T-bar dress, from Tumblr to my body.

A product photo of a turquoise dress with a t-bar collar neckline.

I saw this dress on tumblr the other week and fell in love. I do this often, not just with dresses either. Shoes (I need some blue velvet sneakers ok), jewellery, rainbow coloured smoke… it’s just a daily source of unfulfilled desire basically. I figured I might be able to make this dress because when it’s broken down we’ve got a bodice, a gathered skirt with some straps and a t-bar collar. I’m pretty fortunate to like sewing, own a sewing machine, and to have some pretty basic pattern making/ alteration skills so I decided to give it a go.

A mosaic of eight images: the original dress with the basic pattern I used; a paper fitting of my altered pattern; the first t-bar neckline I drafted; hand stitching; me wearing the first fitting of my dress; me showing the back of the first version; drafting the back straps of the second version; the finished revised version.

When I want to do something I fully commit to it. I spent the weekend altering McCall’s pattern M6085 and sewing up a muslin out of some blue poly/ cotton. Upon my first fitting I was very happy to see that the dress would work out to be pretty close to the original, but I wanted to re-draft the bodice and straps. Upon surveying my fabric stash I realised I didn’t have any other fabric suitable for this dress (lots of patterns but this dress calls for a solid colour, in my mind) so I eked the re-drafted pieces out of the blue fabric, including recycling some fabric from the first bodice, and completed the dress by hand stitching the lining yesterday morning!

An outfit photo of me, fat and white skinned with short lilac hair and a pink flower crown, wearing the blue t-bar dress I made. I'm standing in our new yard!

The back of my dress, sort of, revealing a sort of H-style system of straps.

Sneaking up on a hanging pot of Nodding Violets in a very self-consciously theatrical way.

I couldn’t tell you how many hours I spent on this dress, perhaps approaching 20! The fabric cost around $12 but when I think of all the hours that went into the dress, it doesn’t seem so cheap after all. Infuriatingly, so many people tell me to just “sew it myself” when I get upset about the lack of plus size fashion options but even for me, someone with a sewing machine and the skills to do it, it’s hard and it takes a long time. If you don’t have the skills or the tools or the time, that leaves you with no other option but to buy what you can; and when you buy what you can, you end up with clothes that you might not even like, clothes that might not even fit you. So, sewing it yourself? Not a good enough answer.

I could nitpick about bits and pieces of this dress, the bodice pulls around my waist (yes, it’s that high) and the bust seams are still doing a weird shark fin, but you know what? I’m pretty proud of myself for taking inspiration from a dress that is most definitely not available for fat people and making it for myself. I would dearly love to be able to make cute dresses for other people too, but before then I need to work on my pattern drafting skills (I am firmly in the “wing it” school of drafting rather than the favoured “this shit is complex and mathematical” school).

Some of you might think it strange of me to leave this post on such a bummer note, but I’m just saying what needs to be said. Yes, I’m proud of being able to sew a dress myself, but I will not be that jerk who tells fat people this is the only solution!


  1. i came across with your site via burdastyle today. i love love this dress! the color and the neckline are amazing! 

  2. I know it’s not an option for many people – me included (I can *just about* sew a pair of curtains, and no longer have a sewing machine. Or time and patience in sufficient measure) but – go you!  That looks *fantastic* on you (and I think you’re right about it needing to be a solid cover, to focus attention on the structure of the dress)

  3. Love this dress, Natalie.  You have a lot of talent to see a picture of something and then make it come to life!

  4. Natalie – this dress is beautiful, I love it!  I also love that you drafted and made it yourself – loving your work, lady!

    I got in to sewing stuff for myself because RTW dresses just don’t fit my body – my hips/thighs are 2+ sizes bigger than my boobs and it just doesn’t work.  I know it’s not the answer – stores that make clothes for a much wider variety of bodies is the answer – but it makes me happy to wear something that *I* know fits because *I* made it so.

    Also: that colour is ace. x

  5. Beautiful dress. Its soooo irritatingly true that as fatties, “make it yourself” is sometimes the only option! 

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