Never Fear Knits Ballet Dress Sew-a-long Pt 4

Almost finished! All we have to do now is attach the collar and hem the sleeves and skirt.


Fold the collar piece in half matching up the short ends and stitch across.


Now fold the collar in half long ways and iron/pin together.


With right sides together, match the collar seam to the center back of the neck opening. Then match the center front.

I know that the collar piece is smaller than the neck opening but that’s important. The collar helps prevent the neck opening from stretching out. If the collar piece was too large you’d get gaping around the neckline. No bueno!


Evenly stretch the collar to fit the neck opening and use lots of pins to distribute the fabric.

Stitch the collar to the neckline, stretching the collar just enough to fit the neck opening.

Now we have to stitch that collar down so that the seam allowance doesn’t flop out.


Iron the collar with the seam allowances pointed down onto the bodice fabric.


Using a twin needle or zig zag stitch sew all the way around the neck opening encasing the seam allowance underneath.


Now for the easy part – hemming. The pattern includes 3/4″ for hem allowance.

I’m using my fave technique – serging the raw edge, folding under and top stitching with a twin needle.

If you are using a zig zag stitch just fold the hem under twice, encasing the raw edge and stitch on top.


If you are using a twin needle you’ll have to sew from the right side rather than the wrong side. I first measure my 3/4″ hem and fold it under and pin. Once I finish all the way around I then transfer my pins to the right side so I can pull them out easily as I sew.


From the right side you can’t see the edge folded underneath but you can feel it with your fingers and and guide it under the needle.


Voila! All done! Now you have an easy to wear, comfy but stylish knit dress that you made. I hope the sew-a-long was helpful!


I’ll be back tomorrow with my regularly scheduled broadcast aka – more new projects. I’m also making a list of sewing goals for the new year that I hope to share, but first I’m going to wear my new dress!


Never Fear Knits Ballet Dress Sew-a-long Pt 3

Today we’re finishing the basic structure of the dress and later we’ll move on to the final details.

Let’s add those sleeves!


First pin and stitch the sleeve seam. Easy peasy, right?


With the sleeve right side out slip the sleeve inside the bodice through the armhole. Match up the bodice side seam to the sleeve seam. Match up all notches and center dot to shoulder seam. See, it’s just like a woven set in sleeve!


The one thing that’s different is that because knits are stretchy it makes it so much easier to ease the sleeve in. I know I tell you not to stretch knit fabric when sewing but this is the one minor exception. You can stretch the fabric but only until it just fits. If you are having trouble you can always baste the top of the sleeve between notches for some extra stability while easing.


You can also use a bunch of pins to make sure the fabric is evenly spaced.


Stitch the sleeve to the bodice and gently stretch the armhole to match the sleeve curve. Repeat for the other sleeve.


Now, I want you to try the bodice on and see how it fits. You might notice that the top seems a little short. No worries – when we add the skirt the weight of the fabric will help pull the bodice down. But if it feels good across the bust line then we’re in business.


Cut a length of elastic that matches the circumference of the bodice’s waistline, plus a little overlap. Next, with right sides facing, pin the bodice to the skirt. Put the fabric under the presser foot with the wrong side of the bodice facing up. Slip the elastic under the foot and line up the elastic with the edge of the fabric.


With some scraps you could do a tension test on your machine before you sew.

Stitch your waist seam. Because the elastic matches the waist measurement you don’t have to stretch the elastic as you sew.


The end of the elastic will overlap when you reach the starting point. Back stitch here or slide off if you are using a serger.


If you are using a sewing machine remember to trim your threads. If using a serger knot and snip off the strings on the waist and armholes.

Ok, I wanted to let you know that there is another way to attach the sleeves to the bodice but I didn’t want to use it because beginners might find it difficult to match up the armhole and side seams, and the traditional way of doing set in sleeves is more familiar. But here’s the trick: First stitch the bodice shoulder seams. Next pin the sleeve to the armhole opening (right sides together) and stitch. Finally pin your side seams and sleeve seams and stitch all the way from the wrist opening down the side to the bottom of the bodice.

***Yay! Now the body of the dress is complete! I’m taking the day off tomorrow but on Friday we’ll finish with some twin needle hems and the collar attachment. This is a pretty short sew-a-long, I realize, but since this is a beginner level pattern I hope you don’t mind the speed.

Never Fear Knits Ballet Dress Sew-a-long Pt 2

Yay! Today we get to actually sew something! Let’s get started.

I’m using my serger but remember you can always sew knits on your regular sewing machine.

Before you get started it’s a good idea to take a scrap piece of fabric to test your machine’s tension. Avoid seam ripping with a little prep work!


Pin the bodice pieces together at the shoulders and side seams.

Next stitch both side seams.

