Do you remember ages ago when I showed you how to make this DIY jersey dress (more pictures here)? Then I showed you how to make a pattern from the dress here, so you can make more dresses quickly and easily. The great thing about basic patterns is that they can then be easily customised to make a variety of different styles. Today I’m going to show you how to make a contrast yoke variation of this basic jersey dress. It’s really simple to do, but you will need to refer to my earlier posts for making the initial dress and pattern.
To make this version you will need stretchy jersey fabric. How much you will need will depend on your size and how long you make this dress. Generally speaking, getting twice the length of the finished dress plus a bit extra for hems should be plenty. You will also need approximately 0.5 m (1/2 yd) of a stretchy jersey in a contrast colour or pattern. For best results, use a contrast fabric that is of similar weight and stretchiness to your main fabric. You will also need a sewing machine (an overlocker is helpful, but not essential) and general sewing supplies.
Start with the pattern for your basic jersey dress (using this easy tutorial to make your pattern). Measure 18 cm (7″) from the shoulder line towards the front of the dress and rule a line at this point across the front. Measure 18 cm (7″) from the shoulder line towards the back of the dress and rule a line at this point across the back. Trace off this middle section, which is called a yoke, onto a new piece of paper and add 6 mm (1/4″) seam allowance along the two straight edges (where the yoke will join to the front and back of the dress). As the front and back of the dress are the same, and the yoke length on the front and back is the same, you can trace off the remainder of the dress (front or back) and use that one pattern piece for both the front and back. Just remember to add 6 mm (1/4″) seam allowance to the top straight edge, which is where you join the yoke.
So now you have two pattern pieces, the main dress and the yoke. Cut out two of the main dress pattern from your main fabric. When you’re cutting out, make sure you pin the pattern to the material carefully. Make sure the fabric is not stretched or spilling off your table as you cut it, otherwise it may warp and not be cut accurately. Also make sure the selvedge is parallel to the grain-line, this ensures the dress will hang nicely and the fabric is stretchiest around the width of the body. Pin the yoke piece to your contrast fabric and cut it out. You will only need to cut out one yoke. Again, make sure the stretch goes across the yoke rather than up and down.
Pin the main dress pieces to the yoke along the straight edges, with the right sides of the fabric facing together. Stitch using an overlocker, or using a stretch stitch (a shallow zig-zag stitch) on your normal sewing machine. Iron the seams flat, pressing the seam allowance down towards the main part of the dress.
Fold the dress in half at the shoulders, with the right sides of the fabric facing together, so the side seams line up. Pin the side seams together and then sew, again using either an overlocker or zig-zag stitch. The reason you shouldn’t use a normal straight stitch is that it won’t stretch with the fabric and the thread may snap when the dress stretches with wear. Now is a good time to try on your dress and make any adjustments to the side seams, if necessary. If you’re happy with the fit, iron the seams flat, pressing the seam allowance towards the back of the dress.
Fold in the armhole edge by 1 cm (3/8″), pin in place and sew with a zig-zag stitch.
Around the neckline, fold over a few millimetres (1/8″) and stitch, again using a zig-zag stitch. Gently iron the armhole and neck edges.
Check that you’re happy with the length of your dress and shorten if necessary. If you have an overlocker, use it to neaten the raw edge of the hem. Fold up the hem by 2.5 cm (1″), pin and iron flat before sewing in place with a zig-zag stitch. Iron your dress again and it’s all finished!
This dress is making me happy because I can layer it for the cool weather we’re currently experiencing so it’s helping to pull me out of my annual winter jeans rut. I can’t wait to wear this dress simply with sandals and some bold bracelets in summer, too.
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