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Go Anywhere Knit Dress Tutorial

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Learn how to sew a simple knit dress for women with this Go Anywhere Knit Dress Tutorial!

Go Anywhere Dress Tutorial- how to sew a simple knit dress for women

Go Anywhere Dress Tutorial

I love working and sewing with knit fabric!  I would take a guess and say 95% of my dresses and tops are made from knits.  

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to collect quite a few pretty knit fabrics and have decided it’s time to make something for myself.

I really liked how the no-pattern top I made a few months ago turned out and I figured, I could use the same basic pattern to make a dress!

This Go Anywhere dress is very easy to make!  Once you’ve created your pattern and the fabric is cut, the dress comes together very quickly.  (The only thing that slowed me down was the picture and note-taking for the tutorial, ha!)

The great thing about this dress is you can adjust the hem, sleeve length and waistband location to what suits you best! Then you can dress it up or down and go anywhere (hence the name: Go Anywhere Dress!)

My favorite fabric shop for knits:

Funkalicious Fabrics. (which is where I purchased the grey damask fabric for this dress.)  I also like Girl Charlee, Fabric.com, Cali Fabrics, and Etsy.  If you are looking for binding, the Fabric Fairy has a big selection.

My Equipment and recommended products:

  1. My Sewing Machine: SINGER 9960 Quantum Stylist
  2. My Serger: Brother 1034D 3 or 4 Thread Serger or you can just use Pinking Shears
  3. Rotary Cutter
  4. I love my large ruler and large cutting mat, but you may prefer to soffrt of with a smaller Cutting set
  5. Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen and Fray Check
  6. Ball Point needles
  7. Singer walking foot or universal walking foot
  8. Blind hem foot.
  9. Wonder clips (I didn’t use these in the post, but they are just awesome!

How to make the Go Anywhere Dress:

Materials needed:

  • 2 to 2 1/2 yards of 60 inch wide knit fabric
  • 1/2 inch elastic
  • large paper to trace pattern (Wrapping paper, art paper, freezer paper- I used wrapping paper)
  • loose-fitting shirt to trace
  • fabric marker
  • ballpoint needle
  • measuring tape
  • ruler
  • scissors
  • iron
  • spray starch

Step one: Tracing and creating the pattern.

Measure from your shoulder to the point you want your dress to fall.  You can go mini or maxi length, it is up to you!

Add 1 1/4 inch for seam allowances and hem.  To be safe add an extra inch or two for any blousing that may occur after adding the elastic.  (You can always take off extra length before hemming.)

Lay the shirt for tracing out on your paper, smoothing out all the wrinkles.  If your paper is wide enough, I prefer tracing the entire shirt onto the paper, but you can just fold your shirt in half and trace half the shirt.

Trace the back neckline onto the paper.  To get the dolman style sleeve, angle your pattern lines straight from the neck to the sleeve edge and straight down the sleeve as shown.  (you can draw your sleeve longer if that is what you like, I did.)  Add 1/4 inch all the way around for seam allowances.

How to make your own dress pattern

Cut out your pattern. (If you trace the entire shirt, find the middle and fold the paper in half then cut the pattern out from one side.)

Step 2: Cut out the pattern pieces for the dress.

Fold your fabric so the selvages meet in the middle and lay your pattern out on the fabric.

Measure from the top of the shoulder to your length measurement and mark that measurement on fabric with a fabric marker.

Determine where the hip area is on the fabric and make sure you have 3 to 5 inches of ease at that point. (3 to 5 inches in total, so that would be .75 to 1.25 when laying out the pattern on the fabric.) The less stretch your fabric has the more ease you will want. 

Mark this measurement on the fabric.  Based on your hip mark, adjust your pattern shape to create a very slight a-line shape to your bottom measurement mark.

Cut the pattern from your fabric, then use your first cut piece for the pattern to cut the second piece.  Hard to see, but that is what I am doing in the photo below.

Determine which side will be the front, then lay your t-shirt out on the front piece and trace out the front neckline directly onto the fabric.  If your shirt has binding like mine below, try to trace where the binding meets the shirt.  (We will be adding binding later.) If you are using a V-neck shirt to trace, gently round the neckline so you have more of a scoop neck.

how to make the go anywhere dress

Cut out the front neckline.

Step 3: Assembling the dress.

With the front and back pieces right sides together, sew the shoulder seams and side seams together with a straight stitch. Depending on your fabric, you may want to add a seam stabilizer to the shoulder seam. (Often called stay tape, just cut a small strip, pin it to the seam and sew right over it.)

Step 4: Adjusting the fit.

Find a mirror and try on your dress.  

Using a piece of elastic, a piece of string, or a belt, tie it around your waist where you want your waistband to be.  Check how the dress fits.  Do you need to take in the sides?  (My fabric was very stretchy and after 2 adjustments, I ended up taking out 2 inches.)

