I’ve made a fair few dresses in my time, but this particular dress marks a turning point. This is the first dress I’ve ever made that I’ve worn regularly. And when I say regularly, I mean I grab it every time it’s out of the laundry! So what makes this dress so special? I believe it’s largely down to the knit fabric, which is beautifully soft and drapey. It’s the same viscose are used to sew the top version of this pattern (Simplicity 1469), And it presented the same challenges to work with. However, I learnt a lot making the top so it was much easier this time around.
For the top I used clear elastic to stabilise the neckline but I was never happy with the result. I didn’t like the zig-zag topstitching or the way the neckline of the inner bodice kept wanting to pull outwards:
This time I buckled down, faced my fears, and made a proper knit binding for the neckline and armholes. Why was I so worried? It was the easiest thing in the world, and the results look brilliant. I didn’t even need to topstitch down the seam allowance as I used my over locker to attach the binding. In fact I did try topstitching and it looks rubbish, so that saved me some work. I even remembered to trim a little off the edges before binding them, so as not to add any width to the edges.
The only thing I would change about the binding in future with this particular fabric is to stretch it out more, losing about 20% of the length rather than just 10%. This fabric doesn’t have brilliant recovery, and the neckline can sometimes look a bit stretched out after nursing.
There was one thing that threw me during construction and that was the skirt portion. This did not want to behave when I was sewing it and I’m glad I basted it together to begin with. I think the problem was down to me cutting the fabric on the fold. It is such a slinky viscose that even with the on-grain dots to help line it up the layers still shifted when I was cutting. Next time I work with such a difficult fabric I will cut on a single layer. In the end I managed to make it work by shaving about an inch tapering down to nothing off one side, but this wasn’t without much cursing, pinning and trying it on. I think my problem might have been compounded by the fact I was cutting the back piece twice for a slimmer fitting skirt. Cutting the maternity-width front piece would have added some drapey leeway.
Another alteration I made this time around was using gathers rather than pleats under the bust. I don’t think it makes a huge difference to the way top appears, but I found it easier to sew that way. I’m just not a big fan of pleats.
I made the dress about the regular length to begin with and left the hem unfinished so I could try it on and see if I liked it. I found the length a little restrictive, and so I hacked about 4 inches off it. I finished the hem by over locking and then stitching with a twin needle. This time my twin needle stitching was incredibly successful, but unfortunately it is not a stretchy enough finish for the mother of small children. It it just took Gabriel stepping on my skirt to pop the stitches and so now I have to think of another way to finish it, probably using a blind hem ladder stitch on the overlocker.
Here are some more pictures of the finished dress to give you an idea of the fit, which I’m really pleased with:
Interestingly enough, I thought I was making a lightweight summer dress, but when it came down to it I found this dress felt too light and flimsy to wear with nothing underneath. It was like I was wearing nothing at all! Despite its sleeveless nature I have found it a superb transitional peace, styled with leggings underneath and a cardigan on top, as shown in the photos below.
So, some more versions of this dress are definitely on my sewing list for 2016. It’s not obviously a nursing top, so will be fine to wear even when this phase of my life is over. I have a small amount of the spotty fabric left over, so I’m thinking about using it as a binding trim on a solid coloured dress next time. Black and grey solid dresses are a great wardrobe staple for me.
So, finally, a pattern and fabric combination I want to wear again and again. My sewing goal is finally reached! Now I just need to sew enough items of clothing to be able to participate in Me Made May for the first time in 2016. *Scribbles down sewing plan*