Stripey Skater Dress

When I first started hearing about skater dresses, I thought the name had something to do with skateboarding, or perhaps rollerskating.  But actually they are called skater dresses because they resemble the dresses that ice skaters wear- fitted bodice, and a skirt that flares out at the bust or waistline….duh.  So here is my first attempt at a skater dress of my own!DSC_0036I decided it would be easy enough to just add a skirt to a t-shirt pattern, and it would have if I had a pattern that fit well already…I love the Briar t-shirt pattern, but this needed to be fitted, so I decided to draft my own.  It wasn’t too bad, I traced a t-shirt from my closet that fit OK but needed some improvements (now that I sew I realize that all of my RTW t-shirts fit pretty awful!)  After my second quick version of the bodice I thought I had it, but when I added the sleeves it was…ugh.  They pulled like crazy.  I made some adjustments and tried again- still no good.  So I decided to grab the sleeves from my Miz Mozelle pattern, and with a little bit of adapting they worked out great!  I ended up loving the looser sleeve with some gathers.DSC_0026The skirt is just a gathered rectangle- I used clear elastic to gather it so that it would stay stretchy.  Apparently that waist needs to stay stretchy in order to be able to put it on…ask me how I know, hehe.  Things that don’t occur to you when sewing tired late at night 🙂  Looking at these pictures it looks a little short to me- maybe add an inch or so on the next one…DSC_0040The fabric– I’ll be honest, when this arrived in the mail I was fairly disappointed.  I thought the stripes were woven when I ordered it, but they are the painted on kind.  It’s pretty thin, and the white stripes are stretchy but the gold stripes are not…I figured I would just use it as muslin fabric.  But I have to say,  now that I have this dress, I love it!  It has softened up quite a bit with washing, doesn’t wrinkle, and I love the color.  It is a little annoying that I have to wear a slip under it, but I can live with that.  I really want to make some nice slips to wear, I have quite a few fabrics in my stash that would otherwise require lining. DSC_0072I made the necklace too, out of one of my husband’s old ties.  There are lots of tutorials out there on how to make these, I used this one.  DSC_0063I have made a bunch, they are quick and fun!  You can get ties super cheap from the thrift store, just make sure you wash them (by hand) first- neck ties are usually pretty dirty!  I also made some of these for my sister-in-law whose father had passed away (out of his ties), it is a nice way to be able to wear something that belonged to a loved one.

Here are the obligatory detail shots of the dress:DSC_0085I recently got a coverstitch machine, and this was my first chance to use it on a real garment…it is the coolest!  I need to get the attachment that helps sew binding on, I did this the regular way and then used the coverstitch to finish it off.  Still getting the hang of it 🙂
DSC_0090 Look at those hems!  And it’s soooooo easy.  I think for a lot of sewers it seems like an extravagance, but I don’t buy ANY clothes these days.  The last time I shopped was December.  So I think it is totally worth it to get a professional finish if you sew all of your own clothes, especially if you sew with a lot of knits.DSC_0095 Here are the innards…DSC_0098 There is the clear elastic in the waist seam, you can’t really see it…DSC_0099And the back side of the hem…I think I may need to adjust the tension.  Still learning! 🙂

So there you go, self drafted skater dress!!  I love it, and I want to make probably 5 more…They will be really fun to wear in the fall and winter with tights, boots, scarves and jackets, don’t you think?  If anyone is interested in more details, I could take pictures and do a little tutorial with the next one…you could use a t-shirt pattern that you like (Renfrew?), or adapt the Lady Skater pattern.  Let me know what you think!

  • It’s so sweet. I love this style of dress, easiest thing ever to wear.

    I’m jealous of your coverstitch machine, what a flawless finish it gives inside and out! I have been eyeing them up myself recently – I haven’t bought clothes for months either, so when you put it like that it does begin to make sense.

    • Kelly

      Thanks Katie! It’s how I justify the purchase anyway 😉 But I also sew for my girls, so when you look at all three of us I really do think it will pay for itself before too long!

      • I sew 80% jersey garments too, so it really does make sense! I’ll put it on my Christmas list 🙂

  • The hems look super professional. I was going to ask how you did them before I read that you got a coverstitch machine! Congratulations!

    • Kelly

      Thanks Morgan! I am pretty happy with my little army of machines that I have now…should be set for a long time 🙂

  • this dress is soooo cute! the stripe where the skirt and bodice attach is so perfectly straight it just kills me. nice job! seems like everyone is getting a coverstitch… i completely see the value because, like you, i just don’t buy clothes anymore! one of these days…

    • Kelly

      Thank you!! Haha, you know I totally measured out that stripe at the waist to make sure it would be the same width as the others- sewing geekiness at it’s best. So thanks for noticing 😉

  • This dress is so cute! Love it. I am coveting a coverstitch machine myself! Your dress has such beautiful finishes.

