Jump Rope (Shirt!) Dress, A How-To

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress into Shirt Dress | The Inspired Wren

Did you know that you can modify the Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress into a Shirt Dress with two very simple modifications? Let me show you how...

More proof that I really have continued sewing despite the sewing-post black-out here at The Inspired Wren. This dress was conceived in early fall when I noticed the youngsters rocking the simple shirt dress with leggings. I got hung up on fabric choices until the Oliver + S Monochrome Project leaked out of the forums (where I do not dwell) and onto Instagram (where I live daily) inspiring me to pick up this black & white gingham. More recently Pinterest has informed me that Buffalo Check is hot hot hot! And isn't gingham just tiny buffalo check? Check it out...I was already on this trend back in late September. [The pic of the end of the bolt on my phone informs me I purchased the fabric on September 15, to be specific. So really, that's mid September; I am a trend setter! Who knew?]

Great pattern hack! Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress into Shirt Dress | The Inspired Wren

I was eyeing the shirt dress on a tween at our bus stop when it struck me that I already had a pattern on hand with a placket and button-tab sleeves: the Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress [no affiliation on that link, just honest adoration]. I love sewing this one because I feel like a rock star each time I finish the placket! I've sewn up View A in Christmas-plaid taffeta and View B in comfy corduroy (check out "The Best of the Best, Part 1" here). This time I worked with a poly/cotton gingham shirting perfect for the warm Autumn months here in the DC-metro area (and also December this year...who knew?).

Perfect details: white flower buttons with yellow thread on black& white gingham | The Inspired Wren
Make this placket and you, too, can feel like a rock-star simply for following directions.

Shirt Dress

The trick to making the Jump Rope Dress into a Shirt Dress? Skip the pockets, cinch the waist and curve the hem. Boom! But first, start with the body of View B and the sleeves of View A and follow the directions as written (minus the pockets), right up until the hem.

Perfect details: white flower buttons with yellow thread on black& white gingham | The Inspired Wren
I clearly didn't post this in time for the Monochrome Project, so my yellow thread button is totally acceptable. And adorable.

Cinch the Waist

Put the almost completed dress on your model and mark her natural waist at both side seams. It didn't line up? Yeah, my model never stands still enough for that kind of accuracy either. Split the difference between the two marks and draw a line across the inside with the marking tool of your choice. We actually want the cinch to create a slight blouse-effect so draw a second line about an inch below the natural waist. When the elastic is inserted it will ride up to sit on the natural waist, blousing the top of the dress.

The shirt dresses I had been admiring all had narrow waist casings. To mirror that look I used single fold pre-packaged half-inch bias tape. Also, that's what I already had on hand. 

Fold the end of the bias tape under by 1/4" and align it with a side seam. Line up the bias tape with the lower line you've marked on the dress and pin in place around the entire waist; be careful to only pin through one layer of the dress, it helps to work with the dress over an ironing board (but then you may pin it to the ironing board cover, so stick a wide ruler in between the board cover and the dress for easy pinning). End back at the same side seam where you started and fold the remaining end under 1/4" again. The ends of the tape should just meet or only slightly overlap. Edge-stitch the tape on both edges around the entire waist; be sure your bobbin thread matches or compliments the fabric as it will be visible on the right side of the dress.

Finally, measure your model's waist and cut a length of 3/8-inch elastic to size (a good rule of thumb is one-inch shorter than the waist measurement) -- it can be a little on the loose side, though, we're not trying to hold up pants and comfort is key. Using a bodkin or safety-pin, feed the elastic through the entire casing. Overlap the elastic ends by about half an inch and sew them together; be careful you don't twist the elastic before you stitch, it's easy to do when working with narrow elastic (guess how I know).

Working from the inside on a great pattern hack! Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress into Shirt Dress | The Inspired Wren
Shirt dress innards -- it's easiest to add the cinched-waist casing working from the inside.

Curve the Hem

Now you need a shirttail hem. I confess I used another pattern I had on hand with a shirttail hem to trace the curve. But! You can totally free-hand this. The trick is to make sure the curve meets the side seam at a right angle; so you're actually drawing a double curve, or an open "S" shape, from the hem line up to the side seam. The second trick is to fold the dress in half, matching side seam to side seam so that your curves are symmetrical. Now (take a deep breath, and) cut!

The dress will lose a little length as the top blouses. Plus, the hem has curves. You'll need a narrow hem. Bonus if your model is a walking Gumby like mine (one size wide, two sizes taller, and seemingly stretching up daily without ever growing out). Enter more single fold pre-packaged half-inch bias tape! Hem the full shirt dress with the bias tape. Here is a great tutorial from Craftsy on sewing curved shirt hems with bias tape.

Perfect! Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress as Shirt Dress | The Inspired Wren

And...you're done! Time to spend three months attempting to bribe your model into taking proper pictures on the good camera in decent light only to give up and take pics with the iPhone on the DC Metro because she happens to be wearing matching shoes that day. *sigh* At least it came out exactly like I envisioned in my head. And it's cute on her, too.

Love the shirt dress with leggings and Converse. Adorable. | The Inspired Wren
The shirt dress pairs nicely with some ruched leggings -- such as these Go To Leggings embellished with matching buttons.

Perfect! Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress as Shirt Dress | The Inspired Wren
That's better.

Ren Murphy writes for The Inspired Wren.

You should really see all that goes into each project!
From my marathon sewing sessions, to all that I do when I #shouldhavebeensewing catch daily updates on Instagram (and Flickr) of works-in-progress. Get that behind the scenes view you’re looking for, and sneak peeks of upcoming tutorials, too.

The Inspired Wren is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.