The 3 Armhole dress – table cloth to beach cover up

3 armhole

I have been fascinated by these dress pattern, looks so so cute, and only one pattern piece – so little sewing, and in the 60s quite a few pattern companies did different variations of this dress.   I drafted a pattern that I thought would work, while based on a Butterick illustration here, I  put the shaping darts high (at armhole) and made a one piece pattern,  The nice thing about this pattern is you can make something from a length of of fabric you are precious about and still make something again from it later as the dress has only armhole cuts (I get preoccupied with a stash of fabric becoming too big and redundant!). 

The dress is straightforward to sew,  the darts are sewn, then the shoulder seams.   I hemmed the sides and hem, and then used bias binding to finish the armholes and neck. 

I had picked up tablecloth in a charity shop, and while the embroidery on it was lovely, the faded background was uneven, so I dyed it after making the dress.  The embroidery took the dye as well (I thought it might but would have been equally happy if it didn’t).  Great dress for the beach as a cover up, and if you wear a slip underneath it would work fine as a dress, or made shorter it makes a cute tunic.  

Comments online re 3 armhole dress suggest a similar design was in use in hospitals for patients? sounds better than the back-tie tunic that used be given out. 

If you wish for a copy of my drafted pattern for this, it can be downloaded from google drive in the pattern links tab at the top of this page.The 3 Armhole dress - table cloth to beach cover up


13 thoughts on “The 3 Armhole dress – table cloth to beach cover up

    • upsew says:

      Hi Nichole – I have never seen a copy for this pattern or the instructions but I just used bias binding on all my armholes. so I first did the darts (which I put coming from the armhole to keep the dress in one piece then sewed the shoulder seams and then used bias binding on all the armholes and neckline. I hemmed the rest…… best of luck with it, they are a very handy dress!


  1. upsew says:

    How lovely – our makes in first year home ecc (13 years) were either apron or an a-line skirt. I am currently drafting a childs version for my friends daughter as I think it would be a great beach cover up (and also that I am trying to look forwards here to summer) – we have a 2 week lock-down scenario introduced here after gradual measures 2 weeks ago….. everything changes fast these days


  2. Pure platinum says:

    Several years after this was posted and it’s still much appreciated. Thank you so much for sharing the pattern draft!


  3. Tracey says:

    I bought my daughter a beach towel which is this dress made with towelling. And have been looking to enlarge it for me. So thanks for this.


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