If you’re stopping by from Noodlehead, welcome! Anna is one of my very favorite blogging friends, and I’m thrilled that she asked me to be a part of her Sewing With Knits Mondays series. I hope you’ve been following along each Monday on Anna’s blog and also Shannon from Luv In The Mommyhood’s blog - they have both shared some great tips and had some super guests joining in. No reason to be afraid of knits anymore, ladies!
existing fitted knit tank top
2-2.5 yd knit fabric (60″ wide)
2 packages 1/2″ wide elastic
1 package double fold 1/2″ wide bias tape
A Couple of Tips Before We Begin:
- I recommend checking in the “fashion fabrics” section of JoAnn or your local fabric store to find a great knit fabric. Stretch fabrics are usually found in the jersey knit section in most stores, but often nicer prints more suitable for fashion are found in other areas and mixed in with the polyester/rayon fabrics. You have to search a bit more, but it’ll be worth it if you find something you love. My fabric is 96% polyester and 4% spandex, and was a great quality. A touch of spandex makes any fabric a dream to work with.
- If you have a serger, use it! Although you’ll need a regular machine for parts of this dress, sergers make life easy when sewing with knits.
- If you don’t have a serger, no problem! Use your regular machine and a ballpoint needle (trust me, it’s important!). For seams, many newer machines have a stretch stitch option, or you can also use a long and narrow zig zag stitch to accomodate the fabric stretching. For top stitching, you can also use a long straight stitch.
- As you sew, try not to stretch the fabric, or it could result in puckers. Allow the feed dogs to guide the fabric through, and you’ll end up with nice smooth stitch lines.
- Because knit does not fray, finishing seams is not necessary.
1. Lay fabric out, right side up, and fold each selvage edge to the middle.
2. To cut our dress front and back, we’ll use an existing knit tank top. Fold the top in half, matching side seams, and place on fabric. To allow for gathering, we want our dress to be 1.5 times the width of the tank. My tank was 7″ from side seam to front fold, so I moved the tank out an extra 3.5 inches from the fabric fold.
4. Determine the width you’d like your dress at the bottom. For both maxi dresses and skirts, I like the bottom width to be around 50″-60″. Since we are cutting both the front and back pieces out of one length, if you want the bottom width larger than 60″, you’ll need extra fabric to accomodate that. Divide the width by 2 (since we’re working on a fold) and mark that, perpendicular from the hem.
5. Adding 1/2″ for seam allowance, cut around neck, underarm, and side seam of tank front. Continue on, joining up with bottom width mark. Before cutting, ensure that your dress will be wide enough at the hipline, plus a bit of ease. Since we added 50% to the width of the tank top, this should be enough to fit most hips, but it never hurts to double check :).
6. If your tank was pointed at the top like mine, trim the point to flat, to allow for the 3/4″ straps plus 1/2″ on each side (for seam allowance) to be inserted later.
7. Mark underbust (where bottom of your bra sits) on fabric, where elastic will sit under bust. If needed, you can try your tank top on to find the exact area to mark.
8. To cut back piece, fold tank top at center back, matching side seams. Adding 50% to tank back width, place tank fold parallel to fabric fold. Adding 1/2″ for seam allowance, cut around top back and side seam of tank back, as you did for front piece.
15. Flip ruffle strip over to right side of dress and gently press in place. Do not slide iron on fabric, simply steam and press using a light heat setting. Pin rufle strip to front and back of dress.
20. Fold one strap in half lengthwise and stitch raw edges together using 1/4″ seam allowance.
22. Repeat steps 20 and 21 with remaining strap.
25. Try dress on and determine back strap placement. Pin straps in place (it helps to have someone help you!).
And make some plans – you’re going out tonight!