Pattern Hack for Beginners: Turning a Knit Top Pattern into a Dress using the Christine Jonson Patterns Tie Back Top
We'll be creating a sleeveless maxi dress with a front crossover wrap but without back ties using the Tie Back Top sewing pattern. Because this pattern is fully lined in the bodice, we can make it sleeveless and still enjoy a completely finished armhole edge AND crossover wrap neck edge! EASY sewing with foolproof results.
- Trace your Tie Back Top back and lower bodice pattern pieces onto paper. Cut them out.
- Lay the lower bodice on top of the back and line up the hemlines
- Mark on the Back pattern piece where the bodice attaches (minus 5/8" for the bodice seam allowance) Use the DOT on the pattern for the lower bodice as your minus 5/8" mark.
- Decide how long your dress should be (you can go all the way to the floor if you want!) Measure down from center back neck of the back pattern piece to mark your back hemline depth based on your preferred measurements. Draw a new hemline across at this mark. For my maxi dress, I used 57" inches, the distance from my back neck to the floor on me. But you can go any length you want, from above knee to maxi.
- Mark out about 3-5" from the top's side seam and draw a new line from the hemline up to the top at the widest point of the notch on the pattern side seam. This will be the new width of the dress at the hem, making an A-line shape. The longer you go, the wider the dress will need to be. At maxi-length, you'll be adding more to the width of the back at the hem (about 11" wider than the top is). We'll show this on the video (and we'll be making an awesome sleeveless maxi-dress version of this dress/top.) I used 20" total as my width for the back pattern piece, as I measured a RTW maxi with an 80" circumference. Since the back pattern piece is 1/4 of the entire maxi, 20" x 4 = 80". I drew a line from the 20" wide hemline up to the notch on the top pattern's side seam to create my lower dress shape.
- Make the lower bodice the same length, by measuring from the back mark that you made down to the back hem. Make your bodice this length to match up with the back pattern piece. Remember, the bodice is shorter than the back, because it attaches under the bust to the upper bodice pieces.
- Cut the dress pieces out: you will be cutting an original back (top length) out of your lining fabric, two front upper bodices out of lining and then a fashion fabric back, a fashion fabric lower bodice, two fashion fabric upper bodices.
- At step 9, of the pattern sewing instructions, you will NOT be sewing the bottom hem closed as per the instructions.
- If you want to omit the ties on the back of the dress, simply wrap the front ties across and secure them to the side seams BEFORE you sew the side seams. Pin and try on your dress to determine your best fit before you sew.
- Sew the Tie Back Dress exactly as the Tie Back Blouse EXCEPT for the sleeveless modification, sewing the armholes before you turn it right side out
- If you're omitting sleeves, sew the armholes at step 11 of the sewing instructions, and leave an opening in the side seam under one arm for turning. I recommend you mark the opening with a safety pin so you don't accidentally sew your opening closed during construction.
Trace your back pattern piece onto paper
Using the dot on the lower bodice and matching up the bottom hem of the original top pattern, you can calculate the length of the new lower bodice.
Conmect your hem line to the sideseam at the sideseam notch.
The bodice is shorter than the back because it attaches under the bust.
The Tie Back Top is an EASY pattern to sew and hack - you'll use just 3 pattern pieces for this maxi-dress hack to create a beautiful summer dress that is dressy enough for a summer wedding, and casual enough for beach and pool wear.