If you’re anything like me, you’ve been eyeing that Geneva dress from Universal Standard and wondering if it’s worth the money. I’ve heard from several reliable sources that they’re wonderfully made, that the jersey is awesome, and I love the company for their policy of letting customers exchange their garments for a new size for up to a YEAR after purchase.
However – not everybody’s got an extra $100 lying around, and since I know my way around a sewing machine, I thought I’d try to make my own Geneva-inspired dress!
What you’ll need:
- Stretch fabric (I used a four-way cotton/spandex jersey)
- A regular sewing machine (no serger required)
The best part of this project is that it uses just two pieces of fabric, and they’re both rectangles. Yay!! The size of your rectangle is going to depend on a couple of things:
- Your body measurements and shape
- How loose or tight you want the garment to fit
Since this dress is meant to be worn oversized, you can make it with a significant amount of ease, or you could even give it negative ease for a more form-fitting look.
My measurements are 46” full bust, 37” waist, 47” hip, so I decided to go with a rectangle about 25” wide. With seam allowances, that meant it would be just about equal to my bust and waist measurements. If you want a looser fit, add a few inches to your largest measurement. You can see an example of someone with different measurements at the end of this tutorial!
I used trial and error to figure out how long a rectangle I needed, but I ended up with one about 45” long, which is the measurement from my shoulder to a few inches below my knee.
Essentially what you’ll be doing is creating this shape:
You’ll be sewing up the shoulders, then the sides, leaving an opening in one side that will later become the bottom hem.
Step 1: Shoulder seams.
With right sides together, sew the shoulder seams, leaving an opening for your head. On my piece, the shoulder seams were 7” each, leaving about 11 inches in the middle for a head opening.
Step 2: Mark your sleeve openings.
Mine were 7”, which I determined through trial and error. You could probably take a measurement for this step like this:
Step 3: Mark where your bottom opening will start. I measured up about 24” from the *bottom* of my piece, so I had something that looked like this:
This measurement will determine how large the bottom opening of the dress is, so if you make this opening SMALLER, your dress will have a tighter fit at the bottom.
Step 4: Sew the side seam. Don’t worry about the other side just yet.
Step 5: Mark the curved side/bottom.
You can absolutely draw this curve by hand if you want to! In my case, I used my tape measure to mark a large partial circle. I placed one end of the tape measure at the top of my bottom opening and marked the curve at 25” until I hit the other side:
Step 6: Sew curved side seam. (Note: you might want to baste this one first!)
Now you’ll close up the curved side, smoothing out the curve where the straight seam meets the circle you marked in step 5. The way the dress falls will be impacted by this curve, so you may want to baste this one first and see how you like it before sewing it for real (or cutting)!
Step 6: Trim curved edge.
Once you feel good about the fit – and not before! – it’s time to trim away the excess fabric from the curved edge:
You’ll end up with a shape that looks something like this:
With the square end being the shoulders and the curved end the bottom and side.
Step 7: Put it on!!
This was the first version of this dress I made:
I liked that, but wanted to see if I liked it a little longer, so when I did this tutorial, I used a piece of fabric about 54” long. It turned out that wasn’t my favorite:
Fortunately, I was able to reassess the measurements and trim it up so I liked the fit a little better:
I posted a simpler version of this tutorial in the Curvy Sewing Collective Facebook group a couple weeks ago, and another member, Kameel Hall, made a red version of this dress that I LOVE. For reference, her measurements are 49-46-54.
Kameel was kind enough to send the diagram she made for both a shorter version (with my original sketch at the top):
…as well as her sketch and measurements for the maxi version you can see in the photos.
Step 8 (optional): Finish armholes and neck
If you’re lazy like me, you COULD just leave this dress as-is, since it’s jersey and doesn’t NEED to be hemmed. But you could also turn the neckline and armholes under and stitch with a simple seam, a double seam, or even finish them another way. The black version has finished arms and neck, and the grey doesn’t.
The first time you make this piece, you might need to adjust things frequently, so basting first is never a bad idea. A lot of what I determined here was based on trial and error and what I thought looked good on me, which might not translate to what works on you, so don’t be afraid to play around a little as you’re making this (just save the expensive jersey for when you know what you’re doing)!