Pattern hacks

3 Antrim dresses (Itch to Stitch). Surplice bodice & ruched waistband. Sleeve alternatives & Peplum.

I was recently a pattern tester for Itch to Stitch designs, and this time, for the gorgeous Antrim dress.

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The Antrim dress has surplice bodice, another name for a wrap bodice, and this design has this bodice reaching below the bust. What completes the bodice length is the wide ruched waistband. This waistband has an inner and an outer layer. The outer layer is the ruched one. The bottom of the waistband reaches the natural waist.

The bodice on the Antrim dress has options for bust cup sizes A-DD making this pattern fitting GOLD. There are gathers below the bust. On a solid fabric, they will be seen, but in a print, they won’t be noticeable at all.

The neckline of the Antrim dress is finished with self binding that is folded to the inside of the neckline and top stitched. This gives the front a clean finish. The sleeves are short and the skirt is a swishy 1/2″ circle skirt that is intended to reach 2″ below the knee.

The Antrim dress is 20% OFF through the 7th of September. Consider using my affiliate link HERE if my work inspires your sewing 🙂 Thank you so much.

The Antrim dress is designed for knit fabric that stretches 50-60% horizontally. If you chose a knit that stretches less, the dress will feel too tight and if you choose fabric that stretches more than the recommended amount, the neckline may gape, the skirt hang lower and overall have a “too big feel”.

Light to medium-weight fabrics that drape nicely and have good recovery are the best choices. There needs to be at least 5% of Spandex (or Lycra, or Elastane) in the composition.

  • Rayon Spandex: my choice for two of my versions
  • Double brushed poly
  • Single brushed poly
  • Stretch velvet
  • Stretch lace
  • ITY: test the recovery, I used this too.

The inner waistband could benefit from being made from a slightly more structured fabric than the main fabric. Swim fabric is an excellent choice to help with keeping the shape of the bodice and holding up the skirt.

The Antrim dress is the first dress that Itch to Stitch designs has released with improved sizing from 00-40 US. This is a great size range! the first pattern in this range were the Mountain view jeans (See videos on my channels HERE and HERE).

You can see body measurements in the above graphic. The Antrim dress, being a fit and flare style, means that the most important measurements to consider when choosing size (or sizes to blend) are the bust and waist.

The intended fabrics are knits with stretch and the bodice will have some negative ease. This means that the finished bust is 1″ smaller than the body. This will make the neckline hug the chest and not gape.

The waist has zero ease. This means that the finished circumference here is not smaller or larger than the body measurement. Because of the stretch of the knit, this waistband will not be tight and it will feel very comfortable.

The skirt is a half circle skirt, meaning that there is ample room at the hips. The length of the skirt is 29.5″.

Practicalities on sizing and fitting:

  • The bodice has cup sizes A-DD for sizes 00-20 and cup sizes B-DD for sizes 22-40. If you have needed to add length to other bodices without cup sizes to account for the extra length your larger bust needs, you will not need to do this with the Antrim dress.
  • The skirt piece is cut twice on the fold. They are the same for the front and and the back.
  • If your hip size is 1-2 sizes larger than your waist, consider cutting one skirt piece from the original pattern and use this for the front. For the back skirt piece, add some length to the center back tapering to nothing on the side seam. The thing about a half circle skirt is that it WILL fit the hip circumference, but the skirt might look shorter on the back. I have made a simple diagram to illustrate this simple “fix”. This will not add width (the hips fit), it will only add length.

