I always consider cutting out the dress pieces as the worse part. After it is cut out, all the decision making of what size, style is done. To me, the sewing is the fun part as the dress emerges from a pile of fabric.
First I sew up the darts (if using) in the bodice and cape.
Then I sew the bodice front and back together at the shoulder seams and do the same with the cape front and back. I like to hem the sides of the cape at this point.
Next I sew the bodice and the cape together at the neckline. I don't use any facings, which makes assembling so much easier. But sewing the cape and bodice together does take some different thinking. Typically when sewing, the fabric pieces are put together with the right sides of the fabric together so that when the seam is turned, all the seams will be inside.
But when sewing a bodice and cape together, place the right side of the cape against the wrong side of the bodice. When the seam is turned, the raw edge will be between the bodice and cape and will be hidden in the neckline.
Next I trim and clip the seam allowance at the neckline to allow it to turn smoothly, and stitch the seam allowance down against the bodice. This makes a smooth neckline with no visible stitching on the cape.
Using a basting stitch, I baste the cape to the bodice at the waistline and in the back where the zipper will be inserted.
Sometimes I have had trouble with my cape gaping. I have found that if I pull the corner of the cape just slightly into the waistline, it helps with the gaps.
Next I finish the sleeves, stitching up the arm seam and finishing the cuffs however I chose for this dress. You can wait until the sleeves are sewn into the dress to finish them but I find it much easier to work with the sleeve before it is attached to the dress. On this dress, I made a simple pleated cuff.
Next I stitch the side seams of the bodice and insert the sleeves. I like to stitch my sleeves with double seams (just stitching twice around the arm hole) since sleeves tend to be a stress point that I have to mend often if not reinforced.
It is beginning to look like a dress! Almost done!
Next I sew the side seams of the skirt, inserting pockets if desired. Prepare the skirt to be attached to the bodice, with pleats, gathers, or however.
For this skirt, since I wasn't using a skirt pattern, I pinned the skirt to the bodice at the side seam and center back and front. Then I measured even pleats in the front and back to pull in the fullness of the fabric.
After I was satisfied with the way the pleats looked, I stitched the skirt to the bodice. This is another spot I like to double stitch to avoid mending it later.
Next I insert the zipper. I like to use invisible zippers because then if my stitches are wocky, no one can see it.
Hem the skirt and it is all done!
And the final result.
Just in case you are curious...this photo was taken months ago. Right now I could never zip up this dress.
This is what I'm looking like today at 32 weeks!
How To Sew a Cape Dress
Part One - Finding a Pattern
Part Two - Cutting Out the Dress