Once you have the dress fitting the way you like it, grab your make-shift belt and tie it around your waist again.  With your fabric marker, mark the sides where you want your waistband.  (I prefer empire waist dresses, so that is where I made my marks.

Step 5: Adding the binding to the sleeves.

Layout your dress and measure one of the sleeve openings.  Double this measurement to get the measurement all the way around and add 2 inches.

Cut 2 pieces of binding (Stretchy-ness should be side to side) to your sleeve measurement plus 2 inches by 1.75.

Fold the binding in half and iron flat.  If your fabric edges are curling, use spray starch to help keep them flat.

Step 5b:  

Line up the raw edges of the binding and the sleeve edge.  As you are lining up the binding, very gently stretch the binding, BUT NOT THE SLEEVE!  Use a few pins to hold the binding in place, but leave the ends loose. (By stretching the binding, the binding should end up being about 1/2 inch less than the sleeve.)

Mark where the binding edges overlap.

Remove the binding from the sleeve.

Open up the binding and right sides together, line up the marks and sew.  Trim the edges to about 1/8 inch.

Iron the new seam flat and flip the binding back.

To help evenly line up the binding around the sleeve, mark the binding into 4 equal sections.  Fold the binding in half one way and then the other way to find the 4 center points.  Mark these points with your marker. (or a pin)

Fold the sleeve the same way and make 4 equal marks.  Then line the raw edges of the binding and sleeve back up and pin the sleeve and binding together at the 4 marks.  (The photo below is the neckline, but it’s a very good illustration.)


Increase your stitch length just a bit.  (This helps when working with knits)  Sew the binding to the sleeve about 1/8 inch from the edge.  You should have to stretch the binding just the tiniest bit, but do NOT STRETCH THE SLEEVE.

Repeat this process for the other sleeve.  (Go back to step 3b for the second sleeve.  I recommend repeating the binding attachment/measuring process in case your sleeves aren’t the exact same measurement.)

Step 6: Adding binding to the neckline.

Measure around your neckline and cut a piece of binding your measurement plus 2 inches by 1.75 and follow the same process to attach the neckline binding.

Once attached, press the binding seams toward the inside of the dress.  If you want, you can finish these seams with a zig-zag stitch or serger, but it is not necessary since you are working with knits.

At this point, you can topstitch around the binding.  

Step 7:  Adding the elastic waistband casing.

Find the marks you made earlier for where you want your waistline.  

Measure across the dress, double that measurement, and add an inch.  Cut a strip of fabric, 1 inch by that number.

Put a pin through the waistline mark so you can find it and you flip the dress inside out.  

Pin the fabric strip all the way around the dress and sew right along the edge of the fabric strip.

Measure your waist (or the spot where the casing will sit.)  

Cut your elastic to this measurement minus one inch.  Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and thread it through the casing.  Pin the ends together, try on your dress and make sure the elastic is tight enough.  If you are making a maxi dress, you will probably want the elastic tighter to help support the weight of the skirt.  (I did tighten mine up a bit more as well.)

Using a tight zig zag stitch, sew the edges of the elastic together.  Trim the excess elastic and slide the elastic around so the edges are inside the casing towards the back and the fabric is evenly distributed around the dress.

To keep the elastic from sliding around, you can sew a few stitches at the side seams, right through the elastic.

Step 8:  Hemming the dress.

To hem the dress you have a couple of options.  

  • Since this dress is made with a knit fabric and won’t fray, you could leave it raw.  I have done this many times and am fine with it.
  • You could use a permanent or a wash-away hem tape. You sew right through it and the tape stabilizes the hem for sewing and washes away in the first wash.
  • Use a walking foot and ballpoint twin needle.

For my dress, I decided to combine all the tricks I know and just go for it using the twin needle method.

Apply a heavy amount of spray starch to the fabric edge. Fold the edge over 1/2 inch, press fold another 1/2 inch, and press again.

Using a ball point twin needle and slightly increased stitch length, sew the hem very slowly, making sure the fabric feeds through the machine evenly.  

That’s it you are done!

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  1. I’d love to try making this dress, but I made a similar one out of a knit fabric the side seams got all stretched out and wavy when I sewed them. Any tips how not to have this happen? Not being able to figure this out is the whole reason I haven’t sewn with knits since.

    1. Jamie Sanders says:

      The best option would be to use a serger. But you could also use some sort of seam stabilizer. An additional option would be to use fabric with only a 2 way stretch instead of 4 that way the fabric won’t stretch too much when sewing the side seams.

