The weather is getting colder and for a reason that I will not mention, I am currently working from home full time. This means I am no longer in a nice warm office and also don’t necessarily need to be super smart all the time. Therefore to save my bills and my sense of style (joggers just don’t cut it), I wanted to make a turtle neck jumper dress to keep me extra warm.

Originally I was going to buy a pattern for this but then I decided to try to draft something myself. When I first started sewing I didn’t actually know that patterns existed and just used to make it up as I went along. So I decided to go back my beginnings a bit with this project and draft something from scratch. If you fancy making a turtle neck jumper dress without a pattern, here you go…

Taking the measurements

First up was taking measurements, I’m going to split this into two, one for the dress and the two for the sleeve.

This dress actually has a very similar front and back and so I just drafted one pattern piece and then just cut off the line a little bit for the back. I know, I said no pattern, and if you wanted to you could draw straight onto the fabric, however, the advantage of drawing it onto to paper (or newspaper in my case) is that if it turns out really well you can make it again very quickly without having to think again!

Measurements for the body:

First lets do the horizontal measurements:

  • Shoulder slope – from the base of the neck to where the dip at the top of the arm is
  • Shoulder – from the top of one shoulder where the dip is to the other side across in front of your neck
  • Front shoulder – this is a hard one to describe but if you follow from your armpit to the top of your shoulder, take the point that looks about halfway up and measure from there to the same point on the other arm. It should be the narrowest the front of your bust gets.
  • High bust – circumference with the tape measure above your bust
  • Full bust – circumference at the fullest point of your bust
  • Waist– circumference at the narrowest point
  • Hip – circumference at the widest part

Now lets do the vertical measurements, all measurements are taken from the base of the neck where it meets the shoulder and going over the bust. These points are where it intersects the lines we have just measured.

  • a – from neck to shoulder
  • b – from neck to front shoulder
  • c – from neck to high bust
  • d – from neck to full bust
  • e– from neck to waist
  • f – from neck to hip
  • g – from neck to where you would like the hem
Body measurements

Measurements for the sleeve:

Much fewer measurements this time! Again lets start with the horizontal and then measure between them:

  • Shoulder width – again a difficult one to describe, but if you imagine I am a dress from and have no arm, at the widest part of the oval where my arm should be, measure across here
  • High bicep – measure the circumference of the arm at the armpit – as high as you can get the tape measure
  • Forearm – measure the circumference of your arm where you would like the sleeve to end.

For the verticle measurements, measure from the dip in the top of your shoulder down to intersect the horizontal lines we have just measured

  • h – from the top of the shoulder to the shoulder width line
  • i – from the top of the shoulder to the high bicep line
  • j – from the top of the shoulder to the forearm line (the length you want the sleeve)
Sleeve measurements

Okay now we have all the measurements let’s get drawing the pattern pieces. Again lets start with the body piece.

So to start with you will need paper at least as long as line f and as wide as your widest line/4 (for me the hips). I used three sheets of newspaper glued together.

Measure outline f along the edge of the paper and mark line a-e from the top.

Vertical lines

Next, at each point mark out the measurements shown in the picture below, remember that any circumference will be divided by 4 whilst widths will be divided by 2. If you would like to add ease, add it to your waist and hip measurements, I added around 3cm to my waist and hip measurements – you can easily remove this later if you find it to be too loose, I wouldn’t recommend adding too much ease to your bust measurements as it’s harder to remove later due to the sleeve. Measure from the end of the shoulder line the length of your shoulder slope line moving it until the other end hits the top of your paper.

body measurements with horizontal

Now we just have to join up the lines and draft a curve for the neck hole, leave this smaller rather than bigger as we can cut more away later.

Finally, just smooth out the curves (particularly round the arm hole) which you can see I have done in the picture below:

Now to draft the sleeve piece.

The paper will need to be at least as wide as your bicep measurement +1cm and as long as you would like your sleeve. First of all, put a line straight down the middle of your paper and from the top measure down and mark h,i and j.

Now, draw out your shoulder width and bicep lines but shift them 1cm to the left so that they are slightly off centre. Draw your forearm line with half either side of the central line.

Join up the lines and smooth out. When smoothing out at the shoulder width line, try to make an s shape line to give that armhole shape, on the front it should be a steeper curve.

Final sleeve piece

Cutting out

We are ready to get cutting the fabric now. Cut the body piece on the fold with the long edge against the fold, remember to add seam allowance as you go. Add around 5cm at the bottom to allow for a hem. Cut the back piece the same but cut the neckline straight and bring out the curve of the arm by around 1cm (see picture below).

cutting the back piece

Cut the sleeve pieces on the fold to give you two reversed pieces.


Yes, we are there finally! But this is a very quick sew I promise! I used an overlocker for all my seams, so even quicker, but feel free to zigzag the seams instead.

First off I sewed up the shoulder seams and then sewed my sleeves into the armhole. I prefer to sew my sleeves in flat when I am making something out of jersey. Next, I sewed up the side and arm seams in one long seam. I then tried it on and realised two things. One I couldn’t get it over my head (easily fixed with scissors to the neckline) and two, I had added too much ease to my hips so I just re-sewed the side seams and took off around 3cm from each side from the waist down.

Now for the neckline. There was a reason I didn’t draft the piece earlier as I needed to know what my neckline would be before I could draft the turtleneck. I tried on the dress again and marked how low I wanted the neck to be.

I then folded the dress in half and marked and cut the new neck line.

lowering the neckline

Next step is to cut out a rectangle for the turtleneck. This should be the width of the total length of your neckline ( I didn’t add seam allowance, with my 1/2cm seam this means that my neckband was actually 1cm smaller than the hole just to give it a smooth fit). The height of the turtle neck is up to you but x4 and add seam allowance (with a 0.5cm seam allowance this gave me a total of 41cm).

I cut out this rectangle and then folded it in half length wise and then width wise. I then tapered the horizontal edges by 2cm. This is just so it is not too high at the back.

Cutting the neck band

I sewed up the vertical edge, folded it in half, wrong sides together, and then stretched it into the neck hole. I overlocked the edges all together.

The last step is just to hem the sleeves and hemline. I did this just by serging the edge and then turning up and stitching with a straight stitch.

And hey presto here is the final result:

Out in the wild

Overall I am really happy with how this turtle neck jumper dress turned out. It is perfect for being warm and feeling nice. It was also super easy and I will be making more as soon as I find the fabric!

Going on an adventure!

Do let me know if you have a go and if you have any questions just let me know!

finished turtle neck jumper dress

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