Sewstainability’s upcycled Zoe dress hack

Sam Pattern Review 2 Comments

Hello! It’s Vicky of Sewstainability here, I hope you are all well?

I am really excited to bring this new post to the Simple Sew Blog. If you are familiar with my blog or Instagram you will know that I enjoy trying to sew as sustainably as I can. This can take many forms such as using up all my scraps, choosing to use recycled thread or using thrifted materials wherever possible. This time I’ve hacked the Simple Sew Zoe Dress into a gathered skirt version using an old duvet cover I found in the charity shop!

I couldn’t believe it when I saw this duvet cover in a charity shop as it appears to be made out of denim! I’ve never seen a denim duvet cover before but I was certainly excited to be able to get so much denim for £4.99 in my local Oxfam – the money goes to a good cause and I use materials that are already in existence creating no demand for new fabric.

Once I had selected the Zoe Dress pattern for my project I knew I wanted to go big on making a feature of the topstitching so I chose some neon thread to really make it pop! The topstitching is really what sets this pattern apart from other similar boxy top patterns and is my favourite thing about the Zoe – I LOVE some topstitching!

I have been loving all of the smock-dresses I’ve been seeing everywhere lately so I decided to hack the Zoe dress into a smock style with a gathered skirt. I measured to my waistline and folded the pattern piece to where I wanted the waist seam to be and cut two fronts and two back pieces out. I then cut two rectangles for the skirt (I didn’t measure these, I just cut the full width of the single-duvet cover but you could copy the skirt pieces of any gathered skirt patterns you have at home). I also cut out two pockets as well as the facing pieces. I LOVE a facing and again this gives an opportunity for some more of that gorgeous topstitching.

As this is a Simple Sew pattern there is no surprise that it came together simply and easily, even with all the topstitching it didn’t take long to make. I made the bodice exactly as the pattern is written, with the facing the topstitching and sleeve cuffs. Once the bodice was fully constructed, I sewed the two skirt rectangles together and topstitched the side seams to match the centre front detail of the bodice. I then added a patch pocket to either side of the skirt.

Once the skirt was fully constructed, I gathered the top of the skirt by sewing two lines of basting stitches and pulling them until the gathered skirt measured the same as the bodice. I sewed them together and voila! the Zoe has a gathered skirt! To finish, I just needed to hem the skirt using my neon thread.

I am thrilled with the final dress, it came out as I pictured. The only thing that surprised me slightly was how wide the neck is, I could see from the line drawings on the pattern that it had a boat neck but it is a little too wide for my shoulders and I struggle to not show my bra strap. Because I see me making many more of these in the future, I plan on taking in the sides of the neck on the bodice and corresponding facing piece, half an inch on both sides should do it!

Of course, if I had made a toile I would have known this, but I don’t like wasting fabric and I will definitely wear this dress loads as it is! What do you think? Do you like the smock dress trend? I think I will make the top version of this pattern next!

Vick’s striking neon top stitching is a great feature and can be easily added to any garment to make it pop. This set of Gutterman neon threads below from Minerva Crafts is just what you need if you’re looking to add a point of difference and we love the range of colours too!

Gutterman Neon Sew All thread set – £12.99 –

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