and one tank. i know it’s a tall order, but after a little thought and a lot of sewing, i’ve decided to blog about all my jersey dresses in one giant post rather than split them into several shorties. i already have a few new garments finished and even photographed, and i don’t want the old blog to get backed up as i flit feverishly from one project to the next as i’m prone to do. as usual, i’m telling myself there isn’t a whole lot to say about these dresses, but i know i always manage to find plenty to say about everything. so, if you get bored, you can just look at the pictures (with a higher than average amount of photo bombing).
so, in chronological order. shortly after i met my date night dress and simple slip deadline (a deadline for lovely april and for our trip to san diego where i planned to wear the dress), i decided i wanted another handmade dress to wear on the trip, something comfortable and low maintenance, something for the plane, the beach, and whatever else might strike my fancy. i realized about two cotton garments in to my self-sewing ventures that, in order to get maximum use out of what i make, i’d need to delve heavily into jersey knits, which i virtually live in. with that in mind, i kicked off my month break with a massive order from girl charlee, *the* place for knits of all kinds.
i’m not-so-secretly loving the popularity of tribal motifs these days. all the bold geometric shapes and colors really appeal to me and have since i was a kid, as evidenced by the hideous tribal couch i personally selected for my grandparents circa 1995. my mother was mortified. fortunately, this print is easier on the eyes and far more comfortable…it’s soft as can be, light as air and drapes like a dream. given it’s jersey, it doesn’t wrinkle, scrunches up into a tiny little ball for packing, and feels great and easy to wear. i did wear it on the plane, at the beach, and basically every other second of that weekend (and it’s in heavy rotation to this day). success!
as for construction, i was off to a rough start with my jersey ventures. i bought this pattern for $1 at joann’s months ago, and when i sat down at 10pm the night before our dawn flight, i was horrified to learn that big name patterns come in different size variations, and i had bought m-l-xl. not to be deterred, i decided i would size the pattern down and learn to use my serger in the same night, because you can make questionable choices like that when you’re on vacation.
what followed was not particularly smooth sailing. i didn’t have suitable muslin fabric, so i cut my experimental pattern right from the precious tribal fabric. the bodice was huge. i also realized that i had been matching the pattern based on the big black stripe, not realizing that the motif above and below that stripe were different. i had to scrap the first bodice entirely and start over, and with the difficult pattern matching, now i had zero wiggle room on the fabric. that there is a large motif centered on the bodice and then repeated down the skirt is mostly a happy coincidence, and the side seams should be ignored. eventually, i got it to be wearable with semi-serged seams and no finishing on the neckline, armholes, or hem (which i cut into a shape i don’t know the name of). it’s gotten a good deal of wear and tear and gone through the wash several times now, and i have no plans to change a thing about it. i love it. and i used the garbage bodice to make a little matching tank for bean. yeah!
when we returned home from san diego, i decided rather than continuing to fiddle with the mccalls pattern, i’d do a rub-off from one of my existing knit dresses. i bought it from target a few years ago and get a ton of use out of it. seeing as i have no real idea of how to rub off patterns from existing garments and this one turned out to be slightly more complicated than i anticipated, i’d say the outcome is so-so. again, i adore the fabric (stripes, of course), but it’s lighter than that of the original garment. the skirt on the original is a pretty odd shape, but the weight of the fabric makes it work. i didn’t consider that enough while drafting the pattern, and so the skirt pulls toward my back making it a bit unflattering on the tummy and leaving extra fabric gathering at the side seam on the hemline. i didn’t really notice any of this until i saw photos of it and have worn it a lot, as a standalone dress and a bathing suit coverup (it’s a bit short for toddler chasing). the stripes got a little off when i ran into trouble making the elastic casing under the bust, but i did ok on the shoulders!
after the first two, i was eager to use a reliable pattern again. i had impulse purchased this cute tea rose chevron with my big girl charlee order, and thought it would be a fitting second attempt at a wiksten tank. after my first attempt in voile turned into a mumu, i thought a drapey knit might look more flattering on my short and curvy figure (and i cut it a size down since it’s loose fitting and stretchy). i believe it does, and again, the fabric is a dream to wear. however, my goodness, can someone please direct me to a good tutorial on matching chevron at seams?! it’s like astrophysics trying to figure out how to get those zigs to zag together. i never quite pulled it off, on this version or bean’s mini. it made my brain hurt.
as i was making the wiksten tank, i realized it would have been wise to use this existing loose fitting tank pattern to draft the numerous dresses i’d hoped to make with the mccalls pattern i bought in error. that was a total game changer. i hacked the shoulder to natural waist from wiksten, drafted a longish a line skirt piece, and just by altering the neckline and hemline here and there, i ended up with a whole new wardrobe of delightful, wearable, comfortable, versatile dresses.
there’s the grey chevron, for which i bound the neck and armholes. the rolling under wasn’t cutting it (my chevron wiksten has a horribly wavy hem that no amount of steam will correct) it’s a stiffer fabric and it holds the shape nicely. i assure you this photo makes the chevron at the side seam look far better matched than it is in person. bean has a mini version of this as well, but i haven’t decently photographed it yet.
and finally, the bird dress. this fabric was on sale for about $3/yd at girl charlee and it’s really wide, so you get a ton of bang for your buck. i probably have enough leftover to make a duplicate of this dress. it’s definitely not something i’d typically order–blue and covered in yellow birds, but i fell into the sale trap and went for it. it arrived a bit stiff, and i was concerned over what i’d do with 3 yds of double wide bird fabric. but one trip through the wash transformed it into a delightful, light, soft and almost sheer drapey fabric. with a v neck and hi-low hem, this one can be dressed up or down (i wore it to the pool and then right out to a nice dinner in las vegas). i hands down get more compliments on this bird dress than any of the other’s i’ve made.
and that is the parade of dresses! i love them, and even with the kids home, they’re long enough that i can wear them every day. perfect for summer. some of the vnecks get a bit too low carrying kids around, but other than that, they really hold up well to toddler play and are very comfortable. i actually still have quite a bit of jersey fabric i didn’t get around to using yet, and while i don’t have any additional dresses immediately on my queue, i could probably work up a little wiksten–>empire dress tutorial if anyone is interested.