A dress for the boredom

A dress for roasting marshmallows

My kids have been done school for just over a week, although they’ve only really been home for the last two days, since we went Home for Canada Day (July 1, just for reference). Nonetheless, last night Tyo was moping around as only a near-teenager can. “Dad and Syo are out fishing, Grandpa’s watching TV, and you’re sewing! There’s nothing to do!”

This is actually wonderful.

“So, does this mean you don’t want to be homeschooled after all?”

Since the main thing coming out of her mouth for the last three months ย of school has been requests to be homeschooled.

“NO! I don’t get to see any of my friends!”

Somewhere, choirs of angels broke into hallelujah chorus.

Anyway, it appeared that the only thing that could possibly alleviate boredom at eight o’clock on a Friday night was sewing with me, or rather, me sewing while she sang me her most recent song.

Front view

The fabric she selected was one of the slinky knits that I can’t seem to resist. I love buying them. I love wearing them. I just don’t. love. sewing. them. This particular knit threw itself at me on the Fabricland Canada Day sale (which took place several days early) when even the clearance racks were fifty percent off. I have a hard time resisting $1.50/m fabric. Fortunately, I bought three metres, so even with this dress for her, there’s still plenty left over.


Obligatory racerback shot

For the pattern, we just used the ubiquitous racerback tank pattern, Y1201 from Young Image Magazine (which was a dress pattern, originally). I added what I thought would be enough length to take it to her knees, and a bit of width over the hips because, well, Tyo, and more-or-less happily went to work.

Now, the four previous times I’ve made this pattern, I’ve used a rib-knit. What I hadn’t really grasped on was how much rib knits grow. I mean, my brain knows it, but I didn’t really understand it. This was an easy-fitting tank when stitched in a rib-knit—close fitted but not exactly skintight.

In this slinky knit it’s, ah, pretty tight. Note to self. Also, next time add more to the butt. Tyo is not one of those children who can wear a skirt whose back and front are cut the same.

Because I don’t trust these slinky knits as far as I can stretch them (which is pretty far, actually), I used clear elastic inside the binding on the neck and arm-holes. I didn’t stretch it quite enough on the neck, which is a bit wavy, and then stretched it a little too much on the arm openings, so they’re a bit snugged up. It seems pretty much ok when worn, however. I should really look into elastic and/or binding attachments for my machine…

Back view

I had measured Tyo from shoulder to knee to get the length, thinking I might have to trim some off as the fabric sagged under its own weight. But I forgot/neglected that four-way stretches will lose length as they are stretched sideways, so it’s actually an inch or two above her knees. Not horrendously mini, but a bit shorter than planned. It rides up a bit in back, but I’m not sure if that’s because it needs extra length, or more width so it doesn’t get caught up on her posterior. Probably both.

We left the bottom unhemmed, as I’m congenitally unable to get a nice hem in these thin knits so it would flow nicely.

I was a little worried about how sheer the white base fabric might be, but it doesn’t seem to be horribly bad.


OK, actually I’m really jealous. I love this fabric, and really want my own garment out of it. I’m thinking flowy maxi-dress.



Filed under Sewing

29 responses to “A dress for the boredom

  1. Beckyc

    Very cute dress, and what a great way to spend Friday night girl time. I hear you on hemming slinky knits. But Linda MacPhee, the queen of slinky, taught a fool proof way to a decent hem. Use fusible web tape (steam a seam 2) and fuse the hem in place, Then stitch with a double needle. The fusible web stabilizes the knit so it doesn’t stretch when you stitch the hem and using the double needle is friedly to the stretch. It ends up looking like a coverstitch machine did it. First time I tried it the heavens parted and the angels sang!

    • That’s exactly what I do usually! ๐Ÿ™‚ —but for a knit this soft and drapy, even the fusible web would add enough stiffness that it would be noticeable (to me, anyway).

  2. KC

    The dress and the model are adorable! Thanks for sneaking several useful tips on sewing with knits into this charming post.

  3. Cute dress. I love the racerback detail, and I want that fabric!

  4. Yay for a few hours of friendless boredom to cure the homeschooling idea. I’ve been there, too. It’s not something I’m cut out for! Love the fabric of this dress and it sounds like a lot of fun listening to a new song while you sew!

