Lacy dress!

I do truly, truly love how quick knits can be to sew up (especially when I’m floundering for a blog post 😉 ). I made up the pattern for this after supper last night and had the entire thing cut out and stitched up before bedtime. Yay!

Last week when I asked about ideas for my lace, there were lots and lots of very good thoughts, including another one of my 70s maxi-dresses (which would’ve been divine) or a top-and-skirt combo (and some links to some really neat skirts, too…) but the t-shirt dress, a la Carolyn, seemed to win out overall, and, most importantly, to me.

So I made one.

Pattern adjustments

Patty made an interesting point on her awesome skirt post that self-made patterns can be frustrating to read about since you can’t go out, pick up the pattern, and make it yourself. I get what she’s saying—but not enough to give up making up my own patterns, which is SO MUCH FUN (regardless whether I know what I’m doing or not.) So as a compromise, I figure I’ll mention a bit more about what exact changes to my basic pattern I made. (This is also good because then I’ll remember them for next time when I lose the pattern pieces)

As with the great cowl adventure, this all began with my trusty “knit top sloper”, the pattern formerly known as Lydia. The changes this time were minimal—I made a square neckline (just by squaring off the corner of my usual scoop-neck) and lengthened the bottom; I just followed the angle of the hip of the sloper on down and out, which created a slightly A-line skirt. For length, I picked 20″ below the waist (I have a waist line marked on the sloper for just such purposes, although I was too lazy to include it in the diagram, sorry) as a nice, above-the-knee-but-not-dangerously-short length. (I feel like I should add that I have nothing against micro-minis per se, it’s just that sad experience has taught me that if a skirt is short enough that I spend a considerable amount of time worrying about who I’m flashing while I’m wearing it, I will end up just not wearing it. Sad but true. My micro-mini skorts, on the other hand, get worn to death)

Lacy Dress---Side

For the sleeve, I eyeballed a “nice, just above-elbow” length, which turned out to be about 18cm below the armpit. I added quarter-inch seam allowances, and proceeded to (ulp!) cut my fabric.

I think it’s worth mentioning a couple of things about the fabric. You all met the lace, a gorgeous bargain-bin find, last week, of course. What I didn’t mention is that one of the reasons I hadn’t done anything with it yet (other than the weather) was that I didn’t have the right underlay. So last week, aside from juggling children, schoolwork, and ER visits (no lasting harm done), one of my goals was to acquire said fabric. It had to be smooth, stretchy, not to heavy, and set of my lace. Syo and I wandered high and low through Fabricland draping my lace over every solid-coloured knit. We started in the bargain centre, but of course what I settled on in the end was a much pricier cotton-lycra blend, setting me back roughly $10/m. Not humongously expensive (especially compared to the bamboo knits or some of the other nice athletic solids), but considering this is going underneath a $2.50/m fabric… yeah. Well. Anyway, I bit the bullet, and I have to say I love the fabric—its feel, stretch, recovery—more than enough to pay that much again. After much hemming and hawing, I picked a bright white, too, rather than an ivory or cream colour—I like how it brightens the overlying lace.

Lacy Dress---Front

So, I had both my fabrics. I cut the bodice front and back out of both, but the sleeves only out of the lace.

Now, stretch is always the wildcard when it comes to knits. Depending on the fabric, my knit sloper can produce garments that are either tent-like or alarmingly form-fitting. I wanted the lace dress to be form-skimming rather than sausage-skin-like, so I had checked its stretch, in a very rough and ready way, by marking a length of the fabric equivalent to the bodice front across the bust and then stretching this on me to see how snug it was. If it was too tight I was planning to add a bit of extra ease to the bodice, but it seemed all right—yay!

I did not perform said test with the underlay, choosing to hope that it would be, at least, no more droopy, and hopefully just a bit more snug.

For once, the sewing gods were not vengeful, and that seems to have been the case. In another interesting observation of knit/stretch, I meant to trim the underlay shorter (since you wouldn’t want it hanging out from beneath the scalloped edge) but totally forgot. Once assembled, however, the lace naturally stretched to an inch or more below the underlay bottom edge—perfect!

