TUTORIAL – The Bardot Dress by Simple Sew

Hello everyone!

If you follow my blog you would have heard me singing the praises of Simple Sew patterns – I have sewn up every one that comes free with Love Sewing magazine and I really adore them all so when I saw a facebook post that they were looking for bloggers to join their team I was on it like a scotch bonnet and long story,short I am happy to announce that I will be posting tutorials on Simple Sew patterns a lot now… yay!!

So the first ‘assignment’ (yes, I did feel a bit like a Charlie’s Angel when I was asked!) is the lovely Bardot Dress that came as a free pattern with Issue 14 and was very much on my to-sew list well it skipped the queue and I whizzed this beauty up in a day just in time to wear on stage last Saturday at Love Supreme Festival!

ANYWAY… Without further Gabbying on…



By Simple Sew Patterns




  • The Bardot Dress pattern
  • Fabric – See pattern envelope for details – around 3m of lightweight cottons, tana lawn or any lightweight fabric
  • 22″ concealed zip
  • Fabric scissors
  • Paper scissors
  • Sellotape / Glue
  • Pattern weights (optional)
  • Tailors chalk /pens
  • Pins (lots of them!)
  • Matching thread & bobbin (good quality)
  • Sewing machine feet – Invisible zip foot, regular zip foot & bias binding foot (all optional but very useful to follow this tutorial with)
  • Bias binding maker (optional)
  • Ignore the interfacing – it’s not needed here unless you want to stiffen up the tie belt!


Firstly, unpack the pattern and read through instructions before you sew (this saves any last minute need of materials halfway through the dress!)

Measure yourself around the bust, waist and hips so you can choose the right size on the back of the pattern. Cut out all pieces in your size – you can grade between if you’re inbetween sizes – I’m normally between sizes at the waist so I cut in the middle of both either side instead.

Choose the sleeve length you want –
OPTION A – long sleeve

OPTION B – short sleeve

I will be showing the short sleeve but the long one is exactly the same way of putting together- just a longer seam to sew!


Smooth out pattern and lay flat so there are no kinks and cut out your pattern pieces.

Don’t forget to use separate scissors for cutting the paper with – it will blunt them and you don’t want your lovely fabric shears to go blunt!

Tape tie belt pattern pieces in right order together

You may prefer to trace first if you want to keep the pattern complete for friends and family etc! Use baking paper or thin wrapping paper to trace the pattern pieces and all the markings/info then cut them out instead and leave the lovely paper pattern intact.

Oh and recycle your waste paper!!


Follow the pattern instructions on the layout of the pattern pieces on the fabric…

Fold fabric right sides together selvedge to selvedge and places the pattern pieces on the top- all facing up. Align the straight grain line on the pattern piece to grain of the fabric and pin down the pieces or use pattern weights if you prefer. I normally pin the tricky shapes or if it has lots of markings otherwise weights are fine! Large metal washers from any hardware shop make great patterns weights!

Don’t worry if you can’t fit all the pieces on the fabric on your cutting surface at once -my fabric is 45″ and only have 1.5m of table so I did it in two bits!
Consider the direction of fabric print – I folded my fabric to the the back because of the flamingoes and I had to be quite clever changing the layout to it to fit the direction but hopefully you will choose less challenging fabric than me!! 😉

Cut the fabric out round the pattern pieces (the 1.5cm seam allowance has already been included so you should stay as close to the line as you can).

Cut the notches including the start of any pleats and darts (just a little snip into the fabric is fine – but don’t go further than the seam allowance!)


My favourite tip for converting the markings from the pattern to the fabric is PINS!IMG_0687
The way I mark darts, pleats and dots is by putting pins straight through both layers of fabric and mark both the back and front with chalk.IMG_0692
Pull back the pattern piece to mark the top of fabric as well as turning it over to mark the back side (both on wrong sides)IMG_0694
Then use a ruler to join the dots and draw in the lines of the pleats and darts.IMG_0695
Make sure you draw the lines on both sides.Big pin heads help accuracy on drawing dots!


To make the darts… Fold the fabric joining the 2 notches at the base of the dart together and pin along the marked line making sure the other side is matching.


Change to matching thread and bobbin.


  • Normal tension (3-5)
  • Straight Stitch (A)
  • Normal length (2-4)
  • Normal width (2-4)


Place the bodice dart marking under the foot – starting with the edge of the fabric. Back stitch and sew down dart towards tip- removing pins as you go- you can back stitch at the end into fabric or tie loose ends to stop thread unravelling.


Then press the dart towards the centre on both sides, pulling slightly on the bodice away from the stitching line to shape the fabric.


Push the iron tip into the top of the dart while pulling on the top of the bodice on the right side of fabric to really press it out.