    • Kelly

      Thanks Margo! I am loving the coverstitch machine, I know I will use it tons!

  • I thought it was a skateboarding dress as well!! Ha. The fabric (despite being a disappointment for you when unwrapping) looks so great made up into this dress. It looks super cute with those slip ons of yours. Oh and yes, now I NEED a cover stitch machine despite rarely using stretch fabrics 🙂

    • Kelly

      Haha, glad I wasn’t the only one! I am so happy with this dress that I feel a little bad for the dislike that I directed towards this fabric initially, ha. I have to say, even though I am still learning how to use it I am seriously in love with my coverstitch machine 🙂

  • The dress is adorable! Thanks for the tip about using elastic at the waist, it’s a brilliant solution. And the necktie bow at the back of the necklace is so pretty, I love it!

    • Kelly

      Thank you! I was trying to find a solution and when I Googled “stretchy gathering” I found some instructions on how to gather with clear elastic….gotta love the interwebs 😉

  • Oh totes cute! I’ve been eyeing of t-shirt dresses on Pinterest and meaning to make one. This is exactly the fit I would like to get! Lovely job.

    • Kelly

      Thank you!! I have been wanting to make some all summer, glad I was able to get to it finally 🙂

  • Great dress! I saw this on your Instagram feed and was hoping to see more of the details. I like the cut of the neckline and sleeves and it looks so comfortable.

    • Kelly

      Thank you! It’s so nice when a project turns out just as you have pictured it in your head, and that is what happened here 🙂 You are living my husband’s dream, he totally tries to talk me into living in a van on a regular basis, so far he hasn’t had much luck 😉 It does look like fun though, I love to road trip!

  • Such a cute dress — and it looks SOOOO comfy! A Lady Skater is one of the projects currently siting in my to-sew pile. Hoping I can finally get to it this fall.

    And the cover stitched hem looks amazing! I am officially jealous of your arsenal of machines! I want a cover stitch so bad…

    • Kelly

      I think now that I have made one the next will go fast, so I am hoping to sew at least a couple more. I should be done buying sewing machines for a long time, at least my husband is hoping that’s the case 😉 I hope you can get a coverstitch machine soon! I really want the binder attachment for this one but it’s another $150, yikes.

  • I had definitely thought about the skater and constructing one from existing pattern pieces. Now seeing yours I think I’m definitely going to give it a go. I love the colours of your dress.

    • Kelly

      Yes! If you have a t-shirt pattern that works for you it is so super easy. And I will probably do some with circle skirts too, instead of the gathered skirt.

  • I never understood the name either! I assumed it had to do with skateboarding, too, but now that you’ve mentioned it, it’s totally obvious. Ice skater or skateboarder, it’s a really cute dress! I love the color of the yellow stripe. The necklace is also very cool.

    • Kelly

      Ha, yeah…I pictured all these skater girls wearing their dresses with sneakers while they were skateboarding…

  • Love your skater dress! absolutely, hands down, my favorite of all I’ve seen! nice work.

    • Kelly

      Thank you so much!

  • Very cute dress! I think it suits you and looks very neat on the inside.

    • Kelly

      Thank you!

      • Debera

        I was on the fence about a coverstitch machine until I saw your dress. Having made an appointment to get my serger serviced and cleaned, I lucked into a huge sale and snagged a really nice Janome for a song. Plus, all of the attachments were on sale and I got everything EXCEPT the binder attachment. That’s on my Christmas/birthday list. I hadn’t worked with knits or used my serger for years because I was never happy with hem finishes on my standard sewing machine. Thanks for this post! It was just what I needed to make my decision.

        • Kelly

          Yay!!! That is so exciting, congrats!! I have to say, when I sew with knits now I actually look forward to the end when I hem it, where I used to dread it! I really want the clear foot for it though, so I can see better what I am doing, and the binder. Soon, hopefully! You’ll have to let me know if there are any of the attachments that you find particularly useful! My Elna is the same machine as the Janome, they are owned by Janome.

          • Debera

            I got a package that included the wide elastic attachment, the extension table and the clear foot. The clear foot is definitely my favorite. I also got the narrow elastic attachment and the hemming guide. The hemming guide is pretty slick but I don’t think it’s necessary if you have the clear foot. The reason I held off on the binder attachment was that I didn’t want to have to buy special thread just to sew on bindings. If you use a standard thread, you might find the underside of the binding to be a bit irritating to the skin, which could be an issue at the neck and underarm areas, where you’re most likely to want to use them. So I’m all about that clear foot attachment as being the best buy – if you trim your hem carefully you can freehand it so the hemming guide isn’t needed.

  • Adorable dress! Adorable necklace! Also the Geraniums you made for your girls are so cute, I’ve been making them for my girls as well and love that pattern!

