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.

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.


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