Classic striped tee designed with Sure-Fit Designs Dress Kit

striped long sleeve tee designed with Sure-Fit Designs dress kit

I have a serious love of striped tees. Since I prefer comfy clothes, I end up with a lot of tees (both long and short sleeve) and the stripes help add more personality than solid fabrics. Navy and soft white are my favorite pairing, and while I have plenty of those in my closet they all have some issues.

One has amazing fabric and details like brass buttons on the shoulders, but it’s too snug and the neckline is too broad. Another is nearly perfect, with some solid color blocking and 3/4 length sleeves but the shoulders are weird and the neck gapes. The one that fits the best has been worn so much that it has stains and holes.

So once I got started with my Sure-Fit Designs Dress Kit a Breton-style top was high on my list of priorities. My inspiration was a top that Winona Ryder wore in Girl, Interrupted. It’s pretty much perfection.

I don’t normally care for a crew neck in tees, but I wanted to give it a try because it’s so cute on Ryder in the movie. And typically my crew necks are on sporty, promotional tees so this would be a different animal. I was happy with how it turned out!

Yikes, you can really see my sloping right shoulder in this photo!

I used Glenda’s instructions for removing the bust-fitting dart in the Dress Kit. For the neckline, I made a facing out of navy knit, sewed it on with the lightning stitch for stretch, and topstitched it in place with a twin needle. The bottom has a curved hem, inspired by this Pin that demonstrates a flattering hemline for tops when your hip measurement is quite a bit longer than your waist.

Next time, I need to make a few small adjustments to my SFD blueprint:

  • The length is a little short, possibly because my measurement from neck to waist was off. I’ll need to lower the waistline and add some to the hemline as well.
  • Shoulders have been an ongoing issue with fitting, but I think the shoulder seam is just a little bit too long here. Shortening that at the shoulder point maybe 1/4″ should help.
  • Definitely need to try this with a boatneck! Hopefully I have enough fabric left to do a shorter sleeve version with this alternative neckline style.
  • There’s probably something I can do about those folds going from underarm to neck…the Sure-Fit Designs Facebook group may be able to help with that.
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sketches of my sleeveless dress done using my personal croquis

Sleeveless dress designed from Sure-Fit Designs Dress Kit

accent yoke sleeveless dress with boatneck- designed with Sure-Fit Designs Dress Kit

I’ve never been a dress person, but making this dress has changed that a little bit. Ever since I got my Sure-Fit Designs kits (Dress, Shirt, and Pants) my head has been spinning with all of the opportunities to design clothes just for me. Not needing to rely on what’s available off the rack is an exciting prospect for sure!

After receiving the kits in the mail, I had trouble deciding where to begin because I wanted to make all the things all at once. But my first priority was to make something to wear to an outdoor evening wedding so I started with the Dress Kit. I started with a bunch of research on dresses that looked promising to help give me direction on my design. With a Pinterest board of course.

Once I had some basic ideas in mind, I sketched them onto my personal croquis. I drew my croquis in Adobe Illustrator a couple of years ago and it’s been invaluable for sketching garments because I can see what proportions and silhouettes look better with my figure and which I can safely skip. Although I need to update it with my short hair…

sketches of my sleeveless dress done using my personal croquis

I knew I wanted a boatneck, fitted bodice, the waistline accented with a contrasting color, and just above the knee length. Since I don’t wear much jewelry, I was leaning toward a contrasting yoke for some interest on the bodice area. I settled on a blend of the two sketches on the right: the skirt from the middle sketch and the bodice from the righthand sketch.

SFD Dress Kit muslin

With everything drawn out, I made my pattern pieces using my body blueprint from my SFD Dress Kit. I sewed a muslin to test fit and after a few adjustments came the hard part: finding good fabrics. And sheesh, was that challenging! I wanted to buy in person, because I have trouble knowing exactly what I’d be getting and didn’t have time to send for samples. I explored a solid poly-cotton broadcloth but they didn’t seem opaque enough and I didn’t want to line the skirt. Plus, natural cotton seemed like a better way to go since it was an outdoor wedding and the weather could get warm.

Some people have had success sewing dresses with quilting cotton, and I really like working with Kona Cotton, which is readily available in my area. So that’s what I went with for the outside (navy blue and tan) and on the inside of the bodice I lined it with some of the tan Kona and also used a lightweight chambray from my stash.

accent yoke sleeveless dress with boatneck back - designed with Sure-Fit Designs Dress Kit

I hadn’t sewn a dress before, let alone line a bodice with a back zipper. This video was incredibly helpful for walking through the process and while it seems like an overwhelming process, when you break it down and just take it step by step it’s really not bad at all.

I’m happy with the outcome, although there are a couple of things I’d change next time:

  • I should have checked the alignment of the bodice and skirt before sewing on the accent waistband. I ended up ripping out some stitches and using some of the seam allowance of the skirt, sewing too close to the raw edge. To secure the stitching I used some fray block, which made it rough and scratchy there against my leg.
  • The armscye is too snug. I need to lower the armhole a little bit at the bottom and scoop the front more. After the bodice was lined, the seam that joined the exterior to the lining got stiff and tight.

I’m going through the exercises in The Curated Closet (which is super helpful for people who want to take a methodical approach to building a sustainable wardrobe that they love) and I’m not sure whether more dresses really have a place in my closet. But at least now I know more about the process and feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of both making and wearing them. I’d say besides achieving a great fit, my favorite thing about the Sure-Fit Designs kits and instructions is the freedom to create exactly what you want without relying on existing patterns.

Excited to make my next pieces!