The American Apparel Knock Off Dress

I have to admit, I am completely a dress person. I’m a formal person in general, as it turns out. My grandmother was a formal woman, and my mother inherited her sense of what is and isn’t appropriate, and now I kind of have that too. Like, for example, jeans. As a kid my mom wouldn’t let us wear jeans on European vacations. Or any vacations. At all. And now I do sort of thing jeans are a bit, I don’t know, casual, when you travel, and I don’t wear them. Of course, these days everyone wears jeans and it’s no longer the thing that marks you as an ugly American, but still. Some things infuse your identity and never let go. Like, when I was going to Hebrew school my mom put me in skirts and dresses every week. That sticks with you. So I like skirts and dresses. But I also like being warm. And comfortable. Which is not something my grandmother thought of as a concern, but what are you going to do.

So I’m always looking out for dresses that fulfill my sense of wanting to dress nicely and my sense of comfort and warmth and ease of wearing, because let’s be real, not all dresses, gorgeous as they are, are easy to wear and live in all day/night. The obvious solution to this is a knit dress, no? And I have a good knit dress pattern, my beloved Dixie DIY Ballet dress, which I’ve been tweaking over a series of versions, and here is what I have finally come out with:

AAKO 2I have to say, I’m pretty into this dress. It’s unbearably comfortable, probably because of the hellishly soft stretchy lycra cotton blend fabric I got from PA Fabric Outlet the last time I was home in Philadelphia and had time to fabric shop. I still have quite a bit of this left yardage-wise, and my brother has requested pillowcases, but even with that I might be able to scrape together a shirt or something, which is great, because it’s warm and cozy and lovely.


Here is a full body shot, complete with my tights/socks combo,which I have found makes every day a bit better as your feet are a touch warmer.


What did I do to the pattern, you ask? Well, I extended the bodice by two inches to have it hit at my natural waist. I lowered the neckline by about two inches at the lowest point, and I slimmed down and extended the sleeves. Were I to make this again, which I probably will, despite my resolution to sew different things, I would slim the sleeves even more and extend them to the wrist. And I changed out the skirt Dixie provides us with with a half-circle skirt. Love the swish. Oh, and I cut the back bodice and back skirt piece in two pieces each and seamed them up. I really like doing this for fabric efficiency purposes, but also I don’t think you can really see it, can you?


I’m sorry about these photos being indoor ones and not the best light, I forced my wonderful parents to snap these when I went home for a benefit for Pig Iron Theatre Company. I wore this dress to work at the costume shop before I took the bus home (which was HORRIFIC, never take Megabus, seriously, every time it’s late and every time I think, why is this happening? and this time it was COLD and it picks you up at 12th and 34th which basically feels like you are about to fall off the edge of Manhattan, just don’t do it. Take the Bolt. Learn from my mistakes) and one of my lovely co-workers gave me the ultimate compliment. He said, that looks like you just stole it from an American Apparel! Hence the name.

Being home is a great opportunity to squeeze multiple cats:


Squeeze ALL the cats! Don’t tell Cadfael I was cheating on him…

And then we went to the benefit! Which is and always is awesome.

AAKO 8That’s Miss Martha Graham Cracker. She’s a rockstar.


I paired my dress with a cream wrap sweater from Buffalo Exchange, and of course, wine.

I’m quite happy with this dress, I really am.


But I couldn’t match the majesty that is Martha Graham Cracker:


AAKO 13Not everyone can pull that look off, now, can they? I love her. Dito van Reigersberg, aka Martha in daily life, is just so insanely talented. Check out this version of Life on Mars. Magnificent.

AAKO 12But I tried. I really tried.

So this month’s Stashbusting challenge is to sew for other people! I need to get on that…any requests?


Filed under Clothing, Dixie DIY, knit, Sewing

21 responses to “The American Apparel Knock Off Dress

  1. Oo that looks sooo comfortable and yet such a lovely shape. I love jersey and yours looks very professionally finished – especially the neckline. How did you do that? Good job! Lara x

    • Oh, thank you so much! I just followed Dixie’s instructions, it’s a neckline band, but I used a slightly large seam allowance then recommended and I think it makes for a better finish, personally. Hope that helps!

  2. Fernanda

    I love that dress on you – looks great and comfortable. I loved seeing the cats as well – I have two and I squeeze them as often as possible…

  3. oooh that’s lovely and looks so cozy!!

  4. Really, really cute! This fits you perfectly and looks like such a great dress to wear all day!

  5. Just sewed my first jersey dress for a friend and i must say, I love not having to sew darts! I love the colour and shape of yours. Looks very comfy 🙂

  6. Looks fantastic and fits you like a dream! I don’t mind the megabus. For so cheap I expect it to be late and pick you up/drop off in ridiculous places. But maybe the us one is worse than the uk one 🙂

  7. I think you’ve definitely perfected this dress pattern! It looks comfy but stylish at the same time. And maybe it’s just an indication of how very American I am, because I can’t imagine not wearing jeans on a European vacation! I do love my skirts and dresses though, so I’m also slightly intrigued. My mom isn’t a formal person, except in one thing — her insistence on pantyhose! It used to bug me to no end when I was little and had to put it on for piano recitals.

  8. This looks absolutely smashing! The alterations you have made create a really professional finish and I am loving the skirt- it looks so lovely and drapey.Wonderful work!

  9. Love it – I realy want more jerey dresses, but at the same time I have to be warm – this seems to do the trick! Well done

  10. I love the modifications you’ve made here. I’ve made two versions of this dress and neither of them are quite right. I think I will follow your example on the next version!

  11. yeah, so i’m a little late (trying to catch up on blog reading) but thanks for making my pattern! you look great as usual and it looks super comfy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s