    • Yeah, this is the child I can’t go an hour without having some kind of fight with… /sigh. I wish I had more musical talent myself—I feel totally unequipt to foster whatever my children *may* possess ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Tyo looks great in her new, very cool dress! As for getting a nice hem on knits, even the thin ones, use a twin-needle, LOTS of pins, a piece of cotton fabric and an iron. Practice makes perfect. If you have a serger, you could do a rolled hem or a simple 4-thread stitch. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • My biggest issue with the twin needle (tunnelling aside) has been that I don’t find the hems it makes are stretchy enough for fabrics like this. They always end up breaking….

      • You can relieve the tunneling by loosening the tension a bit (makes it stretchier too) and the rest is normally done by pressing/steaming. Be careful not to melt fabric if synth. though. Use a cotton-cloth and always make a test on a scrap first ๐Ÿ™‚

        • This may be a quirk of my machine, but I’ve found that by the time I’ve loosened the tension enough to avoid tunneling the bobbin-thread is going almost straight, so the stretchiness is actually reduced. (leading to more hem-popping). Switching to a triple-straight stitch helps with the stretchiness, but increases tunneling. And, even if I achieve a no-tunnel finish to start with, unless there’s a fusible web involved (which I didn’t want this time) I find the tunnel tends to appear as soon as the hem is stretched.

          Like I said, this may be a problem with my technology ;)… but I have spent a fair bit of time playing with knit hems, and my results with a twin needle are pretty good on doubleknits or T-shirt knits, but really haven’t worked well for the thinner, slinky knits at all. Some of the other stretch stitches work better, but they give more of a casual, athletic-wear look than I wanted for this dress.

  6. Oklahoma Mom

    Cute dress, simple pattern but still looks nice to ware.

  7. Another super cool knit dress, and extra brilliant that it could be whipped up so quickly and be a source of entertainment. I really take in all your notes on knit sewing, it seems there are always tips and tricks ( eg clear elastic binding, and 4 way stretch behaviour…) that I need to remember….

    • I don’t know that I have any business giving advice when it comes to sewing knits like this—but I try to share what I’m doing, for better or for worse. I keep thinking someday I’ll have it nailed…

  8. Ha! Homeschooling sounds like the biggest nightmare evah ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Sewista Fashionista

    Cute dress! I too have the hemming problem with slinky knits and have resorted to just serging over or using the cut line and hoping it flies. I see a lot of racerbacks being layered now, so if those long legs of Tyo’s keep growing, just add leggings. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Yeah, we’ve already discussed leggings or bike shorts underneath. I have some white cotton-lycra I’ve been hoarding that will probably be sacrificed to the cause…

  10. Now it’s my turn to be jealous of your fabric! That does look like a cute, comfy knit. A dress for yourself is definitely in order.

    Thin knits tend to tunnel on me when I do double-needle hems. I think I would try a fusible and a herringbone stitch, which has worked on my less stable knits before. I know we can leave these things unhemmed but I find that SO difficult because it doesn’t feel “finished.”

    • Yeah, my machine tunnels like crazy (and even if it’s not tunnelled when you first stitch it, as soon as it gets stretched, whoop, tunnel! I dunno, haven’t been overly enthused with twin-needle results, some of the other stretch stitches work much better even if they’re not quite as pretty. As I said above, I often do a fusible but I thought it would be too stiff for this fabric (even though it’s not very stiff.)

  11. I’m right there with you, slinky knits just seem to loathe hemming. I agree, the print is fantastic, and like the previous commenters I think both the dress and the model are adorable. I’m also liking the popsicle ๐Ÿ™‚

    • LOL, yeah, in the next picture I took she was licking it. Um, don’t need that one on the internet just yet…

      I was kind of tempted to puposely tatter the hem. I think it would work well with the print. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Totally unrelated to the dress, I cannot believe you have children, let alone ones who are so grown up! Seriously! Did you have them when you were ten? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜› ^__^

    Also, may I ask whereabouts in Canada are you? I too took advantage of the Canada Day sale…. twice i think hehe.

    As for hemming slinky knits… you’ve got more of an idea than I… my one and only knit project remains unhemmed because it’s jersey and I can get away with not hemming it… even though it feels weird not doing a hem LOL ^__^

  13. Very cute dress for The Bored One. Hopefully you are not obliged to sew something for her whenever she’s at a loose end. Now, make one for yourself before summer finishes :o))

    PS I think you need a coverstitch! Then you can stitch them hems to your hearts content…..

  14. Pingback: That slinky summer dress | Tanit-Isis Sews

  15. Ah, yes, the booty-endowed. I foresee issues with my little girl when she gets older. She’s only two and we’re already having to finagle patterns. To have an even hem just below the knee her skirt need to be 9″ in the front and 11.5″ in the back. Booty!

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