As soon as we saw the first Penny Dress designs we knew she had endless hack potential, and straight away we all started dreaming up our own alternate versions. A simple shirted bodice with an easy circular skirt makes for a fun canvas!
As our social media manager one of my favourite parts of my job is getting to browse Pinterest for new inspiring pins for our boards, and lately I’ve been spotting lots of tie-front shirts all over our feed. I quickly knew what I wanted to make next, and Penny provided the perfect starting point.
In case you’d like to have a go at sewing your own tie-front shirt, we’ve written a tutorial below on how to hack Penny. It’s quick, simple and makes a super wearable shirt with a high-waisted skirt or jeans. I know I’ll be living in mine this summer. Not sure it’s for you? See mine in action over on our YouTube channel!
For this hack you will need:
– Penny Dress sewing pattern
– your fabric
– dot and cross pattern paper
– gluestick or masking tape
– ruler or tape measure
– pattern master or french curve
– pen or pencil
– all your usual sewing equipment
This shirt is a great stash-buster. I used just one metre of fabric for a size 10!
If you’re printing your pattern at home and don’t want to print out the skirt pieces, you can just print out the top. You will need the following pages: 1, 8-11, 20-23, 28-33, 35-36, 38-40.
Step 1. Start by cutting out all of your Penny pieces in your size, disregarding the skirt. The first thing we’re going to do is lengthen the bodice slightly. Decide where you’d like the hem to sit on your body, and measure from your nape to this point. Compare this measurement with the pattern (taking into account seam allowances) and add the amount of length you’d prefer. I wanted a waist-length shirt, so I added 5cm to the bottom of the pattern. If you’re long in the torso or would prefer a longer shirt, you will need to add more.
Tape your pattern to your dot and cross paper, and extend the centre front and side seams on the front and back bodice pieces and front facing piece by your desired amount. Connect these two points with a dashed line.
Step 2. To create the tie, extend your centre front line on the front bodice piece by a further 25cm. Perpendicular to the centre front, draw a line 2cm inwards at the hem.
Then, inwards along the dashed line, mark a point from the side seam, selecting the corresponding measurement from the chart below.
Connect these two points with a straight line. Then using a pattern master, connect the new diagonal line to the side seam with a gentle curve.
Extend the front facing by 25cm so that it matches the new length of the front bodice. There’s no need to taper the bottom edge of the facing, as we will trim down this area later.
Step 3. Cut out your new pieces and make sure any added paper is securely attached.
Step 4. Keeping to the original grainlines, cut out the pieces in your fabric.
Step 5. Stitch your Penny shirt as per the original instructions, up to and including step 19.
Step 6. Opening up the facing, overlock or zigzag the entire hem edge of the blouse. The tie edges are cut close to the bias, so be careful not to stretch them.
Step 7. Fold the facing so that it’s right sides together with the shirt. In line with the tie hem, trim the excess fabric away from the facing.
Step 8. With wrong sides together, press the hem in place with a 1cm hem allowance.
Step 9. Unfold the pressed hem, and with right sides together, pin the bottom of the facing to the bottom edges of the tie.
Step 10. Stitch the bottom of the tie in place with a 1cm seam allowance. Begin at the centre front, before pivoting at the stitching on the button placket, and continuing to the edge of the facing.
Step 11. Trim the seam allowance down by half and turn the tie end through to the right side. Give it a good press.
Step 12. With right sides together, fold the hem back into place along the pressed edge. Pin and stitch in place. Start and end your hem line with the stitching butting up against the edge of the button band for a neat finish.
Step 13. As described in step 20 of the original instructions, edgestitch the button band in place, 2-3mm from the front straight edge of both bodice pieces.
Step 14. Continue from step 30 of the original instructions to finish your tie-front Penny shirt!
And there you have it! A super cute, on-trend tie-front shirt that you can sew in a matter of hours. This coral broderie anglaise version has already had several wears, and I’ve just finished my second one made out of some beautiful Kangan Arora fabric offcuts. I can’t wait to wear it!