Hot! The “Does this dress make me look 17 and pregnant?” Dress, plus a bonus

Okay, this one is a two-fer. I started the week by beginning the process of transforming this shirt into a dress.

I was actually quite proud of myself when I managed to make this shirt come together right in February 2010 and I wore it to the Fox Theatre the first time I went to see A Prairie Home Companion. It is a border print and the color changes gradually from gray to blue, and I was thrilled when it all worked out that the sleeves and cuffs worked with the rest of the shirt. The problem was that it was too billowy (which made me look even frumpier than I was at that point), the interfacing was too stiff for the lightweight fabric (making the yoke, cuffs, and belt feel very strange), and the neckline was so wide it was always ending up on the closet floor as it escaped its hanger again and again. Argh! It was long-sleeved, but the fabric was so thin that it wasn’t good for cold weather, yet it made me sweat in hot weather. What a mess.

So why not make it into a skirt? Or the bottom of a dress with black on top? That would be attractive, I reasoned. Then I started to make it happen. And about the time I attached the gathered skirt to the bodice I thought to myself, “Where the hell am I going to wear this? My high school prom?”

So I took a break from it to fix up something else…

Last February (I wonder what it is about sewing shirts in the month of February that makes them come out not quite right) I attempted to make a knit top with a cowl neck without using a pattern. I used an existing shirt to guide me and made a passable shirt.

The only problem with it was that the more it was worn the more the shoulders migrated downward and the more bra straps had to be pinned to the inside of the shirt. Now, many people are wearing off-the-shoulder stuff lately, but it just doesn’t work for me.

So here’s my easy fix that makes this top more wearable. I closed up the neckline a bit and gathered the shoulders and voila! Now I will wear this top far more regularly. Took me about five minutes. Nice.

Then I started thinking again about that silly dress. I can’t leave it unfinished when I just finished a dress UFO earlier this month. So why not just finish it and then stick it in my closet and forget about it a while? So I pressed on. And this is what I ended up with.

I like it okay from the front, but from the side I look a little too pregnant for my tastes.

Oh well. You can’t win ’em all.

I think it looks passable with a belt and I have a bolero jacket made from the same black fabric that I could add to make it look more adult.

Thing is, where am I going to wear this? I don’t do the party scene and it seems a bit too dressy for morning church. Perhaps another evening at the theatre. Oh, and the stupid thing still falls off the hanger. *sigh*

Okay then. Here are all the facts…

The “New Neckline” Sweater Facts

  • Fabric: thick, sweater-like knit
  • Pattern: none
  • Year: 2011
  • Notions: thread
  • Time to complete: 5 minutes
  • First worn: February 7, 2012
  • Wear again?: Yes
  • Total price: $0

The “Does this dress make me look 17 and pregnant?” Dress Facts

  • Fabric: I think they’re both some sort of polyester blend. The black was in the stash.
  • Pattern: adaption of Butterick 5333
  • Year: 2009
  • Notions: thread, invisible zipper
  • Time to complete: 3ish hours?
  • First worn: just for photos
  • Wear again?: I dunno.
  • Total price: $2


Erin Bartels

Erin is a copywriter by day, a novelist by night, and a wife, mother, dressmaker, quilter, zoo docent, painter, poet, and photographer in between. She only gets paid for the copywriting.


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  1. I love that fabric for the dress/skirt! Depending on what you wear with it on top you could totally wear it during the day – when the weather is warmer, of course.

    Great job on both projects!

  2. I absolutely love the skirt material and agree with the black top option. Perhaps a fancy shawl will make it more wearable out to dinner? I also think it is wonderful for church too!

  3. Love that easy shirt fix. You’ve inspired me to save a shirt that was in my goodwill pile for that very big collared reason! Well done all round. :)

  4. What a great transformation and as for the hanger thing (so annoying I know) have you had a look at the fabric pads that slide on the hangers and secure the fabric (I keep looking at them but am yet to buy them and am forever picking clothes up from the floor of the wardrobe).

  5. Plenty of dresses need belts to look right and this looks great with the belt. Such a gorgeous print. I like the save on the top too. I’ve a few tops that could do with a simple stitch or two.

  6. Your dress looks great with the belt :-)
    Great idea with the top too.

  7. The belt for the win! Way to tackle those refashions. I think the top is brilliant, but don’t give up on the dress. It’s cute, and if you dress the rest of it down (throw a cardigan over the top, pair with some boots or flats) it will look perfectly appropriate during the day. Or you could wear it for a nice dinner out with the hubs (hint hint).

  8. Both pieces are very attractive now. I especially like the skirt with the belt. I agree with Jen, just add a few things and wear it any day. Now that we all are making so many things, probably more than we would ever buy, we just gotta wear them.

  9. HimErin, I love both pieces. The skirt fabric is so beautiful, I wonder if you adds band at the bottom, it would weight down and drape nicely or add horse hair braid to the bottom would probably add a beautiful bell shape to the bottom. Great idea to pair with a bolero jacket, that would be a nice ensemble.

  10. So funny that most of you see it as a skirt. It’s a dress. :) The black on top is sewn to the blue on the bottom.

  11. What do you mean where would you wear it??!! You look so pretty in it! You should see what I wear to church :) I think you should pair it with the belt, a cardigan, and some flats or sandals and run all your errands in it and see everyone smile as the pretty lady walks by-

  12. Very pretty fabric, the dress looks really lovely and I don’t think you look pregnant.

  13. A tip for future knits-with-stretchy-shoulders: When you sew or serge the shoulder seams, stitch in a strip of 3/8″ clear elastic, unstretched (like the stuff used to make hanger loops inside of some t-shirts & such). It will stretch with the seam when putting the top on, but keep the fabric from running down your shoulders.

    • Oh! Great tip. I’ll have to locate some of that as I have three knits in my stash that will have their time in the sun this year as I bust through the stash.

  14. Your “for real” face is too much! I think it looks great belted. Grab some twill tape and stitch in a set of hanger loops to prevent the slippage. Cross them over the curved part of the hanger, and that puppy is staying put. The shirt is a total win, too!