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Check out our next sewing lesson for our A-Line Cocktail Dress sewing pattern that debuted in our Bridesmaid Dresses pattern collection published in the March 2016 issue of BurdaStyle Magazine. Check out all the great diagrams to help you sew this perfect summer special occasion dress.

Refer to this pattern’s store page here for specific fabric yardage and notion requirements. Also remember to add seam allowance, further info and amounts can be found in the instructions PDF after purchase.


Step 1-Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, right side facing in. Lay pattern pieces 1 to 9 on the fabric, as shown in the cutting layout, laying piece 8 on the fold. Pin all pattern pieces in place.

Fold the lining fabric in half lengthwise, right side facing in. Lay pattern pieces 4, 5, and 6 on the fabric and pin them in place.

Use dressmaker‘s carbon paper and a tracing wheel to transfer pattern outlines (seam and hem lines) and all other pattern markings, except straight grain lines, to the fabric pieces. On the skirt back pieces, mark the slit mark for the end of the zipper slit by making small clips into the edges of the seam allowances – 5 mm (3/16") long clips are sufficient.

step 1 2 3

Step 2- Vilene bias tape/stay tape: Iron tape to the wrong sides of the neck edges of the front and back lining pieces, so that the line of chain stitching on the Bias Tape lies 1.5 cm (5/8") from the fabric edge or so that the stay tape extends slightly past the marked seam line.

Step 3- Front section seams: Lay each middle front piece on a centre front piece, right sides facing. Pin the section seam edges together, with straight pins at right angles to seam (seam number 1) – insert pins at seam line and exit pins in seam allowance. Stitch seam very carefully, across the pins. Remove pins. Lay side front pieces on middle fronts, right sides facing. Pin and stitch seams in same manner (seam number 2). Lay resulting front halves together, right sides facing. Pin and stitch centre front seam. Stitch lining pieces together in the same manner.

step 4 5 6 7

Step 4- Back section seams and trim seam allowances: Pin and stitch the back section seams (seam numbers 3 and 4) on main fabric and lining as described for front section seams (Step 5). Do not stitch the centre back seam. On the front and back units of main fabric and lining trim the allowances of the section seams to 1 cm (3/8") wide and clip the allowances along curved seam sections. Press all section seams open.

Step 5- Stitch side seams on main fabric and lining: Lay back units of main fabric on front unit of main fabric, right sides facing. Pin side seams (seam number 6). Stitch the seams. Lay lining backs on lining front, right sides facing. Pin, then stitch side seams. Trim the seam allowances to 1 cm (3/8") wide and press the seams open.

Step 6- Sew lining to neck and armhole edges: On the lining unit, press the seam allow­ances on the shoulder edges to the wrong side. Pin the lining unit to the bodice unit of main fabric, right sides facing, matching the side seams and matching the neck and armhole edges. Stitch the lining to the bodice along the neck and armhole edges, beginning and ending exactly at the marked shoulder seam line. Trim the seam allowances and clip the allowances along the curves.

Step 7- Neck and armhole edges: Turn the lining up and stitch it to the seam allowances of the neck and armhole edges (= understitch), stitching close to the seams and stitching as far as possible. Turn the lining to the inside and press the neck and armhole edges.

steps 8 9 10 11

Step 8- Shoulder seams: Lay the bodice backs on the bodice front, right sides facing. Pin the shoulder seams (seam number 5). Stitch the shoulder seams on the main fabric, making sure to not catch the lining. Press the shoulder seams open and slide the seam allowances under the lining. Sew the lining shoulder seams closed by hand.

Step 9- Stitch pleats: Fold each front and back skirt piece, right side facing in, so that the two lines of each pleat meet. Pin. Stitch along pleat lines, from upper edge to arrow symbol and tie-off end of seam by ­backstitching. Lay the skirt front pieces together, right sides facing. Pin pieces together from upper edge to seam mark (arrow). Stitch as pinned. Lay pleats in direction of arrow. Press centre front seam. Do not press pleat folds.

