Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Variations on a Tee #6: Classic T-Shirt Dress

Striped Tee Dress Thumbnail

Here is a recent project using my TNT t-shirt pattern (I just extended it from the lower edge); the pattern started life as a Burda, but has been extensively altered to fit me.  I bought this wonderful striped wool jersey in NYC a couple years ago for $10/yd.  I bought it to become a sweater, because I am perpetually undersupplied on winter tops.  But the problem is I like dresses more than separates!  So when I realized that I could get a dress out of this 1 1/2 yards (the fabric was incredibly wide), well there went the sweater idea.

Source: farfetch.com via Trena on Pinterest


I put myself in Rossio in Lisbon (the backdrop is a picture I took on my trip).  A much more exotic location than my bedroom where the photos were actually taken.

Stripes have been in style for several seasons now, so I am actually trendy for once.  This wool sweaterdress by Rag and Bone is $350.  It makes my semi-splurgey $10/yd wool ($15 for the 1.5 yard dress, plus a negligible amount of thread and elastic) certainly look like a bargain.


Cut Single Layer

For some reason, whenever I am cutting stripes and plaids it just can't be easy.  Either the fabric is printed slightly off grain, or you can't see the stripes/plaid from the wrong side, or something annoying.  Finally with this project, cutting was easy!  The stripes are woven in, so they are on-grain and clearly visible on both sides of the fabric.  For the back, I cut one layer, then flipped it over, lining up the stripes, and cut the other layer.  For the front and back, and was able to cut them side by side, lined up along the same stripe.  I even managed, for the first time ever, some degree of stripe matching at the sleeves.  It was very exciting.


Pin at Stripe Juncture for Matching





For some reason the photos for this project are blurry, sorry about that.

At any rate, all the careful cutting in the world doesn't help if you don't do careful sewing.  I matched up the stripes and then pinned on every black stripe, as you can see at right.  I used the walking foot to ensure I didn't distort the fabric in sewing.

The end result is amazingly perfect.  I can't tell you how proud I am of these perfectly matched stripes!

Serge Clear Elastic to Neckline
Twin Needle Stitching at Neckline













To finish the neckline I serged clear elastic to the wrong side (stretching the elastic the barest amount possible--the lowest setting on my elasticator foot is too much gathering so I did it with the regular foot), then folded the fabric over the edge of the elastic and topstitched with a twin needle.  It creates a nice, non-distracting finish.

Hat Front
The one sewn item of which I have actually been in need this winter is a slim hat that I can wear under my helmet for the bike commute. 
Too Much?
I had been shoving my velveteen beret under the helmet, but it made the helmet way too small and the strap too tight under my chin and the front was always threatening to droop over my eyes and my ears weren't quite covered.  And yet I lived with this for months!

With this project, I had enough fabric left over to make a beanie.  I drafted a pattern based on this one (I would have used it, but I don't have a printer!).  I made the hat extra long so I could have a deep enough hem for two layers of fabric on my ears and I put an elastic casing in the lower edge so the hat always stays over my ears.  It was super easy and fits under my helmet 1000 times better than my velveteen beret.  My ears have not been cold since!  (I made this in early January.)

I don't think I'll be wearing them together, however.  Although maybe I will start a new trend?  I feel like this totally could have been a thing in the 80s, but even with the endless 80s revival it's all in an ironic sort of way, not the true exuberance of the 80s, when a matching hat and dress would have been the ultimate in cool.

Front Accessorized

I have been having trouble with skirt length lately.  For a long time, I hemmed skirts right at the knee, but it isn't the most flattering length.  I have a hard time knowing how high above the knee to go that is both flattering and professional.  I hemmed this one pretty short, and haven't worn it to work.  While in the throes of this, I ran across an interesting image/article on skirt length for women--it's not fashion advice, it's about the impossible position women are put in to somehow find the perfect, non-existent line between "sexy" and "slutty."  

I started working on this on a Saturday. I had a party to go to that night and didn't even have a thought about finishing on time.  And yet, even with the stripe matching, this only took 3 hours from start to finish!  My perfectly engineered t-shirt pattern made fitting a cinch.  I blinged it up by pinning a bunch of brooches to a chain and wore a wide belt.  I felt tres chic!

All photos are here.

40 comments:

emadethis said...

So cute! Good call with the dress--I think a knit dress is going to be much more versatile than a sweater. What pattern did you use?

SEWN said...

Love this dress. Perfect in a striped knit. Great stripe matching too.

Ripple Dandelion said...

We're vibrating on the same frequency--I just made a tshirt dress too. And I'm wearing it right this minute. The stripes are adorable on you.

I too have a hard time making a separate when I have enough fabric for a dress. I think of it as the "highest and best use" for any suitable fabric. You as both a short person and a fabric wrangling fiend have mad abilities for eking a dress out of not much yardage.

Beth (SunnyGal Studio) said...

super cute dress

Joy said...

There's something so cozy about a sweater dress! I love the colors of the stripes.

Sweater dresses seem to be all the rage here (you know in Minnesota, style mecca).

Lengthening your personal t-shirt pattern seems to have worked really well.

Uta said...

Very chic! Although I love the hat even more than the dress, fabulous! I've been thinking about a wide-striped t-shirt dress, I know I'd wear it a ton.

badmomgoodmom said...

