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Thursday, 27 September 2018

Sewing a Dress in a Stretch Fabric

A Jaycotts post.

Stretch fabrics - used for sportswear are featured in the GBSB 2019

This post is additional help for sewing with knits. Please look at my previous post where I talked about making Knit tops How to sew knit fabrics
This is a trapeze dress, so named because of its triangular shape. It can be unflattering so make sure that you wear it with heels and you will feel elegant in it not frumpy.

NB  not everyone has an overlocker. In this case I recommend Mettler Seraflock which is a stretch thread you can use for knits using just a straight stitch. Use a zigzag to neaten the seams

This time I am making a dress in a SCUBA fabric which is very easy to work with. You still need the same equipment as in the previous post, for example Stretch needles, Mettler thread and so on so do read the post.
Scuba fabric was born out of neoprane, the fabric which diving suits are made out of. It is a double knit fabric, made from polyester but there is usually some lycra or Spandex included in the fabric mix.
The fabric does not fray and some people don't bother to finish the seams but that would annoy me no end so I still overlock everything. It stretches well and has a good recovery. The downside is that it doesn't breathe and so can be hot to wear. It can be sewn up very quickly and is great for party dresses.
Various Scuba Fabrics. Do take a look
When stitching it use a ball point needle and a longer stitch than normal. I use a 4 or even a 4.5 at times.

The pattern I am using is one I have made before, it is the Grainline studios Farrow Dress and this is the link to that post.

This pattern is for anyone with some knowledge of sewing as it has several points which need matching up exactly. Any slight mis-matching might not be so obvious on a patterned fabric but would spoil a garment made in a plain fabric.

Continued .......

Whilst this pattern is not specifically designed for stretch fabrics it lends itself beautifully to them. What you cannot do is to use a woven fabric with a pattern designed specifically for stretch fabric. Some patterns designed for Knit fabrics use negative ease which means that the finished measurements are smaller than your body measurements, so if you used the wrong fabric the garment would not fit.

There are a lot of patterns for knits, just make sure that you read the back of the pattern envelope as it will tell you what type of fabric to use.

These are just two examples of dress patterns designed for stretch fabrics

Vogue V9199

Simplicity S8375

Other possibilities can be found on this link Knit dresses. As you can see there is a lot of choice.Knit garments often have no fastenings as they rely on stretch to get them over your head.
The bulk of the stretch needs to go across the body for that same reason so do make sure that your pattern pieces are positioned on the correct grain line.

You also need to let your garment hang for a day before you hem it as knit garments easily pull out of shape during construction.

The back of the pattern has a guide which shows you exactly how much the fabric needs to be able to stretch by in order for it to be suitable for the pattern. This is really important so take the pattern with you when shopping for your fabric so that you can test your fabric against the guide before you buy it.

Always tape the shoulder seams with  Seam interfacing  Iron some on along the edge of the shoulder on the front or back before sewing the seam.  never put your garment onto a dressmakers dummy or coathanger until this has been done.

I also used the interfacing tape to strengthen and support the area where the decorative zip was inserted.

You need to transfer your pattern markings onto the fabric too- so do watch this video for some useful hints and tips. The link is My YouTube video about transferring pattern markings in case it does not open automatically.

Jaycotts sell a huge array of decorative and metal teeth zips and they are great for adding detail to an otherwise plain dress. Zips I particularly like the brass zips.

To insert an exposed zip stitch the back seam to the end of the zipper stopper - that's where the teeth end.
Press the seam open and finish the edges.

Snip triangles into the corners of your fabric and press the seam open adding seam tape to the bottom of the opening for strength. It is easier to see in this coloured fabric rather than the black.

Pin and tack the zipper so that the teeth just show and then machine stitch with your regular zipper foot close to the teeth.
This is such a simple way of adding a zip!

I don't rely on pins alone so I tack the zip in place as well, it is all to easy for the zip to become misaligned.

This is the zipper in place waiting for the facings to be stitched on.

Another option would be to add a decorative lace zip Decorative lace zip and to pick out the same colour in the facing.

This is a very simple looking elegant dress but there are plenty of other patterns for you to choose from . A black dress is useful in any wardrobe.

Thanks to Jaycotts for all your support and encouragement.
They can be contacted on 01244 394099  and via the contact form Contact Jaycotts by email
But you can also visit them to try out some of their marvelous machines, Visit Jaycotts
If you are making a special journey then do ring ahead so that they know which machines you might like to try.

I hope that with these two posts you now feel more comfortable in sewing with knit and stretch fabrics.
Thank you for reading this 



PS I never got to wear this dress, a friend saw a picture of it and claimed it! Hope she loves wearing it .