See the comments on my last post for LinB’s take on the definition of a tent dress. 😉 Ah, fickle fashion terminology. Also, boo to uniforms. I really really hate imposed uniforms.
Anyway, I bit the bullet with Butterick 4249 by John Kloss. Incidentally this also reminds me of Daughter Fish’s Future Dress from way back in the mists of blogland. Mine is more fitted, obviously. Though not initially. Hers was more fun.
This dress is a fabric hog. It used the full three and 3/8 yards it called for, easily. (Well, I think it did, I’m not used to measuring in yards.) Although I did end up hacking three or four inches off the bottom, and it’s still pretty long, so I could’ve saved a bit that way. Just for reference I can get one of my Jalie maxi dresses out of about 1.5 m.
So, um, tent-y it was. I should’ve taken pictures, but, um, no.
Part of the problem is that it’s designed for a “moderate stretch knit” (probably abut 20%, based on the handy little stretch guide on the back), while my fabric of choice is a very modern slinky jersey with about twice that, plus stretch vertically too. More of the problem is my back. Or, arguably, my head. 😉
I have a really curvy lower back. I guess I mention that every time I whine about swayback adjustments. 😉 anyway, pre-sewing everything was just always loose and baggy in the back, which was annoying. Almost as annoying as too short sleeves… So yeah. I like things to fit close to my back like, almost always. Partly because my tummy’s fairly prominent (which I’m fairly good at camouflaging in blog pics) so if the back is loose I feel like I look bigger than I am.
So as soon as I tried it on, I knew I would be taking in the back. A bunch. And the sides—less, but still a couple of inches. Unfortunately to get the back where it wasn’t giving me eye-twitches meant that a lot of that fun swoosh and flow around the tummy and hips also went away. I probably need to work on that (either with a gym membership or some mental health work. I’ll get back to you on which is least likely. 😉 )
I made a couple of adjustments to the construction. The pattern had faced armholes; I used a band instead. I interfaced the sides of front opening with a fusible knit. Both of these were very good ideas. I cut the neckband on the cross-grain (pattern piece called for it to be on the lengthwise grain, not that that would have helped a whole lot with this stretchy fabric.)
Stretchy neckband was a mistake. I had to go back and fuse interfacing to it, after sewing the back pieces in place with those teeny zig-zag machine stitches that are basically impossible to pull out. Even then, I think I should’ve used the heavier knit fusible, not the featherweight stuff, though I like the weight now that it’s on. It took me a couple of tries to get the neck pieces basted in the right place. Incidentally, I think the neck piece is actually half the length it should be… I think it was probably meant to be two pieces joined at the back with a seam. I guess I could check that, but I kinda like the shorter tie. I’m not really a bows kinda girl. The first time I basted the front portions to the neck tie, it was too big and the whole dress sagged (basically the weight of that whole damn dress is hanging from your neck). I overshot a bit the second time, but I kinda like the wider split that this gives the front opening. I was a bit nervous about the neckline as I don’t usually like high-necked things, but the slit and the tie give plenty of front interest so I don’t feel at all like I have the Great Front Upper Chest of Flat Emptiness.
Stitching the neckband and turning it inside out was a bit touch and go; in theory you should only have to leave a small opening at the centre back, but in practice it got dodgy trying to stitch neatly with part of the dress inside the band—I wound up stitching just the front dangly portions of the ties inside out, then turning them, tucking the seam allowance under and fusing it in place with 1/4″ Steam-a-Seam, and then topstitching around the bottom of the neckband. On the upside, it feels just the right amount of stable now.
Anyway, pretty happy with this, despite all the surgery and limited tent-osity. This was the last sewing of my vacation (I kept doing family stuff. Jeez. Darn family, getting in the way of important things), “finished” in the afternoon after we put Tyo on a plain for Vancouver Island, but before I had to go to my first shift back at 5:00 pm. So at least I got to wear a new dress back to work. And then on my first full day back it was nasty and rainy, so I did get to wear my unseasonable wool dress. One of the best things about sewing is having winter (or winter-y) clothes that I actually miss wearing in the summer… I have read about this feeling before, but never actually felt it myself. It’s probably a sign that it’s been a good summer, though I do wish Kristin would send some of that Toronto heat-wave she`s been writing about out this way. A week or two of 40C temperatures are just what I need to get me ready for winter. (Not actually joking. If summer is completely hot and miserable the prospect of winter is much less agonizing. I think this is some bizarre mental adaptation to our severe climate…)
As it is, I’m guessing I get about two more wears out of this before winter. Here’s hoping for a nice fall!