DIY: Halterneck Dress with Pleated Skirt


After taking a (not so) little break from my blog so that I could finish up my final year at Uni (I'm a graduate now - Hallelujah!), I've finally made it back to blogging and will be posting regular updates about my funky DIY projects and thrifty fashion finds. Having drafted a few posts during my absence from blogging (a dark time when student life was slowly but surely crippling me), I’ll be dipping into my archive to share some of my favourite creations and finds from the past year or so, starting with the DIY project I’m proudest of, this velvet halter neck dress. Made from scratch way back in April whilst I was basking in my freedom from education, this swanky little number has been a staple of my wardrobe ever since so I thought I'd share how I made it - Hope you enjoy. 

You’ll need:
  • Fabric
  • Tape measure/ruler
  • Pins
  • Sewing Machine
Starting with the skirt of the dress, calculate how much fabric you’ll need. For the width, multiply your waist measurement by how wide you’d like the pleats to be, then add 2 inches for seam allowance. In this instance my fabric needed to be 50 inches wide (24 inch waist x 2 inch pleats + 2 inch seam allowance). For the length of the dress I used an old skirt for reference then added 2 inches for seam allowance, which gave me a total length of 17 inches.

Once you've cut your fabric to size, use a ruler to mark the measurements for the pleats.
Your first mark should be 1 inch for your seam allowance, then each following measurement should be the width of the pleat, in this case, it was 2 inches. Whilst doing this stick a pin in every third mark. Your last mark should leave 1 inch at the end for the other end of the zipper seam allowance. 

Now it’s time to start pleating. To create the pleats, take the pin from every third mark and fold the fabric over so it's in line with every first mark. Secure the pleats in place with pins. Repeat until all of the pleats are formed. Once you're happy with your pleats, and you've doubled checked that it all measures up and fits your waist, sew the pleats into place along the waistline.

Using your remaining fabric design the halterneck top of your dress. So it can be sewn to the skirt with ease, the bottom of the top should be your waist measurement plus 2 inches for the seam allowance. Whilst you can use a similar top to draw out the halter neck detail, I simply held the fabric to my torso and worked from there to design it. Once you've established the shape of the top half of your dress, add an inch all around for hemming then cut the fabric.

Hem the neck and sides of the top. Pin the pleated skirt to the underside of the top then secure in place using the sewing machine. 

Insert an invisible zipper and close the back seam. Hem the bottom of the skirt.

Using leftover fabric cut two thin strips to make straps. Fold the strap in half, wrong sides together and sew in place. Shimmy a pin through the straps to turn them inside out, then sew the straps to the top corners of the top.

There you have it, your own funky little pleated dress! Cue some incredibly posey pictures of me in said funky pleated dress...

As I type this I can hear the wind steadily batter my garden, so whilst this may not be the most weather appropriate tutorial, isn’t that what tights and cardigans were made for? Hope you liked my little DIY project.

Thank you for reading,

Pri – Small, Brown and Stylish

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  1. I can't believe you made this yourself! It's gorgeous! Very talented! Me? Not so much. My mom is an expert in sewing and I did not get that gene. I can't tell you how many times she's tried to teach me. However, this seems like it's fairly easy to follow along so maybe I'll give sewing another try! Thanks for sharing! And congrats on the relaunch!


  2. This is such a cute little dress. I love the colour of it. Loving the style! It's so cool that you made this! Also congrats on graduating!

    Ciara |

  3. Lovely dress and I love how you've explained it (the graphics are very clear and easy to read). Perhaps something I should try mysef... my trusty ol' sewing machine is getting rusty so a little bit of excercise could do it no harm. ;)


    p.s. Absolutely in love with your hair! Very cool!

  4. When I first saw the photo I thought it was a shop bought dress! Honestly so stunning and amazed that you made this youself (I'm kinda hopeless with making stuff) but I loved this and how you have made the illustration to show how to make it! I think once all my assingments are complete I might just give this a go! Also congratulations on graduating!

  5. Your blog is stupendous!!!! I really like the dress, you are so talented :)

  6. I can't believe you made this dress yourself! And the instructions make it sound so easy too, will definitely have to think more about making my own clothes!
    Tara x

  7. This is such a cute dress! I honestly thought it was shop bought, I love how you have explained every step thoroughly, fab post, following from now on!
    Also I have fallen in love with your hair its gorgeous!

    Heather xox ||

  8. Oh my gosh you made this? That's amazing! I wouldn't have believed it if you hadn't shared the process. I'm awful when it comes to DIY so I really admire you for doing this!

    Lizzie Bee // Hello Lizzie Bee

  9. You're so talented! Such a beautiful dress!xx

  10. This looks beautiful! I wish I was great at DIY dress making!

  11. Oh my god, you’re actually a genius?! This dress is gorgeous, and the colour suits you so much! I wish I had the time and patience and creativity to do such a thing.. ��

  12. you did NOT make this yourself?! girl it's gorgeous! you are razy talented.

    i've always wished i was good at stuff like this, the furthest i ever got though was making my school skirt shorter in year 11! haha

    this look absolutely drop dread GORG on you.

    katie. xx