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Bernette Exotic Dress

This colourful and exotic tunic dress consists solely of sewn together squares making this one sized piece perfect for beginners.

  • Sewing
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner


  • 2.10m (7’) pink taffeta (minimum fabric width 0.9m (1 yd))
  • Matching fabric remnants and sewing threads
  • Colour-coordinated decorative beads in various sizes
  • 2.7m (3 yd) satin ribbon, 4cm (1 ½”) wide
  • Wash-away self-adhesive embroidery stabilizers
  • Sewing threads in the fabric colour and contrasting colours for embellishment
  • Hemming foot
  • Walking foot

Top Tips

  • All softly draping fabrics will be suitable. A sheer fabric will be suitable
    as a beach cover up.
  • If you choose a thin fabric, prevent the seams from puckering by
    loosening the thread tension on your machine. Practise on a scrap to determine the optimal setting.

Cutting Out

  • Seam allowances: Add on 1cm (½”) seam allowance along the neckline curve. The seam allowances on all the other edges are already included.
  • Voile fabric:
    - 1 large rectangle 204cm x 90cm (2 ¼ yd x 1 yd)
  • Ribbons:
    - 1 satin ribbon 2.6m (3 yd) long for neckline and ties
    - 2 satin ribbons 8cm (3 1/8”) long (halve lengthwise for loops for the ties)
  • Neckline embellishment:Cut small (approx. 0.5-1cm) (1/4” – ½”) squares from the fabric remnants.


  1. Fold fabric in half lengthwise (102cm x 90cm (40 1/8” x 1 yd) right sides facing and cut out neckline along the top fabric fold, as shown in the sketch.

  2. Pin together the bottom-most 50cm (20”) on the side of the neckline and close this seam. Neaten seam allowances and iron apart. Turn the still-open rear seam on this side under by 5mm (1/4”) twice; press and stitch. If you have problems turning the hem under twice in the seam area, you may trim the seam allowance here by about 7mm (scant 1/3”).

  3. Fold the short satin ribbons in thirds lengthwise; press, and stitch together with a zigzag stitch. Make two loops and sew the ends of these loops 24cm (9 ½”) below the neckline curve onto the rear seam. Finally, pull the ties through criss-crossed to yield an attractive way of tying the dress in the back.

  4. Sew a line of stitching 1cm (1/2”) in from the edge (increase stitch length to 5mm (1/4”)) along the neckline curve, leaving the beginning and end threads hanging. Now hold both ends of the lower threads firmly and pull the upper threads so that the fabric gathers to a width of approx.14cm (5 ½”). Knot off the upper and lower threads and evenly distribute the ruffles thus created. After you finish the neckline the threads are pulled out again.

  5. Fold the long satin ribbon in thirds lengthwise and press. Mark in the halfway point of the ribbon and 7cm (2 ¾”) to the right and left of it. Bind the neckline curve in this area directly with the satin ribbon. Likewise, mark the centre of the neck curve. Slip the centre of the neck curve into the still-open centre of the satin ribbon and pin the curve in the marked area of the satin ribbon in place. Stitch together the entire satin ribbon, stitching the neck curve in place in it at the same time. The ends of the satin ribbons can be stitched shut, or simply knotted off.

  6. Use the hemmer foot to hem the bottom edges that are still open.

  7. Construct the colourful neckline embellishment as the mood takes you: Place scraps of fabric on the wash-away stabilizer to form thick circles. Stick the second wash-away stabilizer on top so as to produce a sort of sandwich. (The thicker you pile the fabric layers together, the sturdier the circles).

  8. Sew at whim over these “sandwich circles” with colourful threads and assorted stitches so that all of the scraps of fabric are joined together and you create a sturdy circle.

  9. Rinse the finished circles under lukewarm water to dissolve the stabilizer, and leave them to dry.

  10. Drape the different circles around the neckline however it appeals to you. Machine-stitch them to the dress at various points. Finally, embellish the colourful circles with matching beads as the fancy takes you, and you’ve got a gorgeous striking neckline of your dress.