Beautifully-fitted pattern! Your hard work tweaking this TNT really paid off.

It's a great dress.

Victoria said...

Soooo cute! Love this dress!!! I want one;)

Far said...

Good looking dress! :)

soisewedthis said...

looks cute and comfy! i'm having a debate over the final hem length of the dress i'm working on. everything else is done and it's "resting" hanging up, waiting to be hemmed. i was thinking right below the knee, but maybe i should go slightly above. not sure, but i'll probably pin it and take photos.

countrygirlcouture said...

Cute dress! The article you linked to was pretty awesome. I suspect that's largely why we've become such a jeans dependent society.

Kathy said...

This is a great dress! So wearable and super flattering. The length is really good on you. My general rule of thumb (for me... a 30-something) is the busier the print the shorter the hemline will be (and usually paired with tights) ... since I often feel overwhelmed by prints/stripes when it goes below the knee on me. I'm not talking street-walker short... just respectable short :) Anyhow, I love this stripey dress!

Lisa said...

Its great, I love it...I'll take 5 of them :)

Adelaide B said...

Yeah, this is super cute. Good job on lining up the stripes! (I am usually to lazy to give it a go.)

Carole Mellin said...

I see no reason you couldn't wear this to work with the tights as shown. I think it's delightful. If you wore the matching beanie, everyone would instantly know you made the outfit. And wouldn't that be a good thing?

Little Hunting Creek said...

Super nice plus I love the idea of a matching beanie

Mary said...

oh, the stripes, the matching, the colors, and the beanie...I love all of this. Nice job! Thanks for visiting my space in the blogosphere.

eb said...

Love love love. I think this looks amazing on you. It's youthful and funky.

Kelly said...

What a great, cozy dress! The length looks perfect for this sort of dress, and I'm sure you'll get a ton of wear out of it.

Karin said...

A sweater dress is as practiical and cosy as a sweater, so why not?
Your stripe matching is *perfect*!

T. Sedai said...

Awesome! Love the stripes and the simple style is really classy. It looks fantastic with the belt too! And, I totally know what you mean about debating skirt hem length. I often feel awkward having a short skirt, but I also feel dowdy if it is too long. At least since we sew our own clothes we can make the hem length decision on our own and not be stuck with skirt lengths from the store.

MushyWear said...

This is a super cute dress! Congrats on such precise stripe matching! I also really love these colors on you!

Faye Lewis said...

There is nothing like a great tee shirt dress, and yours is wonderful. Great fit too!

Tee said...

Love the complete look with the hat!

Kyle said...

cute cute cute cute cute!! i actually love the matching hat/dress combo!! kudos on the stripe matching!!!

Kyle said...

p.s. on the wax tracing paper--it really is amazing, as it is HUGE so you place it down once (unlike those strips that you have to keep moving around) and it actually transfers the first time! and clearly too! pretty amazing!

AllisonC said...

I can see why you are proud of your stripe matching. Great dress and a simple but effective way of getting mileage from your favourite t shirt pattern. I actually like it with the matching hat, but maybe that's the 80's girl in me!

Mrs. Micawber said...

Gosh that dress looks comfortable, and it does take me right back to the 80s when my favourite dress was a striped knit one I sewed myself (with a knit tube belt worn all scrunched up around the waist).

I can remember wearing above-the-knee sweater dresses to work in the late 80s, with black hose and pumps. I think you could wear this one to work, especially with the tights.

Great stripe matching, especially that CB seam!

Kristy said...

Fantastic, I love a stripey dress. That old saying of horizontal stripes making one look wider is so so wrong, as your dress proves nicely. For hem length I always take into account how short the dress will be when sitting equally with how it looks when standing up

Valerie said...

Great dress--and i love the accessories! Brooches on a chain-who'da thought? Thanks for sharing.

catspec said...

Oh that is a great dress! The matching is fabulous. You do such nice work, and your machine has the precision for it. :) Love the stripes, and the fact that you put yourself in Lisbon - Summer weather as a backdrop is a winner!
m:)

kathy said...

Adorable. Love the brooch bling to jazz your dress up.
I have no problem with that length for work - especially with tights.

My Brave True Hero said...

I like the idea of incorporating the dress with a stripe velveteen beret. You look really cool in that!

liza jane said...

Woo, look at those matching stripes! I like the shorter length. I've noticed that I am leaning toward higher hemlines lately, too. But I definitely struggle with what is appropriate to wear to work or not as well. Love the matching beanie.

marysews said...

I really like your dress. I am wanting to get into a stripe kick, so I find this inspiring.

Sigrid said...

Lovely dress, love your styling of it.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I too have given up on separates because there are never enough tops and if you get a skirt then the top just doesn't work, blah blah blah. So, I am building up a wardrobe of dresses, cos you just put them on. Great that this has got wool in it and lovin' the beenie hat. I like co-ordinated stuff too. cheers Sally sewista

McVal said...

oh MY GOODness! Adorable!! I've got some red/white/blue striped stuff I've been wanting to do something like this with for one of my girls. I love that!

Lynneb said...

VERY cute. It looks great on you, Treena.

Lisette M said...

There's nothing better than a striped knit dress! Really love yours, and the perfect matching is superb!