Two new dresses!

Hi Everyone! I have two new dresses to share today, bringing my January total up to 3 makes, all in knit fabrics!

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First up is (yet) another Mesa dress. This is my favourite version so far!! Not much to say about it other than that I lowered the neckline about 1½”, and lengthened the sleeve about 2”. I made it all on my overlocker, using a zig-zag stitch on my standard machine to topstitch the neckband and hem. I made this in an evening, in just under 3 hours (at a relaxed pace!)

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The fabric is divine Art Gallery Fabric in this really fun, irregular spot pattern. It’s 95% cotton and 5% elastane, and is probably now my favourite knit fabric to work with – it’s soft and cosy, but smooth so gives a good outline. The recovery is also really impressive, and it sews up beautifully. This one was at the pricey end of the range – £18/m, but as I only needed 1.5m, the total cost came up at £27 which I think is ok for my new fab dress 🙂

Next up is a pattern I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of use of! Colette’s Wren dress.

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When I saw the Wren dress, I wasn’t immediately bowled over. The line drawings were cute, but I’m afraid the samples sewn up for the pattern website just didn’t grab me. Then, I started seeing amazing sample versions all over the Intewebs (notably this one by Stitchology) and I knew I’d have to buy it! I made the most of the 20% off, and free longer sleeves as part of the introductory offer and got the PDF straight away!

As the knit patterns I’ve tried from Colette seem to be fairly reliable for me fit-wise, I decided to risk cutting straight into my good fabric – this scrummy Liberty viscose jersey I got from Oxford market a few months ago. I think it’s 97% viscose with the remainder being elastane. It’s very soft and drapey (as you would expect from viscose!) with very good recovery. It feels fantastic, but it was a little slippy to sew – I wouldn’t recommend this for a first knit project!

I decided that I’d like ¾ length sleeves. The free sleeves that came with the pattern were either a half length (just above the elbow) or full length. I didn’t really want either of those options for this dress, so lengthened the half length by a few inches to be just below the elbow. I also shortened the hem by 3” before cutting (I’m a shorty!).

As this was my first time making this pattern, I zig-zagged it all together on my machine first, before going over the seams on my overlocker when I was happy with the fit. I made the following adjustments to the pattern instructions:

  • Rather than finishing the neckline on each piece of the bodice, I sewed the bodice fronts/ backs together (with elastic to stabilise the shoulder), then hemmed it all in one go. I tried a new technique for this: I sewed in clear elastic (without stretching) to the edge of the neckline, then turned it over and top stitched it in place, so the elastic is now inside the neckline. I’m really pleased with this finish, and it was really easy!
  • When I first finished the bodice, it was a bit loose all over, especially the overlap. I have read a few other people say this too, but it might also have been my fabric, as it is a looser jersey than some. I overlapped the front by an extra ½” to account for this.
  • The sleeve was far too loose! I don’t know if this was just the jersey I was using (I usually have to make sleeves larger to fit my upper arm/ shoulder). I took in the sleeve and upper bit of bodice by ½” on each side (i.e. a full inch out of each sleeve)
  • I gathered the skirt using woven elastic – I’ve found this to be much easier than trying to do this with clear elastic!
  • After trying on the finished dress, I chopped another 3” off the hem (so 6” in total!) I do like a short skirt!
  • I hemmed the skirt and sleeves using a zig-zag rather than a twin needle, just for a change 🙂
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Back View

Changes for next time:

  • I might make a small sway back wedge out of the back bodice – it might just be this fabric, but it is a little long around the waistline! One of the things I’ve learnt about sewing with knits, is that no two are the same, so there are always a certain number of on-the-spot adjustments to make!

All in all I’m super happy with my new dress!!

Cost:
PDF Pattern: £8.15
2m Fabric: £16
Elastic: £1
Total Cost: £25.15

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