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How to sew a convertible top

That’s right. You can sew a fabulous knit tube dress in two hours. Here’s how:

Fabric and notions:

  • Approximately 2 yards of 60” wide knit fabric.The wrong side of the fabric will show with the tie variations, so keep that in mind when you choose your fabric. Your yardage will depend on the width and length of your rectangles. You’ll figure those out in the next step. Basically you need enough fabric to cover the width and length of your body.
  • (If your measurements + ease indicate you need to cut two rectangles wider than 24", you'll need to purchase enough fabric to cut two dress lengths)
  • EDITED 6/14/09:

    Thank you to the Anonymous (Jun) for asking for clarification on this step. I see I skipped one very important sentence and added the clarification below.

    Take your measurements:

    • Measure around the fullest part of your bust. Add 12” for ease and seam allowances. EDIT: Divide this measurement by 2. This will be the width of your two rectangles. Example: bust measurement = 36" + 12" = 48". 48" divided by 2 = 24".
    • If your hips are larger than your bust add 12” to your hip measurement and use that number as the width of your rectangle.
    • Measure from underneath your underarm to the floor. Add 3 inches for upper casing and hem. This will be the length of your rectangle.
    • Each dress rectangle for my golden goddess gown was 24” (w) x 61” (l). For this dress: bust measurement = 36" + 12" = 48". 48" divided by 2 = 24". The front dress rectangle was cut at 24" x 61" and the back dress rectangle was cut at 24" x 61".
    • Find a large flat surface to cut out your dress.
    • Fold your fabric in half, wrong sides together, and lay on a large flat surface.
    • I used the floor in my sewing room, much to the delight of my little helper Sophia, who promptly plopped herself on the fabric and refused to budget. (Until a puppy treat magically appeared.)

    Cut your ties:

    • Cut two rectangles that measure 6”(w) x 50” (l). You can cut the ties longer if you think you'll need it to do the tie variations.
    • Edit 6/14/09: If you have a larger bust line you many want to cut the ties wider and longer. If you choose to do so you will need additional yardage. My fabric, when folded, measured 30" wide, which allowed enough width for the dress rectangles (24") and the tie rectangles (6").

    Sew your dress:

    • Hem the two long edges and one short edge of the ties.
    • On the golden goddess gown

      I turned one edge under 1/4" and stitched over it using a a wide zig-zag stitch making sure the right swing of the zig-zag was just off of my fabric. You could also turn the edges under 1/4" and stitch in place, or leave the edges raw.

    • Run gathering stitches along the unhemmed short edge of the ties.
    • Pull up gathers to measure 3”
    • On wrong side of dress beginning at the top edge, measure down 2” along side edges (the long sides) and make a mark.
    • Place the upper edge of the tie along the mark you just made, right sides together and matching raw edges. Baste in place.
    • Pin the two large rectangles together along the long edge, right sides together.
    • Using a 1/2” seam allowance, stitch the side seams.
    • If you don’t have a serger, sew the seam using a narrow zig-zag stitch stretching the knit fabric slightly as you sew. Sew a second narrow zig-zag seam next to the first seam and trim the seam.
    • Turn under 1” on the top edge of the dress. Pin in place.
    • Stitch 3/4” from the folded edge forming a casing for the elastic, being careful not to catch the ties. Be sure to leave an opening so you can insert the elastic.
      • Cut a piece of 1/2” elastic that fits snugly around your chest (above your bust).
      • Place a safety pin on one end of the elastic and thread it through the casing you just created.
      • Don't forget to pin the other end of the elastic to the garment or you’ll lose the elastic in the casing when you begin to pull to thread the elastic through.
      • Once the elastic is through, secure the elastic to the dress by pinning both ends to the dress seam.
      • Try the dress on to make sure the elastic is tight enough to hold the dress up. Adjust if necessary.
      • Remove the pins, overlap the two edges of elastic, stitch together securely (you don't want that elastic to come undone while you're wearing the dress now do you?) and tuck into the casing.
      • Sew the casing opening closed.
      • To hem the dress, turn under 1” on bottom of dress and stitch in place.

        This beautiful yellow dress was sewn for beautiful Julie who has been learning to sew in my Sewing Studio Sundays. I'm hoping to convince her to model it for us for a future post. how to sew a convertible top

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