Out and About Dress by Sew Caroline

The dilemma of dressing for a scientific conference? There’s no dress code, requirements are ambiguous, and options infinite. Let’s also not forget about dressing for your age too. Luckily I’m no longer in my 20s! Because of the insurmountable challenge, women tend to just wear drab black in order to not be noticed. But let’s face it, we are judged by what we wear even though there’s no set standard and it is not just the men that judge, but women as well.

Want to be totally offended? Read this article about a male scientist who thought all the female scientists were totally unattractive. Or this article where a female scientist calls out other women for looking like slutty secretaries. I’m in a bit of a panic over my choices, because I’m not going with the black garb, but I think it’ll be OK.


  • Pattern: Sew Caroline Out and About Dress
  • Fabric: Art Gallery Knits (because they are the best)
  • Size: see below
  • Modifications: Too many it describe here (read my whole blog post)

A couple of years ago I took a private lesson to draft my own t-shirt pattern from my measurements using Cal Patch’s guide in her Design-It-Yourself book. It was one of the first things I learned to sew and since then I have been able to build a wardrobe off my basic t-shirt pattern. If you are interested in taking that step, you can take an online course directly from Cal. The only thing I’ve changed in my original pattern is to add bust darts. Believe it or not a stretchy knit looks better with darts!!

I modified my basic t-shirt pattern using Sew Caroline’s Out and About dress pattern. I don’t remember what size I used, because basically I used the size that best matched up with my original shirt pattern. From the bust darts up is my original pattern and that includes my sleeves and cuffs. From the bust darts down is the dress pattern. It really isn’t hard to combine patterns like this. In the future though, my gathered dress doesn’t need to be cut out into two pieces, but instead I can use the entire width of the fabric and cut the length I need.

I found the easiest way to gather the fabric to the dress was using a method I read about online. Using clear elastic, you sew the elastic to the dress bottom, stretching it as you go. When you release the elastic, it will gather your fabric for you!! One hint though, I usually stitch the elastic on my sewing machine using a zigzag stitch. Then once the skirt is gathered, I sew it to my bodice piece on my serger. If you try to use your serger to sew the elastic to the dress, then when you serge it again to attach your bodice you might have some stitches showing.

Little tip for anyone that dreads hemming. I live and die by this stuff: SewKeysE extremely fine double sided fusible stay tape. Because you don’t need to double fold your knit hems, I just iron on the stay tape and fold over and iron again. It makes a really clean, easy hem that takes nothing to sew down. The best part is that it also prevents the  hems from rolling up once they are sewn. Double bonus for the double sided fusible stay tape 😉

So now my conference dresses are complete. I’ll probably throw on a cardigan over each and be good to go!!! I love this basic pattern, because it is so versatile. I decided to chop off 11 inches from my first dress to make a long tunic to go over some newly made stretch trousers. I just wasn’t in my comfort zone wearing it as a dress in the winter. Now I totally have a new outfit for colder weather. I think this will be my go-to standard outfit for the winter. Comfortable stretchy pants. Fun basic t-shirt layered with a warm cardigan…yes please!!!

I love the pattern, even though I didn’t really follow the basic form of the bodice. It is the scientist in me always experimenting and trying new things. I love how well fitting everything is. I was worried that with my large figure, it was going to look like a flour sack on but it doesn’t. So here’s to all those female scientists that think they have to wear black…maybe think outside the box…

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