Adding panels of an interesting fabric like lace gives even the most simply constructed dresses extra oomph. Here, Julia Claridge has doubled up jersey to give this sleeveless shift dress extra weight; if you would like to do the same, simply cut twice the amount of front/back pieces and layer when piecing the dress together. To help manage the jersey’s stretch, pin parallel to the straight grain and work in a narrow, long zig zag stitch throughout.
- Viscose/elastane jersey
- Note: amount required depends on size. A size 10 (88cm bust) used 40cm x 1.1m of lace and 85cm x 1.1m of jersey.
- The following is based on a size 10 with a desired length of 92cm, and side neck to natural waistline distance of 47cm. If the largest of the bust and waist is 88cm, measurement A is 88.
- Dress front/back: (88 ÷ 4 = 22, + 3.5* = 25.5) x (92 – 18.5^ = 73.5) 25.5cm x 73.5cm
- First cutting line in jersey: 47** – 11.5 = 35.5cm
- *Extra 3.5cm is for ease (2cm x 4 = 8cm total) and seam allowance (1.5cm)
- ** Side neck to natural waistline measurement
- ^Less 18.5cm is for three lace panels (-28cm total), but adding five seam allowances (1.5cm x 5 = 7.5) and a hem (2cm)
- Note: begin by taking your bust and waist measurements. The largest of these will be measurement A. The width of the front/back piece will be measurement B. Cut out all pieces with height measurement on the fold
- Dress front/back: cut two (divide meas. A by four, add 3.5cm = width) x (desired length minus 18.5cm^ = height) on the fold from jersey
- Neckband: cut one 4.5cm x 56cm* strip from jersey
- Top insert: cut two (meas. B = width) x 18.5cm (height) pieces on the fold from lace
- Middle insert: cut two (meas. B = width) x 8cm (height) pieces on the fold from lace
- Bottom insert: cut two (meas. B = width) x 10.5cm (height) pieces on the fold from lace
- ^ See Do The Maths panel
- *If using a fabric with less stretch, you may need to add an extra 2cm to the neckband length.
- 1.5cm seam allowance used unless otherwise stated.
1 Cut out all the pieces as indicated in the cutting guide. On your body, measure from the side neck to the natural waistline, then subtract 11.5cm from this. Measure the result down from the top of one dress piece and draw a straight line across the width to mark where the middle insert piece will be. Measure 12cm up from the bottom of the dress piece and draw another straight line to mark where the lower edge of the bottom lace piece will be. Repeat on the second dress piece, then cut the two lines to make the top, middle and bottom jersey pieces.
2 For the front neckline, fold one top insert piece in half, right sides together. Measure 14cm from the fold across the top, then 8cm down (and on) the fold, and mark both. Use a pattern ruler to join these points with a curved line and cut for the front neckline. Repeat on the second top insert piece, 14cm across but 2cm down, then cut for the back neckline.
3 Match the bottom jersey and lace pieces, right sides together, then stitch along one long edge. Repeat to join the centre and top pieces, alternating lace and jersey and ending with the front neckline lace piece, to create the dress front. Repeat with the remaining fabric for the dress back.
4 Join the dress front and back at the shoulder seams, right sides together, then neaten the seam allowance and all remaining raw edges, except the neckline. Fold the neckband in half, right sides together, then stitch across the short edge to form a ring. Using the seam as a starting point, mark the quarter and midway points along both long edges.
5 Mark the centre of the front and back necklines with a pin. Fold the neckband in half lengthways with wrong sides together. Beginning at a shoulder seam, pin it around the neckline, matching all of the raw edges and stretching the jersey so that the quarter and midway points line up. Sew the neckband in place.
6 Match and pin the side seams of the dress front and back, right sides together, ensuring that all the inserts are aligned. From the shoulder seam, measure down the amount you would like your armhole (ours is 22cm) and mark on each side. Beginning at this point, stitch the side seams. Fold in the seam allowance around each armhole and topstitch in place. Turn up a single 2cm hem and stitch.