While most cosplay revolves around woven fabrics and the many intricate shapes you can get out of them, sometimes you just want a basic dress that is comfortable and simple to put together. You might have also noticed that almost all manufactured clothing is made from knit fabrics and sometimes more modern characters wear knits.
Knit vs Woven
Knit fabrics stretch really well and when you look at their fibers, they often look like they are looped together. If you have any experience with knitting, the fabric looks like your typical purl stitch.
Pros: Stretchy, form fitting, comfortable
Cons: Can be a pain, sometimes unravels
Woven fabrics can be stretchy (such as when they have elastic fibers or are woven in a particular way) but in general they have more structure to them. When you look at the fibers they look like cross hatching.
Pros: Easy to work with, structured
Cons: Can be itchy, doesn’t allow for great movement while also being formfitting
So that’s the briefest lesson on fabric you’ll ever read. Lets jump into making the dress. Below I outline two things, how you should fold your fabric and the basic pattern for a knit dress.
Knit Dress Pattern
- Neck Radius: Take the circumference and then use a program like Omni to calculate your neck radius
- Neck Depth: Decide what type of neckline you want and measure how deep that needs to be. For the initial cut though, cut the neck at the back neck measurement (typically around 2in deep)
- Shoulder Length: Measure from edge of neck to edge of shoulder
- Arm Length: Measure from edge of shoulder to wherever you want the sleeve to end plus your hem allowance
- Sleeve Width: If you’re like me and you have thick upper arms I recommend using two measurements for this. Take the measurement at the thickest part of your arm and take a measurement at wherever you want the sleeve to end. Cut these values in half and add you seam allowance. Place the larger value at the shoulder point and the smaller value where the sleeve ends. The top of your sleeve should always be flat,but the under side of your sleeve can be tapered.
- Bust: Measure around the fullest part of your bust and divide that number by 4. Add your seam allowance. This measurement will go at the same level as your shoulder seam. If you have low or high sitting breasts you can play around with the distance from the shoulder seam to create the best look for you!
- Waist Length: Measure from the top of your shoulder down to your waist, passing over the fullest part of your breast. This tells you how long your waist measurement needs to be.
- Waist Measurement: Measure around your waist and divide the number by 4. Add your seam allowance.Taper the line from your breast to your waist. You can play with this tapering to create the best shape for you.
- Skirt Length: Measure how long you want the skirt and add your hem allowance. For skirt variations and measurements see Some Pattern Notes below
Your fabric width should be double the length of measurements 1, 3, and 4 added together.
Your fabric length should be double the measurements of 7 and 9 together.
If you find fabric this size then all you will need to sew is two seams up the sides and under the arms.
BUT NO FABRIC IS THAT SIZE???
That’s okay! You’ll just have more pieces! Make sure that at least the pattern laid out above will fit without folding your fabric along the width of the fabric (listed on the bolt usually 45-60 in). If it fits without folding you’ll just need to cut out 2 pieces. To get your yardage for two pieces just times your 7+9 length by 4. This will give you a front and back seam.
Some Pattern Notes
Now that you have all of your measurements, draft a pattern on some paper (large rolls of big paper are available at craft stores usually in the children’s construction paper, or buy drafting paper).
Laying Out The Pattern
Your shoulder seams should be on a fold and the length of your dress should be on the other fold. When you cut it out you’ll get on piece that is attached at the shoulders/ sleeves and at the center front and back but is unattached at the side seams.
The back neck line should curve from the edge of point 1 to the edge of point 2.
The front neck line can look however you want, but you should cut this out after cutting the base part because if you cut it out first you won’t end up with a back neckline (unless you want them to match then go for it!)
The sleeve width can be played with to create any sleeve shape you could want.
The skirt portion is tricky. Really your can make any shape you want.
If you want a form fitting dress then measure around your legs where you want the dress to sit and divide it by 4, adding your seam allowance and hem allowance. Measure out from your initial skirt length at a right angle and taper the measurement from the edge of this length to your waist measurement. You can play with curve here if need be.
For a more circle skirt appearance, take measurement 9 and place it at a right angle from the end of your waist measurement. Draw an arc from this new point to the bottom of measurement 9. It should resemble the pattern above.
You can vary the skirt a lot and have fun with it! It takes some trial and error to make it perfect but don’t give up!
If you got the perfect sized fabric then ideally you should only have two seams, the side seams that go from the sleeve to the edge of the skirt.
Some sewing recommendations: use a ballpoint needle, a walking foot, and a stretch stitch. Ballpoint needles and walking feet can be found on Amazon or at your local craft store. Stretch stitches come built into your machine, they look like zigzags or honeycombs. Personally I prefer the one that looks like a serger stitch (zig zag with edge stitches).
For the hems, you can either roll the hems and stitch them down or you can use hem tape. Be warned though, hem tape is not stretchy. A fun thing I like to do it use a contrasting thread and a decorative stitch for hemming.
Always finish your seams, but when it comes to knits, I mean it. Finish your seams. Or else your dress is going to unravel on you and you’ll be dress-less and sad. Some knits are less prone to unraveling but it is better to be safe than sorry.
This tutorial explains some more about sewing knits if you need it!
As always, thanks for reading! If you have any questions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to help!
And if you enjoyed this tutorial, consider buying us a coffee!