Handmade Jersey Dress


A few things I’ve learned this last week:

  • I love working with Jersey
  • Jersey & the catch stitch = best friends for hemlines
  • I’ve fallen head-over-heels in love with Swedish Tracing Paper*
  • I’m totally sold on making cheap mock-ups when working on a pattern
  • I need to store my scissors WAAAAY higher than I have them currently

The plan was to make a knee-length knit jersey dress with dolman sleeves, the bodice on the bias, an elastic waistline (using method from P’s most recent refashion) with mid-length sleeves. My plan was hugely thwarted when Penelope found access (who knows how) to my scissors & massacred a good portion of my fabric. I knew the bias was completely out, but hopeful that I had enough room for a regular top. BARELY! I had to adjust the neckline & couldn’t get as long a sleeve all due to some poorly placed gashes. Now I know I need to store my scissors on a stand-alone shelf at least 7 feet off the ground. Currently they’re only 5 feet off the ground.

Also, I need to order more than one yard of fabric if I’m planning on making a dress. I’m sure I would have had I had the above vision when I bought the fabric.

With the restrictions I already had, I decided that I needed to be meticulous in my planning. Using my refashioned dolman top as a starting point, I traced the outline onto the Swedish Tracing Paper that Pamela gave me* at Sewing Summit. She told me that this stuff was awesome. It really is. I’ve used Glassine in the past, but this stuff is WAY better.

Once I got a pattern that I was pretty happy with, I was tempted to just get going on my dress, but I was smart & held back. I got out a similar jersey from my stash – I found this at JoAnn’s in their scraps pile for like $2 – and whipped up a top. Thank goodness I did! I found the sleeves were too tight for the look I wanted & the body was much too loose, too. I made the adjustments on the top (besides the arms) and then translated it onto a new pattern piece. Click here to see more of the above outfit.

From there I cut out my skirt & bodice pieces & sewed them together. I used the same technique for gathering & attaching the gathered skirt as I did with Penelope’s granny polo dress. It was perfect. Again! The waist is a bit loose for wearing without a belt, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. If you look closely you can tell that I hadn’t hemmed the sleeves or the bottom of the dress when I took this picture. Daylight was running out yesterday, so I thought I’d grab a quick pic. I spent last night vegging & hemming. I’m wearing this outfit today, so check out the fashion blog for the rest of the outfit details.

My new dress turned out fantastic! It’s definitely bright & cheery enough for Spring & Summer, but I think it’s also easily styled into a fall ensemble. Just add more browns & neutrals to the dress. It’s light & airy so I know this will become a staple in my wardrobe during those hot summer months!

*Swedish Tracing Paper was given to me as a gift from NearSea Naturals at Sewing Summit. I just so happened to love it!

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    1. Bobby says:

      Totally looks comfortable! Great job

    2. Emily says:

      LOVE your dress!!! :) You did a fantastic job. :) Guess I better lock up my scissors.

    3. anna says:

      so pretty! i love them both, you look fabulous! and yes, those darn scissors, maybe you’ll have to duct tape them to the ceiling? :)

    4. nikki says:

      ooh, make one for me!

    5. pamela says:

      Whoa!! You look fantastic. It you are owning that dress.

    6. Christy says:

      I’m very impressed with that dress. It looks great on you! And I love the fabric you used for that top.

    7. WOW! I need to start sewing again. You inspire me with your knit awesomeness. And oh yes maybe you should tape your sissors to the wall….

    8. Summer says:

      Just found your blog. A note to say that jersey (or any knit) doesn’t behave like wovens on the bias. Jersey has a great deal of horizontal stretch, usually little or no vertical stretch, and a bit of bias give. You can use knits on the bias for a different appearance but they won’t drape nicely like wovens. For that just use them on the straight grain!

    9. […] used the pattern I created for last year’s summer dress for drafting the top. It’s really helpful to keep paper drafts of projects you’ve […]

    10. […] This new top is now going to be in tight rotation this summer! Here I’m layering it with a dress I made last year.  […]

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