Monday, November 7, 2011

Inspired By: ModCloth Academy Dress

So before I tackle all the sewing on my big coat project, I snuck in a quick project for myself!

I was inspired by this dress from ModCloth: Academy Dress


And I’ve had this in the works for a long time!!! I hinted about it back in September when I worked up this McCalls tunic. Well, when I made that tunic, I knew it was a great base pattern for this dress. With a few modifications, I think I got pretty close!




I was really a fairly easy dress to knock off. I took photos of my process and have put together a tutorial of how I did it. Click below to see the tutorial.

I traced off a copy of the tunic front and back pieces and added length to make it hit just below the knee. This is my preferred dress length. I also narrowed the lower portion of the sleeves just a little, maybe about a half inch or so, just to make the sleeve a little more fitted. The pattern calls for sleeve bands that I opted to leave off to be closer to the inspiration dress.



The neckline is of course going to change from a round neckline to a V-neck. I looked closely at the inspiration dress and noted that it was a pretty wide V, extending to just a inch or two before the shoulder.


The first step after cutting was to stay stitch the neckline on the front and back pieces to prevent them from stretching out.


I added a small piece of tricot fusible interfacing at the point of the V on the front piece to stabilize it a bit.


Then I stitched to reinforce the seam at the V about one inch on either side. Clip to the point of the V.


Then I used my serger to sew the front and back pieces together at the sides and the shoulder/sleeve top.


The next step was to measure the length of the neckline for the neckband/cowl.


I came up with 32.5 inches in length, including seam allowances and I decided to make the finished width of my neck band 9 inches wide. This was just a number I came up with from studying the inspiration photo and comparing that with the fit of my original tunic.

I cut a piece of my knit to 32.5 inches long and 18.5 inches wide. I folded this piece in half, right sides together, the length of the piece and added a 1” wide piece of tricot fusible interfacing to one end of this piece.


Then I stitched across this end with a 1/4” seam allowance and pressed this seam really well to create a nice crisp finished edge and corner.


Next, attaching the neckband/cowl piece to the dress.

Starting with the finished edge, I lined up the raw edge of the neckband to the right side of the neck on the dress front, like this:


The finished edge needed to be lined up exactly with the clipped edge of the neckline V.


Then I continued to pin all the way around, making sure not to stretch either piece. When I got back around to the center front V, the unfinished edge needed to extend 1/4” past the clipped edge of the neckline V.



I began sewing from the right shoulder seam, going across the back and then down the left front. When I reached the center front, I stopped my needle in the down position exactly at the point of the V. This was right at the beginning of the finished edge of the neckband piece.


I then rotated the remaining raw edge of the neck band over to the right side of the neckband. It was now placed under the long side raw edge that was already pinned on the front neckline. So altogether I was sewing through five layers of fabric.


Then I continued to sew up to the right shoulder seam where I began. And this is what it looked like.


And with the left panel opened up… Kind of hard to see, I know…


Then I added three buttons to the left hand side and put three button holes about 3/4” inch from the finished edge of the overlapping side from the right.


The original dress had a ribbed waistline. Since my fabric didn’t come with waistline ribbing, I mimicked this feature by shirring the waist. I added eight rows of shirring, about 1/4” apart. I had to fill my bobbin twice with elastic thread to do this many rows. I find shirring to be tedious, but I do love the outcome!


All that was left was to hem the skirt and sleeves, which I did with a twin needle. I really love how it turned out!

This is how I wore it yesterday, with a wide black belt, black ankle boots and grey tights..


And then the kids just had to get in on Daddy taking pictures of Mommy…


So that’s one item off my Fall/Winter sewing to-do list. About a million more to go… Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment if you have any questions on how I put this together.


  1. i'm completely floored by how great this is. what a great way to take a key basic and make it work for you! fabulous work!

  2. Wow. This dress is just fantastic. I love the color, fabric, everything. You look beautiful!

  3. @puu @Melody Thank you so much! It was a really fun project and came together so fast, I'm already thinking I need to find another color of sweater knit and make one more!

  4. Your dress looks wonderful and your tutorial is very clear. Thanks for taking the time to document your process!

  5. I think I like yours better than the original! Your kids are precious too.

  6. Beautiful!! What fabric blend did you use? I would love to try this!

  7. It was a cotton/poly blend sweater knit. It's fairly lightweight and has great drape. I purchased it at Hancock Fabrics, it was in their Value Fabrics section. Hope that helps!!

  8. I love how it turned out! thank you for the explanations! the collar might look very neat on a sweater or Tshirt too!

  9. Visiting from the link party at Tea Rose Home...what a fantastic dress, and your kids are so cute!

  10. @Cation Designs - thanks so much for visiting!!

  11. @by night - Thank you, and I agree, I've already thought about using the same collar on a sweater/tunic. Thanks for visiting!

  12. That dress turned out really cute! I love it.

  13. I love the shape of the dress, and you look so pretty in it!

  14. I like your dress better than the original and thanks for the draped collar tutorial!  I was hoping you would be so kind as to post your project on my Sew & Tell Saturday linky party at my blog this Saturday. Its geared specifically for sewing projects and fabric related crafts.Thanks so much!
    Justine @
     Sew Country Chick

  15. This is fabulous and I like it much better than your inspiration, love, love!!!

  16. thanks for the tutorial quite informative

  17. Oh my, I really love this dress! I always have a hard time finding knit winter dresses that aren't too tight on my pear-shaped bottom half. I must try this! Thanks so much!

  18. One quick question! How much yardage would you say that this dress took?

  19. i like yours waay better than the original....and you are a better model than the other.
    thanks so much for sharing this. it's amazing!
    {love} lauryn @

  20. @MayMade Thanks so much for visiting! I had 3 yards of this sweater knit and I used up most of it, I would say between 2.5 and 3 yards, depending on how long you make it. It's quite a bit since the sleeves are cut on so you need entire length of the dress twice plus more for the neck band. Does that help??

  21. Gorgeous! I agree that it looks better than the original!

  22. Beautiful did a wonderful job!!

  23. Wonderful. I love this dress. Thanks for taking the time to post this tutorial.

  24. I see a lot of ads for pretty modcloth dresses but I never click through because they are always so short. This is much better!

  25. Wow, this dress is fantastic. Nicely done!

  26. Wow, I love the neck/collar on this. Thanks for posting all the pictures, a great 'how too'

  27. Great tutorial! Thank you so much! you sew very well!

  28. Thank you! I've been trying to figure this out on my own.

  29. Love this! It was featured as one of today's top designs over at SewSet! Thanks for sharing :)

  30. I love your version. Not only is it more flattering it looks more comfortable to wear too.

  31. I've been admiring your dress since last year and am finally getting around to giving it a try myself. I'm wondering - does your v-neck come to a 90 degree angle at the point? Thanks!!

  32. I found this researching Mod Cloth knock offs. I just looked at their version of this dress and yours is WAY cuter. I am going to try this because I love the draped cowl you did. This will also be an excuse to try doing the twin needle pin tucks that mimic ribbing at the waistline. Seriously great dress you made there!

  33. Hey..!! Really nice collection. You look gorgeous in this dress. I think gray color is running fashion not only in western wear but also in ethnic wear. I learn how to sewing dresses and i will try it soon. Thanks for sharing it.

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  38. It is so interesting to see how a simple grey piece of cloth turned into such a beautiful and classy dress. I am new to stitching so planning to start by stitching a Cotton Crop Top soon. Thanks for sharing.

  39. Thanks For Sharing is nice post.


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