Transform your pattern into a knit Bellbird Dress with this simple tutorial. Ultra comfort, easy pattern!
Thank you to Rachel Slimmon for creating this tutorial for our Bellbird Dress lovin’ Below The Kōwhai community.
To see more of Rachel’s beautiful sewing visit @royalrabbitcreations on Instagram.
New to knits? Firstly, lets get a good understanding of how knit and woven fabrics differ: Learn more about using knit fabrics, and transforming woven patterns to be used for knits, check out this From Woven to Knit fabric guide on our blog. It will give you a general overview on topics like ease, seams, closures and finishing a knit garment.
Then, let’s get started!
Knit wear is designed to be close fitting, using the stretch of the fabric to provide the ease. Contrastingly, the Bellbird is created with a lot of extra ease to account for the woven nature of the recommended fabric.
After comparing body measurements and finished garment measurements I decided to take an additional 20mm out from both the front and back bodice pieces. I folded out the required amount (20mm) on each pattern piece and re shaped the shoulder seam line (shown above).
The back no longer requires an opening and can be sewn as one piece. To do this, remove the 10mm seam allowance from the back piece and cut on the fold (orange line).
Please note: The pattern pieces shown are from the original pattern. These have since been updated (May 2021). If yours look like this you can download the new pattern from your “My Downloads” on our website when you’re logged in.
Construction – Body
Sew/overlock shoulder seams together. Overlocking generally uses a 6mm seam allowance. The Bellbird dress comes with a 10mm seam allowance built in. Don’t worry about that additional 4mm. Knit fabric is forgiving and it wont be noticed.
Insert the sleeves in flat/open as shown above.
Construction – Neckband
Measure the neck opening with a tape measure and work out 85% of the measurement to find you Neck Band measurement.
How to find 85% of a number? Take the number and multiple it by 85. Then multiply that by .01
Add your seam allowance! I added 12mm (6mm is a standard overlocking allowance x 2.) = “NB”
Cut out 1 x piece of fabric:
Length = NB (85% measurement + 12mm seam allowance) X Width = 35mm (under 5’s), or 40mm (over 5’s and over).
Fold the neck band right sides together to align short sides. Sew / Overlock together.
Open the circle and fold in half lengthways, aligning raw edges.
Fold in half from the join, then into quarters and place pins as a marker for each quarter.
On the garment, fold bodice in half and mark centre of neckline with a pin.
Use the pins on the neck band and on the garment neckline to align raw edges, attach with pins or clips. (Position the neckband join at the centre back of the garment)
Sew/overlock together, gently ease the opening to fit the band as you sew.
Press the seam allowance flat towards the garment.
Top stitch your neckband or leave it as is. I like to stitch using a twin needle on the back half of my neckband. I leave the front and always press it well.
Sew side bodice seams and sleeves together. Turn up the sleeve cuffs and sew using a twin needle or zig zag stitch.
Complete the rest of the dress and per the Bellbird tutorial.