How to Make a Rainbow Dress

Written by joanne thomas
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How to Make a Rainbow Dress
Take inspiration from nature with a rainbow-striped dress. (Rainbow image by /p from

Although rainbow-patterned fabric is widely available, creating you own enables you to fully customise the colours and stripe pattern. To make a simple rainbow dress, you only need basic sewing skills, but the method applies to any dress pattern, so choose one that you know you can successfully execute. The instructions that come with the pattern are invaluable.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Commercial dress pattern
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Measuring tape
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet crayons
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet fabric
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread

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  1. 1

    Sketch the outline of the dress you are going to make on some plain paper. You can trace the picture on the pattern envelope if this makes it easier. With your rainbow-coloured crayons, draw stripes on the dress sketch, either horizontally or vertically, as narrow or wide as you like. You could vary the width of the stripes or keep them the same. Draw a few different versions until you have decided how you want the dress to look.

  2. 2

    Find the fabric yardage recommended for your size on the pattern envelope. Sketch a rectangle on paper to represent the required fabric and note the width and length dimensions along the edges of the diagram.

  3. 3

    Use the crayons to draw stripes on the rectangle sketch. Refer to the cutting layout diagrams (provided with the pattern's instructions) to determine whether you need to draw horizontal or vertical rainbow stripes. For example, if you want stripes that go vertically from the neck down to the hemline of the dress, draw the stripes so that when the pattern pieces are laid out according to the instructions, they follow that direction. Refer to your dress sketch (Step 1) to determine the width of the stripes.

  4. 4

    Turn your diagram around, so that the stripes are vertical and count the total number of stripes on your diagram. Divide the width of the rectangle by the total number of stripes. This gives you the finished width of each stripe needed to create your rainbow fabric. Add a ½-inch to the width for seam allowances to get the cut width for each colour. The length is the same for each stripe and will either be the bolt length or recommended yardage, depending on the direction of your stripes.

  5. 5

    Cut strips of each colour of fabric using the cut dimensions determined in Step 4. Seam the strips together leaving a ¼-inch seam allowance, referring to your diagram for the order. Press the seams with a hot iron, all in the same direction. You should now have one large, rainbow-striped rectangle of fabric.

  6. 6

    Cut out the pattern pieces along the correct edges for your size. Lay the pieces out on your rainbow fabric, so that the arrows indicating their direction all go the same way. Make sure that the pieces are the right way around, so that only the unseamed side will show on the finished dress.

  7. 7

    Pin the pattern pieces in place and cut out the fabric. Sew the dress together following the instructions that came with the pattern. Be careful when sewing over the seams between the rainbow stripes, guiding the seam through the machine, so that it remains flat.

Tips and warnings

  • The seaming on the reverse side of the rainbow-striped fabric adds some thickness and bulk, so choose a simple, unfussy style of dress like a shift or one with an a-line skirt.

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