Jasper sweaterdress

Before we start, the Get Your Knit ON competition is up at Bluegingerdoll. If you’re so inclined, mosey over there and vote for your favourite make.

Continuing in the theme of knit dresses (I love them. They don’t have darts to get all pointy or ANYTHING), I made a Jasper sweaterdress, from Paprika Patterns. The designer/model has such a different bodyshape from me, and the look of it on her is something I love but have accepted I will never achieve in the same way. So I probably wouldn’t have put it on my ‘to sew’ list except that I saw Gillians’ version at Crafting a Rainbow version and fell in love.

I had some rayon ponte from Spotlight that I’d bought when it was on special. I was planning to make a plain straight skirt, but I bought two metres of it and it’s 150cm so there is a LOT of fabric. I have no idea why I thought I would need that much. I bought some black at the same time, to make a ¾ circle skirt (as yet unmade) and I guess I just bought the same amount for both without thinking. The ponte is nice and dense, although it is something like 90% polyester, so it’s also a bit shiny and weird, in the way that oil-based fabrics are. But the rayon does take the edge off. It was really nice to sew with, I have to say. The pattern calls for a heavy ponte or thicker, and this worked pretty well, I think.

The photos aren’t the best, I’m still working out how to focus my camera properly with the timer, and it was early in the morning before work. So I just snapped some quickly and my face looks like it’s a ghost but just go with it, ok?

 

Anyhow, the dress. It comes with really thorough instructions on how to pick a size – the smaller sizes are drafted for a B cup and the larger ones for a C cup. I’m a DDD or an E, so obviously I knew I would need to do something about that, but luckily Paprika patterns also provides some excellent instructions for adjustments. There are also details on which pattern pieces you need to print for which version but I got overwhelmed and just printed them all. It wouldn’t be that hard to spend five seconds thinking about it but there you go. Anyway, it means that if you know you just want to make the jumper with the hood for example, you don’t ALSO have to print all the length of the dress and the collar, and wrangle that paper. I really appreciate the thought that went into making this pattern easy to access and use.

It was a nice pattern to tape together – I generally don’t mind taping but sometimes you get patterns that make it hard. This one was simple. It had circles to match up the sides and I found it much easier to make sure the circles were round rather than that triangles met each other, or other systems I’ve seen. Also the pieces are laid out sensibly so even though I didn’t selectively print, I could cut pieces off as I went. It took me maybe an hour to tape together, and I was going slow because I basically only ever tape patterns together when I am too tired and useless to do anything actually creative.

I cut it out the next day, when I was home from work with a migraine. That’s how nice and simple this pattern is, I could even sew it with a migraine. I did the FBA then, too. It’s a freaking MIRACLE I made it through that. Thankfully, the tute was extremely clear, and it links to Mary’s tute which I needed, because I did a 2.5” FBA and ended up with a weird, ripply, 3D piece of paper. I almost cried but then Mary was to the rescue and taught me how to straighten it out. I think this was probably great practice for doing a princess seam FBA on a woven – I figured this one’s a knit so it would be a bit more forgiving if I fudged things while I worked out what I was doing. The FBA has lots of steps and looks complicated but is actually one of the easiest adjustments I’ve ever done. I’d say it’s easier than an FBA on a darted bodice, even. Just a bit more mind bending trying to think about it.

I really should have pressed that skirt seam.

 

My high bust is exactly 41.5”, and my full bust is 46” so I cut a size 7 and did that 2.5” FBA – probably a bit generous of an FBA for my measurements, but it turned out well. I also folded the back piece in so that the centre back tapered up – I still cut it on the fold but it meant there was basically a built-in dart for my dowager’s hump (such an attractive term, no? JOKES ON THEM you have to have been married to be a dowager. Ha HA!!), basically the no-seam, pre-cutting version of the back adjustment I did on my Violet. I left the pockets off because I wanted to see how the fit was first, and also I was hoping to get a dress I could wear to work on those days when you just can’t be bothered and it’s cold and you’d rather stay in pyjamas, but you don’t actually want to LOOK like you can’t be bothered. I thought pockets would make it more casual. I also taped the bottom band pattern to the bottom of the pieces, and cut them together [get photo], again because I thought it would make it look a bit more casual than I was after.

