This is a pattern especially for Knit Fabrics
. It has no closure whatsoever so you do need to ensure that there is plenty of stretch in the seams – especially the waist seam or it won’t go over your head.
You need just three things, pattern, fabric and thread and that is it. If you are not using interfacing and zips etc it does keep the cost down.
The pattern is designed so that everything is interchangeable so bear that in mind when looking at this pattern. My Fabric
has a heavy raised design on it so I looked at all the options to make best use of the fabric design.
The skirt is quite short so if you choose the panelled skirt or the six gore skirt you may want to add to the length. I chose the below the knee skirt purely because it was the best choice for my fabric, I did not want to distort the pattern by having a lot of seams.
For the same reason I chose the plain V neckline and the long sleeves. These sleeves have a cuff on the pattern, but I did away with it and extended the sleeve itself by five inches.
This pattern has something you may not have heard of and that is “negative ease”. Negative ease means simply that the garment will measure smaller than your measurements because the fabric is meant to stretch around it. This fact will determine what fabric you use because a thin plain fabric will exaggerate every lump and bump, as will pale colours. This might be exactly what you want but the rest of us have areas we want to disguise!
I suggest therefore that you choose a fabric in a darker colour, which is of a substantial weight and has a design on it. The design could be a pattern or a raised design like the fabric I chose.
I debated for ages on which would be the best size to cut out as I did not want to waste any fabric. Eventually I gathered courage and took all of my measurements and chose size 42 which I knew was going to be too big but I figured that it would be far easier to take the seams in than try and make them stretch around my body.
I also added extra to the skirt width making it more A line than the original pencil. This was because I wanted to do away with the side slit too. There was a wide band of plain fabric at the sides of the pattern which enabled me to cut the neckband out without having the pattern to deal with.
It is vital to tack the dress together and try it on before you go anywhere near your sewing machine. My suspicion that the dress would be far too big was proved correct because it was enormous! I still do not regret cutting it larger because it gave me scope to fit it to exactly fit my body and also the extra bit of material in the sides meant that I could manipulate the fabric very slightly in order to obtain a pattern match at the waist seam. Try it on again and keep making adjustments until you are happy with the fit.
So now that you have tacked it altogether mark the new seam allowances and take the tacking out. It seems like you are wasting time, but you are definitely not. As with everything preparation is key, you now know that it will fit you perfectly so you can whizz through the sewing with confidence.
But wait, how are you going to sew a stretch fabric? Use a straight stitch and every time a seam stretches it will burst open and you will end up with a hole.
Firstly and most importantly you need a brand new jersey (ball point) needle
. No ifs or buts, a new needle is essential. After I have finished every single project my needle goes in a container and goes in the bin. Don’t think of this as a chore or as a waste of money, a sharp needle is essential and after all you have paid a lot of money for your machine, pattern and fabric, what’s a few pence on a new needle? I am a stickler for two things, new needles and decent thread. Again you have spent a lot of money so far so don’t spoil your garment with cheap thread off the market, it won’t work! Cheap thread is made from all the short leftover fibres that the better threads are made from and the thread will break easily and clog your machine up with lint! You could actually end up with a damaged machine if you do not spend time continually removing all the lint.
So, buy a good quality thread and you will achieve much better results. For sewing knits and stretch fabrics including sportswear, lingerie and swimwear I recommend Mettler Seraflock
. This is a high quality elastic thread which means that you do not need to mess around trying to find the perfect stretch stitch – a normal everyday bog standard straight stitch is all you need. Just lengthen the stitch very slightly and that all you need do!
When it comes to constructing the dress I like to follow a set method and that is I stitch the bodice darts and the princess seams at the front, then the shoulder seams and then I stitch the neckband on. This method enables you to stitch the sleeves in place on the flat. This is MUCH easier than inserting them after the side seams have been stitched.
Then I stitch front and back skirts onto each bodice. There is a reason for this – it enables you to tack the side seam together once again, try it on and make any other adjustments needed. It seems as though I am being fussy, but what I am actually demonstrating is how to achieve a garment which does not look homemade, and that is what you will end up with if you do not pay attention to detail.
What are you going to do about the inside of your dress? Many people feel that it is not necessary to finish the seams of a knit garment as nobody but you is going to see them. Are you not worth the tiny bit of extra time to finish the seams properly? Not only does it look better, it strengthens the seams too, so there is no chance of them bursting now. So, get your overlocker out, do a zig-zag or whatever you like but please finish your seams neatly! In addition it is necessary to trim away as much of the fabrics raised design as possible or your seams will be too bulky.
Now you can stitch your side seams but you need to put your sewing away for the night now and leave your dress on your dummy or on a well padded coat hanger. No, you mustn’t hem it and wear it the same day! Why not I hear you say? Jersey stretches, and it needs to hang overnight to enable it to settle and stretch to where it wants to go. This is especially important with a heavy fabric like this. So forget about it and enjoy your evening.
Once you have allowed your beautiful dress to settle overnight you may try it on and pin the hems on the bottom of the garment and the sleeves, trimming them evenly as you go. A narrow hem is fine on this garment.
Wasn’t the wait worth it? And are you glad you neatened your seams? You now have a beautiful HANDMADE dress to be proud of which will fit your figure perfectly and last a lifetime.
Many thanks for reading this,