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The Ultimate Prom Dress On a Budget

Updated on May 13, 2013

Need A Great Prom Dress Or Formal Dress Idea?

Girls, I have to admit it. I'm in love. My little ADHD brain is trying to wrap itsself around the hundreds of possibilities with this dress. If you've never heard of it, it is called an infinity dress or convertible dress. Thanks to Pinterest, I was introduced and thoroughly in love. You will see what I mean as we scroll down. Literally, the possibilities are endless. You can go formal or casual. Either way is your choice. The best thing is that the pattern is so simple! Anyone can make one! You need minimal sewing skills to whip this one up. It's beautiful too. With many formals coming in the spring, I highly recommend getting an infinity dress. By the way, the pink one in this picture is available on Amazon here. It is worth the money considering the style options, but you can make this dress for less than 10.00 if you find a great material on sale!

But I Don't Know How To Sew?

Ok the thing about this design is that it is so simple! It consists of a skirt, waistband, and sashes. If you have no clue how to use a sewing machine, you could do it by hand without much problem because there is not much to sew here. With a machine, it takes about an hour to put together (including cutting time). If you do plan on hand sewing, just be sure to double stitch in ensure that no seams come undone (oh my!). The key is in the material. You want to find something stretchy. As you wrap the dress, you want it to give in a little. This ensures it stays in place and is form fitting. If you find a material with sheen, then that adds a bit of formality to the material. I've seen this done with cheep material and still come out great. The fun part is finding that perfect fabric. You can make the skirt with pleats if you are up to it. They are not too difficult if you have patience dealing with the stretchiness and slipperiness of the fabric. Before you begin, you want to get the measurements right.

Infinity Dress Measurements

First you want to start with the skirt. You want to measure your waist. Use this measurement to figure the circumference of your skirt. Ok girls, don't panic. This is not geometry class! Just grab your ipod or nearest calculator and follow along! This dress has a circle skirt, but if you happen to get confused you can block together a skirt too. It would look super cute with a pointed hem, sort of like a fairy skirt.

If you want pleats, I would at least increase your measurement by a 1/2 . I hope that makes sense. If you just use your measurements and then add pleats, well your skirt will be way too little.

Ok, so now that's as clear as mud right? Trust me, it's not hard girls! So, what you need is your waist measurement. Rather than have you do the geometry, I'm including conversion numbers for you.

Skirt Measurement Chart - *all measurements are in inches


Warning: Depending on what size of pleats you are looking for, you may need a larger radius. This example will make very small pleats.

A Great Video Demonstration of One Designer's Infinity Dress

Length Measurements for the Infinity Dress

Ok. Now you have your first measurement, which is the radius of your waist. If I did not include your size, I will be happy to add it! The next measurement is the length. You will measure this starting at the waist down to the place where you want your hemline to hit. Here are some descriptions of dress length. For the best result, you should measure with the shoes you will be wearing, especially if you go for the longer length dress. A nice addition would be the inclusion of a slit for longer dresses. You may want to hem the dress for a more finished touch.

Tea Length: Tea Length dresses hit about 3 inches above the ankle.

Ballerina Length: Ballerina Length hits jut at the ankle.

Mid Calf Length: Hits at the Mid Calf

Cocktail Length: Hits just at the knee.

Mini Length: Hit around the upper thigh.

You may also want someone else do this measurement for accuracy.


Skirt  Length Template
Skirt Length Template

Making The Skirt Template

Next, you will want to make a template of your skirt. Simply, you are going to use paper instead of fabric at this point. You should have a nice big piece of paper. You may want to tape pieces together to get the right size. I would use a stiffer paper such as butcher paper for this. Grab a piece of chalk and tie a piece of string that is 30" long to it. I'm just giving you a number to work with. We'll discuss length of the dress in a bit. You will also need a yardstick. Place your piece of paper on a flat surface. Starting in one corner, you will measure up to the radius of your waist (see above chart). Hold down one end of your string to the end of your ruler, and chalk end will mark that radius measurement. Keeping your line tight (it should be tight from the end of the yard stick to your measuring point. You will now swing out with the chalk slowly while keeping the string tight. This will create an even circular shape on your material.

If you mess up, chalk can be removed. After creating your first arc, you will move your yard stick up to the place where you made your first point on the radius. From that point you will measure your length. Using the same technique with the chalk, you are going to swing out and draw the hem of your skirt. If you do not have enough string lengtt, then just make a new one and tie it on. If you do not have enough paper, then tape on more to fit your pattern. When you are done, your patter should look like the one pictured.

Cutting Out Your Skirt

Your material will most likely be folded in half when you buy it. You will want to fold it again matching the raw edges together. Place your pattern on the fabric with the straight edges lined up with the folded edges of your fabric. If you find that the length of your pattern will not allow you to cut out this way, then there are a few things you can do.

First you can cut out two halves of your skirt. Use the pleating measurement as your waist measurement. This will allow you to cut out 1/2 of your skirt instead of doing it all in one piece. Instead of folding the material, just lay it flat and pin your 1/2 pattern down and cut.

Secondly, if you find that your waist measurements make it hard to cut in one piece then you can use your 1/4 pattern (the pattern in the figure above) and pin it down on the unfolded material. You will have four pieces for your skirt this way, so sewing will take a bit longer.

Finally, you could add layers. Think 20's flapper. You could start with the fold method, and if the skirt is too short you can simply add layers for a fun, unique dress.

With any of these methods, you will be using more fabric. In the end, you will end up with a donut once it is all pieced together.

