The 30 minute T-dress

It was time to get my sewing machine serviced so we  took it to World of Sewing in South Croydon on the way to Ben and Mel’s. I didn’t think I could survive for two weeks without a machine, so I bought an overlocker! It was quite expensive but I have wanted one for a very long time, and Jennie in the shop convinced me to take the Juki 1000.

My new overlocker
My new overlocker, with sticky tape still intact!

She showed me how to thread it, let me have a test drive and it’s now happy in its new home. I cut out a skirt and then thought better of trying to put a zip in with an overlocker.

I set myself a challenge. Could I design a dress in half an hour and sew it up in 30 mins?

The answer is yes!

Design and Pattern cutting

The design is very simple. It’s basically a T-shaped garment – many African garments are made on this principle. The front and back are the same, there is minimal shaping on the shoulders, the neck is a “bateau” neckline, the sleeves are just extended shoulders, and the pockets are cut with the garment. Its a full length maxi-dress with a slight flare, and it goes over the head with no closures. The fabric is a bright splashy print of the type I like to paint myself, but this one came from Northern Ireland, after I admired it on Ruth’s Core Couture website. It feels like a viscose to me.

The thirty-minute T-dress
The thirty-minute T-dress


The construction was a bit of a cheat. I overlocked (yes!) the neckline, sleeve edges and hem. I then stitched the shoulders, and turned in the neckline, which I had to hand sew (I don’t think there is any other way is there?). I attached front to back from sleeve edge to hem, going around the pockets (not very successfully). I didn’t finish the sleeve edges or the hem by turning in and hand-stitching, because this would have busted my timing. I put it on, got Nick to photograph it, and walked to Waitrose for some provisions.

I felt very elegant and blended in well with the Arabic ladies of Edgware Road with their full length dresses, and with the colourful youth celebrating the stunning weather. No one batted an eye at my unfinished hem (the shame of it!). I promise I will hem it properly very soon.

3 Responses

  1. ab

    Now you’ve named your fabric source, I am tempted to have a go at a simple dress made of it too.

    It will take me considerably longer than half an hour though, especially as my machine is probably best described as ‘vintage’.

    Thanks for the inspiration! X

  2. sew2pro

    I would love to read about your impressions of how the World of Sewing service turned out (there’s a WoS a few miles away). This has been on my to-do list for a year or two, but am not sure if my machine is in need yet and how much of a benefit I’d see.

    Also, I’m now worried I’ll hand in my machine and step out with an overlocker!!

    • fabrickated

      They charged £25 (refundable) to quote a price for the service. Not heard back yet. Suggested service would be around £120, but might be less. For part exchange they would only knock off around £30. I will report how it pans out. Friendly, well informed person in the shop.

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