Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Finished Dress

I am feeling quite pleased with myself today because I am the proud owner of a new dress…one that I sewed up myself. It is the first time I have ever worked with jersey material and a sewing machine and actually turned out a wearable garment.
First sewn knit fabric dress

I shied away from sewing jersey in the past as it always bunched up and seemed so intimidating…all that stretch and mystery. This time around I found my handwork with knit fabric has brought me a confidence I lacked in those early knit sewing attempts and this was an encouraging experience overall. I sense many more knit dresses joining the wardrobe sooner than later.
First sewn knit fabric dress

So, how did I do it? I actually drafted the pattern myself using one of my very favorite jersey wrap dresses. I have had the scheme bouncing around in my head for some time but the close out skull fabric found at JoAnns sent me into frenetic motion on Friday. I laid out the original dress on paper (freezer paper in this case as it was on hand) and using one of those spikey wheel tools (technical term, of course) traced the panels of the dress onto paper… first the back then the two side wrap panels.dress drafting

Once I located the faint lines, I simply traced the shape and cut out the paper to use as the ‘pattern’. Knit fabric is pretty forgiving so I figured it would all line up and was pleasantly surprised when it did. I skipped sleeves as that is a whole other animal and I have no idea how to ‘trace’ set in sleeves for a garment at this point. Summer = sleeveless.

From there it was mainly careful cutting with a sharp rotary blade and pinning. The construction is so simple..just the back and two front wrap panels seamed down the sides then shoulder seams joined. Here is where two things came in handy.

First sewn knit fabric dress
1) Ball point needle. Sew knits with a stretch or ball point needle. Just do it. It makes all the difference.
2) Careful pinning. I pinned the heck out of this thing before I seamed to make sure that it did not shift (much).

I don’t own a serger so I used a zigzag stitch for the seams and they came out just fine. Not very professional but functional.

The finishing was fussy and challenging but it worked. I finished the neckline of the dress with folded fabric, ironed and ‘serged’ to the raw neckline with my machine overlock stitch (glassy eyed yet, non sewers?) which left a nice clean edge to the front. Same for the armholes but those are a little messy in the armpit area which no one shall every see (or if you do, comment upon). I realize this may look like a close up shot of my chest, but it is intended to be a close up shot of the finishing techniques used. Okay?
First sewn knit fabric dress

The ties are just more fabric folded right side together, zigzagged stitched and turned right side out and attached. And wa-lah!!! A dress.First sewn knit fabric dress

This project taught me loads about sewing knits and how truly forgiving the fabric can be. Patience and experimentation was the key and I feel as if a great hurdle has been taken. Now if I could just ditch my day job as therapist and night job as mom and sew for myself 24 hours a day….
First sewn knit fabric dress

See, I told you I would be posting more. Even if it makes no sense to half the reading population here.


K8 said...

Look at you go! I've been similarly hesitant to try knit fabrics, but your tips make it sound more doable :) The dress looks fabulous on you!

Dawn Johnson Warren said...


kaitlyn said...

I have wanted to copy a couple of my wrap dresses too... they are the best! I guess I'll wait for the inspiring fabric... it's just too damn hot to sew right now :(

Great job! I am impressed :)

jillian said...


notsosmallthings.com said...

Really well done! Nice!

I Saw You Dancing said...

You are one clever -- not to mention gorgeous -- mama!

Jess said...

Love, LOVE it! You're so talented!

mondojen said...

I love it! The fabric is fantastic and so are you.

mondojen said...

I love it! The fabric is fantastic and so are you.

Beth said...

Love, love, love the dress! In general I love wrap dresses and shirts, but that you made this, on your first try, without a pattern?? Amazing!

Neil said...

Wear it to the BlogHer LA meet-up!