In this post, Simple Sew blogger, Bea shares her Classic Sweatshirt hack. Find out how she modified this sweater into a gorgeous dress!
Somehow we’ve got to the autumn. How did that happen? My sewjo usually takes a nosedive at this time of the year, but actually I’m feeling inspired by the idea of cosy winter makes.
I decided to go for the Classic Sweatshirt pattern, as something snuggly and comfortable. For inspiration, I often look back over the Simple Sew blog archives to see who has made the pattern before, and whether I can demonstrate doing something different with it. I could see that everyone before me had kept to the basic sweatshirt concept. So I decided to turn my sweatshirt into a dress. This wasn’t going to be a fancy hack, just a straightforward lengthening of the garment past hip level.
Plans for the Pattern
As usual, I started my planning by checking my own measurements against the measurements of the pattern pieces to see how far I would need to make any changes. I was using the basic size 20, the largest size the pattern comes in. The only pattern tweaking I needed to do was to add a little extra fabric in the bust area, and to shorten the sleeves, because they were literally down to my knuckles!
However, I decided not to make the sleeve pattern changes until I’d cut out the fabric, so I could see how it worked in practice. Making things smaller if they turn out too big is manageable. Making things bigger when you’ve cut a piece too small is much more problematic!
Having completed my pattern planning, it was time to bust out this beautiful teal ponte de roma fabric with almost exactly matching stripy Jersey, both from Sewisfaction. Unfortunately, my camera can’t seem to pick up the gloriously greeny blue colour – the photos are all coming out very dull. Trust me, it’s much more vibrant in real life.
I had bought both pieces together a couple of years ago, precisely because I could see them as a dress with the body in the plain fabric and the stripes for the sleeves. However, I’d only got 1 metre of the plain ponte, and I knew that wouldn’t be enough to use it for the wrist, neck and hem bands. So, I cut all the bands from the jersey. I cut them on the crossgrain, so that all the band stripes would be vertical, and the sleeve stripes would be horizontal. It’s a smidge less stretchy that way, but it still works.
For the lengthening, I initially kept the line of the pattern going down straight, for as long as I could. My pattern pieces for the fronts and backs are just a little bit over 1 metre, simply because that’s how much fabric I had available. Later, during the sewing process, I decided to narrow the skirt a tiny bit.
While cutting, I did notice that the hem band pattern piece says to cut 1, but actually you do need 2, one for the front and one for the back. I cut the neckband a little wider than the original pattern piece, because I prefer the look of a wider neckband, especially as this one was going to be quite a feature of the garment.
Having cut the sleeves, I pinned one together to test how long they would be, and how much I’d need to trim off, bearing in mind I would have a cuff at the end of it, of approximately 6cm in width.
I ended up taking 6cms off the sleeve length. Since the sleeve shape tapers. Plus, I needed to narrow the sides, or I’d have too much to ease into the cuffs. I measured and marked up the pattern piece. Then, I took the cuff end in by 1 1/2 cms, and adjusted the taper to about half way up the sleeve seam.
I did a quick pin-together of the sleeve and body pieces. This was to make sure the basic shape was going to work, then got sewing. The main body of the dress came together very easily. I did all the sewing on my sewing machine, rather than my overlocker (I couldn’t be bothered with getting it out and threaded up!)
The hardest part about this pattern is getting all the bands on. You need to feel comfortable with the technique of stretching as you sew, to ease the sleeves into the cuffs. Especially to get the neckband sitting flat to the body. But the joy of this process is that it saves any hemming. Once the bands are on, you’re finished!
I’m really pleased with how this dress has turned out. It really is like the image I had in my head, when I first bought those pieces of fabric. It definitely hits my Cosyness goal. Now, I just need somewhere to wear it!
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