  • The instructions have great diagrams illustrating how to blend from one size to another on the bodice and waistband
  • The total bodice length is composed of two pieces: the wrap portion and the wide waistband. Taking flat pattern measurements is not accurate and also will not account for the vertical stretch of the knit fabric and the weight of the skirt that will also “lengthen” the bodice.
  • Making a bodice from scraps is the best way to check if the bottom of the waistband is hitting the natural waist. This is important so that the Antrim dress fits and looks its best.
  • If you think the bodice muslin is too short, add less than what you think you need to the bodice… the weight of the skirt will probably bring it down to the waist. I would suggest being conservative here. The bodice has cup sizes. If you choose your correct cup, you will most probably have a very close to perfect fit.
  • Adding length to the skirt at the hem will widen the skirt hem considerably and you need to consider the width of the knit you are using and if the skirt piece will fit on the fold this way.
  • Taking away length of the skirt at the hem will reduce the hem circumference. Consider this too. I personally am thrilled to reduce the volume and made my skirt 2.5″ shorter for it to reach above my knees.
  • I did not need any adjustments to my size 14 C cup bodice. The shoulders and sleeve fit is good for me.
  • I sew most of the seams on my sewing machine with a shallow zig zag: 0.5 width by 2.5 length and then finish edges with my basic three thread serger.
  • The binding has notches that match the center of the neckline on the front and the shoulder seams. The binding is shorter than the neckline and you stretch it slightly to match while sewing. I prefer sewing this with the sewing machine; it is less bulky. The pattern also says we can do this with the serger. I find the later option bulky and the fact that you need to trim seam allowance white serging means that we could lose some accuracy.
  • I cut my front bodice on the bias, for visual purposes only. Be careful with this. Depending on the knit, cutting on the bias could compromise the recovery of the fabric in this direction of cutting. I tested my fabric first and found this option feasible.
  • If you like the bias front, draw a bias line on the bodice, This is 45 angle from the grainline. This is shown below with a red line. Align this bias line along the stripes of the fabric.
  • I used one front piece, put it RST on the fabric, matching the stripes exactly so that both fronts would look identical in mirror images. See below.
  • I cut the sleeves in the same way, but on the normal “grain”, so that the stripes would be the same on both of them.
  • I cut one skirt piece first, placed it RST on the fabric to cut the other with the stripes exactly the same. This is how I can get perfect chevrons on the side.
  • I matched each stripe on the side seams of the skirt with 1000 pins and used a straight stitch here for accuracy. Patience…patience and it’s worth it!
  • The outer waistband is gathered on the side seams to match the length of the inner waistband. After a few steps, they are united and treated as one piece when sewing onto the bodice and the skirt.
  • The hem: I serged the edge and folded it up inside and sewed it down with a twin needle for both the skirt and the sleeve.

To see a full pattern review and step by step how to sew the bodice and waistband, see my video on YOUTUBE:

I made three versions! The first is the original, the second has long sleeves and a peplum hack and the third is sleeveless 🙂 We will see aspects of all of these,

ORIGINAL TESTER VERSION NO CHANGES

Let’s have a look at my dizzy stripe dress. I had been dreaming about this look when I paired this fabric to the Antrim dress. Don’t think that I cut the skirt on the cross-grain…. this fabric is originally printed with VERTICAL stripes. WIN! I am not a fan of horizontal stripes at all. This is medium weight Rayon Spandex.

Summary of stripe direction on my dress:

  • Bodice fronts: on the bias
  • Back, sleeves and skirt: normal grain, vertical stripes
  • Waistband: “cross-grain” horizontal stripes

LET’S MAKE THE SHORT SLEEVES FULL LENGTH

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The Antrim dress has short sleeves. They can easily be lengthened to full length and all you need to do is measure from the raw edge of the short unhemmed sleeve and add the difference you need to reach your wrist. You can measure this on yourself to match the length of your arm.

You need to measure your wrist circumference and add 1-2″ of positive ease and this is how the sleeve will taper down to full length. You also need to add 1″ hem allowance.

Trace the short sleeve onto a bigger piece of paper. Mark the shoulder, single and double notches and a line from the center of the sleeve hem, all the way down.

I added 14.5″ (37cm) to mine, plus 1″ for the hem. My wrist is 7″ and I decided to have 9″ finished width at the hem, giving me 2″ of ease. This is a personal preference. I don’t like a fitted wrist.