Step 10- Hem, pleat base: On the pleat base piece and on the skirt front pieces, finish the lower edges with zigzag stitching. Press the hem allowances on these edges to the wrong side and pin in place. On the inner side, lay the pleat base piece on the pressed-open allowances of the skirt front, right sides facing and matching the centre fronts. Pin the edges of pleat base and skirt fronts together. Stitch as pinned. On lower edge, turn allowance corners under diagonally and sew in place by hand. Finish edges of seam allowances together. Baste pleat base to upper edge of skirt.

Step 11- Side seams of skirt: Finish lower edges of skirt back pieces with zigzag stitching. Lay skirt backs on skirt front, right sides facing. Pin side seams (seam number 7). Stitch seams, first turning the pressed-under hem allowances of the skirt front down again. Finish edges of seam allowances and press seams open.

steps 12 13 14 15

Step 12- Waist seam: Pin the lower edge of the bodice to the upper edge of the skirt, right sides facing, making sure to not catch the lining. The side seams, section seams, pleat seams, and centre front seams of bodice and skirt must meet. Stitch the waist seam. Press the seam allowances toward the ­bodice.

Step 13- Invisible zipper, right half: On the back edges, turn the lining up, out of the way, again. Lay the open zipper on the right back edge, outer side facing down, with the edge of the zipper tape 5 mm (3/16") from the fabric edge. The upper edge of the zipper tape meets the neck edge. Using the special presser foot, stitch the zipper in place, as far as the slit mark (clip) – the needle is to the left of the zipper teeth.

Step 14- Invisible zipper, left half: Close the zipper. Lay the second zipper tape on the slit edge of the left back and pin the upper end in place. Open the zipper again and stitch the second zipper tape in place, as far as the slit mark – the needle is to the right of the zipper teeth.

Step 15- Center back seam: Lay the skirt backs together, right sides facing. Pin the centre back seam edges together, from the lower edge to as close to the slit mark as possible, turning the loose zipper end out of the way, over the seam allowances, to do so. The seam lines on the back edges must match. Stitch the centre back skirt seam as pinned. Press the seam open and finish the edges of the seam allowances.

step 16

Step 16- Sew lining in place, remaining hem: On the lining, turn the seam allowances on the back edges and lower edge to the wrong side. Pin these fold edges to the zipper tapes and the waist seam. Sew the lining edges in place by hand. Press the remaining hem allowance to the wrong side. Sew the hem loosely in place by hand.

Don’t think that you have to wear this dress style to a wedding, if sewn in a less formal fabric this can be a wonderful day dress.

Happy Sewing!



  • Moments-by-charlie-albright_large

    Apr 20, 2016, 03.59 AMby momentsbycharlie

    Hmm. I really don’t feel uncomfortable with the pleating detail at the front. Not sure what it is. Perhaps the structured pleating detracts from the soft feminine look of the bodice and the overall color of the dress? Can’t work it out.

    2 Replies
    • Missing

      Apr 21, 2016, 01.22 PMby martinla

      I definitely see what you mean! I think the large center pleat is the problem. It splits the dress in half, almost making it look like culottes.

    • Moments-by-charlie-albright_large

      Apr 22, 2016, 02.50 AMby momentsbycharlie

      @martinla Ye! I didn’t even see the bottom. It just looks wrong. I’m glad someone else agrees because I didn’t want to sound all negative or anything but it just…didn’t work for me.

  • Fashion_sketch_large

    Apr 19, 2016, 08.08 AMby nayyesa


  • Pexels-photo-53261_large

    Apr 18, 2016, 07.29 AMby frederiklarsen74

    Very pretty! And easy to follow

  • 405a_large

    Apr 15, 2016, 09.04 PMby MojoHollz

    Very pretty!

  • Simba_nov_06_large

    Apr 15, 2016, 12.04 PMby nrobson

    delicious cocktail dress! like it =P

    1 Reply
    • Meg_healy_burdastyle_90_90_large

      Apr 15, 2016, 03.54 PMby MegH

      Haha very delicious :)

    • This is a question
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