Day and Night Dress
I've been thinking.

Built by Erin

Sew U Home Stretch came home from the bookstore with me a couple of weeks ago.  I read it right away and got pumped up to sew knits.   My experience with knits is non-existent and this book explains it all.  I felt educated and empowered so I went off to the fabric store and bought myself some green cotton jersey to make a dress.

Then I read the pattern.

OK, so I probably should have done that before buying the fabric.  I know, I know.  After realizing that the dress has some trickier things (facings, etc.) and guessing that my first knit garment may not be my best work, I changed my plan.  I decided to make a shirt.

Here's where it gets fun.  Wendy shows you how to make changes to the basic t-shirt, raglan and dress patterns to make different garments.  I was immediately drawn to this shirt:


I liked the v-neck and the little gathered bit at the bust.  I didn't like the sleeves, though.  I know from experience that they don't really suit me.  I flipped through the book more and came upon the basic tank.


This pattern calls for ribbing which I didn't have on hand.  For a second I contemplated going out to find some, but then the light bulb went off.  It was so bright, I swear you could actually see it in the bubble above my head.  I got out the tracing paper and made my own pattern, combining these two tops to make my very first knit tank.  Yup...Built by Erin.


Feeling part genius and part sewing geek, I got it done.  I would be lying to you if I said it was smooth sailing.  It wasn't.  But, boy oh boy, I learned A LOT.  First, altering patterns is rather easy.  I invested in a french curve to help with this step - this is crucial.  It makes it soooo much easier.  I followed the shirt pattern and made the deep V and added 2 inches length.  I then followed the tank pattern and adjusted the armhole.  Second lesson learned:  check the size.  I knew from Melissa's post that the t-shirt pattern that comes with the book runs big.  I pulled out a tank that fits me well and held it up to the pattern.  It was hard to believe, but it looked like I would need to cut out a size small (in store bought t-shirts, I wear a large).  Third:  knits are hard to cut out.  This one is a rayon, cotton, lycra blend.  Super soft, a bit stretch with a lot of drape.  The drape made it hard to lay smooth and after about twenty minutes of fiddling with it, I got the two pieces cut out.  All this before I even started sewing!

When I moved the fabric to the sewing machine(s), I realized I had missed a crucial bit.  The neck and arm edges are bound, much like a quilt.  Back to the scraps I went and managed to eek out just enough to cut 1 inch strips to take care of that.  I used my serger as much as I could, but there were some bits that needed the regular sewing machine, too.  I had to move my aqua thread back and forth.  Next time I am going to buy two spools because it was a pain and a huge waste of time to re-thread both machines multiple times.


The little gathered bit is done by sewing elastic on the reverse side and pulling it as you go.  It took me three tries even though I first did it successfully on a scrap.  Besides making me cuss like a sailor, ripping out that elastic twice left some tiny holes in the fabric.  Bummer.  I almost gave up, but plowed on.  They are tiny so if I didn't tell you, I'm not sure you would notice.   The binding part was easy enough - I first tried to attach it with a straight stitch, but it looked super sloppy and it didn't catch everything in back so I switched to a zig zag.  I think it looks mighty fine.


The fit?  Well, when I tried it on the first time, it had big gapes under the arms so I took that in about an inch on each side.   The V is a bit too deep for my comfort level.  I think I would make it about 1/2" less than I did.  It is too long - I don't think I needed to add the length which is unusual because I have a long torso.  It is tight around my hips - making it shorter would take care of that, too.

So will I wear it?  Yes.  Probably as pajamas (it is comfy!) or to the pool over my swim suit.   And I will make it again - trying to adjust the fit to make it better.   I can see this being a summer wardrobe staple.  So now, time for the dress.  I'll let you know how that works out.



That book is sitting on my sewing table...I have been working up the nerve to jump into it. I think that my hesitation lies in the fact that I know sewing knits will be a challenge. Your top looks great and thank you for all the tips. Hopefully there won't be too much @#$&*@! from me.


wow - knits scare me - you did awesome!


the way you made this is the way I could actually learn something from sewing knits. If I stuck with it, rather than cuss like a sailor AND throw it away at the same time. Go you, it is really cute!


looks so great erin! i definitely need this book, but am holding out until after my craft fair next weekend (i'll never finish making everything i need if i had such an incredible distraction). i'm curious about this french curve thing- i actually have one that i found at a yard sale last year and bought it for 25 cents because i thought it would be useful, but i've never used it. what exactly, um, do you use it for? armholes? in any case, you and melissa are seriously giving me hope here.

