How to Make a Halter Dress

By Melissa J. Bell

Things Needed

  • Dress skirt and bodice pattern
  • Fabric and matching thread
  • Sewing equipment and supplies
  • 1/4 inch elastic
  • Large safety pin
  • Large paper and marker
  • Iron and ironing board

Halter dresses are one of the most popular types of dresses for the summer months. They can be short or long, and you can make them from almost any material. The halter dress is also one of the simplest projects for a beginner, since it can consist of any simple dress bottom with a halter neckline. Without having to worry about sleeves, collars and fussy fitting details, you can relax and learn the basics of dressmaking. To make your own halter dress, complete the following instructions.

Measure your bust, waist, hip and dress length, from the top of the bust to the hem, to draft your own simple sheath dress pattern. If you do not want to make a pattern, find a dress skirt and bodice pattern that you like — one that does not have sleeves or a complicated neckline — and then skip to Step 6. Make sure that the dress style fits snugly in the back and does not rely on straps to hold it up. This is why strapless dress patterns are usually best for halter dresses.

Take the biggest measurement of your bust, waist and hip measurements. Divide that measurement in half and add six or more inches. Then add two inches to your length measurement. On a sheet of large paper, draw a rectangle that has the width of your first measurement and the length of your second measurement. Cut the rectangle from the paper.

Lay the paper pattern on top of a double layer of your fabric and pin it in place. Cut the fabric around the pattern and after you're finished, unpin the paper. You now have a piece of fabric for the front of the dress and a piece for the back.

Stitch the front and back together at the side lengths, right sides together. Iron the seam allowances flat and trim them. Slip the dress on your body to make sure that it fits, and that it's not too tight. Remove the dress. Turn the bottom edge under 1/2 inch and iron it flat, and then turn the edge under another 1/2 inch, iron it flat, and then stitch it in place.

Turn the top edge of the dress under 1/2 inch and iron it flat, then turn it under another 1/2 inch and iron it again. Stitch all the way around, close to the edge, except for 3 inches at the back. Take your elastic and wrap it snugly, but not too tightly, around the top of your bust. Measure that length and add an extra inch.

Cut two bands of fabric that are one inch wide and as long as your arm. Create tubes of fabric from the bands by folding each band in half lengthwise and stitching the remaining long side and one of the short sides together, close to the edges. Turn both bands right side out and iron them flat. Find the middle of the top of the dress and stitch the rough ends of each band neatly to that point, inside the dress. Make sure to double-stitch for strength.

Clip the elastic to the safety pin and insert it through the three-inch hole at the top of the dress. Push the elastic all the way around the top of the dress until it comes out the other side of the hole, and then remove the safety pin and stitch the elastic to itself, using the extra one inch as an area to stitch the elastic together. Stitch down the remaining three inches of folded dress when finished.

About the Author

A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.