On RIGHT side (contrary to pattern instructions!) fold the pleats by aligning the notches cut into the fabric at the bottom of each line and follow the markings on the wrong side, folding along the lines (the pleats fold to the middle both sides.)

Pin in place along the top and press all the way down.

Hold pleats together whilst stitching at 1.5 cm /5/8″ taking pins out as you sew. Back stitch at beginning and end. Press again to set in stitches and pleats. Do this for all 4 pleats.


Attach sleeves to front bodice right sides together (RST) matching notches (one notch for front, two for back.) Pin together and sew.
Don’t worry if they feel like the curves don’t quite fit together- they are meant to be like that!

Trim down and finish seam allowance how you like… using zigzag stitch, pinking shears or an overlocker.

Press seams open or up if overlocked/serged.

Overlocked seam


To attach back bodice pin (right sides together) to other side of sleeve with 2 notches.

On left fold over to make it RST

Then sew together whilst carefully pulling into place to align edges without stretching.

Finish seams and press open or to front.

Lie flat to attach skirt to bodice right sides together and pin. (There might left a bit over one side that’s ok.)
Sew with skirt wrong side facing up to smooth out pleats whilst sewing and sew over the sewn pleat line.
With the back skirts make sure the straight sides are in the centre. Pin and sew RST with skirt wrong side facing up as before.
Finish seams and press open or down if serged.

Ooh starting to look like a dress!!!

Now join the side seams RST by aligning notches, pin and sew.

Pivot where bodice meets skirt – lift the foot with needle in the fabric and turn the fabric…

IMG_0816Sew all the way from the sleeves underarm seam to the hem of the skirt on both sides.
NB, It’s the same for long sleeves just start at the end of the sleeve and sew right down the sleeve both sides.

Finish seams and press to back.NOW IT’S EVEN MORE LIKE A DRESS…

Nearly there – just a zip, hem and binding the neckline to go!

Ok let’s put in a zip!!

First of all… Zips are really not that scary so don’t worry.

I would highly suggest investing in the right sewing machine feet – invisible (left) and normal double sided (right) – it will help a lot!

Now I’m fully aware that I might do this the cheats way… Possibly even a lazy way… as one should really press, finish seams first, tack and even using temporary tape to stick the zip down first but hey, it’s worked for me everytime (so far) so here’s Gabby’s quick and lazy way of doing an invisible zip…

  • Turn the dress out to the right side
  • Simply line up one side with top of the zip aligned to the top of the dress (or wherever the pattern says- if there’s about to be facing added it will be lower etc.) for this dress the binding will cover the first 50mm so put the zip tab (the lumpy bit at the top of the teeth) 75mm down.
  • Pin in place


  • Open zip
  • Place RST so the teeth are the opposite side to edge
  • Pin in place all the way down edges together making sure not to stretch fabric or gather it up


  • Change to invisible zip foot (if you don’t have one there are lots of ways to do this with a normal zipper foot on youtube!)
  • Carefully feed the zip top into the right side nook of the foot rolling the teeth back to the right with your finger to fit snugly in the nook


  • Turn the hand wheel towards you to bring needle down and remove first pin
  • Back stitch just before the end nobbly bit of zip


  • Sew carefully as far to the bottom of the zip always rolling the teeth back as you are literally sewing under the zip teeth.
  • Sew slowly, stopping loads to make sure the teeth aren’t moving to be sewn through or the fabric isn’t sliding underneath.
  • When you’ve got as far to the bottom as you can, back stitch.


  • Snip threads as close to garment as possible so the don’t get caught in the teeth!
  • If you can see stitches on the teeth then unpick that bit and try again – that’s the beauty of sewing… You can (almost) always redo your mistakes! 😉

2nd side & getting the seams to match either side…

  • Do up the zip.
  • Mark the position of the horizontal seam on the unsewn side of the zip and flip the side back to mark the same line on the other side of the zip tape – you can use a pin here to make sure they are the same.
  • Open the zip again
  • Attach to the unsewn side by flipping back the the zip so the teeth are facing down on the sewn side of the garment.
  • The teeth of the unsewn zip side should be facing up opposite side to the raw edge of centre back
  • Pin in place at the marked spot at the seam then pin up to the top of the bodice


  •  Pin together the zip tape side with the centre back edge – hopefully, all being well, the top should line up too now!
  • Continue pinning to bottom – it will be tricky to get right to the zipper stopper but go as far as you can.
  • Sew as before, this time with teeth in the left side nook of the inside foot remembering to keep rolling back the teeth to see under them!
  • Do the zip up and check you are happy with where the seams meet and the top etc.



