A few months ago, I purchased two cuts of Cotton+Steel jersey fabric at Michael Levine. They were not cheap; when I placed the bolts on the cutting table, the store clerk read me the price twice as if to warn me of the damage I was causing to my fabric budget. I assured her that I knew what I was getting myself into. When she asked what I was planning to do with the fabrics, I had no answer. T-shirts, maybe? But did it really matter? Look at these prints! How can I say no to cats? Or octopuses? The final projects mattered less than the fabrics themselves.
I saved them for a special project. Since I only had 1.5 yards per cut, there was not much I could come up with. I considered work T-shirts, but this purpose seemed too pedestrian for my cats and octopuses. I wanted to make something practical but special enough that I could dress down or up, going from an afternoon happy hour to a night on the town. Looking for inspiration in my collection of patterns, I came across the Deer&Doe Plantain T-shirt. I have more Plantains than I can count. I LOVE how flattering the pattern is, how it skims the body where it has to and then flares, ending in a flirty hem that swings with movement. And the pattern is a free download! I could easily hack it into a sassy mini-dress that would look good day or night. Challenge accepted!
I took the Plantain pattern and added 17 inches to the length of the shirt. I extended the side seam following the original flair of the T-shirt. I redrew the hem by simply tracing over the original pattern and connecting the hem to the side seam, making sure that I had a right angle where the two lines met. Basically, I created a very long T-shirt. And this is the hack in all its simplicity!
I have already spoken of my disdain for the stretch stitch, so I used the zig-zag stitch that seems to work well for all my knit makes (on my Juki F400, 1.0 width and 3.5 length). For some reason, the original neckband always ends up too big, so I reduced it by one inch. I topstitched the neckband with a longer straight stitch, finished all the seams with a serger, and used a twin needle to hem the dress.
It took me a loooooong time to cut the pattern since I was being picky about placement, but I timed myself while sewing the dresses, and I got each one done in less than two hours! I ended up sewing a third version with some leftover fabric I had in my stash.
I am beyond pleased with the results. They are super comfortable, flattering, practical, and oh-so adorable. They were my main wardrobe staple while I was vacationing in Vancouver, perfect for the heat wave that hit the city while I was there. I can already see how they are going to be my favorite make while I visit my family in (dreadfully hot and humid) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.