How to Sew a Tulle Ball Gown

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You can make a strapless dress that is special enough for any event.
You can make a strapless dress that is special enough for any event. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

You can make a beautiful tulle ball gown that will look professionally made -- regardless of your sewing skills. The A-line style dress is a strapless creation, reinforced with a sturdy elastic bodice to let you celebrate and dance the evening away in comfort. Let the skirt of the dress drape gracefully around your body, or add a crinoline underneath for a puffy ball gown. Complete the dress with a few extra-special embellishments -- such as glue-on rhinestones or tiny silk flowers -- to make it really stand out.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Metallic rayon fabric
  • Tulle fabric
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Grommets and grommet hammer
  • 1-inch-wide elastic
  • Safety pins
  • 1-inch-wide ribbon
  • Scrap cloth
  • Iron
  • Elastic thread

Bodice

Measure from underneath your arm to about 1 inch below your bust line, and add 2 inches for the length of the bodice. Measure around the fullest part of your bust, and add 1 inches for the width of the bodice.

Cut a rectangular piece of the metallic rayon fabric and a piece of the tulle, according to the measurements in Step 1.

Lay the tulle on your work surface and align the rayon on top of it, good-side-down. Fold down one of the long edges of the two fabrics by 1 inch. Fold the other long edge down by 1 inch as well. Sew the two folds in place as close to the rough fabric edges as possible.

Fold over 1/2-inch along each short edge, and sew the folds in place. Make a mark along each short end, every 1 inch. Make a 1/4-inch cut through each mark. Slide half a grommet underneath each cut and the other half on top. Hammer the pieces of the grommets together.

Measure around your chest. Measure above your bust line and subtract 2 inches. Measure below your bust line and subtract 1 inch. Cut two pieces of elastic according to these measurements. Hook each piece of elastic onto a safety pin and slide the elastics through the folds at the top and bottom of the bodice. Sew the ends to the fabric. The long edge with the shorter elastic is the top of the bodice.

Cut a 30-inch-long piece of ribbon, and lace it through the grommet holes, starting at the top of the bodice and working downward.

Skirt

Measure around your chest, about 1 inch beneath your bust line, and multiply by 3 for the width of the skirt. Measure from here to your toes and add 1 inch. Cut a rectangle of the metallic rayon fabric and a rectangle of tulle fabric according to the above measurements.

Lay the metallic rayon good-side-up on your work surface, with the tulle on top. Fold the skirt in half lengthwise, and sew the sides together with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Fold over 1/4-inch down one long edge. Fold the tulle and the rayon separately. Place scrap cloth on top of the folds to protect the fabric, and iron the folds in place. Fold another 1/4-inch of each fabric, and sew a zigzag stitch to create a rolled-edge hemline.

Fold over 1/2 inch down the remaining edge, and sew a long running stitch (also called a gathering stitch) down the fold with elastic thread. Pull on the thread to gather the top of the skirt to the circumference of the bottom of the bodice. Slide the edge beneath the bottom edge of the bodice, and sew a running stitch to attach the gathered edge.

Cut a piece of ribbon to the circumference of the bodice, and sew it on top of the joined edge, covering the stitching and fabric edges.

References

  • "Sewing for Special Occasions: Bridal, Prom & Evening Dresses"; Singer; 1994
  • "The Party Dress Book: How to Sew the Best Dress in the Room"; Mary Adams and Amy Sedaris; 2010
  • "Sew Fast, Faster, Fastest: Timesaving Techniques and Shortcuts for Busy Sewers"; Sue Hausmann; 2001
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