made by me · plus size sewing · stretch and sew 305 · sweatshirt dress

Stretch and Sew V 1.0 a.k.a the Sweatshirt Dress

 sweatshirt dress
Dress: Made by me, Pattern: Stretch and Sew 305, Fabric: French Terry
Leggings: Made by me, Pattern :Etsy blog DIY leggings tutorial, Fabric: Jersey
Boots: Honey Blossom Studio on Etsy
 One of the items of clothing that I have been searching for FOREVER is a sweatshirt dress. I mean, a sweatshirt dress sounds awesome, right? You can wear it around the house on Sunday when you are doing your cleaning and its almost respectable enough to wear to the grocery store. Its great for long car rides in the winter and lounging around the ski chalet shack when on ski vacation with friends. Its probably even great for the airplane! And yet, for some reason, NO ONE makes a sweatshirt dress. Or rather, if they do make a sweatshirt dress its too short or too small or sack-like (and literally a thousand dollars) or too ugly or actually just a sweatshirt that someone is trying to pass off as a dress. Trust me, I have been looking for the elusive sweatshirt dress for a VERY long time. 
But now… now I can make one! Hurray! And when is stumbled upon this dated, ugly ass retro pattern at the local thrift store for 30 cents, I figured I would give it a shot. Its the 1977 special: Stretch and Sew 305 and I haven’t found any reviews or info about it on the great, wide interwebs. And if I can’t find it on the interwebs, that means I’m the only person who has ever sewn this pattern, right? That’s what I’m telling myself, it makes me feel adventuresome and special. And helps me excuse my mistakes!
Thrift finds
Sorry for the shoddy photo, here is a scan from Vintage Patterns Wikia.And, if you are so completely green with envy over my dress that you need your very own NOW NOW NOW, there are conveniently a few patterns for sale on Etsy right now.

 See, this pattern contained everything I wanted, but not everything I wanted all in one version! I NEEDED a pouch pocket on the idealized version on my sweatshirt dress that was currently only residing in my brain, and I definitely did not want a cowl neck. I am not a cowl girl. Also, it needed a bit of grading up (story of my life). So, I added about an inch at the center seam (since the pattern is cut on the fold, this is the easiest way to add just a bit of width to the pattern: just line the pattern piece up on the fold then move it over an inch). Unfortunately, as is common with many 70s dresses I saw in my vintage clothes selling days, the top and the bottom are all one piece with an elastic casing around the waist. This means that to accommodate my badonka donk, I had to grade up the entire pattern piece, rendering the top section of the dress way too large. I guess it would have worked if I was going to for that late 70s blousey look the lovely ladies on the pattern envelope are sporting, but that didn’t end up working too well with my fabric of choice. Lets keep track here: Mistake 1.
Speaking of my choice of fabric, did I tell you about this ridiculous mound of white french terry that I purchased in the discount fabric district in Dallas for $3 a yard while visiting my parents at Christmas? No? Well, here it is (with some of it dyed orange). Its even too large to fit in one photo!
I’m not entirely certain what I thought I was going to do with 9 yards of french terry, but $3! per yard! what! I couldn’t pass it up. And I am slowly trying to work my way through it. Turns out it doesn’t hold dye as well as I thought it would, though. This dress was supposed to be navy. Yeah. Mistake 2.
Anyways, back to the sewing saga. Well, in the process of distracting myself with the VERY CHALLENGING grading, I accidentally cut the front neckline on both the back and front pieces and quickly realized that I was screwed. Mistake 3. Fortunately I wasn’t planning on using the cowl neck anyways. 
sweatshirt dress back
Following the directions, I applied the binding to the edges of the pocket and stitched, folded over, and top-stitched the top part of the the pocket. The directions only allow for the pocket on the shirt version of the pattern, with the edges of the pocket being sewn up in the side seams and the waistband. I figured I could top stitch those down later, using a regular old sweatshirt as a guide for construction, but I had to apply the casing first to avoid creating a catastrophe. At that point, I serged the shit out of the side seams (it still feels very dramatic when I use my new serger) and tried the thing on. Yeah, way too big on the top half ( a result of Mistake 1) and the back neckline was way too low (a result of Mistake 3). Here is where I started fixing things. I sewed a massive dart (about 2 inches wide at the top) down the center back to the waistline. Hopefully it just looks like a center back seam. It helped massively with the fit through the shoulders and removed some of the blousey-ness through the bodice. Its still a little big in the front, but trust me, its a MAJOR improvement. 
sweatshirt dress pocket
I applied the casing and elastic as directed and then finished up the pocket by sewing down and top stitching the sides of the pocket and then the bottom of the pocket. The pocket is pretty wide and I would venture to say it would look better if it was a bit less wide, but I was OVER it at this point. I tried the dress on again and guess what? It was WAY too short! Mistake 4. 
Well, at this point I was ready to embrace the “make it work” moment. I was out of the pre-dyed “navy” fabric, but fortunately I still had at least 6 yards of that white french terry laying on my floor. Good thing color blocking is trendy right now! I cut out a nice long panel, sewed it on to the bottom of the dress, and then hemmed it up to a length I liked. My serging skills are a bit lacking so the side seams at the the intersection of the panel and the dress are a bit wonky. I finished things up by applying knit binding made of the white french terry to the sleeves and neckline and the put a fork in it and called it done!
 sweatshirt dress side
By some miracle clearly contrived by the sewing fairies, I managed to end up with a wearable finished project that ticks most of my sweatshirt dress boxes! I have indeed worn it to clean the house and go to the grocery store and will be certain to wear it on my next ski vacation. I haven’t washed it yet, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the dye job doesn’t run or fade too badly. 
And that, my friends, is the saga of the sweatshirt dress. Whew!

12 thoughts on “Stretch and Sew V 1.0 a.k.a the Sweatshirt Dress

  1. Cute dress! The back dart does look like its just a back seam. It looks great on you! I've wanted a sweatshirt dress for a while, too, and even have a pattern… Victory Patterns Lola, but just haven't gotten around to making it. Now, it's getting too warm (here in Texas) to even make it and wear it anytime soon.


  2. Oh, yes! I've seen that pattern, it looks super cute. I guess you'll have to save it til next year. Here in northern New Mexico we can pretty much wear sweatshirts all year (for better or worse!).


  3. I have this pattern and have been meaning to make it! I too couldn't find anyone else who made it. I am so glad to see it made it and posted your adorable results. I love the colors you used. Very nice 🙂


  4. That looks so warm and comfy – it is now Autumn in my neck of the wood and today is pouring with rain and chilly (and apparently the rain has set in for forty days!!!!) So I am loving the idea of the sweater dress. I can wear it while I build my ark. Love yours – great job. And you dyed the fabric too! Glad to hear you are enjoying the serger – quick aren't they.


  5. So cute and versatile — now I need a sweatshirt dress! I am seriously impressed with your determination. I have chucked entire projects for fewer fitting issues than you had…it's so frustrating! (And OHMYGOD-I-CANNOT-BELIEVE-MORE-THAN-$1000-FOR-A-SWEATSHIRT-DRESS-THAT-IS-WACK)

    Cute doggy — introduce us! 🙂


  6. I love the idea of a sweatshirt dress (and would be perfect for the NW weather). I may have to search out that pattern. Also love the waist elastic and front pocket. And I have loads of French terry stashed away ;).


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