Tuesday, 23 August 2016

A Lady Skater fan

Pattern: Lady Skater dress by Kitschy Coo
Fabric: 2,38 m printed cotton knit by Megan Blue Fabrics (strange amount; I don’t know how much I intended to buy, but this was exactly enough!)
Haberdasheries: About 1,5 m narrow elastic
Firsts: sewing with knit fabric, using an overlocker for garment construction, using a twin needle

So many people have made this dress, and rightly so. It feels like a night gown when you wear it, but it looks so elegant! An excellent combination.

I think it’s great that there’s a printing overview in the pattern! I missed that on previous print-at-home patterns, and that caused me to print some unneeded pages, which were actually empty for my size, or which had parts on them that I wasn’t using. Rather a waste of paper.

To be honest, when I first started working on this dress I wasn’t too happy with the pattern, because it seemed like I had to do so much alteration that I felt I might as well have improvised. But then I found the problem was just that the sizing table somehow didn’t work for me. According to my measurements, which I double checked, my upper bust is a size 4 and my waist a size 3. So I graded between the sizes and made a tryout bodice out of some knit fabric I had in my stash, but even before trying it on I could tell it was too wide. It didn’t have any negative ease at all! I had to take it in by exactly such an amount that I realised I should just use the size 3 pattern.

The tryout bodice also showed I needed to make some alterations. It hung too low at the front and back, so I made the bodice MUCH shorter. It’s strange that this was necessary, as the pattern is intended for women who are quite a bit shorter than me, but I cut 5,5 cm off the bottom of the front bodice pattern and also made it straight rather than curved.

I made the long sleeved version, and lengthened the sleeve pattern by 5 cm. Finally, I added 8 cm to the skirt pattern to make sure it was long enough, and after trying the dress on, decided not to cut any of that length off again. I folded the hem back 16 mm and hemmed it with a twin needle. This was a first, and I liked it. It was very easy to do and gave the hems a store bought look, which I think is a good thing. (Since I’ve started making contemporary clothes, I have been looking at store bought clothes in more detail and noticed they are often very inaccurately sewn. Obviously I don’t want that to be the case with whatever I make, but I do prefer if my clothes don’t look homemade.)

This is the first time I used an overlocker for garment construction. I used it before to finish the seams on the inside of my pyjama trousers and jeans 1 and 2, but I sewed those together on my regular machine. But because of the elastic seams, an overlocker is just perfect for constructing knit garments. However, I rather struggle with mine. I watched the first lessons of the Craftsy Beginner Serging course, which I can really recommend. After watching I felt like I understood the machine a lot better than I did from just reading the manual. The course also comes with a ‘serger stitch book’ including troubleshooting list and sample pages. Amy, the teacher, suggests making samples using four different coloured yarns which match the four colours of the threading manual, and I found that extremely helpful, because when something goes wrong it enables you to see which thread is causing the problem. And writing the tensions and other settings on the sample pages means you don’t have to remember them or discover them all over again with each project.
Despite the excellent course, I still had overlocker problems, though. The main one being that the machine will work perfectly the one moment, and create stitches like these the next:

Without anything having changed! I hope I’ll understand why at some point, because the randomness of this drives me up the wall. 
I didn’t use clear elastic, as I read on some blog that regular elastic also worked fine, and clear elastic seems like the kind of material that contains harmful chemicals. I didn’t put any elastic in the shoulder seams, as none of my store bought jersey shirts have that, and the shoulders never sag – why would they?

I think I pattern matched the neckline band quite nicely, but I forgot to try to pattern match the skirt seams! One of them ended up almost perfectly matched, after all, but the other did not :P. The bodice and skirt also don’t match because I cut the aforementioned length off the bodice, but I think I’ll probably only wear the dress with my bow belt or a cardi over it, so that doesn’t really bother me.

This is my first Lady Skater dress – and I’m sure many more will follow! I’m currently shopping for more knit fabrics, which is something entirely new to me! As they are unusable for historical projects, I always used to look right past them!

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