Julie Bowersett


Blog Writing Course Alumni

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Simple T-Shirt Dresses

Last summer I made quite a few dresses.  I find dresses cool and easy to wear, with a bit more style than shorts during the warm weather months.  Being short on sewing time (always) I have been trying to start with patterns I already have fitted, changing them to create a new look.  This time I started with my favorite t-shirt pattern, The Perfect T-Shirt by Pamela's Patterns.  This shirt has a bust dart which I like as well as numerous opportunities to adjust the fit.

I began with my tried-and-true pattern.

I drew a line perpendicular to the center front at the narrowest point of the waist; you can faintly see the line on the Front pattern in the above picture.  I did the same for the Back.  I retraced the patterns above the lines, adding a seam allowance.

The upper front and back are now finished.

I then worked with the pattern section that remained below the line I had drawn at the waist.  First, I added a seam allowance above the drawn line.  I determined the skirt length that I wanted and extended the center front line to that length.  I also extended the side seam to approximately the same point.  I wanted to flare the skirt but I didn't want to add all of the volume at the side seams (this creates an unbalanced silhouette and can make the side seams appear longer than the rest of the skirt).  Instead, I drew several vertical lines up to (but not through) the seam allowance at the waist, cut along these lines and spread the cuts open to achieve the desired amount of flare.  I drew in a gently curved hem (with hem allowance). When I had all of this complete, I traced a new copy of the skirt pattern.

Here's the first dress I made from my new pattern.  I considered this a muslin, but it turned out well enough that I wear it.  It's made from 4-way cotton/spandex jersey.  I bound the neckline with a similar solid fabric.

Several other dresses followed:

This one is made from a cotton/poly slubbed jersey.

Cotton tie-dye.

The next dress began its life as two XL t-shirts that I paid $2.00 each for. 

I added a braided trim around the neckline.

The braid looks more complex than it is.  I took advantage of the fact that knit jersey will roll along the cut edge.  The braid is formed from three strips of fabric cut on the cross grain.  I allowed the edges to curl in before performing a simple three-strand braid.  The two rolled edges of each strip make it appear that the braid was formed from doubled tubes.

I had one final dress in mind but it required some additional pattern work.  I wanted to add a pleat on either side of center front on the skirt.  I determined the pleat depth and cut the pattern vertically, adding in additional pattern paper to account for the pleat.

I hope this post will inspire you to use your own t-shirt pattern to create new designs with just a little bit of simple pattern work.

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Reader Comments (7)

Thanks for the quick how-to. The dresses look very comfortable, which is exactly what we all want! How did you decide on the amount of flare to add to the skirt? Was is the same amount in both front and back?

May 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara J

Hi Julie,

The dresses are wonderful and look so comfortable. I'm wondering why you placed a seam at the waist.

To answer the above questions: I decided to put a seam at the waist for a couple of reasons. One is that an empire waisted garment suits by figure type. More importantly, it allows me to make changes to the skirt, such as adding pleats. I could, if I wanted, tape the skirt portion to the bodice portion and cut it out as one.

To determine how much flare I put into the skirt, I measured the skirt of a dress that I already own, whose circumference I like, and I used that as a target for my pattern's hem circumference. I split the amount in two and added the same to the front and back.

June 30, 2018 | Registered CommenterJulie Bowersett

It looks so comfortable!! I am happy to see this post. Thanks for sharing!!

Varun Blogger at RadioBox

March 27, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVarun Sharma

Basic and agreeable dress.. :) I like it.

June 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNeetu

Wonderful and looks so comfortable. Thanks for sharing !!
Ruchi Arora Blogger at Best Crossbow

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRuchi Arora

Wonderful and looks so comfortable. Thanks for sharing !!
Ruchi Arora Blogger at Askexpert

June 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRuchi Arora

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