My older sister once had a roommate who used to complain to everyone about her hourglass figure, and how hard it was to find clothes that fit because her waist was just so small in comparison to her hips and bust. Well . . . I don’t have that problem. The older I get the more my waist just kind of disappears – maybe it’s gone to the same place all those missing sock matches go. Anyway, I don’t want to do anything crazy to get my waist back, like exercising or giving up ice cream (heaven forbid), so I decided to try to fake it instead by changing up the direction of the stripes on my new tee shirt dress.
You’re amazed, I know. Look at that hourglass figure!
No? Ok, maybe not quite a magical transformation, but still a kinda cute dress, right? It feels a little retro to me so I wore it with the dark red lipstick that I bought and can’t decide whether I’m keeping or not. I tried to layer it on a little lighter this time because it feels so dark to me. Thoughts?
Anyhoo, about the dress. I used my Classic Tee pattern to make a midi length dress (just like I did with this one), but I sliced it up a bit so I could get stripes going different ways – side to side on the skirt, up and down on the back bodice, and both side to side AND up and down on the front bodice. That’s the part that’s supposed to make me look magically skinny, if you couldn’t tell 😉
You’re going to need 2 yards of knit (stretchy) fabric for this dress, although if you’re careful you might be able to get away with 1.5 yards. You want to use fabric that has 4-way stretch for this dress. Make sure you wash and dry the fabric before you begin. You’ll also need my Classic Tee pattern, which you can download by clicking here. Print out the pattern at 100% or full size, and ensure the grey test squares measure exactly 1 inch. Butt the pages together and tape them without overlapping. It looks like this:
If you haven’t made this tee shirt before, you may want to sew one up before trying this dress. Refer to the Classic Tee post for full instructions.
To make this dress, I sliced up the bodice pattern. First, I cut all the way across the bodice on the arrowed line under the word “stretch”. This is about at the natural waist. Then I used the top half of the pattern to cut out one bodice piece with the stripes going up and down, for the back bodice.
Then I sliced the pattern up again, this time for the front bodice, as shown below.
I cut the center portion of the pattern with stripes going side to side (adding 1/2 an inch seam allowance along the edge where I sliced the pattern). Then I cut the sides of the pattern with the stripes going up and down (again adding 1/2 inch seam allowance along the edge where the pattern was sliced). So the bodice pieces look like this:
Then I used the bottom half of the bodice pattern to cut two skirt pieces, as shown below. I angled the side seam out as I cut. The skirt pieces are about 26 inches long on the sides, and 28 inches long at the fold.
Finally, I cut short sleeves as shown on the pattern.
To begin, I pieced the front bodice back together, as shown below.
Once the front bodice is sewn together, it looks like this:
Then I sewed up the top of the dress, following the instructions in the Classic Tee post. That gave me the top of my dress:
Then I sewed the two skirt pieces together along the side seams, so I had a top and a skirt:
I turned the skirt inside out and slid the top inside it, matched up the waistline of both pieces, then pinned and sewed. I used a 1 inch seam allowance sewing the top and skirt together. You also need to use a stitch that will have some stretch, like a stretch stitch or a narrow zigzag. I actually used a straight stitch, but stretched the fabric a bit as I sewed.
Once the top and skirt are sewn together, turn the entire dress inside out and press the seam allowance up. Then sew the seam allowance to the top of the dress, just over 1/2 an inch from the first seam, to create a casing for elastic. Be sure to leave a 2 inch opening along this seam so you’ll be able to thread elastic through the casing.
Then you can thread 1/2 inch elastic through the casing to gather in the waistline. Pull the elastic as tight as is comfortable, then sew the elastic to itself, and then sew the opening you left closed. At this point the basic construction of the dress is finished.
Now you just need to hem the sleeves and bottom of the dress and finish the neckline. Instead of my usual method of adding a neckbinding, I just turned the neckline under about 1/2 an inch and pressed and pinned. Then I layered some pretty elastic over the neckline and sewed it on using a double needle, gently stretching the elastic as I sewed.
Finally, I made a small bow with white ribbon and sewed it at the waist.
And done! This dress took a little more work than most things I sew, but hey, it’s good to not be such a lazy sewist now and again, right?