With 2021 fast approaching (did we ever think it would actually come?!), and celebrations forever changed, it's easy to feel a little discouraged that we might not be ringing in this new year with all the energy we feel it deserves. 2020 has been... well... 2020.
I wanted to still celebrate the coming of this new year with a bit of drama and fun and general merriment, and I figured the best way would be in creating a celebration outfit that not only looked really cute and 100% 2021 worthy, but was also SUPER comfortable! Like, #secretpajamas level comfort.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen the first draft of this particular pattern hack in my stories. I made a black version of the Nathalie Bodysuit hacked into a knee length dress with a mock turtleneck. I didn't get everything exactly right with that first draft, but that's ok! I knew I was really close to making something special, and I want to share the perfected hack with you today! I was personally inspired by this gorgeous Alice + Olivia dress for my New Years ensemble!
Now, I am sure this hack would work with any of your favorite bodysuit patterns. You could even go directly for one that already has a mock turtleneck, like Megan Nielsen's Rowan Bodysuit!
Ready to dive into this hack?
Let's get started!
DRAFTING THE SKIRT
For this project, you will need to trace your main bodysuit pieces out onto a large sheet of tracing paper. Be sure to leave plenty of room on the top and bottom of each piece as we will need all the space we can get!
I stopped tracing right at the bottom edge of the leg opening. You can trace the entire bodysuit if you would like, but personally, my brain can't handle all those lines going everywhere. It makes me confused.
To start, you will need to know how long you want your finished skirt to be. If you are unsure, I find it best to stand in front of a full length mirror with a measuring tape. Place the measuring tape at your natural waist marked with a bit of elastic (if you aren't sure where your natural waist is, feel free to check out this post all about finding your measurements!) and gently step on the measuring tape to hold it taut. Now, pick a spot where you would like your dress to ideally hit, i.e. below the knee, mid calf, mid thigh, etc. Write down your measuring tapes measurement at that spot.
Take the measurement you wrote down back to your traced pattern. Measure out the same length you noted from the waist point of your pattern (for the Nathalie that is directly on the bottom of the two lengthen/ shorten lines). Don't forget to add a hem allowance to this measurement! I added an extra inch (2,5 cm) just in case I changed my mind on the length later!
Mark a line perpendicular to your CF seam.
If you need to, connect your CF seam with your new skirt hem, making sure the points connect at a 90 degree angle.
To finish up your skirt, draw a straight line down from the outer edge of bodysuit's leg opening, again making sure that the new point connects to the hem line at a 90 degree angle.
Repeat this same process with the back of your bodysuit pattern piece.
High five! You just finished the skirt portion of your dress hack! You are more than welcome to stop here and sew up your dress without the mock turtleneck portion. I actually think the Nathalie would look rather pretty as just a simple body con dress, with or without sleeves!
If you would like to add the mock turtleneck portion to your design, however, feel free to read on.
DRAFTING THE MOCK TURTLENECK
First, if you are working with the Nathalie Bodysuit, we need to raise the neckline of the pattern. Based on trial and error, I found that if I raised the neckline in the front neckline by 1" (2,5 cm) and brought the shoulder seam in towards the CF by 3/4" (2 cm) and then raised the back neckline by 8" (20,5 cm) and brought the shoulder seam in towards the CB by 3/4" (2 cm), it hit in just the right place which was right around my collar bone once the neckband was sewn on.
Marking the Center Back neckline up 8" (20,5 cm) and in from the shoulder seam 3/4" (2 cm).
Marking the Center Front neckline up 1" (2,5 cm) and in from the shoulder seam 3/4" (2 cm).
*Note: Of course, if you have a favorite pattern that has a mock turtle neckband, you can always layer the pattern piece under the Nathalie and trace off the neck line as well as the mock turtleneck piece!
Mark your new neckline for both the front and back and connect it to the center seams as well as the shoulder seams. You can connect your pieces to your shoulder seam by gently following the original curve shape by eye OR if you have a French curve use it to connect the two points seamlessly.
I don't own a French curve anymore, so I just eyeballed it! Oh, and don't forget to transfer your CF/ CB notches to your new neckline.
Finally, we get to drafting the mock turtleneck piece!
