Thursday, November 21, 2013

Success Dress


This dress is a breakthrough.  About me:  I only want to wear stretchy fabrics, and a woven shirt with a collar and buttons down the front after about an hour starts to feel like a corset.  I just want to lift my arms without showing off my bellybutton!  Actually, I’d probably wear footie pajamas all the time if I could.  Remember when Sharon Stone wore that Gap turtleneck to the Academy Awards?   I’m like that.  I’ll wear yoga pants anywhere I can get away with it. 


Also, as you know, I like to make stuff, and so would like to make some clothes for my admittedly hard-to-fit self, which should be easy because I know how to sew.  However, knit fabric is weird.  You can’t just throw it under your presser foot like anything else and stitch a seam.  You can try (and I did) but it will get ruffly, which might be what you want, but more likely will not.  So, most of the time, knit fabrics are sewn on a serger.  But I don’t have a serger!  I whined.  Alabama Chanin did come riding to the rescue, and by hand I made a couple skirts that were like sweats and wore them around like they weren’t sweats, and it was good for awhile, but you know how it is.  Eventually, you want more.  I didn’t want to have to do it all by hand, and I really didn’t want to buy a serger just so I could make my own t-shirts, but I was pretty sure there was a way to make my regular machine do a passable job of sewing knit fabrics.  Then I found this pattern, and it turned out I was right.  If you want to sew with knits on your regular machine, click here and fearlessly go forth.  Friends, it is possible.  The world has opened wide for me. 


This particular dress that I have sewn is theoretically the muslin version, but it fits me perfectly with no modifications necessary, if you can believe that, so I guess it’s ready to wear, although the bodice fabric is made from a piece of tissue-weight knit I had leftover from a (ruffly) nightgown.  It might need lots of Spanx.  I probably won’t.  See above. 



Quite a few times along the way, I put down my pins and said, “This isn’t going to work.”  I walked away, cleaned the bathroom, made a pot of soup.  Came back, tried again.  Again.  Again.  Finally, one mini breakthrough at a time, it did work.  It worked.  It feels as if I have managed to make toast with the hairdryer.  I totally fooled Miss K into making a knit dress!  Ha!  Success. 


  1. What a lovely dress. I am with you on not liking non-stretch tops. I like to think its because I am a BUSY person who needs freedom of movement to GET THNGS DONE but its actually more likely to be because I don't tolerate discomfort for the sake of fashion - lol!!

  2. It's great, clever you. I love stretchy fabrics, so it's good to know they can be sewn with!

  3. I am absolutely with you on the comfort of clothes. Occasionally I convince myself that I want a woven cotton button down shirt with long sleeves. Then I wear it and remind myself why I never buy woven cotton button down shirts with long sleeves! I feel like I am in a straight jacket! Knits rule!

    I have never tried sewing anything with knits, except for the kids when it didn't really matter. I may well give it a go!

  4. I think it works beautifully. I love it. And I find as I get older I want clothes that move and do not restrict me. I am sometimes on the floor for my job four or five hours at a time, I wear shorts, yoga pants whatever I can to make myself comfortable.

  5. Bit by bit is how I have eventually managed to be able to sew. I used to think I have all day, lets make a dress! but then the machine went wrong and then I started rushing, then I would need to pick children up from school, then I would start swearing and then I would stuff it in a bag and feel crap.... so now I do what you have explained and sewing feels nice again! I call it hour by hour. It is a great dress - looks comfy.Jo x

  6. It's gorgeous and it's exactly the kind of dress I love to wear. I am sure it looks beautiful on you.

  7. good for you! i have knit fabric fear myself...i LOVE the skirt fabric!!! it looks perfect!

  8. Great job on the dress! It doesn't happen very often when I make something that it fits perfect the first time around like you did here. Really cute pattern and I like the fabric combo. I bet it's quite comfy/stretchy.
    What did we ever do years ago, before yoga pants? Oh yeah I was a size 4, and my clothes didn't feel like a sausage casing. It's all about comfort now.

  9. Keep sewing:) I mostly sew and wear knits, and I don't have a serger either. I just use my old Singer set on a slight zigzag and a short stitch. Also, knit stay tape is wonderful to keep hems and such from getting wavy.

  10. Somehow Greek seems more understandable than sewing instructions....
    Perhaps with age has come some patience and I ought ry again ~ but for now my stretchy Hanes skirts in 3 or 4 colors and a handful of sweaters will have to suffice!
    My amazing new stretch nightgowns suit me well also!!!!
    LOVE the fabrics You chose! Brave and determined You do however shine a light on trying again for me..... will let you know how I fare.......
    Happy Thanksgiving in advance!!!!

  11. Congratulations! I'm no sewer but your post made me laugh and I can only applaud this success! The dress is really cute.

  12. Your beautiful new dress is a triumph in so many ways. Isn't it grand to stick with a challenge (of course taking some walk away breaks is part of mastering a new technique) and to reach that successful finish.

    I have not done much sewing with knits, but now am encouraged to give it a try...when I find just that little bit of extra time for another experiment.

    Best wishes. xo

  13. A beautiful dress indeed, I hope that you love wearing it and have fun making some more. xx

  14. Wow! That's gorgeous! Very clever indeed! :-)

  15. Take a long sleeved t-shirt. Perfect tees from Ralph Lauren are wonderful. Gather a skirt to fit your waist. Sew skirt to bottom of tee. Hem skirt. Done.

  16. So cute,so retro, yet current. This reminds me of stuff my mom used to sew, a dress with a knit ribbed top and skirt made of "hopsacking". I just love your patterns. Patty Wheeler (got here via Facebook>DIYEverywhere>Cozy Made Things