What You’ll Need / Where To Get it

At Amazon

  1. Martha Stewart Tendrils Stencil

  2. knit jersey fabric

  3. stay tape

At JoAnn’s

  1. painters tape

  2. knit lining fabric

  3. sewing notions

  4. ribbon and hardware for straps

  5. tissue paper

  6. At Testors

  7. Aztek airbrush

  8. 9451 Green paint

  9. 9487 Blue paint


White knit fabric requires planning so that you can’t see through it.  I lined my dress with a lighter weight knit which was added after the airbrushing was complete. 

I used my favorite camisole for the pattern by tracing it onto tissue paper and adding seam allowances.  I made it into a full length dress pattern by tracing one of my straight skirts onto tissue and taping it at the camisole pattern waistline.  Instead of fussing with making my own straps, I chose a pretty ribbon sold by the yard.  Clear plastic hardware makes the straps adjustable.

Try your hand at creating this dress using clothing from your own closet as foundation for the pattern.  If you are making your dress with knit fabric, you'll find it's very forgiving when it comes to fitting.

TIP:  Fold the camisole down the center front and only trace the left or right half.  It’s easier than tracing the entire front and will result in an even left and right side neckline.  Fold your fabric and align it to the center front of your pattern to cut it out.

Most of us aren’t shaped straight up and down so when you tape your pattern top piece to the skirt, be sure to taper in slightly from the under arm seam and out to the hip line to give your dress shaping.  Don't forget to mark the waistline on your pattern front and back.

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Camisole To Dress Tutorial

Step 5 - Mask off areas outside the stencil to protect them from paint.

Airbrush color onto the stencil alternating blue and green paint.  Begin with the blue first spraying only some areas.  Finish by painting the remaining areas green and blending the green into the blue edges.

Step 10 - Cut out front and back dress pieces from the lining fabric.  Sew the side seams together.

When you want a new piece of clothing, is your first instinct to head straight for a pattern book to find it?  For many of us it is.  But maybe a little detour is in order because if we look more closely we might find the pattern right in our own closet.

That was the case with this simple, skinny strap dress I wanted.  I initially thought I would buy a pattern or make one from scratch. When I walked into my closet I realized I didn’t need to do either.  I had just the pattern I needed - a perfect fit knit camisole. All that was required was making it longer.

The color inspiration for this project comes from a dress I saw on an old I Love Lucy Show rerun.  Lucy's version was designed with a very full skirt and much different neckline, a popular style at that time. The element of her dress that captivated me most was not the style but the black color that extended above and below the waistline.  I believe the black design on her white dress was a leaf pattern.

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Step 9 - Stay stitch 1/2" from the edges of the armholes and necklines.  

When the paint is dry remove the stencil and place it on the back dress piece.  Airbrush the dress back in the same way.

Step 11 - Slip the lining into the dress fabric with right sides together.  Pin the armhole and neckline edges together placing the straps in position.  Sew all the edges using stay tape.

With my airbrush and a stencil I knew I could recapture the look I loved from Lucy’s dress, or at least something similar.  My version is a simple white slip-on sheath dress to wear with a blue/green sheer print shirt I made.  I chose knit fabric because it eliminates the need for zippers or darts which makes matching up the color pattern an easy job.

Cut out the front and back pieces of your dress. Mark the natural waistline on the fabric pieces with painters tape stretching from one side seam to the other.  This will help you align the stencil straight across the fabric in step 4. Also cut small notches for matching the waistline on both pieces when it's time to sew them together.

Give some thought to how you’ll match up the stencil design at the side seams to eliminate a large gap in the design when the front and back pieces are sewn together.  You may be able to achieve this by masking portions of the stencil with tape before painting, or by repeating only a portion of the stencil.  The horizontal width of your fabric pieces will be a big factor in matching the painted design at the side seams.  Even if a perfect match may not be possible, an acceptable transition should.  

Mark the horizontal center of the stencil.  Spray the wrong side of the stencil with adhesive and apply it to the dress front, matching the stencil line to the tape line.  Press down on the upper portion of the stencil while removing the tape.  Press the remainder of the stencil against the dress front piece.  

When the paint is completely dry, pin the side seam to match up the notches and the paint design.  Sew the dress side seams.

Step 12 - Top stitch the seam allowance to the lining close to the seam.   Trim the seam close to the top stitching.

Step 13 - Turn the dress right side out.  Press all edges and finish the strap details.

Step 16 - After 24 hours set the paint with an iron.  Be sure to use a pressing cloth between the fabric and iron.

Double top stitch around all neck and armhole edges.

Step 15 - Hem the dress and lining.

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click the thumbnail photo at the bottom of this page to download the instructions