Because this is a form fitting dress, I figured having a form fitting neckband would be appropriate. Which is why we will be drafting this neckband in two pieces! They will both be drafted in the same way, but will use different measurements for the front and the back.
Starting with the front of your pattern, measure the front neckline at the sewing line. This is where your seam allowances are so you will have to draw those in (reminder, the seam allowances for this pattern are 1/2" (1,5 cm) all around EXCEPT for your new skirt hem).
We want this neckband to be snug but not so snug you feel it's hard to breathe while wearing. So we are going to make this neckband 90% smaller than the neckline opening. This will ensure the neckband doesn't slouch, but also isn't too tight.
For instance, my back neck band measurement is 4 1/4" (10,8 cm). I multiply that measurement by 0.9 to approximately 3 3/4" (9,5 cm). This will be the width of my front neckband!
Repeat these last two steps with your back neckband. Be sure to write both measurements down someplace safe.
Next, grab a bit of tracing paper and fold it in half lengthwise. This top edge will be were we fold our neckband and will ensure that when we draft our pattern out it is 100% the same on each side.
Starting from the folded edge of your tracing paper, draw a line down that measures 3" (7,5 cm).
From the end of your new line, draw a line that matches your back neckband measurement + 1/2" (1,5 cm) of seam allowance. For me that worked out to be 4 1/4" (10,8 cm) for my back neckline (4 1/4" x 0.9 = 3.7125" + 1/2" = 4 1/4").
It looks like I forgot to add my 1/2" (1,5 cm) seam allowance to my above measurement. Because my fabric was SO stretchy, this wound up working out ok! But if you have less stretchy fabric, this most likely wouldn't work well.
Connect the end of your neckband line back up to the folded edge. Double check that both of your shorter lines are the same length and that all your corners meet at a 90 degree angle.
Mark your CB line.
This next step is totally optional, so feel free to skip it if you are happy with your current neckband measurements!
If you would like, you can also add a bit of shaping to your neckband. To do this, measure in 1/4" - 1/2" (1 - 1,5 cm) from the folded edge of your paper on one side. Connect this new mark with the bottom of your neckband in a smooth, curving motion.
Cut out your neckband piece and unfold your paper.
Mark the CF/CB of your neckband (if you haven't already) as well as the fold line for your pattern.
Repeat all these steps for your second neckband piece.
SEWING THE DRESS
HOORAY! You are officially ready to cut out your fabric using your newly created pattern and get to sewing! Luckily, this is a really short sew. Still, I highly recommend you take a short break to grab some water or refill your coffee and walk around a bit before diving in to the sewing part of this project.
Alrighty, did you have a nice little break and are ready to jump into sewing? Let's do it!
Follow the instructions in your pattern booklet for sewing your:
- Shoulder Seams
- Side Seams
Once you have those bits sewn up, meet me back here to work on your neckband and hem!
With right sides together, sew your front neck band to your back neckband at the side seams using a zig zag stitch.
Trim your seams.
With wrong sides together, fold your neckband in half lengthwise to create one continuous cylinder.
Using a long zig zag stitch, baste the bottom edge of your neckbands together, making sure the side seams on each side are touching.
*Note: This would be a great time to try on your neckband to make sure it is not too tight or too loose. Simply slide it over your head and position it at the base of your neck. If it is too loose, you can easily take in the side seams a bit more until you achieve the proper fit!
With raw edges together, match the side seams of your neckband to the shoulder seams of your dress and the CB / CF notches with one another. Pin in place.
Gently stretch your neckband as you sew (using a zig zag stitch) it into place along your neckline.
Press your seam allowance down.
*Optional - For added support, you can add a line of edge stitching (using a long straight stitch or a zig zag stitch) all around the outside of your neckline, making sure to catch the seam allowance of your neckband underneath it.
Finally, we come to the hem of the dress! All you have to do is press your hem up the desired amount and stitch it into place using a zig zag stitch or a twin needle. Whichever you fancy!
Et Voila! Your Nathalie dress hack is complete!
I think you are totally ready to ring in the new year with your new super comfy dress! and when you are done ringing in 2021, you can cozy up in bed without even changing into your PJs!
I'd love to see your take on this hack! Feel free to tag your Nathalie hacks on IG with #UTNathalieHack ! Bonne Couture !