When drawing 4.5″ to each side of the center of the sleeve at the hem, I also added 3/8″ on each side for seam allowance. The original sleeve uses 3/8″ seam allowance, so this needs to be considered. This how my new pattern looks like:

At the hem, fold away the 1″ hem allowance before cutting the new sleeve piece. This will true the bottom of the sleeve and make the hem neat when sewing.

LETS MAKE A PEPLUM TOP!

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I decided to use my new long sleeve pattern piece on a peplum top. I used the skirt piece from the Antrim dress to cut a shorter piece. I decided to measure this to be 9″ plus 1/2″ for hem allowance. I added 9 1/2″ from the waist down.

For this version, I used medium weight Rayon Spandex.

The next steps are totally optional if you want the peplum piece to flare out less. This is what I wanted. A little less volume at the mid hip length.

The next images show one slash line on the middle of the peplum, 3/8″ from the edge on the top (to not change the original waist). I drew a line 5/8″ away from any of the sides and overlapped the paper so that the red line is in the middle. This overlap means that 5/8″ is being removed TWICE. See below:

Removing 5/8″ twice like this means that 1 1/4″ is being removed on this piece. When cutting the piece on the fold, 2.5″ is removed. The skirt pieces are cut TWICE, so 5″ is removed in total from this peplum top.

To see more details and other options to reduce less or to increase the volume, see my video HERE.

This is my modified Antrim dress long sleeve peplum top! Easy adjustments that you can also do for yourself..

I feel that a peplum top can make this style casual and wearable daily, more than a dress, if you think dresses are for special occasions. In my style, I wear dresses daily and everywhere, even to the supermarket!

SLEEVELESS ANTRIM DRESS

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Sleeveless is a way of life for me and I will usually make a sleeveless version after a pattern test, when the original has sleeves. I live in Brazil and its HOT, also I like the sleeveless look. This version of the Antrim dress is made with lightweight ITY knit fabric.

When trying on my muslin, I also checked on myself how much narrower I wanted the shoulder seams to be and how much I wanted to raise the armhole for good coverage on the underarm area. Based on my observations, I traced new bodice pieces and modified the armscye for both the front and the back.

If you want to make a sleeveless version, check on your body the changes you’d like to make. To finish the armholes, I used the same binding piece provided for the neckline, only made it shorter to match 85% of the armhole circumference.

To see how to measure a new armhole, calculate % for bands and binding, check out my FREE MASTERCLASS on YouTube. See below:

I chose a tie dye type ITY knit that flows beautifully but is super lightweight. I cut the back bodice piece twice, baste them together and treat it as one piece. This will add support and structure to the bodice and will also prevent seeing the outline of undergarment lines through the fabric. To see this done on other garments, see THIS video, THIS video AND THIS one 🙂

Let’s see my Sleeveless tie dye Antrim dress!

To see the long sleeve peplum top and the sleeveless Antrim hacks in video and also to see them on in motion, see the video below from my channel:

The Antrim dress is an amazing pattern that looks great on everyone. It’s amazingly drafted to fit a great range of sizes (00-40US) and cup sizes (A-DD). The design makes this wrap bodice unique and different to other wrap styles I have sewn before. The crossover does not need a pin or a camisole underneath for cleavage coverage. I love it and you can tell because I made THREE! Another aspect to consider is COMFORT, and there is ample ease of wear 🙂

I hope you are inspired to sew your own Antrim dresses and also add these little hacks to extend the possibilities into winter and summer with the sleeve modifications. The peplum top takes this pattern into more casual everyday wear too.

The Antrim dress is 20% OFF through the 7th of September. Consider using my affiliate link HERE if my work inspires your sewing 🙂 Thank you so much.

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DISCLAIMER: I was provided the pattern without cost, as a pattern tester, in exchange for sewing a muslin, providing feedback on instructions and fit. I Purchased my own fabric for both versions.

I have affiliate links in this post to the pattern company and the pattern. If you click on these links, at no cost to you, I receive a small commission that helps finance my sewing, blog and Youtube channel.

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