A-line skirt. There are two pieces.
- Pattern D: Skirt
- Pattern E: Waistband
STEP 7. Measure the widest part of your hips. Divide it by four. Create a rectangle with the same width as the calculated value.
Cut the rectangle vertically into equal strips, leaving the top intact. Spread out the strips to create an A-line shape. Cut two pieces on fold (Pattern D).
Tip: If you don’t have enough paper to create a full skirt pattern, overlap pieces of paper to achieve the desired width. Create the A-shape as above. At various points along the waist, measure a straight line down to desired length and mark each point. Connect the points to create a circular hem.
STEP 8. Cut a strip for the waist (Pattern E) that is twice as wide as the elastic band and the same length as the total waist of the skirt.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER: THE TOP
STEP 9. Fold the shoulder straps in half lengthwise and sew. Trim down the seam allowance. Turn it right side out. Topstitch to keep it flat.
STEP 10. Place the bodice fashion and lining layers right sides together. Place the shoulder strap upside down in between the two layers. Sew along the top, bowtie, and center front.
STEP 11. Snip into the seam allowance all around to add ease.
Snip off the tip of the bowtie. This will prevent fabric bulge when the bodice is turned right side out.
STEP 12. Fold the seam allowance onto the lining. Topstitch close to the seam.
The bowtie is quite narrow, so you won’t be able to topstitch along the entire bowtie. Only sew as far as you can.
STEP 13. Starting from the bottom, match up the front bodice to the back bodice. The back bodice should have one inch of unfinished edge at the top.
Fold the side seam towards the back bodice. At the top of the back bodice, fold the unfinished edge under twice. Make sure to cover the side seam allowance. Topstitch in place.
STEP 14. Create the back part of the shoulder strap by preparing two 1-inch strips according to Step 8. Loop the strip through the O-ring and attach to the back of the bodice.
STEP 15. Finish assembling the shoulder straps. Pass the strap through the slide, through the O ring, and back through the slide. Secure the end.
STEP 16. Finish the hem of the bodice using a zig zag stitch or a serger.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER: THE BOTTOM
STEP 17. Attach the front skirt to the back skirt. Sew along the sides.
STEP 18. Sew the ends of the waist band together. Fold in half lengthwise. Attach it to the skirt and sew, leaving an opening for the elastic.
Distribute the elastic evenly along the waist. Top stitch vertically on each side of the waist to keep the elastic in place.
STEP 19. Line up the side seams of the waistband to the bodice.
On the front, gauge how wide of a cutout you want. Distribute the elastic waist accordingly. The more elasticity you allocate to the center, the less the cutout will stretch when the dress is worn.
Lay the waistband directly on top of the bodice. This will cover any raw edge on the bodice. Secure with a zigzag stitch.
STEP 20. Fold the skirt hem under twice and topstitch in place.