We’re back to a dodgy photo location for this one because it was an unseasonable make, and it was incredibly windy when I took the photos – so windy that half of my lettuce plants got blown over, and my hair collapsed in on itself despite being styled when I started the photos. This was the best location I could find that was sheltered enough and close enough to a door so I could run back to my tracksuit pants the second I was finished. Which was good timing because as soon as I was indoors it started raining.
This dress is from the Ottobre Design Women’s magazine for Spring/Summer 2014. It’s pattern number 12, called ‘Tennessee’. Just a simple knit dress. When I first got this issue I thought there was nothing in it I’d ever make, as I usually do when I get a new edition of this magazine. And, as usual, a year later I was thinking ‘I wonder if I have a pattern for a simple dress with a loose-ish bodice’ and here we are.
In fact I specifically disliked this pattern when I first saw it, because of the loose gathered bodice and cut on sleeves. But now I see this silhouette everywhere in RTW, and I am coming around to cut on sleeves, so as usual Ottobre is right and I am wrong. I love that this magazine is chock full of wearable basics, and they also clearly have an eye on trends. Not the bleeding edge of fashion or anything, but general silhouettes and the kind of thing that normal people wear.The subscription isn’t cheap (especially since I just had to renew it with our crap dollar. Ugh) but I definitely feel I get value for money out of it.
Anyhow, the sewing of this was slightly fraught as I found holes in the fabric as I was cutting it out. The fabric is just a rayon knit from Spotlight, I think it’s a new line for them. (She says casually, as if she is not perfectly aware of the state of Spotlight’s fabric lines. Side note… is it a bad sign when the servers at your big box fabric store recognise you and call you ‘a regular’? And not only ask what you’re making, but ask about specific pieces of fabric that you bought previously, and ask if you’ve made it into anything? It is, right?? Really gotta upgrade my fabric buying habits and/or quit buying any at all, but the fact that my office will be moving into the same building as spotlight at the end of the year is probably not gonna help things).
I took the holey piece back and they replaced it even though I didn’t have my receipt, which I really appreciated. The person who served me said she thought maybe one of the nightfillers had cut it with a boxcutter when getting it out of the shrinkwrap – and indeed, it did look like knife nicks, all the way down one side of the roll.
The fabric is pretty thin and drapey and annoying to cut but feels really nice and behaved itself very well in the actual sewing.
I cut a size 50, with the neck and shoulders graded down to 46, as per my measurements, for a cheaters FBA. I forgot to add seam allowance but figured it was a roomy knit, so I’d be right. In fact it turned out quite a bit too big, and I took 5/8 of an inch off of the side seams. It was still pretty roomy then, though, and hung really limply. I wanted something breezy but I also want to feel comfortable in it, and that means it can’t be a sack or I’ll feel self conscious.
The skirt is gathered in to the bodice with clear elastic, so I thought maybe I’d gather it again, to suck in the waist. I originally did the whole waist and of course it was then too small, so I unpicked the front and now i’ts just gathered on the back. I also took in the seam at the shoulders about 5/8 of an inch, which meant I had to re-reinforce the shoulders and the stitching is visible on the outside. But since I never have to look at that, I figure it’s better than having a droopy dress.
I didn’t pay attention to how they have you do the neck and sleeve bindings, and just did them as usual, to my cost. he instructions have you sew them to the right side of the dress, turn them under and stitch with a straight stitch, so that instead of a band on the outside, you are basically using them as a facing. This would have been much better in the thin rayon, mine came out all wibbly. I turned the band under and top stitched on the arms and it made the problem different but not any better.
They’re all still wibbly. And I neglected a close up of the neck but it’s pretty loose, I suspect it will stretch out quite a bit over time. On the one hand I’m glad I did the more traditional binding, because it gives me a bit more height at the neckline (must remember to cut any future version a wee bit higher). On the other hand, I don’t think this rayon has enough recovery to really hold the neckline in enough.
So, after writing that I decided that I couldn’t live with the sleeves as they were, that it was just going to annoy me and I’d never wear it. I tried binding them with a more stable knit but I think the problem is just that the rayon is too rigid when sewn on the vertical. In the end, I just cut the binding and turned over parts off all together, had another quick photoshoot, and then shoved it in a drawer.
I was feeling really unhappy about it, and thinking that it fell into the same unfortunate category as most of my me-made knit dresses and summer home-wear, where it covers my nakedness but is sloppy and makes me feel bad about it. The general failure of it, plus the fact that the sleeves are now much shorter than I’d like, made me feel not good. I had originally sewn it to bulk out my summer wardrobe so that I would have appropriate clothes to go to Bali with the retreat that Suse organised (it was amazing, I am hoping to blog it but if I don’t manage it Lara’s written some wonderful blog posts about it. Dates are up for next year, you should consider going!) I didn’t end up bringing this dress because I was so down on it. That said, now I look at the photos I’m feeling ok about it again. It might get a look the next hot day we have, and I’ll reassess.
I do really like the pattern itself, and the mistakes were my own so hopefully that means I could improve on them next time. I did grab some more of this knit to make another, but I don’t think it’s a good pattern to fabric match – I might try a moneta so I can line the bodice and not need facings. If I make this pattern again, I will:
- Use the adjusted pattern which I am definitely going to adjust immediately so I don’t forget what I’m doing (edit: It’s been a week and I still haven’t done that sooooo… good job, me?) (edit: it’s been a month now. Gold star work).
- cut the neckline higher so I can do the turned-under binding without it being too low.
- Not use a rayon, or other knit that won’t manage the vertical sewing. If I do, I will just leave the sleeves raw to begin with
- do the bindings as instructed
- cut a piece of clear elastic to the size of my actual waist, rather than the size of the bodice, to use for gathering. I like the way that makes the top just a tiny bit blousy.
- I think the elastic I used the first time was not really stretchy enough, while the second lot was. So I’ll make sure I use a stretchy enough elastic, and I found a slightly wider elastic was easier to control as well.