Off the shoulder DIY Dress | Nettie Dress & Bodysuit sewing pattern | Closet Case Files //
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I love a good pattern hack; there are few things more satisfying in my sewing practice than taking a pattern I already know and love and turning it into something dramatically different with a few swipes of the Sharpie. Even better when the pattern in question is one of my own.

The inspiration for hacking this off-the-shoulder Nettie dress came from a weird source; a vintage 90’s Kathy Ireland for Butterick pattern. I bought it a while back from a thrift store but discovered the pattern tissue was missing once I got it home. I never threw out the envelope (you know you’re hoarding patterns when…..) and stumbled on it again a few weeks ago. Around this time someone asked for a tutorial on shoulder hacking Nettie so I finally got on it. And in so doing, discovered a body part I don’t generally think very much about. Well hello clavicle! Meet the world!

Off the Shoulder Dress DIY Off the Shoulder Dress DIY-6 Off the Shoulder Dress DIY-4

I’m going to talk about the process in a tutorial later this week, but needless to say, chopping the shoulders off this pattern is a super easy modification (one more reason to love knits – it’s so easy to get creative with a good base!) I used a beefy textured double knit in a – let’s be honest – rather crazy print, and drafted the skirt to have more of an A-line shape. The result is a surprisingly structured cocktail dress that makes me feel like the walking x-ray of a cyborg skeleton. In a good way.

Off the Shoulder Dress DIY-3Off the Shoulder Dress DIY-5Off teh Shoulder knit dress

I think I knocked this out in under 2 hours, including goofing around with pattern placement which was HIGHLY enjoyable. Sometimes you just need to have a sense of humour about the location of your baby maker.

The guts are all serged and the hem was finished with a double needle. And to be honest? It was fun to play with this pattern again. Sometimes I get burned out by my own designs after testing and sample-making for months on end, so it was nice to return to this little lady and rediscover my love for her.  And I forgot how much I love golden hour in this gorgeous, spring-drunk city….. No more white studio walls for the foreseeable future!

Off the Shoulder Dress DIY-2bodycon dress

Back later this week with a tutorial for shoulder hacking Nettie yourself!

Details: Nettie dress pattern with modifications, MAC Ruby Woo lipstick, double pearl earrings (similar here), Aldo platforms

  • I’m so glad you’re still noting your lip color because you KNOW I was admiring this one! xx

    • It’s a classic. SUPER matte but it’s got a great pinup-y vibe….

  • Monserratt Lopez

    Wow!!! You look totally gorgeous!! I love the style and the print!! <3 <3 <3

  • fayedoll1


  • katie

    Holy mole I love this dress! Your style is so inspiring! You always look so glamorous and fun.

    • Aw thanks Katie! I have to compensate for the fact that I’m wearing leggings and track pants 80% of the time 😉

  • Love this!! I just made a low-backed Nettie bodysuit and I was thinking of what I wanted to do with the pattern next- this is perfect!! Although instead of the dress I might apply this off-the-shouder style to a crop top instead 🙂

    • OOOOOH!!!! That sounds awesome! Like a little short sleeved one – I gotta try that!

  • Smoking! That fabric is making me cry. I want…

    • Yes, this fabric has your name all over it. I should have bought a bolt!

  • That fabric is amazing and seeing your shoulders is super sexy too!

    • Aw thanks girl! It’s kinda nice to be pretty covered up except for a location you don’t generally show off. Feels transgressive somehow!

  • Amy

    Stunning photography! I just love the long, long, long shadows!

    • Thanks Amy! I finally got to take advantage of the photog bf again. No more timers in front of white walls!

  • I love it! This shoulder mod looks really hot! The dress with this fabric is totally amazing.

    • Merci Amelie! I really do love this pattern with a structured double knit. I think I’m going to make more 😉

  • Annika

    This post made me laugh so hard: “walking x-ray of a cyborg skeleton” and “Sometimes you just need to have a sense of humour about the location of your baby maker.” – hilarious. Thank you so much for this. What a fun read. Besides this: I’m totally in love with this dress. You look stunning!

