Sewing a Simple T Shirt Dress
If you follow our blog you will know I need more casual day dresses in my life. Whatever the weather I'm bored of trousers and am working to redress my jeans overload. It is quite a mammoth task - I don't even have a simple T shirt dress. I mean, seriously, who doesn't have one of those?! When we sourced our awesome new range of summer fabrics I knew I could make some serious strides on my mission. This geometric jersey jumped out at me. Soft and cool with a pale mint green print it was perfect for summer.
I had a rough idea in my head of what I wanted to make. Then I stumbled across this dress in a catalogue (see image below). I thought it would be perfect for beach days, but also pottering about at my usual stomping grounds.
As always I consulted my sewing guru Angela before getting started. As always she pointed out something I wouldn't have thought about. Altering the neckline would also mean I needed to bring the shoulders in towards my neck. The slash neck design had a much wider neckline than would be necessary for a round neck.
To make sure I was happy with the new neckline I made a very quick toile of the top section of the dress in some scraps of jersey. I marked the desired neckline with my chaco pen on the toile (using a dinner plate!) and cut it out to see if I was happy with the results. I'm glad I did this because the neckline came to a point at the centre and I realised I needed to make the curve more gentle here.
Once I was happy with the results I used the toile to mark the new neckline on my pattern pieces. I added tissue paper to the pattern pieces to bring the neckline in too.
Another benefit of making the very quick toile, which literally took five minutes, was that I noticed the armholes were hanging very low. I moved them up 1" on the front and back pattern pieces by adding tissue paper before cutting my fabric.
The pattern suggested turning the neckline in and stitching it down, but I decided to make a neckband for a more professional finish. I measured the neck opening and cut a band 85-90% shorter than the opening and 1 1/2" wide. I overlocked the band together and tested it against the neckline to make sure it was slightly smaller.
It is important for a neckband in stretch fabric to be slightly smaller than the neckline so that it stretches slightly to fit and therefore lies flat rather than hanging baggy. I mean there is nothing positive about that combination of words is there?! You can see a video I made on how to do this on our YouTube channel here.
I used my overlocker to attach the neckband then turned it to the inside of the dress. To give a neat finish I used a twin needle to sew the neckband in place from the right side. I also used a twin needle to sew the hem and sleeve hems, which I folded and pressed under first. I'm always cautious of stretching knit fabrics out at the armholes and hems. To avoid this I ironed 1/2" of stretch interfacing around the hems before sewing to give them extra stability.
Rather than simply tie a drawstring round the waist of the dress Angela suggested I sew in elastic at the waist. This meant the fabric was gathered nice and evenly, unlike the ready to wear version.
I tried the dress on and tied a piece of ribbon round my waist to identify where I wanted the elastic positioned. Next I wrapped the elastic round my waist and cut a length that felt comfortable, but not too loose. I quartered the dress and the elastic to distribute the elastic evenly then stretched the elastic as I sewed to match the fabric. There is actually an elastic sewing stitch on my machine, which is effectively a three step zig zag stitch.
After all that careful preparation I was most disappointed when disaster struck. I ended up with a tangled mess of thread along the stitching line. Thankfully I was able to unpick it and try again, this time changing my stretch needle to a universal and using some softer elastic on Angela's advice. The end result was so much better and I was really pleased with how it turned out.
Finally I created a rouleau strap using my overlocker. You can see a video I made of the technique I used here. I tied it in a bow and hand sewed it at the centre front.
A very quick, simple make and something I will wear constantly throughout the summer. This dress is a most welcome addition to my wardrobe.
Have fun sewing!
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