Maine, United States

Array Shirt Dress / Hack Tutorial
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Array Shirt Dress / Hack Tutorial

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In the last post, I shared my Array Shirt Dress hack, and today I'm talking all about making it! My favorite type of garments to sew are the simple, basic ones that can easily be created over and over and in a variety of ways. These are the type of patterns that can be altered to create something similar but different, also known as hacking. In my sewing practice, I like to think there are several categories for the things I create. There are special garments, like long frilly dresses or unique coats, and then there are the basics I tend to wear most like linen pants, simple tops, and dresses. I keep a running list of these patterns so that if I'm ever in need of a basic item, I can look to my list for what's needed instead of trying to find a new pattern that might work. These basic patterns are also great for times when I want to sew a fun and easy project.

A great thing about top patterns is that they are one of the easiest to hack because all that's needed is a little extra length! For hacking the Array Shirt pattern by Sonya Philip, I made four changes, though only the first three are necessary for the hack, and the last is just for fun.

Materials Needed

Making No. 6 / Black & White (pages 28-31)
Making No. 7 / Desert
• Ruler or straight edge
• Approximately 3/4 yard extra fabric
• Marking pen
• Pattern paper

Eliminate Center Seam on Front Pattern Piece

I decided to eliminate the center seam on the front piece because I wanted this dress to be as simple as possible. However, if you'd like to keep the center seam and detailing at the neckline, this hack still applies, skip ahead to the next section on lengthening the pattern!

Because there is 1/2" extra width to accommodate the seam at the center of the front pattern piece, the first thing that must be done is to remove this from the pattern. Cut both the front and back pattern pieces along the line at the center front/back where it's marked "fold."

Lengthen the Pattern

There are several different ways to lengthen a pattern. Sometimes a pattern will include a line somewhere in the middle where there isn't much curve that says "lengthen or shorten here." Since the Array Top pattern is strictly a top, I decided to lengthen by following the side seam.

First, decide how much length you would like to add. One way to do this is by holding the pattern piece up you in the mirror, and letting a measuring tape hang down from the pattern edge with the 1" side toward the floor. I use this method often, but another way to decide how much length to add is by measuring the length of a dress you already own. Keep in mind that if you plan to do a traditional hem or thick hem, you will need to add additional length to accommodate that. Once you've decided how much length you would like to add, take your ruler or straight edge and align its edge with the side seam edge of the pattern, marking your line down to the desired length. Repeat this for the line at the center of the pattern. Then, draw a straight line across the bottom for the hemline. You will do this for both the front and back pattern pieces.


Emerald Dress Pockets

Adding pockets to a dress is very simple, and one of my favorite ways to make a simple piece a little more fun. You will want to print out the pocket pattern piece from the Emerald Dress pattern (pages 27-28 ) and then cut out four pocket pieces from your fabric. For detailed directions on how to install pockets, please see Starry Sky Skirt / Emerald Dress Pocket Hack.


After your pockets are sewn, the rest of this dress is a breeze. Starting on page 29, follow the pattern instructions for sewing the shoulder seams and side seams. Since this dress doesn't have a Split-neck, use the instructions for the Keyhole Neck on pages 30-31. If you are doing a traditional hem, see instructions on page 31.

Note: If you are making your dress midi or maxi length, the addition of side slits would be necessary for ease of movement.

Selvage Hem

I have a bit of an obsession with selvage; I think it's beautiful and I try to use it on a garment whenever possible. For this dress, I thought it would be fun to use it along the hem to give it a little something extra.

To do this, cut off the selvage at a width of 1 1/2" (starting at the fabric and not the edge of the fraying). For length, measure from side seam to side seam at the hem and add 1" for seam allowance. Cut two of these pieces (one for the front and one for the back), then sew them together on both sides with a 1/2" seam allowance.

To attach the selvage to the dress, with right sides facing align selvage side seams with dress side seams and pin together around the rest of the hemline. Sew with a 1/2" seam allowance and finish with a serger or zigzag stitch. Then, iron open the seam and topstitch 1/4" from seam attaching the selvage.

And that's it! I hope you liked this hack; it's one of my favorites. - Emily