    • Hahaha thanks Annika! Glad to give you a giggle.

  • lk

    Love it! Has anyone done a ruched Nettie hack?

  • mokosha

    damn girl, that fabric is insane! love everything about this dress

    • Thank you my darling! I could totally see you wearing this while posed next to a Croatian sea.

  • Thewallinna

    I love this cyborg skeleton print! You look gorgeous, lady!

  • Wow this is so cool. That fabric is boss! Very lovely photos too 🙂

    • Thanks Kate! Finally put the photog bf to work!

  • That print really is amazing!

    • It’s a little insane. I wasn’t sure about it at first but it grew on me. LIKE A VIRUS.

  • sallieforrer

    I’m probably more than a little weird, but I actually think there is nothing sexier than a good clavicle/shoulder/neck combo! And this dress DELIVERS THE GOODS! Yowza! Also YOUR PRINT PLACEMENT IS INSPIRED! “you just need to have a sense of humour about the location of your baby maker” Lolololololol!!! Can I get that in an art print to hang on my bathroom wall?

  • I love the of shoulder look and that fabric is amazing!

  • Aha! That really is a swell mix of pattern, print and Babe! Very babular! Inspiringly yowza!

  • Christa

    Heather, you are a babe! Crazy awesome fabric! I’m wondering if you would be willing to share some thoughts on how to add “ruching” / elastic on the sides of a nettie dress to mimic this dress? I think the Nettie would be an awesome pattern, and adding elastic to sides shouldn’t be too difficult? Any thoughts would be appreciated!

  • Spiderman! That’s a good one. I’ll have to just hide strong in my sleeves so I can fling it at people when I wear this 😉

  • Ezmae Watson

    Gorgeous! I love the print. I think that off the shoulder dresses are massively underrated. How’s the new Juki going anyway? Which model did you get? I’ve been looking at getting one as I can keep swearing at my Janome & expecting it to work.

    • I’m in LOVEEEEE!! I got the 654DE and I would make out with it if it wouldn’t creep out my fella. I have to write a post soon about my experience with it….

  • Sarah C.

    I cannot tell a lie: This dress is one of my absolute favorite items you have ever made. It is all the best parts of you — stylish without being cloyingly trendy, sexy without being obnoxiously overt, and so utterly flattering and timeless. It is also inspiring, and not simply with sewing. There are many ideas in our lives that just need two hours of our time to result in a beautiful creation. Thank you for sharing your creativity with us.

    • JEEZ LOUISE SARAH!! What an absolutely awesome compliment! I am actually blushing right now. So happy you like this dress. I just need to find an occasion to wear it!

  • Dude… EVERYTHING about this dress is just plain fantastic. I agree with everyone else, the classy clavicle cut paired with such an edgy print is a winning combo all around. Love it!

  • Francesca Amodeo

    Wooooowie! Hot, classy and stylish all in one go – not a common combination – you look amazing!

  • Harmony Gibbs

    Please oh please tell me that this fabric is available somewhere??? i am in love….

  • may I wolf whistle …. I know it’s rude but may I ?

  • What a good dress! I love dresses and tops that show just the top part of the shoulders but I can’t be bothered to be attentive and adjust it all the time. It looks like yours is staying put!

  • honigdesign

    Tres sexy!

  • Maris Olsen

    Lovely dress, and awesome execution! Enjoy!!

  • I love it! I think I’m going to have to make one of these… can’t have too many Netties. (I think I’ve made up the pattern, um, eight times? Mostly as t-shirts, but one dress, and some actual bodysuits are coming up in my queue.) Looks great!

  • OK. I need to make myself a walking cyborg skeleton dress. This is fabulous! Of course you look chic and sexy both at once too. The photos are gorgeous; the warm colours, the black and white graphic print, and the elongated shadow in the picture too. So artist and so very inspiring!