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There’s something really easy and cool about wearing all denim. It makes a statement, even in simple silhouettes. I haven’t gotten over the frayed denim world that designers Marques’Almeida created earlier this year, so I made a super-simplified frayed denim sheath dress based on their tanks and dresses. It’s fairly easy to do, even if you’re a beginner, because the other thing about denim? It’s a great fabric to work with when you’re learning to sew.

What you’ll need:


  • A giant piece of drawing paper or pattern paper
  • A T-shirt, tank top, or sheath dress (You’ll be tracing it to make your pattern.)
  • Something to trace with
  • Scissors or shears
  • Measuring tape
  • Scotch tape
  • Two yards of denim fabric
  • Needle and thread
  • A sewing machine
  • A zipper

Step One


Place the paper on a large, flat surface and lay the T-shirt, tank top, or dress over it. Using a pen or pencil, trace around the garment’s neckline, shoulder, sides, bottom, and sleeve seam to make a tank-top shape, then cut it out.

Step Two


Using extra pattern paper and tape, extend the pattern so that it’s the length you’d like your finished dress to be. I measured and cut a second piece of paper that extended my pattern to 31 inches, from the pattern’s shoulder to its bottom hemline. (I also slightly flared the bottom of the second piece of paper, to make room for my hips!)

Step Three


Fold the denim fabric in half and place it on a flat surface. Line up the pattern on the fabric’s fold, then cut the pattern out of the fabric. Move the pattern away from the fold, and cut the pattern out again. This will leave you with three pieces—one big piece and two small pieces, like I have in the photo above.

Step Four


Lay the big piece of fabric out so that the “right” side of the denim faces up. Place each small piece of fabric over the big piece, so that small piece’s shoulder aligns with one of the big piece’s shoulders. (The small pieces should have the denim’s “wrong” side facing up.) Pin the small pieces of fabric to the big piece at the sides and shoulders, leaving the neck and arm holes open. Using a sewing machine, sew down the length of the pinned sides, removing the pins as you go. When that’s done, you should have this odd-looking smock:


Step Five


Now you’re going to insert a zipper! Pin together the dress’s open, back edges. This will make a seam. Using the top of the seam as your starting point, line the zipper up with the seam and make a mark on the seam where the zipper ends. Next, loosely stitch through the seam—starting at the top of the seam and ending at the mark you just made—with a needle and thread. From the mark, use a sewing machine to sew through the remaining length of the seam.


Step Six


Pin the zipper to the loosely stitched part of the seam. With a needle and thread, stitch the sides and bottom of the zipper to the dress. Turn the dress right side out, then cut through the loose stitches that will be covering up the zipper. Now your zipper is ready to go. And what do you know…

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So is your dress!

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Toss it in the wash, and dry it in the dryer. The more it frays, the better it looks. ♦