I was so excited to get an email from Elegance & Elephants owner Heidi a few months ago. (Maybe you’ve heard me talking about her Bohemian Babydoll Dress/Top pattern (affiliate link) once or twice… ha!)  She was asking if I would like to be part of her “Knock it Off” series… and I didn’t waste a minute signing up. This series is so much fun, and I’ve been following it along for a few years now.  The idea is to take a clothing item found in a store – usually one at a ridiculous price you wouldn’t pay – and “Knock it Off” – self-explanatory!

When I found this Hartstrings dress I knew it was the one I wanted to make. First off, it’s made of Ponte di Roma double-knit and I’ve been looking for an excuse to work with this type of knit for a while now. I love the navy and white and simple lines – a ton of retro style. The pockets have vintage gold buttons from my husband’s grandmother and there’s a tiny pop of red in the back elastic closure in the back. There is no way I would pay the (regular price) $60 to buy it for my kids, even if both of them were to wear it, I couldn’t justify the cost. Instead I have knocked it off for around $10, if you don’t include the vintage buttons and interfacing I found in my sewing stash.

I decided to use Dana’s First Day Dress pattern again for this dress. Which coincidentally looks nothing line the empire waist party dress I made my youngest for her birthday last week! Just goes to show how you can use the same pattern and alter it to come out with radically different results. For this dress I cut a size 5 with a size 10 length, since the A-line option is a little shorter than I wanted. I also added a peter pan collar and gathered sleeves with a banded hem.

Just in case you feel like joining in and knocking off something yourself – come sew-along and add an entry to the Knock it Off Flickr group before the end of the series. Two prizes will be awarded at random and they’re good ones – You could win a $100 or $50 gift certificates to Gold Star Tool! If nothing else, go check out the amazing garments everyone has created.

Elegance & Elephants

Ready to make your own Necklace Dress?

You will need:

  • Ponte de Roma double-knit in Navy (outer and full lining – see A-line Dress pattern option for yardage)
  • Ponte de Roma double-knit in White – aprox 1/4-1/2 yard for collar and faux pockets
  • elastic & button as per the pattern insructions
  • knit interfacing for the collar and pockets
  • tailor’s chalk or other removable fabric marker for dark fabrics
  • white fabric paint
  • small round objects for painting dots (ie. marker, pencil eraser)
  • freezer paper and/or pattern drafting paper
  • ballpoint needle for sewing knits
  • matching white and navy thread
Please Note: I did not line this dress and I wish that I had, since the knit is a little bit thinner than I would like and the construction would have been much simpler… So I’m going to write the directions as if I had, since how to sew a knit First Day Dress is on the MADE blog and I won’t be posting photos of those parts of the instructions anyhow.

When you have finished cutting all of your pieces they will look like this.

Cutting your Fabric:
  1. Main Dress: Cut 4 A-line Dress pieces from navy according to the pattern. The direction of most stretch should be from side to side.
  2. Sleeves: Cut 2 navy sleeves (these will not be lined). The direction of most stretch should be from point to point. Place the pattern piece 1″ away from the fold when cutting to leave room for the gathered sleeve.
  3. Sleeve Bands: Measure the “hem side” of the sleeve pattern and double the measurement. Now subtract 1″ – this is how long you will cut the sleeve band. Cut 2 white sleeve bands that are 2″ wide by this measurement. The direction of most stretch should be  along the length of the rectangle.
  4. Faux Welt Pockets: Cut 2 white pocket pieces 2″ high by 5″ wide. Direction of most stretch should be along the short side of the rectangle.
  5. Peter Pan Collar: (A) Draft a collar according to these helpful instructions. Before you draft the collar, trace the top of the dress front/back and measure 3/8″ to the inside all of the way around the shoulder, neckline and sleeve to remove the seam allowance.  Now draft the collar and add the seam allowance back in. I overlapped the edges about a third of an inch (3/4 cm). (B) Cut 4 collar pieces, making sure you mirror two of them.
Prepping your fabric:
  1. Interfacing: (A) Match the collar pairs together so there are two for each side of the dress. Interface one of each set. The interfaced side will be the under collar. (B) Fold each of your pockets in half lengthwise and interface the lower half (under the pressed centre line) of each one.
  2. Sleeve Band: Press each rectangle in half so the long raw edges come together (lengthwise). Press well. Fold again so the short raw edges come together. Press to mark this centre point.
  3. Mark the Pocket Placement: Fold the front of the dress in half from side to side and press to find the centre. Mark two 4″ lines at approximately hip length – or just below the middle of the dress. These lines should be about 2″ away from the centre line of the dress. This measurement will change depending on the size of the dress you are making, so take this into consideration as well.
Painting the pearls:
Find some objects that you can use to stamp/paint the pearl necklace. I used the end of a washable marker and the eraser from one of my daughter’s pencils. The contrast between the two sizes added a bit more depth to the necklace once it was finished. I was going to use the white paint pen, but didn’t end up needing it.
  1. If you have it, press freezer paper to the wrong side of the top portion of the dress to reduce movement while painting – try not to press away centre line.
  2. Draw the general curves of the necklace onto your dress front. Use the pressed centre line to centre the necklace and the pocket markings to reference length.
  3. Dip the end of your largest object in the fabric paint – I usually put mine on a small lid or piece of parchment paper – and test stamp it on a scrap of fabric. Find how much paint you need and then begin stamping the necklace. Once you have finished the large beads, put the smaller ones on top. After one layer of paint my necklace looked like this:
  4. Once the first layer is dry, add another on top of each “bead”. Keep letting it dry and adding layers until you are happy with how it looks. I used 2 layers of paint on the large beads and 3 layers on the smaller ones.

