As we are moving towards cold season, I wanted to add a new addition to my closet - something classy, elegant, yet warm and cozy. And for me - turtleneck dress is exactly that. I love wear my RTW turtleneck dresses (which I have in several different colors) and now it's time to make one myself!
This project is easy and I would grade it 'beginner friendly' - the cut is simple, just a few pattern pieces and no fancy sewing techniques. The dress can easily be done in just a few hours, so if you're looking for an evening project - this is it!
Before jumping to the tutorial, I want to give big shout-out to partners of this tutorial - needle industry experts Organ Needles.
Organ Needles are one of the leading brands in needle industry, with over 100 years of expertise in needle making. Thanks to accumulation of excellent processing technology, Organ Needles create beautiful and accurate stitches and wide product range allows to find perfect fitting needle for any project you are working on, whether it's embroidery, serging or sewing difficult materials like leather. I've personally been sewing with Organ Needles for several years already and I use these needles in all of my machines: industrial straight stitch, domestic sewing machine, embroidery machine and serger. When I'm sewing with Organ Needles, I'm confident that I'll get perfect stitch quality and needles will perform flawlessly. It's easy to recommend them, because they are reliable and get job done, no matter what project you have on hands.
Now, let's start sewing our DIY turtleneck dress! This tutorial comes in video format or scroll below to read text instructions. Enjoy creating your dress!
To make this turtleneck dress, you'll need:
Knit fabric (I recommend medium-heavy weight fabrics with good stretch - the collar is very tight fitting, so you'll need that stretch to put the dress on);
Clear elastic tape (for stabilizing shoulder seams and gathers at the sleeve bottom).
To make the pattern for the turtleneck dress, you'll need a dartless pattern block (you can find my tutorial how to make one based on your measurements here and sleeve pattern block is here).
To create this turtleneck dress, you'll need to do following adjustments on pattern block:
Front and back pieces. Adjust length and skirt of the skirt, so that it's 5cm the knee. If you want a bit more tight fitting at the bottom dress, make the bottom several centimeters less wide than original hem and connect with widest hip point with a curved line. Do these adjustments on both front and back pieces.
Sleeves. To create gathers at the sleeve part, lengthen the sleeve from the elbow down: mark the pattern 3cm below the elbow line and 3cm above the sleeve bottom and move sleeve 15cm down. Insert extra pattern paper and tape it in place. Connect sleeve bottom with elbow part and mark where you'll need to start gathers. Measure initial sleeve part length and mark this number on pattern - you'll need to gather fabric to this distance.
Collar. Draw a rectangular using your neck circumference and desired turtleneck height (+fold). At the top, mark 'cut on fold'.
Wash and iron your fabric to pre-shrink it. From prepared fabric, cut out following pieces:
Front and back pieces on fold, 1 pieces of each. Add 7mm for seam allowance, except hemline, where you want to leave 3cm for seam allowance.
Cut 2 sleeve pieces, add 7mm seam allowance, except sleeve bottom, where you want to leave 3cm.
Cut collar on fold and add 7mm seam allowance.
Majority of our seams will be made on 4-thread serger. We will first prepare the machine for work.
For my serger needles, I'm using Organ Needles ELx705 Chromium needles. These needles are chromium finished for high performance, they have deep scarf, light ball point and are double grooved for good yarn tension. Organ Needles serger needles come in 3 sizes: 75, 80 and 90: choose smaller size for light-weight fabrics, and larger size for heavier weight fabrics. The fabric I'm working today is medium weight, so size 80 will be perfect for this project. To ensure best sewing quality, change your serger needles regularly, so always keep a few packs of serger needles at home - they will definitely come handy!
Once the serger needles are changed and machine is threaded, we can start sewing:
1. Take front and back pieces, put them right sides together and we will serge shoulder and sides. Optional: I like to add clear elastic tape at shoulder seams, so that they do not stretch out during wear. To do so, simply put elastic under serger foot and sew as usual.
