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Summer of T-Shirts: Making a Tee a Dress! (McCall's 6917/New Look 6097 Mash-up!)

I am so excited to be part of the Summer of T-Shirts series!  When I first was presented with this opportunity, my first thought was to make a tee into a t-shirt dress.  LOL.  I didn't even think to make a tee into something else, like color-blocking, merging two tees into one, etc.  No, I went right to my comfort zone, a dress.  ;-)  I am definitely consistent in what I favor!

Above is the dress I made using a tee pattern and mashing it up with a favorite skirt portion from a dress pattern.

Some of you who read my blog may recognize my inspiration, the Blackberry Dress from Boden.  This dress is so popular that I have seen multiple women in this area wearing it, and I have seen folks from all over wearing it on Instagram.  It has a lot going for it, pockets, a comfortable elastic waistband, an easy top with a bit of room, but not so much that it is too loose, and cute sleeves made from bands.  It also is made from a very lovely cotton jersey, which makes it perfection for our ridiculous hot and humid summers here in Virginia.

Now clearly mine isn't exactly the same, but it is close.  The mash up of McCall's 6917 and New Look 6097 worked well enough that it is at least a really similar-looking sister.  The blackberry dress has more ease through the top, and the bands are different.  The skirt is a very very close match, though.

The fabric is the best, and I was so excited to see that Fabric Mart had it.  It is a 100% cotton jersey in a fun print called Sunshine Serenade.  It really is colored like sunshine, and I personally see flamingos frolicking in the tidepools of Florida.  (Does anyone else see flamingos?  Tell me I'm not alone!)

My intention for making a t-shirt dress as opposed to a tee alone was singular...I really wanted a dress I could wear to teach school in August/September/early October.  It gets so hot and sticky here, but we are expected to wear clothing that is more conservative, so while the desire may be to wear a tank and shorts, professional decorum calls for us to be a bit more dressy.

I wear a whole host of jersey dresses in the late summer (and early summer/late spring) during the school year, but I have VERY few that I have made myself.  I am so thrilled with how this dress turned out that I have a desire to churn out a few more of this exact mash-up this school year.  I could even see one in a wool jersey that I could layer over long-sleeved tops and tights.


One last view, this time from the back.  I may choose to lengthen the skirt in future makes, but it isn't so short that I can't wear it to school, so that's good.  :-)

Those of you who followed the links above to the patterns will have seen that McCall's 6917 is a girls tee and pants pattern (learn to sew, even!).  I decided to use this tee because I have been asked by other smaller busted and short torso ladies like myself what I do to make up for the excess bust ease in so many patterns (patterns for misses are often drafted for a B or C cup--I am an A cup in patterns, when the designers deign to draft one).  And because of my shorter torso (I have a 15.5" back waist length!), I often have to shorten tees so the waist will fall at my waist in the proper place.

I chose to use a girls pattern for a tee for my t-shirt dress for a few reasons:

1. The shorter back length in this tee is meant for girls who have shorter torsos.  I have the same torso length as a 14/16 girl (I used size 14 here)!  Another reason this length is great is that dress bodices are shorter by nature, as the length below the waist is unnecessary as the waistband of the skirt matches the waist of the top (unless the dress is a drop waist).  With a girls tee, the amount that needs to be shortened is much less!

2. The ease through the bust is fine for my smaller bustline.  Though I like the ease of the blackberry bodice, it is a lot in comparison to the skirt.  That is partly design, but also partly ease meant for ladies "my size" who have much larger cup sizing.  The excess ease is usually caught by their larger bustlines, but I find all that extra fabric ends up pooling about at the waistband, so if I can reduce ease in the bodice, I will.  :-)  I see there is a bit of pooling at the back in the photo above, but I see that as a reduction of pooling in my other tee dresses, so I'll take it!

3. This tee pattern is very basic, so I knew that I could add bands to the sleeves easily, and I also knew that the facings would be a lovely finish (I don't mind binding at the neckline, but I think a facing looks so nice and tidy!).

Making this girls tee work with the skirt wasn't a challenge, but  I did have to take a few steps to ensure all the markings and seam lines would come together properly.  The collage above shows the steps I took to match up the skirt and bodices.  Once done and cut, all the pieces did come together very well, so I will no longer fear the mash-up of skirts and bodices!  I especially love this skirt (seriously magical!), so I would like to use it with other style bodices in the future.

So the sleeve band..'I adore the blackberry sleeve band, and in the future makes, I will endeavor to make it, but on this one, I chose to keep the original sleeve of the McCall's 6917, but add a very thin sleeve band to finish the sleeve, rather than a turn and stitch as called for in the directions.

I ended up doing the above in the collage, but I chose to sew up the shoulder seams first (but not the side seams) of the back and front bodices.  After I sewed up both shoulder seams, I sewed my sleeve bands together (I used a 5/8" seam allowance) and did the process above.  After the process was done, I then serged up the side seams of the bodice, and from there could continue the dress construction (as laid out in the New Look 6097 directions).

You can do what I did or what I explain in the collage, both will work fine.  The ultimate goal though is a very slim contrast hem band.  :-)

Here you can see both the sleeve band and fabric closeup.  The facing finish is also present here (in that you can't see the neckline finish, which means it worked!).  I understitched the facing, and secured it with topstitching at the shoulder seamline and back neckline (which is seen far less than the front neckline).

I actually plan to wear this exact outfit the day this post goes live.  It is my first day back as a teacher (training stuff), so I can't think of something better for the day.  I also look forward to wearing it when the kids come back to school.  :-)

Okay, I hope you all have a great day!  Enjoy your last days and weeks of summer (depending on where you live, of course--we definitely have weeks to go). 

~Dina, My Superfluities

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