Make a Halter Dress (Sewing Pattern Ideas)

Make a halter dress or top this season with these easy and fun pattern ideas!

A yellow halter swim dress modeled at a pool, from the blog post on how to make a halter dress.

Let’s make a halter dress! I’ve got lots of cute sewing pattern ideas for you.

Fashion is cyclical, and the ’70s are back. Were you stylin’ in the early 1970s?

If so, you might remember the baby tees, tie-dye shirts, peasant blouses, ponchos, capes, bell bottoms, frayed jeans, maxi dresses, and halter tops.

I wore them all. Some I can do without this time around!

But I still love the look of a halter. It’s flirty and fun and can have enough coverage if you want it.

Make it your Own

You can choose an open back or be more modest and cover up. Make the front and back fabric panels wide or scrunch them together.

Customize it and pick the features you like best. That is the beauty of sewing!

Obviously, a halter dress is perfect for summer. It’s loose, cool, and comfortable.

Check out more loose and easy clothes with these summer dress patterns, halter tops, or flowy peplum top patterns.

See more sewing projects and no-sew project ideas here!

Outfit Accessories

Have fun and add some cute accessories to your #memade outfit. A cute straw hat, fabric scarf, some sunnies, a beach bag, and sandals, and you are off. I’ve collected some ideas below!

If you choose a dressy fabric, you can convert it to a year-round option that’s suitable for a special occasion. It would be ideal for a party, wedding, or event.

There are lots of other halter-style sewing patterns available. I hope you find something that inspires you!

A yellow swim dress modeled at a pool, from the blog post on how to make a halter dress.

Halter Pattern Ideas

I chose the McCalls M8093 sewing pattern (below, affiliate link). It is actually for a halter top, but I lengthened it into a short dress. 

It is made of Lycra swimsuit fabric, so it is perfect to throw on over a swimsuit.

If you are in the market for a new suit, get ideas for swimsuits for curvy women here.

McCall’s 8093

I have included more halter-style patterns below, both for blouses and dresses.

They have optional details such as full-swing skirts, ruffles, floor-length skirts, and fun embellishments.

There is something for every shape and size.

I’ve also included buying sources in the text below each photo. (affiliate links) I hope you find a look you are drawn to!

Butterick B6682 | New Look 6552

Simplicity 3823 | Simplicity 8594

Vogue V9259 | Simplicity 8382

Simplicity 8330 | New Look 6372

Simplicity S8869

Sewing Projects for Beginners

If you are new to sewing, choose your dress or blouse pattern and fabric wisely.

Beginner sewists should look for sewing patterns that are labeled “Easy to Sew,” “1-hour”, or “Learn to Sew,” etc.

These are typically simpler, with fewer pieces and clear instructions.

Also, consider choosing a solid-color fabric instead of a patterned style.

This makes it easier because you do not have to match patterns or worry about perfect vertical and horizontal print alignment.

For more beginner-friendly projects, check out these elastic-waisted pants patterns.

Best Fabrics For a Halter Dress

The range of fabric for a halter dress or blouse is wide open!

I would suggest an opaque fabric unless you are willing to line your piece. It would be difficult to wear a full slip with this style.

Also, I prefer a fabric that drapes well for this look. Material that hangs nicely and has movement will be more flattering.

Of course, you will need to choose based on your body type and personal preferences. Have fun shopping!

For my halter dress, I chose a Lycra swimsuit fabric.

I can wear it over my swimsuit, on the boat, or at the beach. It can get wet and dry quickly.

Note: If you are brand new to sewing, do not start with a jersey-style fabric; it can be tricky to work with.

Sewing projects are more enjoyable and easier to manage if you select light to medium-weight fabrics.

Be sure to look for these more manageable fabrics if you are just learning to sew.

Easier fabrics include cotton, linen, cotton jacquard, silk crepe, silk crepe de chine, and silk tulle.

Consider using lightweight fabrics too.

Good ones include chambray, soft cotton, cotton lawn, linen, or midweight fabrics like denim and oxford.

What is Swim Suit Fabric?

Swimwear fabrics are designed to be worn near or in the water.

They are most commonly available in nylon, neoprene, polyester, and tricot.

These fabrics are quick-drying, colorfast, and have a certain amount of stretch.

In general, natural fibers are not a good choice for swimwear.

Where To Buy Fabrics

You can purchase almost everything you need for your project at your local fabric, craft store, or online retailer.

They typically carry sewing machines, fabric, sewing patterns, and supplies.

Online and Storefront

Below are a few well-known online shops and a few good brick-and-mortar establishments to help you locate your perfect dress fabric.

Harts Designer Fabric
Hobby Lobby
JoAnn Fabrics
Mood Fabrics

Minnesota Fabric Stores

Friends! If you live in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis or St. Paul or are just passing through, check out our local Minneapolis and St Paul fabric stores.

We’ve got some good ones! CLICK below for more information:

The Sewing Lounge
Treadle Yard Goods
S.R. Harris

Sewing Supplies

Next, assemble or purchase your sewing materials.

See below for the essential items you will need and ideas on where you can buy them. (affiliate links are in color)

Sewing Pattern mine is McCall’s 8093

Matching Thread
Notions according to pattern
Straight pins
Sewing Scissors or
Rotary cutter
Sewing board or
Safe cutting mat
Paper Scissors not pictured
Sewing Machine not pictured

My Favorite Sewing Products

Below are links to check out my favorite use-all-the-time sewing supplies. I own all of these brands; some of the products I have are the older versions, though, as they last forever! Affiliate links included.

How to Prepare Fabric for Sewing

You have your fabric; now let’s pre-wash it and dry or hang dry, as you will do in the future.

A clothes dryer may shrink fibers slightly, so it’s better to do this before you cut your fabric out to avoid fit problems later.

Using a Patterned or Print Fabric

If you’ve chosen a fabric with a distinct print or pattern, matching the connecting panels together can be tricky.

This requires a bit of time and patience, but it is worth it when your project is ready to wear.

It is nearly impossible to match everything perfectly on the garment, so choose the most dominant and noticeable areas.

My dress fabric was directional, meaning it has a print orientation and distinct graphics.

Fortunately, it is subtle, so the mistakes I made will not be as noticeable.

Depending on the style of your piece, you may need to pay special attention to one area.

For example, focus on the bodice, the center front, or the hemline, etc., to match up your print design.

Here are some matching techniques to consider if you choose a stripe or pattern fabric.

Making Alterations

Remember, even though you have selected a pattern, you can adjust it to your preferences!

I left off the buttonholes that the pattern suggested. I hate making buttonholes. 😂

Instead, I added a slit where the drawstring could feed through.

First, I decided how long I wanted the opening; then, I cut a straight slit in the middle of the panel.

I also cut a small piece of fabric for the facing and lined up the opening Vs.

With the right sides of the fabric together, I stitched down and around the opening, then turned it to the right side.

Wa-La. Then keep following the pattern instructions.

That’s it. It is ready to wear!

Bonus: This dress can officially be worn in either direction, depending on my mood. 😁 

I hope you are inspired to SEW! Create a halter dress or a DIY elastic waist skirt, or how about sewing a blouse this summer?

If you do, please comment below on how your sewing project goes. I’d love to hear from you. Be sure to subscribe or follow me on social media for more inspiration!


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