2. Fold collar at the fold line and pin. Serge collar sides together.
Next, we will work on the sleeves. Let's switch to sewing machine and install needle that is suitable for sewing knits.
I'm using Jersey needles by Organ Needles. These needles have medium ball point which makes them great for sewing knitted fabrics. Thanks to rounded tip, the Jersey needle slips between fabric threads instead of cutting through them, so you get a seam without any puckering and fabric damage is avoided. This is why you want to always sew knit fabrics with a special Jersey needle, instead of universal needle. Organ Needles Jersey needles come in 4 different sizes: 70, 80, 90 and 100. You can buy these needles in packs of different sizes, or get the assortment pack, which holds 5 needles in 4 different sizes. I'm working with medium weight fabric, so I will choose size 80, same as I did with serger needles.
3. On sewing machine, set stitch length to longest stitch. From gathering marking, sew a seam, approx. 3mm from the edge. Sew until bottom gather marking. Leave long thread tails both at the beginning and the end of the seam. Make a second seam, parallel to first one, about 6mm from the edge. Repeat on the second sleeve side.
Holding thread tails of both seams, gather the fabric to needed length. Pin sleeve right sides together - the sleeve will look like letter 'C'. Repeat with second sleeve and bring them to serger.
Serge until gather starts. Once you reach gathers, place clear elastic tape under serger foot and continue to serge until end of the gathers. Then trim the elastic and continue to serge throughout the remaining sleeve seam - elastic will help stabilize the gathers and they won't fall apart.
4. Take all garment pieces to the ironing board and press every seam you made so far the shoulders, the sides, the sleeves and the collar.
5. With garment facing wrong side out, take collar and pin seam to center of the back neckline. Pin collar center marking with front center. At the serger, stretch the collar while sewing, so that it fits the neckline beautifully. Do not stretch the neckline itself, just the collar! Sew all around the neckline and finish the serger seam.
6. With garment inside out, put the sleeve into the armhole. Pin at the armhole bottom and shoulder line. Pin around the rest of the armhole and serge. Finish the seam again by pulling thread tail back to the seam. Repeat with a second sleeve.
7. Now we're moving to the final step - hemming dress bottom and sleeves. First, serge raw edges of the sleeves and hem.
On the right side of the garment, mark hem seam allowance, 3cm from the edge. Fold the hem to the inside of the garment at seam allowance line and press. Press all around the hem and sleeve bottoms. Secure hem with baste stitch right under serge seam.
At the sewing machine, install twin needle.
I'm using Organ Needles Twin Stretch needle, which works perfectly with my sewing machine and allows me to sew at high speed, without tangling the threads. When sewing with this needle you will create a professionally looking elastic seam, which is a great substitute for coverlock machine. From the right side of the garment, twin needle creates two rows of stitches, while at the inside of the garment you can see a zigzag - that zigzag gives seam its stretch. Aside from hemming, Twin needles are often used for decorative stitches, for example, creating pintucks. When choosing Twin needle, pay attention not only to the size of the needle (which you choose depending on fabric weight), but also distance between the needles - Organ Needles Twin Stretch comes in two variations (2.5mm and 4.0mm). For hemming knits, you can choose either of these variations, depending which one you like more.
Once the Twin Stretch needle is installed, you'll need two thread cones (I sometimes wind a second bobbin and use it instead of a second thread cone). Put the second thread and thread the machine with both threads at the same time. Once you reach the needle, thread each needle with different thread. Set machine to standard stitch and your machine is ready to sew with Twin needle.
Place your garment right stide up and sew around the hem with twin needle. The baste stitch will be your guide where to sew. Once you sewn all around the hem, remove baste stitch. Repeat with sleeve bottoms.
8. Press hems and give your dress final press. Your dress is finished!
Here are more looks of my dress - I'm loving it so much, I'm already planning next color to make this in!
Thank you for reading todays tutorial and I hope you'll enjoy creating your dress as much as I did!
Best wishes, Julie