Off the shoulder dress and tutorial

Every time I wear this dress (or this one), I always get a few compliments, and yet, it is possibly the simplest dress I’ve ever sewn. It is really nothing more than two rectangles and a bit of elastic casing.



I hesitate to call it a ‘tutorial’ because it really is so easy. Read the steps below to see why.

STEP 1. Cut two rectangles for the dress body.


off shoulder tute


STEP 2. Cut two smaller rectangles for the sleeves.

off shoulder tute2


If you want a fuller volume in the dress and sleeves, simply multiply the width by 2 instead of 1.5, or any other number in between.

To create the elastic casing, you can fold down the top of the dress and sleeves. I got a little bit fancy and added a contrast band as casing.

The sleeves are attached to the dress by matching the top side seam of the dress (at the casing) to the undersleeve seam and sewing through both securely to fix them in place.



This dress is a style of off the shoulder that I’ve seen in some high end RTW (despite the simplicity of the design!). It shows a little underarm cleavage but the elastic allows a good range of arm movement.


My dress was made using vintage cotton/silk voile, which I lined with a bit of cream silk habutai from my stash. It’s a very lightweight and cool dress that can easily be dressed up with a pair of funky heels. I wore it most recently to an evening function in sweltering KC. It was bliss.



I also want to mention the shoulder straps that you see in some of the photos as they quite obviously aren’t a part of this tutorial (you can find a bit more information about them here). Several months ago, I made my first off the shoulder dress (to a slightly different design). I wear it as an off the shoulder dress sometimes, but mostly I wear it with the same bra that you see in these photos. The bra is just stock standard in my closet, but I covered the straps in the same fabric as the dress so it looks like it is a part of the dress. I hate strapless bras, so the bra increases the wearability of the dress for me.



5 thoughts on “Off the shoulder dress and tutorial

  1. Iris

    Debbie, thank you for this! I have tried to sew something similar twice. Each time it is a billowy mess that pops back up onto my shoulders. By connecting the sleeves this way, does it help to keep the dress in place?


  2. Ksaull

    Gorgeous dress! Next on my “to sew” list and I have a gorgeous Shibori border print challis for it.
    I like the idea of a contrasting band as you did.
    Could you please provide details for how you did that? Also, did you use the same type of fabric as the dress or a knit?
    Love all of hat you do!!


    1. Debbie Iles Post author

      Thank you! The contrast bands are just long strips of fabric stitched at the short ends to form a loop and then folded lengthways. Match the length to the dress/sleeve top, and attach just as you would with any elastic waistband pant. All woven fabrics used, but no reason why you couldn’t use a knit.


  3. Pingback: A little Target knock-off for Miss Eight – LILY SAGE & CO

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