Lacy Dress---Back

Construction wise, I pondered a bit. I knew I wanted it attached at neckline, shoulders, and arms, but I figured I wanted the side-seams of the dress to move separately. This took a bit of mental gymnastics, and some fudging, as I basically followed my usual construction order (one shoulder, bind neckline, other shoulder, set sleeves flat, sew underarm and side-seams in one pass, except it was two passes this time.), but mostly has worked out.

Now, in fairness, all is not perfect. There are any number of oddly-pulled areas, around the hem, side-seams, and shoulders; my neckline didn’t come out perfectly symmetrical (boo!), the lace tends to droop in one spot, which I can relate directly to the ends of the fabric piece being more stretched out than the middle when I was cutting. For the most part I’m not going to sweat them until I wash the whole thing at least once. I was at a loss as to how to properly bind a square neckline in a knit (google mostly pulled up stuff featuring woven bias binding, not at all what I was looking for), and the V-neck methods I was hitting on all seemed to have a much wider band than I wanted. I did toy with trying to use the scalloped edge on the neckline, but the scallop seemed a little big and floppy. So in the end I just bound it with a strip of the lace and a bit of clear elastic. As I’ve been doing with my more floppy knits lately, it seemed easier to just turn the entire band to the inside and topstitch… In the end this worked all right, although the corners aren’t crisply square any more. Meh. I was hoping to skip out on hemming the lining fabric, but it’s one of those knits that rolls like crazy so I will probably have to :P.

On the whole, I’m not bothered, though, because I have a great lace T-shirt dress!

And, even better, I still have over a metre of my lace fabric left… what to do, people, what to do?



Filed under Sewing

41 responses to “Confection

  1. lovely lovely lovely
    one meter? hmm… a shortish tunic top — same pattern but hip length, to wear with jeans and a belt from the other day?

  2. Fabulous! I love the square neck.

  3. The dress looks great! Same thing in a shirt would definitely be a winner, but if you want something different, maybe change up the sleeves, use a different color underlining? (1 metre at 41 inches–maybe sleeveless or flutter sleeves would fit better?)

    I really appreciate hearing how people self-draft patterns because eventually I am definitely going to be a person who gets a TNT and runs a bunch of changes on it, and blogs on doing that is not as common as doing a pattern. So it’s nice to get a view into home-sewist pattern-drafting (as opposed to professional).

  4. It’s pretty and cool and hot all at the same time 🙂
    A tee could be nice. You could also hoard it and decide later 😉

  5. Rock that dress girlfriend! That looks hot!

  6. hewlllllllz yeah! major score!

    and i love the ensemble, so funky. one meter left, eh? everyone keeps talking about those colette bloomers, maybe you should give them a try?

    (glad to hear the ER was a blip)

  7. I really love that fabric with the scalloped edges and your self-drafting skills (way better than mine!!). This would be such a fun dress to wear, I just know it! Looks like you have enough fabric left over to do the Colette Sencha blouse; I randomly say that because I just finished laying the pattern pieces for it and I pretty much just used a yard for it even though it calls for 2 🙂

  8. So cute, I love it with the boots! They take a sweet trend and give it a little edge. I also have made a tshirt dress that I love, they are great because they look nice, are flattering, with all the comfort of a tshirt.

  9. The simple lines of this dress pattern is perfect for this fabric! I love how it turned out, and obviously I now need to make myself a t-shirt dress now. You’re a bad influence. 🙂

  10. It is so lovely, and looks great on you!
    I would use the left over meter as a lining (I know I am weird) for a jacket…

  11. Megan

    I found your blog through the MMM set on Flickr, love to see what you are working on. I had a thought about finishing the neckline. In this case I think a facing might have been the way to go. Anyhow, carry on!

  12. Love how this turned out! I really appreciate all your thoughts and tips for sewing it as well. I’m trying to sew more knit fabric pieces this year, but I admit it mystifies me a bit! So far I’ve made a couple simple pieces (including my maxi jersey skirt that I want to LIVE in. I have basically abandoned my pj pants for lounging around late in the evening and instead go around looking like Morticia in my floor-length black skirt. hehe.). Each one has been a learning process! Next up: tackling a top. I think I might pull out my Lydia pattern and give that a go… I haven’t used that one in years!