Dawn Nicole has some great pictures of how to fold your fabric and cut out a circle skirt.

A Sewing Tutorial

Learn how to cut out and sew a circle skirt in the second section of this video.

Fabric Suggestions

You want a soft stretchy fabric. A rayon blend would work to pull off an elegant dress. The silkier the material, the harder it will be to hold together while sewing. It will slip in your hands. Go for a knit fabric that does not ravel. If you do this, then you will not have to worry much about hemming. If you just have to have this dress in a material you found, just be sure there is some stretch. I assume you could make this with a material with less give, but you may end up with too much bulk. A rayon/spandex blend or jersey knit would work well.

Quick Tip

Find a really cheap fabric and make your dress. If you mess up or find that it does not fit right, then no harm done to the great dress fabric you picked out! Just adjust and you will be set for the real deal.

Measuring the Waist Band

Congratulations, the hard part is over!! Using your original waist measurements (not the radius), you will measure out the length of your waist band. The height will be 6". This will make a 25"x6" rectangle. This will fold down to 3 inches when you put it together. If you want more coverage, you can go wider. For those of us needing to keep the girlies in check, you could make a matching tube top to cover your bra. Most of the ways you can wear this dress will show your bra if you are not wearing the tube top underneath. Monif C. has some great videos on youtube on how to wear this dress if you are well endowed. If you want to wear a strapless bra, that will work just fine too.

Monif Has Great Videos on Covering where you need to

Cutting the Sashes for the Infinity Dress

From the center of your breastbone, take the tape measure over your breast and end at the center of your armpit. This will give you the width of your sash. You want enough fabric to cover up the girlies! The length is 108". The length can be adjusted if this seems like a lot of material. I suggest that you gradually decrease the width at the end to decrease bulk when you tie. These sashes are the key to the versatile design.

Let's put this bad boy together!

Remember the hard part is over! All you have to do now is pin it together. Overlap your sashes by 4 inches and pin them together.

Find the midsection of your sashes and put a pin there to mark this spot. Next, you will find the midsection of your skirt. If you are dealing with one piece, simply pick a place that feels right. You will be pinning the "right sides" together. The right side is the side of the material you want everyone to see, so you should have the "wrong sides" facing out.

If you cut your skirt in two pieces, you want to center your sashes around a side with no seams. Your seams should fall evenly to your sides when worn. You do not want a crooked seam in the front!

Two piece Seam Figure

If you cut your skirt into four pieces, you want to center your sash right on a seam.

Four Piece Seam Figure

Pin the sashes on and sew. Give yourself a quarter of an inch from the edge to sew. You will find these markings on a sewing machine. If you hand sew, just try to keep stiches small, close together, and consistant.

Adding a Waistband for your Infinity Dress

A note about this before we begin: if you are pleating you will want to evenly add small folds in the fabric as you sew around the skirt. You will want to pin and repin to make the waist work for you and for even pleats.

Now you will fold your waist band (short sides together) and place one end at the center of the sashes with the "right side" of your waistband facing the " right side" of the skirt. You will be pinning the cut side of the waist band to the skirt (the folded side will be hanging down). Once you do this, simply sew the band onto the skirt and sew the two short sides together and you are done!!

Congratulations you made a dress.

Trouble Shooting/ FAQ For Making An Infinity Dress

The skirt seems a little full. Can I change it? Absolutely you can. A pencil skirt for instance would not have the flare of the circle skirt. Instead of cutting out a full "donut", you would use the 1/4th pattern using your waist measurement (do not modify measurements). You will end up with a seam in the back, and by making the skirt using the 1/4th pattern is that, when you bring the sides together, you will bring in the skirt. It will end up sitting straight down your legs instead of flowing out. The 1/2 pattern can be used the same way, making a little flow without the full circle skirt effect.

I'm having trouble covering my bra. What do I do? You can construct a matching tube top or go with a strapless bra.

The sashes are too long and bulky. What can I do? You can trim them to your desired length and decrease the width at the end to decrease bulkiness. Also, be sure to pull the sashes flat against your figure.

How much fabric to I need? Honestly, I have tried to give you all the accurate measurements I can. 5 yards might be enough, but it will depend on the length of the dress and your waist measurement. I would suggest you take your measurements to your local fabric store, stare blankly at the friendly lady behind the counter, and hand over your measurements. She should be able to help you figure it all out.

Help! The waist is too small!! Ok, this is simple. You simply cut off some of the material inside your donut hole before you add the sashes and waist band. Your skirt will end up shorter this way though.

Help! The waist is too big! You could make your waistband smaller by a quarter inch to half an inch depending on how big it is. Then as you sew, you would add a few pleats to make up for the extra material in the waist of the skirt.

Will You Be Making The Infinity For A Prom Dress?

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    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Excellent lens, very versatile dress.

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 5 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      I'm too old for Prom, but love your tips on making a dress :)

    • Frugal Bride profile image

      Frugal Bride 6 years ago

      I love this dress! You gave amazing instructions!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 6 years ago

      Really great job at explaining how to make this.

    • DuaneJ profile image

      DuaneJ 6 years ago

      I'm sure a lot of girls and their moms will find this useful.

    • amkatee profile image

      amkatee 6 years ago

      @Inkhand: I think you can do it! If you take it step by step, it is not hard at all. Just skip the part about pleating if it seems like too much.

    • Inkhand profile image

      Inkhand 6 years ago

      A very instructive lens, but I am hopeless with sewing and cutting patterns.