How to Sew a Simple Dress ~ Step 5 [A Series]

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Hey, you!

Oh. My. Gosh.

Welcome back to Step 5 of How to Sew a Simple Dress series! This is the final installment!

Right now as I write these words, I am wearing my very flirty V9237. I kid you not!

It is comfy and just a little twirl-worthy, especially when there’s a light breeze in the air!

And no, a woman is never too old to twirl!

To end this series, I think it is very important to pause and assess the good, the bad, the pretty, and the fugly of our first dress project

This is crucial regardless of what sewing level we’re at, but it is particularly important to beginners! Because this is how we can mindfully take what we learn from each project into the next and the next!

Unless you have money to burn and time to waste, winging it is NOT an option! Be wise: Practice before and take notes after!

So in that spirit, here’s my personal assessment of Vogue 9237

NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE!

Series Contents

Let’s Assess the Dress: Vogue 9237…

Q: What was the dress silhouette?

A: This dress silhouette is commonly known as the tent dress. But my nickname for it is the Sway dress because I would never get dressed in a tent!


Q: How did you prep the fabric?

A: I washed fabric twice because rayon has a tendency to be shrink happy! And since it was good quality fabric, I did not have to trouble myself with straightening the cut ends!

Q: Did you need any supporting fabrics?

A: Although this fabric was quite lightweight, I did not need any interfacing or underlining to complete the project. With that said, this vibrant, drapey, lovely rayon could have benefited from underlining, which would have given it more substance.


Q: What notions did you use?

A: I used gray thread, custom made bias tape, and a hook & eye.

Q: What layout did you choose?

A: I used the standard lengthwise fold layout. Since my fabric was a rather complex floral print, I chose to use a “with nap layout” to make sure the flowers and their branches were all pointing in the same direction on the FRONT (4) and on the BACK (1) of the finished dress.


Q: What tools did you use?

A: I used a very sharp dressmaker’s shears to cut out my pattern pieces and a water-soluble marking pen and embroidery scissors to transfer pattern markings.

Q: What needle size and type did you use?

A: I used a universal 80/12 needle. But I think I probably should have gone down to a 70/10 as the fabric was quite lightweight.

Q: What presser foot did you use?

A: I used my all-purpose/zigzag presser foot.

Q: What stitch length did you use?

A: I use the standard straight stitch at 2.5mm stitch length.

Q: What pressing tools did you use?

A: Of course, I used my ironing board, my heavy ar$e iron, and a pressing cloth. But I also went out and bought a sleeve board during the making of this dress to use during the application of the bias facings. That sleeve board lowered my frustration level to a one (1) when pressing!

And I set my iron temperature to a moderate setting, which on my iron was the Wool/Silk setting.

Q: What was the closure?

A: The pattern originally called for a thread loop and a button. But I had no interest in doing a thread loop. So I kept the slit at the center back (CB) and paired it with a hook & eye.

But I think next time, I will still use the hook & eye but add a super cute button detail!

Q: What seam finish did you use?

A: I used two: (1) the stitched + pinked at the CB seam and (2) my beloved French seams at the shoulders and side seams (SS).


Q: What hem finish did you use?

A: I used a simple narrow hem and edgestitched it in place. But there was a bit of drama…

First, I topstitched it from the right side (RS), but it just wasn’t all that pretty on the inside! So, yes, I ripped out that rather large hem and started over!

Then, I pressed the hem allowance to make the holes from the previous stitching disappear a bit; and I edgestitched it from the wrong side (WS).

I had to do this…


To get to this…


Now, I was happy!

If you look closely you can see the leftover holes from the unpicking!

Q: Were the pattern instructions easy to follow?

A: Yes, they were but I did deviate in a few places to make it even easier! Check out Step 4 in the series!

Q: What design changes did you make?

A: I deviated from the pattern instructions in several places:

  • I staystitched the FRONT (4) and BACK (1) pattern pieces separately at the neckline and armholes before I stitched them together at the shoulder seams.
  • I staystitched 3/8 inch from the cut edge around the neckline and armholes and then used that line of staystitching to align the raw edge of my bias tape to begin the application process.
  • I applied bias facing to the neckline before sewing the SS.
  • I refused to make a thread loop and subbed in a hook & eye.
  • I also did not like that hemming thingy they did with the CB slit, so I topstitched my CB slit for a prettier end result. To see what I did, click HERE.

Q: Was this dress easy to sew?

A: It was very easy to sew — and fit! Gotta love a sway dress!

Q: What did you dislike or like about this sewing pattern?

A: I really loved that it was simple to sew but had that adorable cute ruffle detail at the back for added interest. However, I don’t care for thread loops!

Q: Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope when you were done?

A: Yes, way better, actually!

Q: Can you breathe, reach, sit, and walk comfortably?

A: Yes, I can do all of that — and eat and enjoy dessert too!

Q: Would you sew it again?

A: Yes, but with a couple of modifications! For the sleeveless version, I would prefer a narrower shoulder width. And I think the ruffle can be a bit fuller for more drama!

Plus, I think this would be even lovelier in a crepe!

Q: Would you recommend it to others?

A: Yes, I would! In fact I did a 5-part series on Vogue 9237!

Q: Any other tips you would offer?

A: Yes. Here’s what I learned from this project:

  • Do involved skills like gathering or hemming when you’re fresh and/or well-rested!
  • Mark your notches on the gathered sections with a marking pen, not snips. Because when you gather, those snips vanish!
  • Pre-made bias tape was just too stiff for this lightweight rayon. So if your fabric is very lightweight, you will get better results if you custom made your bias tape. And custom made bias tape is so much easier to apply!
  • Edgestitch the hem from the WS for more control and a prettier hem!
  • Check your bobbin thread BEFORE you start hemming. Make sure you have enough to complete your hem without running out! SIGH!
  • Busy prints hide sewing sins!

That’s it. Assessment, done!

RELATED: Click HERE if you’re interested in a new way of looking at “failure!”


It’s been a long time getting here, but we’ve sewn our first dress on this site!

I am so freaking ecstatic. You have no idea!

And I want to make you a promise:

If you really want to unleash your dressmaking superpowers, never give up! And before you know it, you will be proudly wearing and flaunting dresses you’ve made with your own two hands! Imagine how accomplished and amazing you’ll feel!

I know this because I’m feeling it now! There are really no words!

Okay, enough!

It’s time for us to build on this project and dream, sew, and, of course, flaunt more fabulous dresses!

And remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn about the most lovely dress silhouettes and keep up with all the dress projects on this site!

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