The little Black Dress
You have probably noticed that my blog posts feature simple garments most of the time. I am a fully qualified Tailor but on the whole I want to encourage people who haven't sewn much to have a go. There is no better feeling in the world than someone admiring your dress and you replying " thanks, I made it".
Even if you are a seasoned sewer I hope that you still learn something new - I am learning constantly.
The Pattern I chose is New Look 6597 available from Jaycotts.co.uk
New Look Jersey dress pattern
The fabric is a stretch velour from a remnant bin in my local Abakhan fabrics
The rest of the goodies - the pattern envelope, the makers workbook I will explain as I go along but they (and much more) are from Patterntrace.com
This is a very scribbly page in my Makers Workbook in it I have added my thoughts and observations as I went along and included a fabric sample. So that when I make it again the information is at hand. Clever!
For example I originally made it in the longer length but when I tried it on I felt frumpy in it so late at night I chopped around a foot off the length. Obviously this would have been far easier and less wasteage of fabric had I cut it to the correct length to begin with!
When you purchase your pattern,look at the back of the envelope and it will suggest various fabrics. If it says for stretch or knits only then that is what you must use.
I used a stretch velour which is easy to sew and wear.
Two things you need to know are firstly do not iron it, just let the iron hover close to the fabric with plenty of steam but don't allow the iron to touch the fabric. Do this on the reverse.
Secondly if you run your hand up and down the fabric you will find that it feels smooth one way and rough the other. This is called the NAP. Both directions will reflect light differently so it is massively important to have your pattern pieces all running in the same direction. There are other rules with longer piled fabrics but for velour this is all we need concern ourselves with.
The sample above shows a zigzag stitch and after many years of using fancy stitches and fancy machine feet I came to the conclusion that a longish narrow zigzag does the job just as well. Practice a little on some spare fabric until you are happy, and keep some tension on your fabric when sewing and all will be well.
My machine is a high- end Brother but you can get a superb machine which will do everything you need it to from as little as £99, Sewing machines so please don't think that you have to spend a lot of money , you don't.
This is the stitch I used and so that I can return to it easily I made a note of the settings in my Makers Workbook.
This is a very easy sew garment, as knit patterns often are. The first step is to stitch the centre back seam and neaten it either with your overlocker, an overlock foot attached to your regular sewing machine if you have one ,or just a wider, shorter zig zag.
Stitch the shoulder seams next.
The neckline is incredibly simple. Just fold the edges in by 5/8' and tack in place, then zigzag. You will think that it won't work. But believe me on stretch fabrics this is the easiest neckline ever! If your fabric frays then finish the edge first, but otherwise stich and trim any excess hem close to the stitching.
The next thing I like to do is to put the sleeves in. It is so much easier this way rather than stitching the side seam and sleeve seam first and inserting the sleeve afterwards.
Sew a row of long straight stitches on your sleeve head inside the seam allowance and use this to ease the sleeve in place.
Then you can stitch your side seams and sleeve seam all in one go!
Finish the hem in the same way. But when working with stretch fabrics it is important to hang the dress on a hanger or on your dress form overnight as it could easily stretch out of shape and this way you can get a straight hem
By the way it is much better to cut the pattern to the length you want right at the start. I changed my length after I had finished making it and it took ages to alter it.
I love adding a label to a new garment don't you? This is one of the labels sold by patterntrace but there are other fabulous ones, it's so hard to choose which one I like best! Take a look Labels for sewing and knitting projects and by the way what a lovely gift for a sewing friend.
My Makers Workbook has plenty of space in it to plan your projects - 25 projects in fact!
It also has figures so that you can design your own patterns. (I like this) and it has a few pages where you can list exactly what is in your stash. Not only that it is full of anecdotes and quotes . Again, this is a lovely gift for someone