My contribution for the week of the fall challenge is this stretch knit sweater dress. I absolutely LOVE this!!!
I had been eying up this fabric for awhile. I only bought it once I purchased McCalls #6433 and then saw it made both in Sew Weekly (for the Plaid Challenge) and in my local JoAnn’s ad. There was a peacock blue hued sweater fabric I almost picked out instead, but, for some reason, I’ve got a thing for red this season. Besides, my husband liked this one better!
What fabric that was left on the bolt was 5 in. shorter than what the pattern back said was needed. However the employee there said to check the finished length of the dress and it was about 7 in. past ankle length for me. I have made patterns work on A LOT less extra fabric, so, with a good coupon, I bought this fabric to make my first sweater dress.
Like Michelle, who works at the fabric store, had said, I laid out the pattern pieces with the bodice and the sleeves first, then the skirt pieces with the hem over the cut edge of the fabric. This way I make sure I have room for the most important parts and take whatever is necessary off the bottom (which was only about 5 or 6 inches anyway). I also ignored all the endless recommendations in the instruction papers for altering, just like Erin Bartels suggested when she made this pattern for Sew Weekly. I simply made the pattern “as is”, grading sizes as usual, figuring on altering it to fit me as needed while putting it together.
I wasn’t too difficult to match the zig-zag stripes. I’m very close with this matching – close enough to be very happy. Besides, after doing a plaid dress, I didn’t fret with this dress. The sweater knit was such a breeze to sew since it did not curl, fray or shed – but I never want to unpick my stitches from a sweater knit again…never!
I ended up changing the sleeves’ fit, considering that the pattern piece looked a bit skimpy and I didn’t want tight sleeves like on my denim and plaid dress. I split the middle of the sleeve pattern and pulled it open to give myself an extra inch more room for movement. An old Simplicity sewing book gave me this idea. It worked out great, like the book said. I think I’ll do this alteration more often. Here’s a picture (at right) to help you understand what I did.
Sewing with a stretch knit made the zipper rather difficult, which was unusual for me (normally I enjoy them and don’t have problems). It was still fun and certainly unusual. The best part was the lining in the bodice because I get to cover up my mess along the zipper and the bodice/waistline seams. I’m SO glad I used the no-stretch cling-free lining for the bodice, instead of something with give. I figured with all the fitting darts (from each shoulder, the waist and the side seams) the top half wasn’t meant to stretch on me…and I’m glad I figured right.
Once the dress was done, excepting the hem, I tried it on myself. First of all, I was so very glad I added those 2 1/2 inches to raise the neckline, for otherwise it would’ve been indecently low-cut. However, there was a problem with the back of the dress from the waistline up. I think the bodice is designed extra long. The zipper was bubbled out, there were wrinkles along the back bodice, and the front sagged like there was too much fabric. Sooooo…I reluctantly unpicked the lining, the zipper, and the waistline seams. Then I re-sewed the waist seam about 2 1/2 inches higher on the bodice back then sewed everything else back into place again. Whew! Like I said above, I never want to do this unpicking part again.
This is my new go-to dress and a favorite for this season, but, after a few washes, I wish I would have sewn seam tape into the neckline. I know I am not crazy, but it seems to sag slightly and I even double sewed my seams! Oh well! I think I will sew some new shoulder darts ( like many vintage patterns) to fix this somewhere along the way.
The right picture is actually my favorite. It shows the Photographer and his Assistant. Guess which one is which- both are just so cute!!!
FABRIC: 96% polyester/4% spandex sweater knit; about $14
NOTIONS: only bought zipper (a few $); had lining scraps and had thread already
PATTERN: McCall’s ‘Generation Next’ #6433, view C, yr. 2011
TIME TO COMPLETE: 9 to 10 hours
FIRST WORN: to church; afterwards, these pictures were taken along a west county park, on a beautiful almost warm but semi-cold fall day. We walked along the grassy trail while our little Mark was literally reaching for the sky…and the leaves…and the twigs…and daddy’s hair…wonderful day!