Pattern piece with the cuff piece taped to it.

I always knew I wanted to make the plain dress, and I don’t love big collars on me – they make me look top heavy and also I feel like I’m choking all the time – so I just ‘self drafted’ a binding. That is to say, I cut a strip of fabric and pinned it until it looked like it’d be tight enough, and then sewed it on. Tres fancy, non? (How do you say ‘fancy’ in French?) It was a good thing this was how I wanted it because I would have struggled to get the collar out of the fabric I had, and the hood out have been totally out. If I’d cut the bands separate I might have been able to do some tricky cutting, but as it was I was left with about 25cm of fabric once I was done cutting.

I didn’t follow the sewing instructions, just sewed it up myself. I did glance at them and they looked very clear, with excellent diagrams.

So, I sewed it up sloooowly over that day (see, migraine). When I tried it on it looked like a SACK.

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It looks like an inmate’s uniform. Not precisely the look I was after…

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Sorry for the poor photos, I was just using my phone. Also please excuse my pants in a pile behind me. I am SO CLASSY, for reals.

I could see, when I pulled it this way and that, that most of the extra fabric was in the centre front. I tried unpicking the front princess seams and taking 1” out of the centre front when I sewed them back together. I also nipped this seam in at the waist a bit. This helped but it was still saggy baggy. There is the front piece, a side piece which wraps around, and a back piece that starts after your shoulders, so I couldn’t really just nip in the sides.

You can see the two seams here, indicating the three pieces – front, side, and back.

 

Besides, I realised, the front seam wasn’t anywhere near my actual bust. You can see the same thing in Chloe’s version here. I ended up unpicking the front piece altogether, and recutting it to take FOUR INCHES out of the front. I tapered it back out so the bit where it meets the shoulder is the same width, because I didn’t want to futz with the armholes if I didn’t have to – they were fitting ok and also armholes are the devil to futz with. I think this is just a body/pattern meeting in a weird way thing. The front doesn’t get adjusted at all with the FBA (except to lengthen it to match) and it DOES fit in the upper torso just fine, so… idk. Is it a shape thing or a drafting quirk for a body that’s not mine? Who knows. It was an easy fix, anyway.

I can see that there are significant drag lines, here. It’s not at all obvious in real life. I’m not quite sure how I’d go about fixing this – a bigger FBA, since I have reduced the centre width? Or maybe a big booty adjustment – actually I think that’s what it’s dragging on. It does hitch up slightly when I sit down, and I have to tug it down. I think, because of the three-piece construction, the back affects the front more than if it had more pieces, like the penny pinny.

Looking at this, I can see the back seam straining a little, so I think that probably is the problem. Obviously there is also a whole bunch of fabric pooling in my lower back, as well. Just for funsies. Not sure how to deal with that without a waist seam, I think I could probably narrow the back piece there, but to be honest it’s not a fitting issue I’m particularly concerned about at this point, especially on a knit dress. I’ll get to figuring out my back fitting issues once I’ve dealt with the front.

I did think about cutting it to match the centre piece of the penny pinny, because I think part of the problem is that Jasper goes out a bit where I would probably want it to go in – see comments above about it being a different shape than I would normally choose. It’s NOT a ‘fit and flare’ type pattern. I didn’t use the penny pattern piece (say that six times fast) because the penny is constructed differently (three pieces for front and back, not a front, two sides and a back), and I didn’t want to have to deal with that + adjusting the front curve if I didn’t have to. Not with a migraine.

