Today I’m gonna channel my inner Sofia Petrillo to tell you a story…
Picture it. Akron. 2016. It was a beautiful spring day. I actually showered, did my hair, and put on a t-shirt dress. Not fancy, but definitely a step up from sweats. I felt cute. Put together.
I went about my morning, doing this and that, and I descended the stairs to the basement to do laundry. And somehow, I have no idea how, I accidentally got bleach on my dress. My t-shirt dress. Again, not fancy, but the perfect-fitting, comfy, wonderful t-shirt dress of my dreams. Ruined.
Yes, I could go out and buy a new one. But I looked and they didn’t have them any more. So I decided that I needed to make a clone. And that’s just what I did. So today I’m sharing my tutorial for how I made it. The pattern is based off of my original dress which is a size large. If you’re a different size you could use the pattern as a guide and adjust using something that fits you.
You can get my t-shirt dress pattern here. Please bear a couple things in mind:
- I’m not a professional pattern-maker. This is my amateur attempt and as such it’s a little rough around the edges. It worked for me (so far I’ve made 2 dresses) so I’m sharing it in the hopes that it might help you too.
- Each page has a little 1 inch square on it. Print a the first page as a test to make sure that that square comes out correctly. If it does not come out correctly then you will need to adjust your printer settings.
You will need:
- my t-shirt dress pattern
- 1.5-2 yards of knit fabric (jersey will drape a little more nicely but interlock will be a little easier to work with, especially if you are new to knits)
- ballpoint needle
- sewing machine (this is what I use)
- optional things that might make it easier/ look better (walking foot, double ballpoint needle)
Here’s how I made it:
Step 1- Print the pattern out. Again, do a test page and make sure that the square is 1 inch by 1 inch. Lay out all the pages. Page 1 is on top, then page 2 goes below that, then page 3 goes below that. Page 4A goes below Page 3, and page 4B goes next to it. Page 5A goes below 4A and page 5B goes right next to it.
Step 2- Tape the pages together and trim off the excess paper. Generally speaking the lines align… but not totally. Again, please keep in mind I’m an amateur and it’s a free pattern. I did my best but it’s not totally perfect.
Step 3- Lay out your fabric. Fold over from one selvedge edge toward the middle. Fold it just far enough over to be as wide as the pattern. Lay down the pattern pieces on top so that the side that says fold is on the fold. The line of my pattern is not totally straight (sorry!). What I did was have my pattern touch at the top and bottom of the pattern, so there’s a little fabric showing to the left of the pattern. The end result was totally fine so I did not change anything around. Also, I did not make a pocket for my dress but I included a pattern piece for a square that I thought would be an appropriate size for a pocket if you wish to make one. Make sure you lay your pattern pieces out so that the stretch is going across your body horizontally.
Step 4- Use the pattern pieces to cut out the fabric. Make sure that your main body of your dress (the big piece!) and the sleeve piece are both on the fold when you cut. Once you have cut out the back of your dress and one sleeve move to the other side of your fabric. Fold it toward the middle just enough to be a little wider than your pattern piece. Trim the neckline of your main dress pattern piece so that this time you will be cutting out the front of the dress. Again, make sure side marked fold is against the fold of your fabric. Also, if you are making a dress out of a striped fabric like I did then be sure to line up your pattern piece on the fabric so your stripes will line up when they meet on the side of the dress.
Step 5- Last cutting. Using the piece of paper that you cut off of the neck of the dress cut out two pieces of fabric to line the neckline of the dress on the inside. Trace along the neckline and cut a piece that’s about 2 inches thick. Do this for the front neckline and the black.
Step 6- Sewing. Finally. Lay the front and back of the dress one on top of the other, with the right sides together. Pin and sew across the shoulders, sewing about 1/2 inch from the edge. To make things easier/better you should use a ballpoint needle and a zigzag stitch or a stretch stitch. I did not use my walking foot on the dresses I made, but I should have. This wasn’t an issue as much with the dress I sewed out of the interlock but the jersey stretched a little more. Next time I will definitely use it.
Step 7- Turn the dress right side out. Lay the sleeve piece down on top of the dress with the right side down. Try to center the sleeve onto the seam at the shoulder. Pin the sleeves on. Start pinning in the middle and work your way around the sleeve. Then sew the sleeve on sewing 1/2 inch from the edge. You will notice that the sleeves are a little bit bigger than the dress. You will have a little bit of fabric sticking over the sides in the armpit area. Don’t worry, we will trim this off later.
Step 8- Turn the dress inside out so that the right sides are facing. Pin the dress together all along the sides. Sew along the sides, sewing about 1/2 inch from the edge. Trim that little bit that was sticking out from the sleeve pieces.
Step 9- Turn the dress right side out. Take the two neckline lining pieces that you cut out and sew them together. Lay them on top of the dress with the right side down. Try to line up the seams with the seams on the neckline. Pin and sew the lining pieces to the neckline of the dress, sewing about 1/2 inch from the edge. Once you finished sewing, take the pins out, tuck the lining in, and then top sew around the edge of the neckline. I sewed it a little bit closer than 1/2 inch from the edge.
Step 10- Turn the dress inside out. Fold up the hemline on the bottom of the dress to the length that you want pin, and sew. Do the same for the sleeves. I used a straight stitch to topstitch these areas and you can see how it stretched. It would not have done this if I had used my walking foot, so I definitely recommend using it. I will be using mine next time, just as soon as I can figure out where I put it. Using a double ballpoint needle would also look really nice on these areas that you topstitch. After sewing these hems trim away any excess on the inside of the sleeve hems, bottom hemline, and neckline.