For the shoulder seams – you don’t have to use Stay Tape but I love this stuff so I’m using it. If you don’t have any but would still like to support your shoulder seams you can use a bit of clear elastic instead (which you already have because you need it for the waist seam). Simply lay a strip of elastic/stay tape on top of the fabric edge and stitch over all three layers.

If you are using a serger you can leave your “tails.” If you are using a sewing machine go ahead and trim the extra threads.

Now on to the skirt.

Pin the skirt at the side seams and stitch just like with the bodice. I didn’t have enough fabric for two whole skirt pieces and I had to cut two halves for the back. So I have a center back seam on my skirt.

One thing to note – it’s easy to see which side of the printed fabric is the wrong or right side. However, if you are using a solid color, single knit fabric (like my black jersey) look closely to make sure you know which side is which. It may not be noticeable while you work with the fabric but if you stand back you might be able to see a difference.

For example, the right side of my jersey almost has a sheen to it and the wrong side is more matte. I’ve used a sweater knit before where the wrong side was slightly darker than the right side. You don’t want to go through all that work only to find out one of your pieces is facing the wrong way! Remember, the right side has visible vertical lines.

***Tomorrow we’ll attach the sleeves and sew the waist seam. Happy sewing!

Never Fear Knits Ballet Dress Sew-a-long Begins!

Whew – I had a crazy holiday but I’m back and ready for business!

First thing’s first – the Ballet Dress pattern is now up for sale! I know, I know, you all love free patterns but making patterns is a lot of work! I still have many other patterns for free to download.

In this post we’ll print out the pattern, prepare our fabrics, find our size and cut out our pieces.

Print the Pattern
To get started print out the pattern at home. The twenty pages include instructions and sizing as well as all the pieces.

(click for a closer view of the picture)

When printing from Adobe Reader it is important to select “None” in the page scaling section. If you are using a different program or a different version of Adobe Reader it may not look the same as the above screen cap.

Scaling will make the pages print smaller or larger to fit within the printable area on the paper. The printable area size varies on different printers so I have to make the pattern print with a white border around each page. You can check to see if the pages printed correctly by measuring the Test Square.

To arrange all the printed pages you’ll need scissors and tape.

The pages line up like a grid with four columns and five rows. The numbered notches go across and the letter notches go vertically. Trim the borders of pages if needed to match up the notches. Tape.


Before we start cutting let’s prepare our fabric. I’m using two types – a sweater knit on top (look! deer! or are those mooses? what’s the plural for moose, anyway?), and a plain medium weight black jersey for the skirt.

Wash your fabric according to fiber type. Remember, knits fabrics have a tendency to shrink so pre-washing is important! Once dry, iron if needed and lay the fabric out flat on a table so it won’t stretch out.

Now, back to the paper – In this pattern I’ve included finished garment measurements. Why? Because knits patterns for fitted designs are different than woven patterns because they have much less built in ease. The nature of knits means that the fabric stretches over your body (which is why you don’t need darts and zippers).

I like using finished measurements as a guide because it allows you to pick the amount of ease you want for your dress. Pick the size closest to your actual measurements or whichever size is larger. Just like with woven patterns, if you are between sizes in certain places you can combine sizes at different points. Say you’re measurements are 40/28/39. You can cut a L in the bust, glide down to a M in the waist and cut a M size skirt.

If there is any place you want to be larger than your body measurements (or extra ease) it would be in the hips because the skirt is looser fitting than the bust or waist.

Now that you have your size you can cut out your pieces.

Pattern Adjustments


If you want to shorten or lengthen the skirt, bodice or sleeves you can slash and spread at the gray lines printed on the pieces.

You can even make the skirt looser fitting by swinging out the side seam line and continuing the hem curve.

If you normally need to do a full bust adjustment on patterns then you’re in luck. Because knits are stretchy you might be able to get away without one. Try making a muslin of just the bodice. If it feels tight across the bust or if you’re getting wrinkles you might want to try an FBA.

FBAs on knits are similar to woven patterns but they have no darts. An FBA will look something like this where the pink lines are cutting lines and the blue lines are where you draw new lines to smooth everything out. Remember, the length of the side and waist seams need to match up with the back bodice and skirt waist seams.

Cutting Fabric
Finally, after all that we can cut out the fabric pieces!

The pattern includes cutting layouts but because I’m using two different fabrics my cutting layout might look different than yours.

Remember to use weights, a rotary mat and cutter (I use jars of buttons as weights, or whatever I have close by). You can use pins and shears but be careful not to accidentally stretch your fabric.

***Ok, I think that’s enough prep work for one day. Tomorrow we’ll start with the basics – sewing bodice and skirt pieces. Then we’ll do waist and sleeves followed by hems and collar. Easy peasy! Probably the shortest sew-a-long ever but it isn’t a difficult pattern design.