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Sweet Cupcake Dress

Stitch up an easy knit summer dress using the Tabula Rasa Knit tee and tunic pattern.  This little confection will inspire you to lengthen your personalized knit pattern to dress length and to draft a little cap sleeve to dress up the tank top styling found in the Twin Set Variations.

Cutting out the fabric with cupcake placement in mind.

The Fabric and Its Owner

This knit is a poly/spandex blend, computer printed fabric.  It has lots of stretch and a nice thickness to support a dress length garment.  It was purchased at House of Spandex in NYC, one of many brightly printed knits available there.

I made it for my friend Sally and it coordinates perfectly with her Tabula Rasa Jacket made from an old quilt and featured recently in the blog post Coat Stitched from a Quilt.

Testing the wide neckline turned under finish on a scrap.

Pattern Work

Her Tabula Rasa Knit tee pattern was adapted with the boat neckline from the Wide Neckline Variations and the tank top side panel from the Twin Set Variations for Tabula Rasa Knits.   I drafted a cap sleeve from her basic knit sleeve pattern, tracing off the sleeve from notch to notch, connecting the two sides with a straight line (which becomes the fold line) and creating a mirror image for a double layer sleeve.  The Knit Tee’s front, back, and side patterns were extended 15 inches to create a comfortable dress length.

The sleeve pattern, cut sleeve and assembled sleeve

Add the Trim

The dress is accented with white stretch sequined trim stitched in place with a narrow zigzag stitch.  To incorporate the trim easily, I chose the turned under neckline finish found in the Wide Neckline variations pattern.  (See the process of sewing this boat neckline in the previous post, Easy Knit Finish. ) The trim was topstitched to the front and back neckline before the shoulder seams were sewn.  The trim was also stitched along the cap sleeve folded hem line before the sleeves were inserted and the dress hemline after hemming.  The trim is stretchy enough that none of the dress’s ease of movement was lost after its application.

Construct the Dress

To construct each sleeve, fold them in half, ease stitch the two layers of sleeve head together with a long stitch along the raw edge.  Stitch the trim just inside the folded hem edge.  Insert the cap sleeves after stitching the front and back together at the shoulders only, matching the shoulder dot and the notches.

Sleeves, one pinned in place, the other positioned for pinning.


Once the sleeves have been added, position and stitch in the tank top side panel that has been finished along the underarm edge as described in the Twin Set Variations pattern.  The side panel should extend beyond the sleeve edge for a smooth finish.

Close up of the sleeve and side panel intersection. A machine tack holds the seam out of sight.

Try it On

Because Sally had not had a knit dress made before, she came for a quick “masked” fitting.  We tapered the dress through the waist for a trim fit.

The dress, ready for a fitting and hem.

Make your Own

Have you made a knit dress using your Tabula Rasa Knit Tee pattern?  Carrie has a painted dress that uses the Clever Crossing Variation banded surplice front featured in the blog, Threads Sample Details.  Check it out, too, and be inspired to create your own dress or add the cap sleeve to a tee shirt or tunic.  Keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram this week to see photos of the dress on Sally, and more construction photos.

Need some encouragement to start stitching knits?  The Knit Fit Nuances class on June 17, sponsored by OSQE might be just the jolt you need to start stitching fun knits.  Plan ahead to register and order the accompanying kit so you can feel and see the different knits as you follow along during the class.  If you are headed to the Cleveland/Akron Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, register for Rae’s class Knits that are Sew Fabulous on Friday, July 16.

Happy Sewing, RAE



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