| Sewing Patterns for the Modern Woman - Blog Post: How We Wear It: Palate Cleansing Knit Dresses

How We Wear It: Palate Cleansing Knit Dresses

By Spoolriver

Hi there! I'm Dawna Tierney, a Minnesota sewing maven. I navigate the currents of life and fashion to create a personal, enduring, handmade style at spoolriver.

Indiesew Palette Cleansing Knit Project Panama Inari


March is such a weather and mood rollercoaster – particularly when you live in the North. Much like Spring break, a palate cleansing knit project is the perfect antidote to weather and attitude fluctuations.  A quick and easy knit project in a refreshing color provides a brilliant transition from winter to spring.

For my palate cleansing knit project, I chose two knit tee dress patterns: the Inari Tee from Named patterns and the Panama Tee dress from Alina Design Co.  Knit projects are so quick- why not make two! For both projects, I used a cleansing, clean blue Ponte de Roma knit in a hue that is saturated to help bridge the seasons.

 Indiesew Palette Cleansing Knit Project Panama Inari

Indiesew Palette Cleansing Knit Project Panama Inari

Sewing with knits is actually like taking a holiday: no darts, no buttons, no zips, and only a few pattern pieces to cut out.  And we all know knits are so comfy to wear. You can sew a knit project without special equipment- such as an overlock machine.  A tee dress doesn’t require significant stretch, so I sew all seams with a straight stitch even though I have a zig zag option on my machine.  I increase the stitch length slightly to 3 mm and hold onto the fabric both in front of and behind the needle. With both hands, I pull the fabric very slightly -and gently- as it feeds under the presser foot. 

Here’s a little guidance for your refreshing knit project.


Shape shifting

Take a minute to consider both the pattern shape and your fabric characteristics.  Knits can be drapey and swishy or weightier and rather stable. I love working with Ponte de Roma knits.  These are medium weight stable knits that don’t cling or swish; they resist wrinkles, and you can machine wash and dry – so easy.  A Ponte de Roma knit is fabulous for a basic tee dress. Even with a tee dress – take a minute to evaluate the cut. A knit tee dress has very few pattern pieces, but you want those pieces to work for you.

I was interested in the cocoon shape of the Inari dress, which is a departure from my usual silhouette of choice.  The Inari silhouette has a bowed out torso and then tapers in.

 Indiesew Palette Cleansing Knit Project Panama Inari

Because the Inari shape was a gamble, I went safe with my next choice- the Panama Tee- in a classic shape that I often wear.  The Panama Tee is not super form fitting, but it does have nice subtle side shaping. This silhouette is close to a traditional sheath dress which follows the curves of the hips, waist, and bust.

Happy reminder- because this is an easy knit project, it is a snap to get a perfect fit by grading the two main front and back pattern pieces to match your measurements.  So take a minute to grab a tape measure and compare your measurements with the pattern guidance and adjust accordingly.


Take your Tee downtown

We all know knits are great for our casual, athletic and leisure wear.  But you can also elevate your knit tee dress and take it downtown. There are plenty of ways to give a simple knit some interest and/or head of the class styling. Obviously, fabric and pattern design are key.  I think the interesting cut, vents and sleeve cuffs on the Inari give this minimal dress some take notice style.


Indiesew Palette Cleansing Knit Project Panama Inari


Block it

To add interest to the Panama Tee dress, I opted to do a simple color block.

 Indiesew Palette Cleansing Knit Project Panama Inari

There are countless ways to color block a garment.  I went super minimal, and simply added a contrasting bodice.  My color block on the Panama dress took just a few extra moments and simply required a ruler.  Essentially, I use a ruler to draw a line just above the armhole- the same distance on both the front and back pattern pieces, and I cut along the drawn line.   Then, I add a ⅜ inch seam allowance to each pattern piece. This modification adds two additional pattern pieces and requires sewing two more seams. Still simple and quick. 

You can get extra fancy with color blocking.  I suggest checking out Alina Design for some great color blocking instructions specifically for the Panama Tee dress here.   


Indiesew Palette Cleansing Knit Project Panama Inari




I am partial to neck facings as opposed to neckbands and used facings to finish both dresses.  Neck facings are minimal, clean and a bit dressier- while neckbands lend a sportier vibe. The Inari dress offers both facing and neckband pattern pieces so you can easily choose either option for your neck finish.  The Panama Tee dress only includes a neckband pattern option- but here’s an opportunity to flex some pattern drafting muscle. To create a neck facing, all you have to do is trace the neckline on the front and back pattern pieces.  See my bodice back block piece, with seam allowance added, below. Measure down 2 1/2 inches all the way around the neckline as shown - and then trace that piece for your back facing pattern. Do the same for the front neckline facing.  Then, cut the new facing pieces from your main fabric and interfacing fabric. I use French Fuse for interfacing knit projects.


Indiesew Palette Cleansing Knit Project Panama Inari

Here’s a neckline facing tip:  When you interface your neck facings trim your fusible interfacing 1/8 inch smaller than the fabric facing piece.  At the shoulder seams, trim the interfacing a full 3/8 inch- or the width of the seam allowance you are using. This will eliminate bulk in the shoulder facing.  After you sew in the facing, be sure to trim and under-stitch.  

 Indiesew Palette Cleansing Knit Project Panama Inari


The finish line

The dresses are done! I feel refreshed, and my mood is definitely improved.  Thanks so much to the Indiesew team for the inspiration and for asking me to share my palate cleansing knit projects on the blog.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Indiesew.  All words and pictures are my own.

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Dawna shows us two knit dresses in ponte fabric! Both are palette cleansing projects that sew up quickly. |

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