I normally try it on at this point too, mainly because I’m impatient 😉 but also if it’s feeling wrong I still have time to change it… For instance if for some reason it’s too tight you can take out the zip and swap it for a nice wide regular zip as that will give you a few more centimetres! 😉

To finish the zip and the back seam…
  • Change to a regular zipper foot
  • Turn dress inside out with zip done up
  • Pin along seam from last stitch, pulling out the zip stopper to the right


  • Align zip groove with the teeth underneath the raised part of the foot, in my case, I’m using the right side to connect the foot to the machine so the zip teeth are to the right
  • Start sewing at the last stitch from zip. Back stitch at the start.
  • Then carry on to the bottom of the skirt in 1.5cm seam allowance




Finish seams and press open.

This is a great chance to press the dress all over (avoid the zip teeth) keeping the pleats sharp and trimming any loose threads as you go.


Turn up the hem of the skirt by 50mm or however much you want (try it on and see how long you want the skirt to be on you.) I’m making mine a bit shorter with a 2cm hem so 1cm each fold.

Press well and turn over again by the same amount, press well again and pin in place.

If the first turn was looking a bit uneven this is your chance for precision by keeping it consistent and neat!

Sew close to the fold.

Do exactly the same for both sleeves.


OK nearly there!!

Now we need to make the binding…

I used more gadgets for this bit but it’s easy to do without – just follow the instructions in the pattern.

Firstly you need to join the two binding pieces (you will have already cut these out in your fabric) by sewing them together RST  by the short ends on the diagonal so they are one continuous strip.




Trim the seam excess seam allowance
Trim the seam excess seam allowance

Then get the iron ready to make some bias binding!

I used these nifty little tape makers but you can do it without if you have good hands for that sort of thing – basically you need the two edges to meet in the middle with the right side facing out.

To use the tape makers…

Place the fabric in the wide end, curling it round to slide in the sides.
Use a pin to pull the fabric through and out the thin end
Press in place
Pin the end to the surface and pull back the maker
Pressing along the way

Continue to end and you have a strip of bias binding!

To attach it to the neckline either follow the pattern instructions…

Sew RST in the crevasse of the fold to the edge of the neckline. Then fold it over, folding in the raw edge of the binding, and sew again close to the fold of the binding.

OR… use my chosen method.. the amazing BIAS BINDING FOOT


Man I love this thing!!

  • Simply feed the binding into the clear opening, with the folds curving round.
  • Adjust the width with the side screw and tighten it to hold in place.
  • Then attach to your sewing machine
  • Bring the needle down to hold in place
  • Place in the fabric – in this case the neck edge
  • Back stitch and go for it…
  • As you sew, you need to keep feeding the fabric into the bias tape as you go. The presser foot will hold it in place and keeps the stitching lovely and straight!


  • Stop a bit before the end and back stitch.
  • IMG_0900
    Look how smart!! 🙂


  • To finish off both ends you might need to unpick a bit to fold over the tape and sew along the line again attaching both sides around the zip.



OK now just the optional tie belt to do…

This bit is super easy and quick so don’t worry that there aren’t any instructions with the pattern just follow my guide instead and you’ll have a matching tie belt in minutes! 🙂

  • If you don’t have enough fabric to cut one continuous piece (like me) just fold the pattern piece exactly in half and cut 2 pieces of fabric out instead.
  • Pin and sew the short ends together


  • Trim seam allowance


  • Fold the long side in half RST
  • Pin and sew just down the long edge
  • Trim seam allowance and cut corners



  • Then turn it inside out – there are so many ways to do this. (I use a loop turner with a safety pin attached as the clasp keeps opening!) A safety pin alone would do the trick…



  • When its round the right way fold in the raw edges of the short ends
  • Pin and sew (I do this twice 5mm apart to make it stronger and more of a feature.) You could of course hand sew here…

IMG_1146 IMG_1148

  • Then give it a good press keeping the seam on the side.


Annnnnd… dun dun dunnnnnn…..

YOU’RE DONE!!! Enjoy your new lovely dress!! 🙂

I hope this tutorial has been helpful to you – I’d love you see your Bardots’ so send them my way! 🙂

Until next time…

Love and happy sewing,


Hello I’m Gabby! When I’m not singing with my band 'Gabby Young' I’m mainly sewing, dreaming about fabrics, patterns or knitting and vlogging or blogging about it all! Come join me! Xox Gabby
  1. Looks fantastic! xoxox

  2. Sooo funny! I picked the exact same fabric as you… Stroked it for a month, worrying I would muck it up if did it by myself, googled instructions after plucking up the courage to cut fabric…and to my delight you have a tutorial! Thank you…

    Fab fabric btw!! X

  3. Firstly I love that fabric, fab dress! And secondly no, I hadn’t heard of a bias binding foot!! *runs off to get one*
    Great tutorial! X

Comments are closed.