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Penny pattern on top of the already cut out Jasper size 7 (before my adjsutments)

 

It came out great! I am really pleased with it. It still is not a shape I am used to, and I feel a bit self conscious that I might be sack-like. But objectively I think it’s totally fine and it’s just that I’m not used to it. I didn’t finish the inside seams at all. I did end up taking 1” off the end of the sleeves because they were too long, and I wish I’d tapered them down a bit and made the cuff smaller, because it’s a bit large. And also, I discovered when I wore it yesterday, the cuffs are cut slightly off grain. Whoops. I topstitched the sleeves and neck and did the hem with my twin needle. My babylock and I still aren’t on speaking terms.

I’m not 100% sure the deep hem is the look I want but I’m going to wear it a bit and see, I can always chop it off at a later date.

I’m really happy with this make, it was a really pleasant experience. I’m keen to make a jumper with a hood and a pocket, too. I have some fleece in the stash but it’s just from spotters, I think I might wait and get something better quality because I think this is a pattern that could feel fancy and nice, I don’t want to undermine it with sub par fabric.

I also have some two-sided doubleknit I bought from the Fabric Store yonks ago that might make a nice sweater dress? It is deep stash now and I’m kind of scared to cut into it, so I’d like to get over it and make it into something this winter. I’m going to wear this dress and if I like it as much as I think I will, I’ll cut into the doubleknit.

 

Bluegingerdoll Violet

I’ve been eyeing off Abby Horskin’s designs at Bluegingerdoll for a while now. They keep popping up and every time they do I love them. I think I first saw them on Idle Fancy or maybe Handmade by Heather B. I love the proportions and the lines, and how they are classic and a bit retro while still very wearable in a modern context. I can safely say I’ve loved every make I’ve seen from these patterns, so a while ago I took the plunge and bought a pattern package. I’ve looked at them a lot since then, and took a few to craft camp, but my sewing hasn’t been particularly prolific so nothing got made yet.

Posing with some very fancy plant-protecting shadecloth

 

Then Abby announced the Get Your Knit On competition, and it gave me a bit of a kick in the rump. I already knew I was going to make a Violet someday, so I bumped it up the list. I still have a pile of finishing to do from craft camp – things needing zips or tweaking, and I probably should be prioritising those. On the other hand, it was very invigorating to sew something quick and simple like a knit dress!

The instructions for this dress are great – very clear, great illustrations, some clever little drafting and construction bits. Even though it’s a reasonably complicated shape with the three piece bodice, it was so simple and easy to sew. I loved about everything about sewing this dress up. I sewed view C, with the long sleeves and the flared skirt. (Which is symmetrical, just so you know, in case you cut it with the wrong bit on the fold and freak out. Not that I would know anything about that. But if I did, it would be fine.)

I did make a bunch of adjustments before I even started sewing. Although the patterns are drafted for a D cup, there was still a two size difference between my upper and lower bust. My favourite bra is a DDD, but otherwise I wear an E. But I also have a low-ish bust, and sloping shoulders, which make my upper bust and shoulders proportionately small. I struggled with this with the Lady Skater dress and tops I made, and although I wear them all the time I also am really bothered by the way they sit. It’s an area where I really notice the fit – partly cos it’s close to my face and I see it but also because it makes the shoulder seam sit below my shoulders, and then the sleeves drag down and the neck drags out and I’m always adjusting it and feeling kind of sloppy and ill dressed.

The three-piece construction of the front bodice made this pretty easy to adjust for, actually. I cut a 16 at the top of the middle front yoke, tapering down to a 20 at the underarm, and the same with the corresponding back piece. I cut the skirt and the main front as a 20, and everything else as a 16. Oh except I cut the arms as a size 20 sleeve and a size 16 sleeve cap. As I was making it I was worried it would be too short in the torso, but I did want to make it up mostly from the packet to see how the pattern behaved, because sometimes it’s hard to tell from the flat pattern. Especially in a knit. In the end it worked out really well but I would consider dropping the waist a half inch or so if I made this in something more stable like a ponte – I do have a long waist but the fabric stretched enough that it sits about perfect.

