Cotton + Chalk Rosie dress in jersey

Dressmaking: Everyone has certain wardrobe staples; one of mine is the jersey dress.
Everyone has a set of wardrobe staples - that is to say shapes and styles that work for them year after year. The cotton+chalk "Rosie" dress reminded me of a couple of French Connection jersey dresses that I absolutely love (and have therefore worn nearly to death).

So when I picked up this beautiful border print jersey for next-to-nothing on Goldhawk road, I thought I would see if I could come up with a jersey hack for "Rosie"...

Pretty pattern placement:

Making a garment "your own", from a commerical pattern, does not have to involve complicated, couture alterations or additions. For this dress, the fabric motif really had all the oomph: I chose to use part of the red band at the waist, to accentuate shape, and use the whole border on the sleeves and skirt hem. Taking your time to choose how you use colour and pattern will produce a really unique garment! It also raises some important points for consideration:

* Border patterns are great for placing at the hem of skirts, shorts and trousers BUT make sure you think carefully about adjusting length at the paper pattern stage, because it won't be so easy to just "remove that extra centimetre" once sewn, without removing some of your lovely print.

* Consider how your pattern will (or will not) match across seams and how it will look on very small or very large panels or pieces, as you plan your placement.

* Remember that pattern placing like this will often mean you require more fabric that is suggested on the back of the pattern pack!

* It may well be easier to cut single layers, in order to be really accurate. When cutting on a fold, it is easiest to remove the pattern paper from the first side after cutting, fold it on itself and use the cut piece as a template for the other side:

100 ways to (still) avoid serging seams...

When making my luxe tee, I was embarking on a "getting to know you" relationship with my overlocker. I am still (tentatively) comitted to this relationship, and pushed myself to use the 3-thread overlock in this project! I spent lots of time on scraps first, getting the variable feed just right:

But as someone easily imtimidated by the potential for chopping irreparable holes in a half-completed garment, I still resorted to some other great methods for finishing this knit garment without having to totally throw myself into the overlocker void:

TECHNIQUE 1: Zig-zag then lock! 

Still a favourite for a wuss like me, this gives you the chance to sew the seam in a reversible way and then commit to chopping off the allowance! I mentioned this back here too.

TECHNIQUE 2: To stretch or not to stretch?

Jersey and other knits are great because they stretch, but while you want to exploit this property around the body, there's not so much grace in super stretchy seams all over.  So I use a nearly-straight stitch (very narrow zig-zag) and bias binding on seams that are not supposed to stretch out of shape, like shoulders and bodice sides, and the garment hangs much better!

TECHNIQUE 3: Sandwich seams.

I decided to "sandwich" the lower end of the bodice between the two-layered waist panel seams with a zig zag and just grade the seam allowances. Where seam allowances are hidden between two layers like this, grading the allowances will reduce bulk and overlocking is kind of unnecessary!
Besides the above, there are a few other tweaks to consider when making this pattern from a knit, bearing in mind that it is intended for a woven:

MY HACK 1: Downsize!

Because the knit will stretch to your body shape, you need less ease that you would for a woven, so you can consider downsizing to get the dress fitting a little more snug!

MY HACK 2: Ditch the closure.

This jersey had enough stretch that I could do away with the centre back zipper and centre back seam, and just pull the dress over my head. I also chose to eliminate the centre front seam, as I really couldn't see the point in it (sorry!).

MY HACK 3: Bind with shop-bought simplicity.

This pattern came with a pattern piece for a self-bound neckline, but I wasn't that fussed about using dress fabric for something that won't show, so I went with shop-bound binding to prevent the neckline (cut on the very vulnerable bias!) from stretching out.

The key here is to use the pattern piece to measure your binding, rather than using the cut garment, and then ease the neckline along the binding carefully.

I then opened mine flat and understitched before finally turning it under and topstitching - you can see the two rows of stitching on the inside:

MY HACK 4: Easy easing.

This is a bit of a naughty corner-cutter, but with a knit I can't really be bothered to sew gathering stitches like a good girl should (e.g. on the bodice and sleeves of this pattern) - it is so easy to use the stretch of the shorter side to pin them together in one!

MY HACK 5: Big girls like pleats.

This skirt piece was quite full, so I actually reduce it a bit for my own personal preference. I also avoided gathering it evenly around the waistline, which can be a bit bulky / voluminous and can also sometimes look a bit "young" - I went with four 2cm pleats in the front and the same in the back. I always think subtle pleats allow a skirt a bit of volume while still looking really grown up. It worked particularly well because the pleats just disappear into the small pattern - avoid this if you have a particularly large or stand-out motif!

Et voilĂ !


  1. I love what you did with this pattern! I have it too, and never contemplated using a knit for it instead of a woven. I definitely want to try that!