    • Kelly

      Thank you! I had that pattern for a while and I am so glad I finally tried it! I think you could use it as a base for all sorts of variations 🙂

  • Oh this is too cute! I wish I could find yellow stripey knits like that. Just gorgeous!

  • Zoe

    Pretty dress! Ooh, I’m jealous of your coverstitch machine! I have an overlocker but all my knit hems are done with a twin needle on my sewing machine.

    • Kelly

      My coverstitch is da bomb, I have to say! But the twin needle can work pretty well, have you tried using woolly nylon in the bobbin thread?

  • I love this little dress and you know the length is just fine for you too, I think. Coverstitch machines are the bomb and when I got the hang of mine it flew! Congrats on your new piece of technology.

    • Kelly

      Thank you! If I lengthen the next one it will be very slight, like an inch or so. I feel like I am of the age where I have to be appropriate, hehe.

  • Very cute! I really like the shape of the sleeves that you adapted to your self-drafted bodice. You did a great job. I too am jealous of your coverstitch machine. It provides such a lovely finish to knit garments.

    • Kelly

      Thank you! Luckily with the gathering on these sleeves it was pretty easy to adapt 🙂 And I loooooooooove my coverstitch machine, for sure!

  • Wow, this dress looks so pretty! The color looks good on you too! And I love the finishings, it looks like a RTW piece to me!
    I tried something similar to emulate the skater dress look, als because i love the series New Girl and she wears them all the time. But I used a bodice of another dress and attached a square ruffled skirt (guess this is only possible with a straight, hipless figure like mine;)). Btw Is a coverstitch machine the same as a serger or overlock machine? I can get a serger (I think) from my mother in law, just need to move first…

    • Kelly

      I love New Girl too, I have been watching it on Netflix….Zooey Deschanel has the best style, and she always looks great on that show! Some sergers do the regular serger seam and then convert to do the hems (like on most RTW t-shirts) too….but with my serger I can finish seams and do rolled hems, but it won’t do a regular hem like you see on most tee shirts. That is what a coverstitch machine does, and I just found that you can do shirring with elastic thread on a coverstitch too. If you have an opportunity to get a serger in any form I highly recommend it. Mine needs to be serviced but I really feel I can’t live without it, they are great for seam finishing!!

  • Anita

    Hi, I saw a beautiful skater dress in a charity shop a few weeks ago. Taffeta horizontal stripe skirt, organza bodice, long fitted organza sleeves with flared cuff in the stripe taffeta fabric. High neck line, secured with 3 buttons, open seam back, and secured at the waist with buttons. Open seam at the back of the skirt. Then it had a strapless top body con style dress/slip underneath. So sort of dress and jacket I suppose but the jacket on backwards, if that makes sense. Anyway it was £275 (in a charity shop!!!) reduced to £75. But it was far too small for me 🙁 so I studied it in the changing room, bought organza and black/cerise stripe taffeta from the Internet and I’m going to make it myself. I thought about mixing pattern pieces I already have, but thought I’d google it first. Your dress came up, and I love it!! The elastic idea is fab. I wasn’t sure if I’d need to use panels for the skirt. But rectangles work really well. And as your dress is also horizontal stripes of the same thickness my vision is there before me ( with some slight differences). So Thankyou for sharing your dress, and well done for achieving such a beautiful finish. Oh btw, it’s not too short, you have great legs, so go for it!!

    • Kelly

      That dress sounds amazing, good luck recreating it!!

  • Man, I was so excited when I scrolled down and saw the first picture; this is my favorite style of dress, and I’ve been searching for a pattern forever! I’m still a novice, so I think I may be a little bit away from self-drafting, but I’d love if you could share any resources or tips you have on doing so. Lovelovelove how this turned out!!

    • Kelly

      I am not really educated on how to draft anything correctly, mostly it’s just trial and error when I do it…for this dress I traced a t-shirt from my closet which is pretty easy until you get to the sleeves, but I ended up borrowing the sleeves from another pattern. The skirt is just a rectangle gathered at the top. I think the Lady Skater pattern is a good one and is pretty similar, the skirt is more like a circle skirt but if you prefer the look of a gathered skirt it is fairly easy. I think the measurements to mine were 2 rectangles that were 30″ long and something like 20-22″ in length. So when you sew them together the diameter of the waist was about 60″ before gathering, which is pretty much twice my waist measurement. I am making another of these dresses soon, and I would like to put a tutorial together…we’ll see 🙂 You could also use the Renfrew pattern, and just add the skirt to it…hope this helps a little!

  • Tanya

    I just saw your post on the wolf version of this dress and came over here to see construction details! I love it! Would appreciate a tutorial if you can out one together. Thanks so much!!

  • Shellz

    Hi Kelly. I love the dress! I have literally just finished my first skirt ever and I am hooked. I would love to see a tutorial on how to sew these dresses. Perhaps even some suggestions on how to do pic finishes without an overlocker or the other machine you mentioned.thanks for the ideas