Added Feb 13, 2008
Dress created from the Lydia tshirt pattern.Lydia Tshirt Modifications: I was inspired by a cute top I spotted in the Anthropologie catalog. The shirring along the neckline really caught my eye! I decided to convert the Lydia tshirt into a loose-fit dress; something that I could just toss on and not really have to think about. I chose a pretty, lightweight (and very drapey!) red jersey to make it up in. I referenced the instructions for turning the pattern into a v-neck dress; mostly for making sure I was extending the length of the pattern correctly. I based the length off of one of my favorite dresses (a cute, cotton Libertine for Target frock). I followed the directions for lengthening the pattern, and then struck out on my own for the remainder of the changes. The neckline is scooped out quite a bit; I didn’t measure how deep I cut—I just eyeballed it knowing what I am comfortable wearing. The center front edge I extended 3 1/2” out, to allow for the shirring. The back I also scooped the neckline, making sure I cute the shoulder to match the adjusted front shoulder. I measured in 2” from the center back edge, and slashed the pattern completely down the length, and spread 2”. While you could just add the additional measurement onto the CB, I felt that it would be best to spread the extra material along the neckline. After I made these changes, I made sure I smoothed all the curves. To do the shirring, (it looks like the gathering before doing English style smocking), I ran five rows of gathering stitches along the front edge. I started these approximately 5” from the CF, and spaced them roughly 3/8” – 1/2” apart. You could do more rows of smocking if you’d like (next time I want to try 7-11 rows of gathers). I gathered up all the threads at once, pulling the fabric up to about 5” of shirring. I pulled the top threads to the wrong side of the fabric and tied each off securely. I repeated these steps for the two rows of back shirring. For the neckline binding, I followed the instructions given in an article (http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00218.asp) from Threads magazine (Oct./Nov. 2007 issue). I cut two long strips of the jersey on the bias, stitched each piece to the front and back necklines (right sides together). After that I stitched the shoulder seams together, continuing the line of stitching along the bias-binding seams at the shoulder (I also stabilized the dress shoulder seams with a small strip of lightweight, mesh lace). I graded the neckline/binding seam to 1/4” all around, turned the binding to the inside, pinned along the “ditch” (seam) on the right side, and stitched-in-the-ditch along the right side. I then trimmed the excess binding along the wrong side. The sleeves were hemmed, and then flat-set into the armholes prior to sewing the side seams. This allowed for greater control over the ease of the sleeve cap, and I just stretched the armhole and cap as I stitched over areas where there was more cap fabric than armhole. I then pinned the side seams, including the sleeves, together and stitched. Trimmed the seam, and turned the hem up and did a double row of stitching. It was a really easy project; taking about 4 hours to complete (not including cutting time; I tend to be very slow and methodical when cutting stretch knits!). I think it would have gone faster had I not adjusted several design features as I went along (so I ended up taking out a few things). There are lots of variations you could do with this basic idea—my head is already swimming with possibilities! I want to try doing some decorative smocking stitches along the shirring on the front; perhaps in a contrasting color. The sleeves could be shortened, made to puffed cap-sleeves, bell sleeves, etc. Different fabric colors or patterns could be combined (I’m dreaming up a solid/pattern combination!). I really love the easy wearability of this dress; I just “test drove” it, and have to say it is the nicest dress I’ve ever worn! I basically “forgot” about it, since there was nothing to make sure stayed put, cinched or didn’t cling! lol.
If anyone is interested, I’d be happy to do a photo tutorial on how to do the shirring on jersey!!
lightweight red jersey (blend); purchased on the sale table.