Sewing “All-In-One” Short/Long Formal Dresses

Here is a formal dress that is an all-time classic and still works today. It is a great idea for bridesmaids dresses.

This clever dress actually leads a double life. It’s design gives it the unique ability to be worn long to the ankle or as short as you like. It is one that doesn’t have to spend most of its life in the closet. It converts into a short length with the drop of a skirt.

The secret of this simple slender dress is the second skirt which is attached to a half slip of lining and is worn underneath the short dress.

When worn together, they give a tunic like effect. To convert to the short length, the half-slip is removed and with it the attached lower skirt.

This idea is not for flared, full or bouffant skirts. But, it works beautifully on slim straight skirts or dresses.

To sew this skirt, you need an additional 1-1/8 yards of the dress or skirt fabric and about 2 yards of 42 inch lining fabric. (Ambiance Bemberg Rayon works well.)

Finish sewing the short dress or short skirt first.

Then sew a long half slip of lining fabric.

1. Use a simple straight skirt pattern that fits you. It should have a center back seam.

2. Add about 12 inches to the length. Plan to finish the lining hem about 2 inches above the ankle.

3. Cut the width of the lining slip the same as the bottom width of your short dress or short skirt.

4. Stitch the side seams at 3/4″ rather than 5/8″. This will make the slip slightly smaller to fit under the short dress or short skirt.

5. Make a narrow elastic waist or a narrow waist band with a side opening. A zipper is not necessary.

6. Plan to have a slit in the center back seam for walking ease.

7. Try on the short dress and long half-slip.

8. Mark the half-slip 3 inches above the finished lower edge of the dress. This is where you will attach the lower skirt.

The Lower Skirt

1. For the lower skirt, use the dress pattern.

2. Measure 20 inches up from the lower edge of the pattern and mark front and back. Use this lower marked section for your under lower skirt pattern.

3. Stitch the center back seam at 5/8″ and leave a slit opening for walking ease.

4. Stitch the lower skirt together making the side seams 3/4″ deep.

5. Place right sides together with the bottom of the lower skirt laying up toward the half-slip waist and the top edge of the lower skirt laying along the marked line on the half-slip.

6. Stitch the lower skirt to the half-slip along the marking that is 3 inches above the short length dress.

7. Turn the lower skirt down over the stitched seam.

8. Hem the lower edge to your desired length.

9. Whip the half-slip lining slit to the lower skirt slit to secure.

Enjoy your “All-In-One” short/long formal.

It just makes sense!


- by Marian Lewis

©2006 Marian Lewis – All Rights Reserved

1st Step To Sewing Success


Marian Lewis is a sewing instructor and the creator of an amazing new fitting method for hard-to-fit sewing folks.

In her ebook, “Common Sense Fitting Method For Hard-To-Fit Sewing Folks Who Want Great Fitting Skirts And Pants”, find out step-by-step WHAT you really need, WHERE you really need it and HOW to apply that to a commercial sewing pattern.

For more information, go to:

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Marian is also the author of other eBooks related to sewing including, “Sew A Tee Pee And Accessories For Your Tribe Of Kids” and “Classy Designer Straight Skirt” where she teaches basic and advanced sewing techniques.

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