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This week marks the final installments of our September Sew Along with Coats & Clark, Free Spirit Fabrics and Tula Pink. If you’re just joining us, you can start from the very beginning with Peter’s Halter Dress project instructions or following along as he puts the final touches on his beautiful dress. Also make sure to check out the great additional steps our friends at Coats & Clark created to help you make a perfectly coordinated border appliqué and belt.

Already finished with your project? Make sure to upload your gorgeous garments by Monday, October 3rd with “Sew Along” in the title for the chance to be a part of our Sew Along Slideshow and win great prizes from Coats & Clark and Free Spirit Fabrics!

Readers, as we come to the end of National Sewing Month, so too are we at the end of our BurdaStyle Halter Dress sew-along journey. Today we put the finishing touches on our dress, and you’ll see Leah model the finished garment — a dressmaker’s proudest moment!

As you can know from where we left off last week, the dress is nearly completed (apologies for the state of my living room).


The zipper is in, and the bodice lining — complete with spiral-steel boning — now must be stitched closed at the waist. I do this by hand.


In the end, I decided not to line the skirt. Leah will be wearing the dress with a half slip, so the fabric will drape neatly, and I didn’t want to add any more weight to the skirt. Leah could even wear the dress with a crinoline if she wants a more retro look.

It’s now time to hem the skirt. I do this by cutting 2"-wide bias strips out of my lighter floral fabric (which I’d originally intended to use as a skirt underlay before I changed my mind and did the whole skirt in the cornflower blue print). I stitch the strips together to form a long ribbon.


What I love about using bias-cut fabric is that it won’t pucker when I hem the skirt like wide turned-up hems do (since the turned-up hem has a wider circumference than the point on the skirt you’re stitching it to — skirts generally narrow as you go up). This allowed me to use my sewing machine’s blind hem stitch rather than stitching by hand — this is a nearly five yard-wide hem after all!

I stitch the bias fabric to the skirt edge, right sides together, and then turn the hem under and press.


Even though the bias edge shouldn’t fray, I finish it with rayon seam binding tape, primarily for show. The hem looks nice, inside and out.


Next I add the bodice trim and straps. These take a lot of care to attach and must fit the bodice top evenly on both sides. Remember to add seam allowances when you cut your fabric, and that the pattern pieces for the trim (on the directions called the “band”) are cut twice, stitched right sides together, and then turned right side out. For these small pieces, I find a 1/2" seam allowance is sufficient.

I stitch the trim to the top of the front and back bodice (right sides together), fold it over the top, and fold the seam allowance under on the inside of the bodice. I finish this by hand (You can also stitch in the ditch, but for me, hand stitching is the better choice).


Leah decided she wanted the straps to be removable, so we added buttonholes to the straps and buttons to the inside of the bodice.


Finally, I press using a tailor’s ham to support the princess-seam curves along the bodice front. The dress is now finished!

Thanks to the interfacing and the boning, the back bodice (seen here without trim yet added) fits Leah’s back nicely (remember, this is a very soft cotton fabric — the degree of support needed depends on your fabric and your (or your model’s) body).

Here are few pics from our photo shoot. I just love this dress, which you’ll notice is hemmed a bit longer than the BurdaStyle original. We also chose to skip the belt for a more formal look.

Here’s the dress worn plain…


Dressed up with gloves and clutch bag – or casual with corduroy blazer…


Strapless or retro!


Readers, I have created a fun photo shoot slide show, with many more wonderful pics of the dress, which can be viewed here. Follow along in “Slide Show” mode for maximum enjoyment!

Before saying good-bye, I’d like to thank Susan and the rest of the wonderful BurdaStyle staff for inviting me to lead this sew-along, as well as to our sponsors, Free Spirit Fabrics and Coats & Clark (who kept me well-supplied with fabric and thread), as well as to you readers who have sewn along with me. Finally many thanks to my patient model and friend, Leah, who never once complained when I stuck her with pins!

Has anybody finished yet? How did it go? I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about the dress — just leave a comment below.

See you soon!



  • Thinker_large

    Oct 3, 2011, 04.40 PMby thinker

    Hi Peter, I uploaded my project http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/sew-along-halter-dress-burdastyle-062011-116 I still have to hem it, sew down the lining more, and finish the flap-edges. Also the pictures are not very good. I might upload better ones some time.. Thanks for taking the time to do this sew along!

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Oct 4, 2011, 10.26 PMby Peter Lappin

      Thinker, I think your dress looks great — and you did an excellent job with a challenging print.

  • Thinker_large

    Sep 28, 2011, 05.15 PMby thinker

    Thanks for the reply Peter. I still have to decide what to do with the flaps. I have to change the bodice “neckline” some anyway (my bodice is a bit too long, i.e. is a bit baggy lengthwise, can fix it by taking some off at the top) . It seems like I always have to fudge so much to make things line up/fit well!

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Sep 28, 2011, 05.56 PMby Peter Lappin

      When you say baggy….do you mean the fabric needs more support?

  • Ghetto_girl_goes_to_colo__large

    Sep 28, 2011, 04.43 PMby turtlegirl00

    looks so great—and I love that it can be strapless also. Thank you so much for posting such great instructions and photos. this is so helpful to me—I would never have attempted it otherwise! I may make a gathered skirt instead of pleated—I am so intimidated by the damn pleats?!?! and the coats and clark dress is very cute as well… we will see. I am still working on the bodice. I am also making a halter top out of a black and white gingham with red piping using this bodice pattern :) it took me a bit to find boning… as I have probably mentioned I live in the boonies—but at the quilt store next to my studio she is very helpful with my attempts at apparel and is always willing to order my special requests and offer her assistance:) rambling—sorry—too much coffee! :)

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Sep 28, 2011, 05.57 PMby Peter Lappin

      Glad to hear it. I believe you can also order directly from Steinlauf and Stoller. You should be able to Google them for info.

  • Missing

    Sep 28, 2011, 03.29 PMby sarh2379

    Wow, I love it Peter, if mine looks half as good as yours I will be happy. Fab slide show too!

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Sep 28, 2011, 09.44 PMby Peter Lappin

      Thanks! I hope you’ll post yours.

  • Arrow_sewing_cabinets_-_olivia_hobby_table_-_a822_large

    Sep 28, 2011, 10.37 AMby ruthiesews

    Absolutely brilliant idea to add the option of removable straps to the halter dress ! Having the choice to wear it both ways makes it even more versatile.

    1 Reply
  • Thinker_large

    Sep 27, 2011, 08.57 PMby thinker

    Looks great Peter. Mine is coming along, but still have a lot to do (cut band and strap pattern pieces, add band/strap/zipper, boning,insert lining,hemming), hope to make some progress this week.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Sep 28, 2011, 12.24 AMby Peter Lappin

      Thinker, when you add the band, you may notice that my version is not exactly what is described in the instructions. The band as drafted is supposed to hang down like a flap, or wings, whereas mine is attached more like a waistband — up and over the top. Just so you’re aware of the difference….

  • 140_large

    Sep 27, 2011, 05.15 PMby Elizacarter1024

    Beautiful! Mine is almost there.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Sep 28, 2011, 12.24 AMby Peter Lappin

      I look forward to seeing it, Eliza!

  • Picmonkey_collage_large

    Sep 27, 2011, 03.52 PMby designerroya

    LOVE IT!

    1 Reply
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