Sewing Jalie 3903 - a Simple Knit Shift Dress

Hello again, I hope you all had a wonderful time over Christmas and New Year? I have quite a backlog of sewing projects to share with you and thought I'd get started with this Jalie knit shift dress. Comfortable and easy to wear it was versatile enough to fit the bill for Christmas day with all the family and a Pearl Jam tribute gig, what a winner!

Sewing Pattern and Fabric

I saw a grey leopard print funnel neck dress in one of my favourite High Street shops, Warehouse, a while back and was struggling to find a suitable pattern then I spotted Jalie 3903 - it was perfect.

Pattern, fabric and inspiration

A simple knit shift dress or Tshirt pattern with long or short sleeved options and three options for the neckline - funnel, banded or hemmed. It also has bust darts for a great fit.

The funnel neck, simple shift dress silhouette and knit fabric make it such an easy style to wear and it ticks the 'I need to dress up without feeling over dressed' box very nicely.

I chose our grey leopard print jersey fabric and chose to line it with our John Kaldor black stretch lining to give it a bit of extra weight and body. When I wore the dress with tights I found it was clinging due to static, but used some anti static spray and it worked like magic.

The fabric has a lovely silky handle, which makes it feel luxurious and special.

View B

Adjustment and Sizing

I made a straight size S, which was pretty much bang on my body measurements.

I made my usual high round back and forward shoulder adjustments, which you can see here.

View 1

Indie patterns are often quite scant in terms of the shoulder seam length on me so I lengthened the shoulder seam. I traced the curve between the armhole notch and shoulder seam then pivoted out 1/4" from the notch on the front and back. This way the armhole shape and size didn't change, but the shoulder seams were lengthened.

I also raised the bust darts because they were too low, although this is also a common fitting issue for me. You can see how to do this here.

Sewing Jalie 3903 bust darts


The construction of this dress is so simple and easy. The most challenging aspect for a beginner would probably be sewing the neckband, but you could always tack it in place first if you are scared of making a mistake.

It is worth mentioning that a knit neckband should always be shorter than the neckline by about 10 - 15% so that you have to stretch it to fit as you sew. This is because this draws the fabric in so the neckband sits nice and flat against your body. If the two pieces of fabric are the same size things can end up loose and baggy.

With a funnel or turtleneck I always like to test the fit before attaching it to the neckline too. I sew the neckband up and then try it on. Often they are looser and bigger than I would like and I'm able to gradually shorten them until I'm happy with the fit and I used this approach with this dress.

I also ironed some stretch interfacing onto the wrong side of the neckband fabric to give it a bit of extra stability and am really pleased with the results.

Sewing Jalie 3903 Nicole dress pattern funnel neck

In terms of the lining I attached it to the neckline and armholes and left the side seams loose so it would hang properly.

One slight sticking point for me was that the seam allowances are 1/4", which I never really like to work with. I'd rather have a little more room for manoeuvre and error! If I made the dress again I would increase the seam allowances to 3/8".

Final Thoughts

Sewing the Jalie 3903 Nicole dress sewing pattern

This is a great dress to wear and make - easy in both respects.

Having worn the dress again I'm still not quite sure I've got the fit right round the armhole area and while I need to add width at the back of my armhole perhaps I need to reduce the width at the front because I'm narrower there.

This approach has worked well on other dresses where I am experiencing a drag line from my armpit up to the shoulder, which I have noticed on this dress having worn it a few times now.

I am nit picking here and I still love this dress and wearing it.

Shopping List

Have fun sewing!


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