Favourite dress copycat

Smock dress

This, pals, is my RTW favourite dress – from ASOS many moons ago. It was cheap and is quite poorly made (look at that atrocious unevenness across the waistline!), but I seem to yank it out of the wardrobe for any occasion – work, drinks, holidays, summer days bare-legged and winter days with tights – and it suits them all just great. I love the colours and the print, and the loose smocky shape is so comfortable yet a bit more formal than a knit dress. I’ve been meaning to make a rub-off of it for a while, and finally got round to it just before MMM.

Smock dress

I used quite a similar technique to that outlined here to trace off the dress’s pieces: bodice, sleeve, skirt. In fact I just placed the dress over a roll of Ikea drawing paper and pin-pricked through both layers along all the edges and seamlines, which gave me my cutting lines. It was a very easy task as there are no fastenings, darts or other shaping; the only thing I couldn’t do was figure out the width of the skirt top because it’s in gathers, so I made a guess that it tapers in a little from the hem width.

I made the task even easier by assuming that the sleeves were symmetrical and that the front and back bodice are the same pattern piece (just with a scoopier neck on the front). With a loose shape I think you can get away with a little corner-cutting. Then it’s just a case of ‘truing up’ to make sure the edges that join up are the same length, then adding seam/hem allowance (in my case I only added 5mm because I overlocked for speed).

Smock dress
Smock dress

I knocked together this test version from some batik lightweight cotton that I bought as a large remnant from Minerva. Amazingly it basically worked great first try, feeling very similar fit-wise to my old dress. I actually really love this fabric: it’s super soft and even looks OK a bit rumpled so I don’t need to iron it every time. Happily I have quite a bit left over for another project.

Smock dress

In fact, this has shot up the charts to being one of my most-worn dresses. I wore it twice during MMM and just like my RTW inspiration it’s become a pull-on dress for any occasion, from house-slobbing to casual dinner out.

Smock dress

I just need to do a bit of fit finessing – looser sleeves, higher back neck, longer hem – and I’ve got a simple self-drafted pattern that I know I’ll make and wear over and over.

13 thoughts on “Favourite dress copycat

  1. AvatarMarilla

    A good example of how anyone can have a go at creating a pattern for themselves. It’s good to show you don’t always need to buy a pattern and you don’t need to over-complicate things. Great post!

  2. AvatarCaroline Joynson

    What a great little technique Katie! Its something I often wondered about how to make a pattern from some of my fav RTW dresses… now I know.
    Love the batik print fabric on you. Its casual yet dressy at the same time – always a good thing in my book.

  3. AvatarBella

    Nice one, I like the fabric you chose. I’ve just made a rub off of my favourite sweatshirt, it’s pretty easy when there are no darts involved.

  4. AvatarSandraB

    Thank you for the tips on this. I have a very similar shop bought garment I have worn and worn and often wish I had the know-how to recreate it. I may just be brave enough to give it a try now!

  5. Avatarsallie

    This looks awesome! I love the idea that you now have a go-to pattern that you know you’ll love! And you’re right, this fabric is pretty killer.

  6. AvatarAngie

    This is so adorable on you! I love babydoll dresses, I am working on releasing a free pdf of one! The fabric that you chose is perfect.

  7. Avatarsewamysew

    This is so perfect!! I’ve been dreaming about drafting my own baby doll dress for a couple of months. I think you got the waist gathers and the length spot on. Can’t wait to see another version with your list of modifications. Thumbs up!

  8. AvatarMelanie

    Wow, so impressive that you can take a RTW item that you love and draft a pattern to make another of your very own. The dress is super cute…i think the lenght looks great with tights. Can’t wait to see your next version.

  9. Avatarsewlittletime

    nice work! i love your new dress and that print is so cute – i feel like i am going to need to take a huge suitcase to the meet up for all the fabric i am going to end up buying!

  10. AvatarJenna

    This is brilliant. I love the idea of recreating a favourite garment again and again. I have a few dresses I wear a lot so I will definitely be trying this at some point. I love the fabric you used too.

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