Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Making a Rainbow Raglan Cowl Neck Dress

This year I am all about sewing something good again and again when it comes to making clothing. I don't mean having closets full of the same exact thing, but to build on the designs in my stash to create new clothing.  Tweaking, changing up, making things look fresh without starting from zero.  Drafting one-time use patterns takes a lot of time - as does making muslins with new purchased patterns.  Free time is a premium for me these days, so I want to get to the making and enjoying faster this year. I'm starting with my Rainbow Raglan Cowl Neck Dress.

I used a pattern I already made 2 years ago to draft up a new design lickety split.   In fact, it's actually a double repurpose. Would you believe that this was the item I made the original pattern for?  A Cuddly Pumpkin Costume:

That I tweaked to make this Fluffy Chicken Costume:

And now it's been revamped again to make this little number:

The gorgeous chevron folded rainbow fabric (a custom print from Sahara Fabricsis actually what inspired the outfit.  The 3-D look & colors on it really make it pop!  It's also  spandex knit, which means it's best for stretchy looks like leggings, swimsuits & workout wear.  Despite being a "slippery" fabric, the spandex knit is not difficult to sew.  It also has a medium weight so it's totally wearable in winter and summer.

Lucky for me, I had some aqua sweatshirt fleece leftover that was a perfect match to my print.  I was trying to come up with a way to really celebrate the amazing colors & the fluid hand of the fabric, without letting the busy-ness of the print take over, and realized a cute neck cowl dress would be perfect!

I started with my original costume pattern pieces.  Ironically they were created from rough tracings of a store-bought raglan dress and then re-shaped and sized a bit bigger.  How I did it is here. They'd been rounded for the plump pumpkin/chicken shape.  I using my design ruler to straighten the side seams. Since this would be a cowl neck (instead of a split opening with button at the back), I made the neck hole a bit higher and smaller too.  I did a bit of trimming and trying on to get it just right.  

I cut out my new front & back design and the original raglan sleeves. I also cut a few inches of the ends of the sleeves so I could add matching cuffs with my spandex knit print.

After stitching the sleeves to the front & back with a triple stitch (more on that stitch here) and a 1/2 inch seam allowance, it was time for the cowl bit.  I measured the neck opening (which was 19 inches) and then cut a piece of the spandex that was 21 inches wide by 17 inches high:

I folded it downward and then, using a ruler angled inward an inch, trimmed each side.  This slant will give the cowl the right slouchy-ness when done.

Then I opened the cowl up, folded it width-wise, and stitched down the side using my trusty triple stitch and a walking foot:

I opened it up again and folded with wrong sides together and then pinned the raw edges along the neck hole of the dress, with the seam at the back center and stitched.  

I topstitched all the way around so the seam allowance would stay down:

Then I stitched the sides together from cuff to hem.  Using the same technique as the cowl (but just a few inches high this time), I added my colorful cuffs:

Last was the kangaroo pocket.  

I fiddled around with trying to make one and couldn't get the size and shape as I envisioned.  Then I realized I had a kid's fleece hoodie pattern with one and used that to get it just right.  

I used paper backed fusible tape on the pocket edges on the wrong side:

Then peeled off the paper, folded them down and ironed to get them to sit perfectly.  This is my secret to make it easier to topstitch with a twin needle and not get any tunneling (aka the annoying bump between the stitch lines).  Then I eyeballed the placement of the pocket to be even with the sleeve cuffs and stitched it on the front of the dress.

I also used my fusible + twin needle to do the dress hem. Ahh, lovely twin needle perfection:

I made the matching pants using the legging pattern from Simplicity 1511 (which is a top, dress & bottoms set). 

My daughter loves the slouchy fun of the cowl:

I love how how I was able to turn a DIY pattern into even more fashions I can make:)

I was not financially compensated for this post.  I received poly spandex knit fabric from Sahara Fabrics to test sew and was not required to review or promote this fabric or their shop.  The opinions are completely my own, based on my experience. For my complete disclosure policy, click here. 


  1. Aww this is lovely, great colours :)

    Thanks for sharing at the weekend blog hop, pinning :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


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