  2. Mary Jirsak says:

    You are a wonder. Mom, blogger, pattern designer/instruction guru, ….Thank you for the wonderful patterns. I downloaded 3 little girl dress patterns that I am eager to sew for my 4 year old granddaughter. Then I found some other things – ear warmers for granddaughter #1 and 2, Kimono wrapper for my daughter. Make up removers for the oldest g-daughters, daughter, daughter in law, etc… and I had to stop looking and go to bed. I will have other comments after the dresses are done. God bless you, Jamie, A loving nana.

    1. Jamie Sanders says:

      Thanks for the kind comment, Mary!

  3. M B Pazdernik says:

    I have also done this in a woven cotton and it turned out very well. I like the separate binding for the neckline and will do that next time. I strongly recommend extra inches for blousing over the elastic. I was surprised at how much blousing was needed for wearing ease. I now put the dress on, tie elastic where I want it and blouse the top over and then mark where elastic now sits. Thanks for sharing your sources for knits!
    Oh, if you slightly curve your cutting line from edge of shoulder to edge of sleeve I think you get a slightly more graceful look. This seems to be more important for wovens.

  4. Thank you for all your hard work. I’ve been using your tutorials and they are such a blessing. I’m looking forward to making this dress soon. Is there a way to add pockets?

  5. This is awesome–it’s exactly what I was looking for, and so simple, clear, and free!! Have you ever made this with a non-knit? I have a really fun cotton that has a great flow to it that I want to make a dress out of, and I’m thinking I might try this, just with a little extra ease to make up for the lack of stretch. I might have to pick up a knit, too, and do it with both!

    1. I have not made it with a non-knit fabric, only because I generally only wear knits. I wouldn’t recommend quilting cotton, but lawn or a flowy rayon would probably be fine with extra ease and a larger neckline.

  6. miss_aiko says:

    I wanted to say thank you for this awesome tutorials found it on Pinterest and HAD to try it! I'm 17 weeks pregnant and wanted to make some comfy dresses to use throughout and after my pregnancy. I was able to finish this pattern and dress today, and cannot believe how great if looks! Neck and arm holes with knits always gave me a hard time, but thanks to you I now know how to easily do them!

    The only issue I had was that after hemming the bottom, I noticed that the side seams of the dress were *slightly* puckered? I used a straight stitch as directed, but am wondering if I should use a zig zag instead? It feels like the fabric "slides" along the threads if I pinch the thread and pull the fabric along it. It doesn't look that noticeable when the dress is on and the fabric is draped, but I'm concerned about what will happen when I wash it. Any suggestions on what might have happened? Thanks so much!

  7. craftymom3 says:

    I was thinking of trying this but breaking up the fabric at the elastic, like a solid on top and a coordinating print on bottom. Do you think that would look good or just go with one fabric for the whole dress?

  8. Людмила Сергеева says:

    Очень красивое платье. Я расскажу о нем с вашего позволения.

  9. singsastarrynight says:

    Hi, Jamie! I think your dress is beautiful! I found it today on SewSet, and although I've not sewn much with knits before, I'd like to try it. I also really like the classic print on your fabric. Would you share some of your favorite sources for knit fabrics? Thanks! Julie

  10. futuredoll says:

    Do you think I could hand hem instead? Thanks Sarah

    1. Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom says:

      Hi Sarah, if you are working with knits, you might want to consider just leaving the hem raw. When sewing with knits, you have to worry about a non-stretch stitch breaking. I did find this thread on craftster suggesting stitches that might work for knits. http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=341260.0

      Good luck,

  11. Still scared of knits but seeing other people work on them gives me hope 🙂

  12. I love this dress! I'm trying to recreate a similar one. I'm wondering if this tutorial could work for regular old cotton fabric. I sew bags and have never sewn myself a dress… just some very simple girls shirred tube top dresses. I'd probably skip the binding parts and just hem since the fabric wouldn't be stretchy. I suppose the sleeves would have to be sewn on rather than just one piece…

  13. Vernelle Nelson says:

    This is one of the most attractive yet comfortable looking dresses I've seen in quite a while. Great job!

  14. Love this tutorial! This is great! I am wanting to try this. Thanks!

  15. Rebecca @ My Girlish Whims says:

    Thanks so much for linking up to Your Whims Wednesday, I featured this on my blog today! Come stop by and grab a featured button

  16. Randomly Fascinated says:

    Very cute! I pinned this to remember for later!
    I would love to have you link this up at my linky party!

  17. Love it……….Thanks for stopping by CountryMommaCooks and linking up at our Saturday Link and Greet Party…hope to see you again tonight : )
    Deana @ CountryMommaCooks

  18. Christine says:

    LOVE the dress!!! The shape and fabric are GREAT!

    Thanks so much for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer.. From Dream To Reality!

  19. This dress looks amazing. Amazingly beautiful, and amazingly easy! One of my 30 by 30 goals is to sew a dress…and wear it. I have knit fabric in my stash, I think I'm going to try this one as my first dress. Thanks so much for posting!