Standing with my arms down reveals a bunch of fit issues. Unfortunately I don’t spend the majority of my time with hands on hips…

 

The results were… good. Ish. It was not as… something, as I was thinking it would be. I think a lot of that has to do with the fabric, which is pretty thin and has good recovery in general but because it’s so thin it does sag since the skirt is pretty heavy. I think a more stable fabric would be better for this pattern – for most knit dresses in general, to be honest. Instead of looking like a vintage pinup girl I just look comfy. Which is fine! I like to be comfy and this is a pretty fancy version of comfy, but I would also like to look a bit neater, too, sometimes. So I think I will hunt down some more stable fabric and make this again.

The fabric is some jersey from spottters that I bought ages ago to make bikeshorts out. I have been doing that too, but there was enough left for this dress, and probably another pair of shorts from the scraps. I have no idea what the fabric content is but from memory it has some spandex in it but is mostly cotton. It’s the same material that I used for my lady skaters. Good to be using stash!

Actually standing hand-on-hips reveals fit issues, too. Just on the back. You can see the gaping neck here.

 

Apart from, or maybe also exacerbated by, the fabric, I still had problems with the upper bust/shoulder area. I could tell right away this was going to be a problem, as it was bunching there, but I wanted to see how that would change with wear and as the fabric settled and stretched.

Closeup of dragging shoulder, gaping neckline. You can juuust see my brastrap here. Not a great look.

 

I wore this out for a few hours after I first made it, and it just kept dragging down off of my shoulders. It was really disappointing. I was thinking up all kinds of fixes and future pattern adjustments, but then I realised that the back was really really baggy.

Holy gaping back neck, batman! At least my glasses are real cool.

 

When I pinched out that excess, the shoulders sat beautifully. I got S to pin it for me, traced it in chalk, sewed it up and cut off the excess. Problem solvered!

Good place to show you my unfinished seams – I sewed the whole thing on my machine with lightning stitch, and twin needled the hems and the neckline topstitching. And you can also see the elastic stabilising the ruching. I would apologise for the cat hair permanently covering everything, but you know what? It’s not MY fault..

What???

 

The excess was mostly, conveniently, in the top portion of the back bodice. I cut about 2.5 inches total out of the top, tapering to nothing at the bottom. I kept the cutout bit so I can make the change on the pattern piece (should get on that). I also took regular seam allowance out of the rest of the back, so I probably brought it back down to an 18. And I tapered the sleeves in a bit from the elbow down, too.

I promise it does not sit as wonky as that, I was trying to capture a twirl here and the light was getting weird so most of the pictures of my fixed version came out funny. So. This will have to do. It does wrinkle a bit, as you can see here. Hazard of adding an impromtu seam where there shouldn’t be one.

Next time I would consider still taking a little wedge out of the upper bit of the lower front bodice. You can see it pooching a little here – I also didn’t manage to take any good arms-down photos of the fixed dress. Good work, me. Anyway, doing that would basically be making it a proper FBA shape. Conveniently the seam hits me right where I need that change. And I should work out what I need to do for a swayback adjustment, to get rid of the back bunching.

Also I would either staystitch the skirt pieces or else just not cut them out until I was about to sew them – I forgot to cut two pieces because it was getting late by that point, and the one I cut with the rest of the pattern had stretched out a bit by the time I sewed them up.

I also need to re-hem the sleeves because I had to unpick and re-do them after I fixed the shoulders, as they were way too short once the shoulders weren’t dropping low, but my twin needle broke. So they are not as neat as I like.

Yup! I’m pleased! Also in case anyone is wondering, my shoes are from Wittners and they are SO COMFY

 

All up, though, I am very happy. I will wear this dress a lot, even with the limitations of the fabric. It is comfy and I think looks nice. The ruching and v neck and the other little touches of the pattern save it from being just a plain old knit dress. The pattern was an utter delight to sew and makes me really keen to delve into more of Abby’s patterns!

Ta da!