Sunday, March 24, 2013

UFO: Multi-colored Striped Dress

Hi, everyone! I'm Michelle, and I like to sew! I've been lurking the online sewing community for awhile, but have never had the time to create a blog. Now that it's spring break (I'm a college student), I've got loads (like, a week) of free time.

Now that the intro is out of the way, let's get to my latest project.

Initially, this dress was based on a t shirt pattern my mom drafted for me. She used to be a garment factory worker (I know, scary), so I thought she knew what she was doing (haha, that sounds harsh). But, nope, the top ended up way off my shoulders and super baggy. I spent so much time cutting out the fabric to match the stripes that I was too discouraged to continue. She was probably constructing a pattern for a woven garment, so didn't think about ease issues. 

Thus, this project was put away (i.e. lain on the ironing board) for three months. I intended to wear it as a business casual dress at the place I volunteered at. ):

I need to get better at posing.

So, now, the dress is based off of a vintage pattern, Butterick 4761. It's a pretty basic knit top pattern, but I bought it for the super cute button skirt. You don't see many skirt patterns like this (besides Megan Nielsen's Kelly Skirt), so I snatched it up. I've yet to make the skirt though.

I made a muslin of the top with an annoying rayon-poly knit. As usual, the shoulders were too narrow for me, making the seams bunch up at the armpit. So, I made a broad shoulder adjustment of .25". It's still a little narrow and bunchy at the pits, so I'll extend it another .25" next time. I also lowered the neckline, as it had a very un-cute crew neck. To do this, I wore a top with the desired neckline over the muslin, and drew around the neckline onto the muslin. It didn't end up that nice, but I fixed it up. I think it looks pretty nice now. Right?

The fabric is a cheap mystery knit I bought at a local fabric store. I think it's a polyester knit, so it'll probably get pretty pill-y. I'm getting pretty sick of rayon/poly knits (what I usually buy, because they have so many colors of them at my local fabric store), because they're super slippery and they don't wear well. They are pretty breezy, so that's nice. But lesson learned: buy quality non-polyester knits!

You might not be able to tell by the photos, but I think this reminds me of a babydoll dress. The bodice was longer initially, but I cut some fabric off, because it fell below my natural waistline. And I guess the skirt was not long enough. Along with the fitted bodice and gathered skirt, I'm thinking it looks kinda babydoll-y. Not my type of look, but oh well! 

I cut a 24.5" elastic for my ~27.5" waist, which is just perfect. One time I cut a 26" elastic for another dress, but it kept getting stretched out as I sewed it on. I had to take the elastic out like four times, each time cutting it a little shorter, to get it right. That was a nightmare. Fortunately, that didn't happen this time. (:

My beautiful binding.

The neckline binding was also easier this time. I usually follow this Threads video to finish the neckline. But it's kind of complicated, because you have to stretch the binding different amounts for different parts of the neckline. This time, I just stretched it the same way all around, and it seems to have worked. I placed the seam at the shoulder instead of the back, which also made it easier to sew. I'll get back to you if the binding gets loose and wavy after I wash it. 

The pockets were pretty tough to construct, though.

Once again, I placed the pockets too low; I keep forgetting! It's probably at 4" below the waist. Next time, I'll do 2" or so.

What is this thing called? I have no idea...

It wasn't that difficult to match up the stripes. They don't match perfectly everywhere, but the stripes kind of made the pieces easier to sew. Because of its nature as a knit, under the sewing feet, the top piece would stitch slower than the bottom piece (since the feed dogs are able to push the bottom one quicker). So, I would have to pin the pieces together so that by the end of the seam, one piece doesn't hang longer than the other. with the stripes, I didn't have to pin anything. But as usual, I used this tool to help the top piece sew at the same pace as the bottom. I don't know what it's called (in English), but it really, really helps with sewing knits. And invisible zippers. And other difficult fabrics. Basically, it's a lifesaver.

The dress is unlined. Usually, I line the skirt but I was too lazy this time. and because it was a UFO (unfinished object), I didn't want to sew it any longer. But I think I'll be fine, since it's starting to get hotter in SoCal.

I'm pretty happy with the results, though. Can't wait to wear it for spring! 


  1. Happy new blog, and welcome! This is such a cute dress! The tool you're using is an awl. I've never used one for that purpose, but that's such a great idea!

    1. Thank you! I started sewing clothes after I discovered the online sewing community. You all are so inspirational. (:

      Ah, I see. That is a weird word... and it sounds weird in Chinese too, haha!

  2. Looks great on you. Well done getting the neckline sorted out - it looks neat.

    I thought that tool was called a 'bradle' but perhaps I'm wrong. A walking foot for your sewing machine might be a good idea - it allows two fabrics (stretchy or different types of fabric) to move at the same time while sewing.