Sewing the Collar:

Note: Please ignore the elastic and finished back opening in these photos. You will finish these later when you fully line the dress.

  1. Place two collar pieces right sides together. You will have one collar and one interfaced under collar. Stitch them together with a 3/8″ seam, do not stitch the neckline.
  2. Trim the seam allowance to approximately 1/8″ and cut the corners to reduce bulk.
  3. Turn the collar, make sure to push all seams and corners. Press well.
  4. Stitch the dress shoulder seams together as indicated in the pattern.
  5. Pin the collar to the dress neckline – the interfaced under collar is right sides together with the dress front. Make sure the front of the collar is at the centre front and the back of the collar lines up at least 5/8″ away from the centre back.
  6. Baste the collar to the dress front with a 1/4″ seam. The neckline will be properly finished later on in the tutorial.

Sewing the Faux Welt Pockets:

  1. Fold each pocket piece right sides together. Stitch a 3/8″ seam on each side.
  2. Trim the seam allowance to approximately 1/8″ and cut the corner to reduce bulk.
  3. Turn the pocket right side out and press well.
  4. Align the raw edge of the pocket with the pocket line marked earlier.
  5. Stitch across the raw edge of each pocket with a 1/4″ seam.
  6. Press the pocket upwards, enclosing the raw edge.
  7. Top stitch the sides and bottom of the pocket close to the edge.
Sewing the Sleeve:
  1. Line up the centre of the sleeve band with the centre of the “hem side” of the sleeve. Raw edges are together. Next, match up the ends.
  2. Stretch the sleeve band to find the centre point between each set of pins and pin the band to the sleeve again. Continue adding pins until you are comfortable sewing the band to the sleeve.
  3. Stitch along the pinned edge with a 1/4″ straight stitch. Stretch the sleeve band to fit the length of the sleeve between stitches.
  4. Press the seam towards the sleeve.
  5. To gather the sleeve, mark the armhole side of the sleeve approximatly 3″ away from the centre on each side. Stitch a line of basting stitches between the two marks. Pull the threads to gather each sleeve until it is about the same size as the pattern piece.
  6. Pin the sleeve and stitch it to the dress front armhole, as indicated in the pattern instructions. You will only have 1 sleeve layer, because these sleeves are not lined.
Finishing the Dress:
  1. Add the lining, finish and hem the dress according to the pattern instructions. Make sure to watch out for the collar when stitching the neckline so you don’t accidentally sew over it. I would suggest hemming the lining and outer dress together to make it less awkward to put the dress on.
  2. Attach the faux pocket buttons. I stitched them through to the inside of the dress so the pocket would sit flat and not be weighed down by the button.
  3. To finish the collar, roll the lining down into the dress slightly (about 1/16″) and use matching thread to top stitch all of the way around the neckline of the dress, about 1/8″ under the collar. This will help the lining not to show when the collar is being worn.
Congratulations – you’d successfully saved yourself $50 by knocking off a really cute dress! Enjoy!