Bettina-style Jersey Dress

My new infatuation with Jersey fabric dressmaking continues but I have now had my first “tiff”with sewing this type of fabric!


I recently (and contra to my resolution of NOT to buy fabric!) purchased 3 metres at a cost of £5.25 per metre of winter-weight jersey called “Sunset Roses”, a bold floral print from Fabricland. The fabric is great, a nice weight and so soft. It has a good drape and so I decided to try the “Bettina” that I usually make in cotton or poplin, in a jersey fabric.

I did a couple of rows of test stitching but only on single layer of fabric and was dismayed when it came to stitching the darts that there were so many skipped stitches. I changed to yet another brand new jersey needle and re-threaded the machine. Still no joy. In desperation I stitched the bodice darts with the overlocker. No problem. I inserted a length of stabilising ribbon and stitched the shoulder seams. I then stitched the side seams and had my first fitting. Due to the stretch of the jersey, I took in the side seams by ½ inch before inserting the bracelet-length sleeves. Bearing in mind that I have not yet mastered neck binding and bands I cut out a back and front neckline facing using scraps of the jersey fabric. As it was only a single layer, I stay stitched around the neckline and checked my second fit. I tried to stitch the two layers of fabric and lo and behold – great stitching with no missed stitches.

Scoop neckline with facing and single row of top stitching

Fired up that the problem was now resolved I sewed the panels of the skirt (1 + ½ widths of fabric cut 26 inches long), quartered and stitched 2 rows of gathering to pull up and fit to the waist of the bodice. Although I tacked the skirt to the bodice when it came to machine stitching, the bodice stretched out so now it looked like “Tents R Us!” I had to cut the skirt off the bodice, thereby losing about ½ inch in length from both bodice and skirt and the next time, added some stay tape (made from the selvedge of some spare lining fabric that I had to hand) to the bottom of the bodice to prevent it from stretching out. When I re-attached the skirt to the bodice, this time I arranged the fullness as unpressed pleats. The bodice is no longer stretched out and the fullness was better distributed.


Front View                                       Back View

Now with a slightly raised waistline and unpressed pleats in the skirt the dress is much more fitted and at last, wearable. Although it does not appear so in the photographs, the front and back hems of the skirt are perfectly level.

I had some fabric left over and went on to make a short sleeved tee top more of which is detailed in a separate post.