hemlock tee dress

i was at joann fabrics recently, checking out their knits. nowadays they have a decent selection of rayon jersey that is so very soft and has a nice drape. even though i’m turned off by the exorbitant price, they’re either on sale perpetually or i can use a coupon to soften the blow. i was looking for fabric to make a tunic-length hemlock tee (the super popular FREE hemlock tee pattern), and picked up this cute floral print. i couldn’t pass up this fabric because it has all my favorite things—floral print, navy, red, and green. after thinking about it for a bit, i decided the print would be better suited to a dress, and here it is!

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instead of just cutting and lengthening the hemlock pattern willy nilly, i went and traced out a proper hemlock tee dress pattern. go me! this loose but still cute silhouette should really be my go-to. the volume on top helps to balance my hips, or something. i don’t know, i just really like it on me. plus, in a knit i think it qualifies as secret pajamas, doncha think?

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HOW TO MAKE A HEMLOCK TEE DRESS

depending on how long you want the skirt, you will need 1 3/4 yd fabric (one and a half, if you’re particularly thrifty), and some 1/4″ elastic.

i’m a big fan of building in an elastic casing to the waist seam, so i did some fancy maths (stood in front of the mirror with a tape measure…) and made my best guess about how long to make the bodice. i wanted it to hit 1″ below my natural waist, and blouse slightly. cutting straight across for the bodice usually means that you end up with either some pulling at the bust, or excess volume at the sides. to avoid this, i curved the front waist line down by 1″. if you are especially busty, you may need more length. from the shoulder point at the neckline to the bottom of the bodice should be about 18″ in the front, 17″ in the back. this includes the extra SA for the elastic casing. (note: neither my pattern piece below nor the dress i’m wearing are this exact length. after making it once i determined that 18″ would be the perfect length for me.)

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i also wanted the bust to be more fitted, so i curved the side seam in by 1″ (removing 4″ total) and flared back out to the original side seam at the waist. while doing this, i raised the height of the underarm seam to reduce side boob flashing. i have spindly arms and frequently shorten armhole depth.

since i added in the extra bodice length for the bust, i simply cut a rectangle for the skirt portion. i didn’t want anything overly gathered, so i went with a width slightly more than 1 1/2 times my waist measure. for reference: my waist is 30″ on a bad day, so i needed at least 45″ in skirt width. i cut each skirt piece 24″ wide by 22″ long, which (minus 1″ for 1/4″ SA) gives me a finished skirt width of 47″. this ends up being a couple inches wider than the waist seam on the bodice, but i was able to stretch them to fit when i sewed top and bottom together.

construction is very simple:

  • sew one shoulder seam
  • attach neck binding
  • sew remaining shoulder seam
  • turn 3/4″ hem for the sleeves and topstitch
  • sew bodice side seams and tack SA to the back at the armhole
  • sew skirt side seams
  • attach bodice and skirt with a 3/4″ SA. finish raw edge
  • press SA up and topstitch 1/2″ from seam line, leaving an opening to insert elastic
  • insert elastic and adjust to fit. topstitch opening
  • hem skirt

i love this dress so much, that i already have fabric for another version. since it barely takes more time than a tee shirt, it’s a great one day project. if anyone gives this a shot let me know—i’d love to see it!

lisa g.

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