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Simplicity 8602 Dress Hack

In my latest Minerva Crafts blog I’ve taken a slightly different approach and made something for my daughter. Another dressmaker left a comment on my personal blog which got me thinking, she’d remarked that she had used the same pattern adapted for different members of her family so I wondered, could I use one pattern and adapt it for three generations, my 83 year old Mum, my 24 year old daughter and me? The 3 of us settled on Simplicity 8602 which is a top pattern that Mum and my daughter each wanted lengthened into a dress. Katie went for view C with short ruffled sleeves. Minerva had kindly provided me with some beautiful soft Viscose Jersey Fabric which Kate liked and, although the pattern isn’t intended for jersey, it’s a simple shape which shouldn’t present too much difficulty with a few careful steps.

This is a pattern which comes with cup size variations so that means you should be able to get a good fit without too much difficulty. Because I want to use the pattern for three different people and we are all very different shapes and sizes I traced off the pieces for each of us. Katie is the tallest so once I’d traced the pieces off I pinned the paper pattern pieces together to ‘tissue fit’ on her first before cutting the fabric out. I’m glad I did because the bust dart was definitely not in the right place, it was much too high, as was the armhole. To rectify this, I added approximately 2cms to the shoulder seams front and back which caused the pieces to drop down and fit Katie much better, the armhole became larger and the bust dart was now in the right place. The back neck was now a little low so I raised that up by 2cms too, I left the front neck as it was.

Because it’s jersey quite a bit of the dress could be sewn with the overlocker if you choose to although the seam allowances are 1.5cms rather than 5mm which the O/L sews. This would mean the garment could be significantly bigger if sewn with the O/L so bear that in mind. [sew jersey or stretch fabrics with a ‘flattened out’ zigzag if you don’t have an overlocker, use a regular zigzag to neaten the edges if they need it, jersey doesn’t fray although the cut edges do tend to curl if left.] I’m not going to lie, I had a trouble getting a satisfactory stitch on my machine. I’d changed to a new ‘stretch’ needle but it kept skipping stitches. I consulted my machine manual and tried a few things such as stitch length, slight tension alteration, I even bought a new reel of thread specifically but nothing absolutely solved it, it was ‘good enough’. Eventually I changed the needle again to a ‘jersey’ needle instead and that seems better. If one needle size or type doesn’t seem to work, try another.

I started by sewing the shoulder seams together first, stabilise them with some iron-on tape beforehand.

Instead of a facing the neckline needed a band which wasn’t part of the pattern so I measured the neck edge and cut a strip about 5cms wide by a little shorter than the length of the neck, probably 4-5cms shorter depending on the stretchiness of the jersey. This strip would then need to be placed evenly around the neck opening stretching it slightly to fit. I sewed this on with the overlocker.

I attached the sleeves next on the flat with the overlocker and then the side seams.

I used the rolled hem finish on the edges of the sleeves and sleeve ruffles. I gathered up the ruffles using a long wide zigzag and attached them as the pattern intended.

I thought the effect was nice but Katie begged to differ so I had to change them and gather them onto the edge of the sleeve. I’m not convinced she likes them any better! She didn’t like the neckline either so I had to take the band off completely, cut the front neck into a V and put a new band on. [I’ve remembered why I prefer sewing for myself by this point!]

Eventually, after shortening the skirt and the addition of elastic in a casing under the bust my client was (relatively) happy. I’m very grateful to Minerva for providing me with this lovely soft jersey, I’ll stick with sewing for myself from now on, I’m not so demanding!

Thanks for reading,

Sue @ Susan Young Sewing

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