    ♥ Casey

  13. Awesome dress! The neckline is lovely. 🙂

  14. CGCouture

    This turned out so freakin’ awesome!! With your extra fabric, how much yardage did it take to make your cowl tops? Would there be enough for that? Or you could use it as a back panel in a sleeveless shirt (I used to have a RTW one that had a sheer lace back that I wore until it fell apart, so sexy). 🙂

    • I could probably squeeze a cowl top out of it, but I’m afraid the drape on the lace isn’t quite as soft as the crazy cowl really needs. I did consider it… 😉

  15. OK. I admit I was NOT a believer in the tshirt dress, possibly because I had something in mind similar to Gwyneth’s tennis dress in the royal tennenbaum’s. Obviously, your version is much better! Although, can I just say that this dress is BEGGING for a slightly ratty toffee fur coat just like the one she wore in the movie?? (and the birkin bag too, of course :-))

    You totally inspired me re. the posting of self-drafted stuff – I realized that I’ve learned a lot from reading what other people did to come up with their self-drafted and frankenpatterns! I will continue to soldier on, take photos and note down the details!

    As for the extra fabric, I believe there is a certain small girl who deserves a just (Lace) reward for helping search for the perfect underlining! Little girls like lace, right? My little basset hound girl enjoys eating lace…

    • Hmm, I might actually have just such a coat kicking around…
      I know personally I love seeing the photos & details of your pattern alterations. 🙂
      You may be right about the small girl… but she already got a metre of another knit (of her choice) that day. And. Um. I’m selfish. But you still may be right.

  16. This dress is so great… so lovely and lacey and feminine and flattering… but not too much so… love it!

  17. Sewista Fashionista

    Your dress looks great. Great work with the underlay. For the meter left of lace, why not use it for the sleeves of a modern looking knit shirt? Or the body of a summer cami/tank?

  18. The dress is gorgeous. & fits you so well. I love making (and wearing) t-shirt dresses, but I shall venture into address 3/4 length sleeves like yours. Inspired.

  19. For the square neckline, I’m thinking the facing idea is the way to go.

    On this piece, with the underlay/lining, the facing could have been the whole lining. So, stitch both shoulders on shell and on lining. Attach shell and lining at the neck. Maybe topstitch for stability. And so forth.

  20. This is ten kinds of awesome. I love the white tights, too. (I always want to get into wearing tights, but can never seem to find a pair that’s comfortable/attractive at the waist.)

    I’m about to start venturing into sewing knits, although I think I’m going to start with something plain and simple like athletic tank tops for the time being. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to master skirts/dresses!

  21. Great dress, i love the square neck!

  22. Cute dress…now all you need are panties that don’t produce VPL!! Ooops!

  23. Okay. I didn’t think that fabric has very you. I am wrong and apologize for my comment. Dress looks very cute!

  24. Thanks for the nod, and sorry I missed your previous post about the lace…
    Your dress looks lovely!

  25. Actually, I hadn’t even realised you had noticed that dress…

  26. Kat H

    Love the fabric you’ve used – the dress looks great!

    Also, don’t feel you have to participate, but I think your blog is great so I’m passing the Stylish Blogger Award on to you. 🙂

  27. The dress is wonderful and I’m feeling inspired to draft some patterns! Make something for one of your girls with the remaining lace and go out together in them!

  28. Amy

    Yay, t-shirt dress! It’s too cute. I’m with Patty, funky coat to contrast–then you can layer and wear it now ;). I confess that I love reading blogs about drafting, often more than pattern reviews. It’s inspiring! Lydia is my trusty t-shirt, too. Last summer it became a t-shirt dress with 3/4 sleeves and boatneck, then a tank, then a kimono sleeve top. And I get the wildcard behavior of knits. Some of my Lydia takes ended up swimming even with the same pattern. I need to try the stretching across my body thing first.

  29. Pretty! I love a t-shirt dress (on other people, can’t wear them myself due to poochy tummy). Ready for Spring yet?

  30. I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I dig this forever. What a great use of the fabric! I did a square neckline once and used a facing to bind it (which admittedly didn’t work out well, but that’s what the instructions advised! With a stable knit that would be my choice 🙂

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