How to Make Princess Dresses

Updated April 17, 2017

A princess dress will make any little girl or grown woman feel as though she has stepped into a fairy tale. Whether it boasts the intricate lace and feminine curves of Kate Middleton's wedding gown or the bold colours and full skirt of Disney's Cinderella, a princess dress will stand out at Halloween, a costume ball or theme parties. Instead of spending hundreds on a ready-to-wear dress, transforming an ordinary dress into a royal gown requires just a few simple steps.

Peruse a thrift shop or your own closets to find a dress for the royal transformation. A floor-length or tea-length prom gown, bridesmaid's dress, wedding gown or other formal wear will work.

Before adding any frills, tailor the dress to your size. An alteration shop should be able to do the work at relatively little expense, or tighten those lines yourself. To shorten the hem, have the princess try on her dress. Use pins to pin up the bottom of the dress to the desired length. Obtain thread in a colour that is similar to the dress, then sew along the hem. A sewing machine will produce the neatest results.

Attach a new layer of tulle or lace around the skirt. Measure and cut a piece of tulle or lace long enough to wrap around the entire skirt. Use a loose stitch setting on a sewing machine to sew a line along the top edge of the tulle, being sure to leave some extra thread on both sides of the piece of cloth. Pick a thread that blends well. Pull the thread slightly so the top edge of the tulle or lace scrunches up a little. For additional layers of tulle, sew them to a satin ribbon that complements the gown and tie the ribbon around the princess' waist. Make another tulle skirt to add below the dress to give it more fullness.

Gather up the layer of tulle or lace in four to six places around the skirt for a draping layered look. Being careful not to sew the overlay to the skirt below, very loosely hand stitch a 6- to 8-inch line upward, perpendicular to the bottom of the overlay. Push upward on the fabric, scrunching it up toward the top of the string. Tie it. Repeat a few more times around the overlay for a scalloped hemline.

Add some lace to the sleeves. Use a sewing machine to sew lace ribbon beneath the edge of the existing sleeves, so that a layer or frilly lace protrudes from beneath.

Personalise the dress by decorating it with satin flowers, sequins, ribbons or any other matching or appropriate frills from your sewing box. Flowers hand-sewn along the waist or neckline are a popular choice. Sequins, glitter, pearls or jewels adhered with fabric glue or hand-sewn onto the bodice make the dress glow. A satin ribbon around the waist or bows on the skirt add a final decorative touch. You are limited only by your time and patience.

Complete the outfit with matching satin gloves, shoes and a tiara.


Take a sewing lesson. A quick lesson offered at a local craft store can show you basic sewing techniques.


Tie back your hair when working on a sewing machine. Like any machinery, it can be dangerous if you get your hair stuck in the machine. Be careful when hand sewing -- a thimble will help avoid painful pricks.

Things You'll Need

  • Prom dress, bridesmaid's dress or other formal gown
  • 5-10 square yards of tulle
  • 5 square yards of lace
  • 5 yards of ribbon
  • Glitter, sequins and other fabric decorations
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Needle and thread
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About the Author

Lauren Griffin began writing professionally in 2010. Her articles appear on various websites, specializing in academics, food and other lifestyle topics. Griffin attended Columbia University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.