Sarah Jackson

Yay for you! I am working up the nerve to start sewing with knits. While your success does not mean that I'll have success, it gives me hope.


Gosh, you're bringing back memories! A few years ago I was into sewing knits, but I seem to have forgotten everything I learned. At the time I bought a bunch of nice knits to make some tops, but never did. Maybe I need that book to get me back on track.


Great job; it looks great. It does look comfy. I am stuck mid-project, so once again, your blog is giving me hope that I can get through my own little issue. Good luck on the dress.

apple cyder

Thank you for taking the time to note your process. Can't wait to see the dress!


I love it!

Julie @ Letter9

Erin, you probably already thought of this but if you zip a bit off the "straps" it will help with both the depth of the V and the length... might help make you more comfy in it?

Nice first knit-garment, though. I'm impressed.

Mama Urchin

so cute

miss chris

I'm scared of stretch. So scared. But you make it look cute and fun. :)


Wow! Good for you! I'm impressed.

And hooooo momma! :)


Looks great! I found that for cutting out knit fabric, pattern weights and a mini rotary cutter work the best.


you know with a pretty white spaghetti strap tank underneath I think it'd look great to wear around town! I like the gathered look at the waist. You look mahhvelous!


Fabulous! I cannot wait to see how the dress turns out.

amy h

Good work! I have "Sew U" and have yet to make anything from it yet. So I'm not allowing myself to buy the knit one until I use the first one. :)

About cutting fabric that doesn't want to cooperate: I had some trouble with some lining fabric recently (very slippery), so I just taped the fabric down to the table before cutting. That helped it stay where I wanted it. I kind of had to move my cutting board around underneath the fabric, but I had it taped enough that it didn't shift.


Oh, it just looks sew awesome! Great color (on my monitor anyway...) too. Knits are so cool, and fun to sew with. When I was in high school, I made all my t-shirts, sans serger (but I have one now - I just lurve it) Have you made a lettuce edge yet? SO MUCH BETTER THAN HEMMING! (in come cases) and makes things go a lot faster.

I cut everything out now with a rotary cutter, especially the knits since they are so slippery - and it works like a dream! Can't wait to see your next one.


wow! what a journey, you perservered alot longer that i would have!looks great:)

melissa f.

i talked to amy about the sizing thing again, and we're thinking that the tshirt pattern has enlarging issues-- making the measurements way off. but not with the other ones... ANNOYING.

very cute-- i love that tank pattern too, but who do those sleeves look good on?? not me.

Meg Evans

Oh, great job! I know how frustrating those learning experiences can be--but now you have know!

I'm scared of knits too. I bought fabric and a pattern months ago, I just haven't worked up the courage. Maybe that book will help.

Can't wait to see your next attempt. I'm sure it'll be even better.


Wow! Great job! Thanks for all the helpful insights into the process.


you are a brave woman sewing with knits. great job.


i think its fab! and the longer length looks good. it rouges at the bottom a bit that way!


I really want this book, too. Your shirt looks great.


Besides the fact that the shirt is cute as heck, I LOVE that you shared your learning curve. It gives some of us hope!


Hi Erin. Knits are a different beast to sew! Nice job. I have been wanting Wendy's new book. I have a new addiction--making clothes for myself, instead of my girls! They are at the age (7 & 8)where they are picky and prefer Target and Old Navy clothes instead! I just finished an easy, fun (and very flattering dress)--I will show you amy's since I don't have a tripod.

It is a super easy dress to whip up! I made mine with a zipper but next time (for a more casual look) I am going to omit it. I can slip it comfortably over my head yet it isn't so large where I look prego--gives the waist nice definition. Good luck on your next project!


i made maternity dresses out of knits. i can't believe that i actually wore them! if only i would have had this book. :)
yours looks super cute. i can really see this little top paired with some lounge pants!


What a lovely colour on you Erin. I think it looks really flattering - a cami/tank would be really pretty with it if you find the V too low. Or if you make more you could layer them with the smaller underneath.


What a lovely colour on you Erin. I think it looks really flattering - a cami/tank would be really pretty with it if you find the V too low. Or if you make more you could layer them with the smaller underneath.


What a lovely colour on you Erin. I think it looks really flattering - a cami/tank would be really pretty with it if you find the V too low. Or if you make more you could layer them with the smaller underneath.


Great info! Can't wait to get a look at this book.


I got this book a while ago, but just bought some ball point needles (I don't have a serger) and some lovely grey knit fabric. I'm ready to go, but still a little nervous. Thanks for documenting all the ups and downs of this project. It's really helpful.

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