Friday, August 26, 2011

Make a T-Shirt Dress...You already have a pattern!

Remember at the end of last Friday’s post when I ask you to find an old t-shirt that fits you nicely? Well, here is the post you have been preparing for. 

As you can see I will somehow use an old t-shirt from my closet to create a very trendy, very comfy, and very flattering maxi t-shirt dress. I wanted to post this all summer, but had not had the chance. So, not to waste any more time, let’s get started. 

You will need: 
  • 2 Yards stretch jersey knit fabric 
  • Well fitting t-shirt 
  • Scissors 
  • Sewing machine 
  • Thread 
  • Measuring tape 
First I want to talk about the fabric. The stretch jersey knit is the most common fabric for these t-shirt dresses. If you do not know what I am talking about go to any local women’s store and feel either a t-shirt dress or most any t-shirt. Most of them will be made from something like a 98% polyester and 2% Lycra blend or Rayon or a 97% Cotton and 3% Lycra blend. Unless you have an allergy to or an extreme distaste for a certain fiber the components of the fabric are less important than the weave. You must use a knit fabric or you will be making yourself a short-sleeved clergy robe. 

I used less than two yards because I am shorter than the average fifth-grader. Two yards should be a sufficient length if you are 5’ 11’’ or less. Now I need to address fabric width. Most likely the widest part of your body will be your hips. If so, measure around you hips at their largest circumference and divide that by two. It is possible that your widest point could be your shoulders, but remember that I am not talking about measuring your shoulders from the outer sides of your arms...measure the distance between your shoulder to sleeve seams. Okay, you have established your widest seam to seam measurement now add three inches to that width. Double it. Assume you need 10 plus inches of fabric for the sleeves and this will give you your smallest potential fabric width. For example, 18 inches (seam to seam widest point or 1/2 widest circumference) + 3 inches= 21 multiply x 2= 42 + 12 inches (for sleeves)= 54 inch wide fabric. Make sense? If you cannot find fabric this wide get an extra half yard for the sleeves. 

I chose a striped fabric. was the fabric I already had, but additionally, stripes are you would know if you have been reading my blog. My small frame cannot carry a full length of heavy stripes nearly as well as a tall person. The stripe width variance helps keep your eye moving even though the stripes are horizontal. Who says you even need to use a striped fabric at all? I love to help people with guides on fashion trends, but ultimately, what is in is what looks and fits you best. You can deck yourself out in the seasons hottest colors, styles, and brands, but if you just cannot wear red high-waisted tapered tribal print cigarette pants, well...don’t! That trend may work for someone else. You are in charge of the end result when you make something yourself. Find a fabric that feels good to you, looks good on you, and still consider colors that are fashionable, but just use a knit! 

Now that you have your fabric let’s really get started. 

Cut the serged edges off of your t-shirt. 

After removing each sleeve mark (F) front or (B) back on your pattern. 

This is what you should be left with after removing all serged edges. This is your pattern. 

I want to mention something before you begin cutting. I liked the fit of this shirt, but it was slightly big on me. Therefore, I really did not leave seam allowances. By not adding seam allowances the dress would be taken in slightly without having to alter my pattern. If this shirt fits you perfectly add 1/2 all the way around your pattern (except the bottom t-shirt hem) to keep the fit the same. 

If your shirt is not long enough to reach your hips widest point you will need to measure down to where your widest point would be located and mark your measurement. To find this measurement, hold the t-shirt front to the shoulder seams of whatever you are wearing. Use a tape measure to measure at what length your widest point will fall. Measure from your pattern to that point on your fabric. From the center measure out half of your widest measurement on either side. 

I used a skirt as a guide. This is not necessary, but helpful. If you do not have a skirt mark the length of the bottom hem of your dress. Say your widest hip measurement was 18” (remember it is halved). Add two inches = 20. The hem line should equal 20 inches across for your dress to hang straight. Use a straight edge and draw slight diagonal line from your widest hip width to the hem. This is where the extra three inches come from: two 1/2" seam allowances and 1 inch added to each side of the hem width.

To ensure your curves on each side of your dress match perfectly cut one half and then fold it in half to cut the other. See below. 

To ensure the front skirt and back skirt are the same lay the cut (dress back) fabric over the t-shirt front, matching the shoulder seams. Fold the top of the dress back down to cut the front dress top. Use the cut piece as your guide for the front skirt. 

To limit confusion with a small piece of soap, mark (on the inside) your (F) front and (B) back, same goes for the sleeves. 

Cut the sleeves. Remember to add seam allowances as needed. 

Pin the right (fabric face) sides together at the shoulders. 

Sew the shoulders together. 

Pin right sides of sleeves to the armseye. I find the best way to do this is to pin the center to the shoulder seams and each end to the shirt body (armpit area) and then manipulate the fabric in between. Sew the sleeves to the bodice. 

You will need to cut an inch strip from your fabric. The length will be determined by measuring the length around the neckline. You will fold the strip in dog style and sew right sides together with the folded edge facing toward the neck. 

Now that you have sewn a finished edge to the neckline, top stitch onto the bodice side while catching the cut ends of the neckline on the underside. This will keep the neckline laying flat and all of the jagged ends turned under. 

Pin your sides together from the arms eye to the bottom hem. 

Turn 1/4” - 1/2” fabric allowance under and sew to finish the sleeves. Do the same to finish the hem. 

Fold your t-shirt remnants in a bag labeled t-shirt pattern and the size. Now you will have a pattern the next time you want to make a dress or a t-shirt. 

Voila! As comfortable and simple as this cute dress is you might want to make one in every color.

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