Saturday, January 10, 2015

Made by a Fabricista: Double Knit and Softly Pleated.


I spend many of my winter days in the classroom as a substitute teacher at my kids' school (also my alma mater!).  I would like to pretend that Virginia has nice, warm, mild winters but reality smacks me super hard every year when we experience at least one arctic blast, thanks to our proximity to Canada and its chilling jet stream.  And because part of my job requires me to go outside with the kids for their recess when I sub, I need clothing that will be all at once presentable, conservative, and warm.

When I was asked what I wanted to create for my January blog post, I decided nothing would be better than a beautiful winter dress using some of the gorgeous double knit fabric that Fabric Mart has in abundance right now.  I know that double knit has many advantages including a thicker texture, wrinkle resistance, and are pretty stable.  The thicker fabric was my ultimate desire, since I wanted something that would be a stretchy comfortable fabric but would also be very warm.  I also know that while I love sweater knits (see this post for one of my most favorite sweater knit makes), I preferred that this dress be made from something that would drape a bit more and would not require me to line it to wear it with tights (sometimes tights can get caught up on sweater knits).

After looking through the selection of double knits, I ultimately chose the Dark Blue/Honey/Multi Floral Medallions Puckered Double Knit since I loved the way the print reminded me of the late 60s and 70s.  The subtle floral detail is very pretty and the scale didn't seem especially large, either.

Initially I gravitated towards using one of my vintage patterns in my stash to make my long-sleeved winter dress (especially considering how retro the fabric looked), but then...the same day I let Fabric Mart know what I wanted to sew up...Pamela's Patterns Softly Pleated Dress pattern showed up on their site as a new arrival.  I asked if they would mind sending me the pattern in addition to the fabric I chose to use, and they said that they thought it was a great idea.  :-) 

I knew I had really landed on a great idea, too, when not even one day later, I saw this pattern review with the same fabric in red and blue done up in a dress.  I loved it, and I really hoped that my result would be similarly cute!  (Just longer for the school dress code limitations.)



Upon receiving the package of fabric and pattern, I set out to get it cut and ready to sew.  I was determined to finish this project nice and early so I could actually wear it in public before I published this post.  Well, I will say this much, the fabric is so easy to cut and sew and finish, and the pattern is so delightfully hand-holdy that I was I able to not only sew it up and finish it and wear it before this blog post was due BUT also make a whole other tunic top for my daughter from the remnants left from the dress! 



The pattern consists of only a few pieces, a skirt front and back (with very clear markings for the pleats), a bodice front and back (including a darted front or non-darted front), and the sleeve.  I used the bodice front with no dart since my bust measurement is very similar to my upper bust measurement (sigh, lol).  I also chose to cut a size small, though my upper bust and bust measurement fall fairly close to the extra-small measurement on the pattern instructions.  I also knew I could cut the skirt at a size small throughout since the purpose of this dress pattern is to skim fully over lower half curves, and based on the measurements I did with the tape, I had plenty of room to work with for my lower half in the size small.



In fact, I had too much.  I did notice that in her video on "proportion check," Pamela does mention that part of the process of getting this pattern to fit you properly may involve significantly taking in the sides of the dress after basting it up.  I definitely had to do that, especially after I discovered the dress basically looked like a tent on me after the basting process was done.







I ended up taking in an inch from the skirt pieces on each side (front and back), and in the bodice portion (front and back), I took off an inch at the waist grading to a half-inch out at the upper bust and armhole portions.  The sleeves were fine, so I didn't take them in any further.


I also chose to watch Pamela's video on applying all the stay tape she wants us to use when we make up this pattern (video shows the tee, but same basic ideas).  I definitely will be using all those stay types the next time I make this dress, especially if it is in a very stretchy ITY knit or lightweight cotton jersey knit, but this double knit is stable enough that I ended up *not* applying any stay tape at the waistline.  The simple process of basting the waist and then serging it after was more than enough to keep it stable.


I did end up applying stay tape (the really stable stuff) at the shoulders to prevent the shoulders from stretching out, and that worked quite well.  I also used some flexible knit interfacing at the neckline and the hemline to give those two areas some extra heft and stability when doing the finishing process of the dress.






The dress fits so well!  And with it being made nearly fully on the serger, it was a quick and very professional looking garment when completed.



I was so excited to wear it, I wore it the very next day to school.  And because I wanted it to be authentic to what I hoped to achieve, I was very thrilled to find that it was very cold out (high of only 28F--BRRRR), and I could test its ability to be presentable, conservative, and warm.  And it was all three!  And best yet, the tights did not stick to them, either.  ;-)



When I got home today, I sewed up my daughter's tunic which I made by using McCall's 6786, which is for a little girl's color-blocked dress.  I just left off the contrast color collar, hem, and sleeve bands, which ends up becoming a tunic top with three-quarter sleeves.  Very cute!  My daughter is wearing a size 6, which is true to size.  Normally McCall's runs a touch large, so it is nice to see something that is actually the size they say it is.

Okay, that's it for me!  I am so excited to share with you both a great pattern for a wonderful winter dress, but also how awesome double knit fabric is to work with and to wear!  :-)

--Dina of My Superfluities.

9 comments:

  1. Fabulous!! I wish I could make clothing. You and your daughter look awesome!

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  2. Beautiful dress! Love the fabric!

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  3. I really like this dress and it's a perfect fit for you!

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  4. Looks great on you. Very nicely done.

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  5. I have been looking at the McCalls 6786 pattern for my daughter, when you left out the collar… did you add that height back to the pattern? does that make sense ?
    meaning did you just replace the contrast just with the same fabric? ugh does that make sense either hahahaha
    thanks

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    1. Hi! You make sense!!! :)

      I did not add height to the back of that pattern. I decided I wanted the neckline to stay that width and at the lower point on her frame instead of getting it to the higher point that either the contrast or collar would have added. I like the lower and wider look for this garment. I do have plans to make that pattern as is for something else in the future.

      What I did do, though, was to add facings to both the front and back necklines since without the collar or contrast, there was nothing there to stabilize the neckline. The pattern does not come with neckline facing pieces because the assume you will use the pattern as is, so I decided to draft my own, using a similar method to this: http://www.ikatbag.com/2010/09/drafting-part-viii-necklines-facings.html.

      You could use a knit bias binding at the neckline, too, if you wanted, but I like facings a lot, so I used that instead.

      Does that help?

      I did topstitch the neckline to secure the facings and to give the neckline a bit of interest, though.

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  6. thank you I'm finally getting around to sewing this up for this school year. the link you added doesn't go anywhere
    I'm very excited to make a few of these !

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