How to Design a Quinceanera Dress

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The Quinceaños celebration, a coming-of-age party for Latin American girls, often involves as much preparation as a wedding. A Quinceañera dress is traditionally a big, elaborate ball gown, often described as a "confection," though it can be made in any style the celebrant wants. The dresses can be expensive, but you can design and make your own by following a few basic steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Sketchbook and pencil
  • Dress reference pictures
  • Formal dress patterns
  • Muslin and thread
  • Standard sewing equipment and supplies

Gather a variety of reference pictures of formal dresses that you like. Study them to see which dress elements you like most. For example, you may want a fitted bodice and a big ball gown skirt, or a dress with big sleeves and a fitted skirt, or any number of combinations. Choose the elements you think will work best together, and will be most flattering. Remember that with Quinceañera dresses, bigger and fancier is better.

Sketch a few possible dresses, using the photos as reference. Pair different elements to create different looks, until you come up with a basic design that you are satisfied with.

Take the measurements of the Quinceañera at the bust, waist, hip, back waist length and skirt length. Fine-tune the sketch from Step 2, keeping in mind the girl's proportions. For example, determine where on the girl the bodice bottom and top will fall for the best possible look. Make any adjustments to the dress based on this drawing.

Find bodice and skirt patterns that resemble the sketch, or draft your won pattern. You can find formal dress patterns from most of the major pattern companies, such as Simplicity, McCall's, Vogue and even Butterick's historical costume patterns, some of which are linked in the Resources section of this article. You also can find extravagant designs in vintage gown patterns. You may have to buy several patterns in the size you need and combine various sections to create your design.

Pin the pattern to a length of muslin fabric, and cut out the pieces. Stitch together each part of the pattern, then press all seams open. Skip finishing the seams or hemlines since this is only a mock-up version.

Fit the Quinceanera dress to the wearer, and mark any adjustments that have to be made. Make sure she is fitted wearing the same foundations she will have at the celebration. Make any adjustments directly on the muslin. Carefull take the muslin dress apart at the seams with a seam ripper to use for pattern pieces. You are now ready to make the finished version of the dress.

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