Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Getting it right! Falling for a Soft Knit Dress

Fall is on the horizon, and I've been thinking about dresses! Finding a great dress pattern is easy, but if you're not used to wearing them, then it becomes a little more problematic! When I saw our customer Ruth's Lynn Mizono Vogue 1312 dress made in one of our imported Japanese cotton double gauze, I fell in love with the pattern and the fabric.

I loved the ease and fullness of the skirt and thought of making it in a soft knit while I waited for this fabric to come back in. I chose a Bamboo/Rayon and Lycra  knit because of the way it draped over my hand. The pattern calls for 4.5 yards, and you will use every inch of it.

 Laurel's oriental rug is a 9X12, so you can get some idea of how much 
fabric is in the skirt of this dress (hope I won't get lost in it!).

Because of the sheer volume of the lower skirt and the fine gauge of the knit, she marked the four sections of the skirt with masking tape before trying to assemble the lower skirt. Not only did the panels all look alike, it was hard to distinguish the right side of the fabric.

Remember that there is no "one-size fits all" stitch for knits.  You need to consider the weight of the knit and it's stretch.  This rayon and Lycra knit is exceptionally drapey and heavy.  Given the volume of the skirt (remember that 4.5 yards?), Laurel tested several stitch settings and decided on a small  zig-zag.  The length of her stitch was set at 1.5 and the width was set at 2.0.

Sewing a "straight length" of fabric around a "corner" can be scary.  The trick is to take it one step at a time. For a sharp corner, Laurel sewed on the lower skirt side (the straight length), then flipped it over to make sure that there were no puckers in the corner. If you're happy with it, trim off the outer corner.

Most fine dresses use an invisible zipper, and this one is no different. Usually an invisible zipper is put in BEFORE any of the seams are sewn together - this makes it easy to match everything up.  However, this side zipper is put into an "opening" in the side seam, making it a little more tricky to do a stellar application.

Kudos to Laurel for sticking with it, but she reports she had a rough time.  That should tell you that even the experts can't do everything perfectly, so don't be too hard on yourself if your garments aren't perfect. We are not all about perfection here at Stonemountain...we are about having fun and enjoying the process.  (I would have told her to give it up and put in a regular zipper!) This puppy is going to be under my arm anyway. I'm good!

Such a soft drapey (and voluminous) knit dress calls for a steamer to get the wrinkles out, rather than an iron. If you want to tackle the iron, be careful with your temperature on some of these finer knits - if your iron is too hot, you can create a shine on the fabric...a definite downer! I'm so happy one of my friends gave me a professional steamer that I use on all my clothes at home.

What a beauty! Can't wait to try it on! 

Fast forward a week to fitting day at the store: Okay, I think we have some issues.  The very qualities that make this fabric so dreamy are the same ones that impact the way it fits. The sheer weight of the skirt caused it to hang off my shoulders, stretching the armholes...and it's just too big in the bodice.

We decided to take it up in the shoulder seams and in the bodice.

Fast forward to Laurel back in the studio...Among the least favorite tasks of any sewist is ripping out your work.  As I mentioned before, this Bamboo/Lycra fabric has such a tight knit that "deconstructing" it was not fun.

Even though seam rippers are designed to do this sort of thing, often a sharp pair of embroidery scissors is more effective. And after all the pain of that invisible zipper, we decided the fabric and style of the dress didn't really require a zipper anyway. So we took it out!

A word of advice: When you have to undo all your hard work on a garment, don't expect it to go back together as easily as your initial construction - it rarely comes back together as well.  It takes patience and an understanding of just how far you need to rip to make it work.

In the end, we're happy with the adjustments we made and when I get to actually wear it, it's going to be glorious!  I LOVE this dress!!

 The Re-engineered Lynn Mizono Vogue 1312 Dress, ready for prime-time!

I am going to make this dress again in the double gauze from Japan featured in our customer's dress above - stay tuned!!!

Creatively Yours,

Visit the FabricLady Collection of Garments on display at
Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics and Sewing Center
2518 Shattuck Ave. @ Dwight Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
email: fabriclady3@gmail.com
M-F: 10 am - 6:30; SAT: 10 am - 6 pm; SUN: 11 am - 5:30  pm

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