From Stitch Savvy, 25 skill-building projects to take your sewing technique to the next level by Deborah Moebes
I came up with this dress when my daughters were itty bitties. I was so bummed every time they out-grew something I’d made with hoarded fabric—once they were too big to wear it, I was forced to pack it away and lost the chance to look at the prints I love so much! Step one: Make it reversible, so I can use two fabrics at the same time (and so we always have a spare outfit near at hand for random food incidents). Step two: Make it adjustable with tie straps that really tie, so the dress can be raised and lowered at the underarm as she grows, giving her the chance to wear it as a dress to start, as a tunic later and as a swing top before it gets retired. I’m all about making the good stuff last just a little bit longer.
You Will Need:
- 1-13?4 yd (0.91-1.6 m) cotton fabric for the dress
- 1-13?4 yd (0.91-1.6 m) cotton fabric for the lining/reverse
Cut the Pattern
This dress is a very simple one, but its success hinges largely on good cutting.
Seam allowance: 1.6cm (5/8″)
1. ARRANGE PATTERN ON FABRICS
Fold both your fabrics in half (as shown). Lay the pattern pieces on
top (being sure to match the fold line on the pattern with the folds
on the fabric) and cut them out.
I like to lay out one fabric, then lay the other directly on top of
it, and cut both the outer dress and the lining/reverse at the same
time. For the largest size of this pattern, you won’t be able to fi t the
pattern on with the fabric folded this way; instead, fold the fabric with
selvages together and cut each piece on the fold.
2. CUT CURVES CAREFULLY
The curves at the straps are pretty tight, so when you reach them,
take care cutting them out to preserve as much of them as you can.
Consider using super small scissors to do just this one section
3. PIN OUTER DRESS AND LINING
Place the lining and outer dresses right sides together, matching
side seams, notches and keeping raw edges even. Pin to secure
all the way around the upper edge, including the straps and curved
neckline. Use plenty of pins if you need to—remember, pins are not
about rules; pins are about confidence, and you ought to use as
many or as few as you need to make you feel good about the results
4. STITCH TOGETHER
Sew the side seams first before joining each piece. Stitch all the way around the upper edge, including the front and
back necklines and the straps. Do not stitch the bottom hem (this is
how you’ll turn the dress right-side out later).
Take care to stitch slowly on the curves—if they’re really giving
you a tough time, try shortening your stitch length to allow you a little
more control as you round those strap ends. A sketchy or jagged
seam here will show right at the top of the garment where it’s the
most obvious, so if I were going to rush through any part of this
project, here would not be the place. Take your time with the straps
and they will reward you!
5. CLIP CURVES AND TRIM SEAM ALLOWANCE
Clip the curves on the neckline seam allowance (up to but not
through the stitches). Trim the seam allowance on each strap to a
scant 1?4″ (6.4mm). This will keep the curves nice and defined as you
flip the dress right-side out—if you turn the whole thing and find a
big lumpy blob, go back and make more clips closer together and
trim just a bit more.
6. TURN RIGHT-SIDE OUT AND PRESS
Turn right-side out through the open hem, using a knitting needle
to get really clean curves on the strap ends. Press, press, press. Use
steam. Force those straps into submission.
Hem a Reversible
The hem is the real key in keeping this dress totally reversible: no part of the fabric from one side can peek below the
hemline on the other. This dress doesn’t have to be truly reversible—if you want, the reverse side can simply be a lining.
But really, why line it when you can just get two dresses for the work it takes to make one?
1. PRESS LOWER EDGES UNDER
Begin by pulling the lining away from the outer dress, and
pressing under 1?2″ (1.3cm) on the lower edge of the outer
dress. Do the same on the lower edge of the lining.
2. PIN HEMLINE IN PLACE
Place the two folded edges together at the hemline. At the
side seams, give a gentle tug to make sure there is no slack,
then pin at the lower edge, taking care to keep the two folded
edges even. Forcing them to be even when they aren’t pressed
to the same depth will make puckers and bulges in the rest
of the dress, so take care with this step—it will make all the
difference in the end.
Continue in this manner all the way around the hemline,
and re-press any edges that want to escape your rigorous
checking. Pin the edges in place.
3. STITCH THE HEM
After the entire hemline is pinned, stitch the hem 1?4″ (6.4mm)
from the lower edge.
4. TOPSTITCH NECKLINE AND STRAPS
In the same way that you hemmed the lower edge, let’s
topstitch around the upper edge. Sew 1?4″ (6.4mm) from the
edge all the way around the neckline and straps, backstitching
when you return to where you began. Not only does this
secure the seam allowances on the inside of the dress and
keep them from getting lumpy when we launder it, topstitching
here will keep the look of the garment consistent. (When you
reach the straps, you might need to get closer to the edges
than ¼” (6.4mm)—this is totally fine, just be consistent!)
To hold the dress up, tie knots. To make the best knot, one that will
lie fl at when tied and not rotate around, tie the knot fi rst with right
tie over left, then the second knot with left over right. This will help
your “ears” to point straight!
Try This, Too!
One of my favorite ways to mix this dress up is to simply catch a little rickrack in the hemline as I stitch it. You’ll see the waves of the trim peeking out at the lower edge of the dress on both sides, so choose a color that works with
both your fabrics. Consider using appliqué, embroidery or pockets on one or both sides to spice up versions of this dress—no kidding, my girls wear them all year long, over almost anything, and I can’t get enough of them in their closets.
About The Book
Deborah Moebes, author of the bestselling Stitch By Stitch, “personalises” the instruction by allowing you to determine your own progression. There are four methods to learning from this book: You can pick a “track” (Garment Sewing, Bag Making, Home Décor, Patchwork, Sewing for Kids) and work from the tier 1 project all the way to the tier 5; or, you can do all five tier 1 projects in the book, then all the tier 2, etc.; or, you can follow prompts at the end of each project that will guide you to similar projects in the book… or you can just sew the projects you like best! The book includes a CD-ROM full of templates patterns and extras. Furthermore, the lay-flat binding lets you keep your hands free for sewing.