Monday, 1 July 2013

Striped jersey dress with bias panels.

This dress was inspired in part by Zoe from blogging about her love of Breton tops and what’s not to love? I am a big fan of yellow and they look great together. The fabric is available for £6m from Fabrics Galore in Battersea, London and I used some white jersey from my stash as a lining. I used a lining to increase the opacity of the stripy fabric and add weight to stop the jersey clinging and showing every lump and bump. I also was aware that having panels at different angels might affect the stretch and could result in some panels looking either tighter or sagging more than others, so the lining was cute in one piece to add stability.

I drew the pattern for a simple t-shirt dress using Winifred Aldridge’s “Pattern cutting for women's wear” (I Know go on and on about this book). The pattern is from the flat cutting section- where the pattern pieces are flat and rely on the body to add shape as an alternative to darts and shaping. The pattern is cut out slightly smaller than your measurements to allow the fabric to stretch and give a close fit. Alternatively you could start with a pattern such Kwik sew K3561 or Simplicity 2054.

I cut my lining fabric first and basted it together to check the fit, which was fine. I traced a copy of the pattern and drew two diagonal lines across it; from under the bust to the hip and from the hip towards the hemline on both the front and back sections of the pattern. The lines are drawn in exactly the same place on the front on the back to ensure that the seams meet neatly at the sides. I marked accurately the direction I wanted the stripes to go on each pattern piece in a similar fashion to a grain line. I then cut along the two lines creating three pattern pieces for both the front and back and added a seam allowance to each cut edge.

I am not very experience with matching patterned fabric and I used the notches to signal where to place the pattern on the fabric and hoped for the best. The pattern pieces were crazy shapes, but I manage to use only 1 meter of fabric (including full length sleeves), leaving ½ meter, which I can make into a t-shirt or vest. The great thing about flat patterns is that pattern marks are rarely needed so I did not have to do lots of marking  out- my least favourite part of sewing- a few notches and I was good to go.

I sewed the seams using a stretch stitch and used an overlock- like stitch on my machine to sew the seam allowances together and then trimmed close to the stitching. Most jersey clothes I see are overlocked, but this is the closest I could get as an overlocker is still on my wish list. I was slightly worried about getting bulky seams, but as jersey tends to roll I thought this was probably the best option and they turned out very neat. I sewed the front sections together and then the back sections together before joining the front and back  together at the shoulders and side seams and inserting the sleeves. Once the dress was constructed I inserted the lining. I only lined the body of the dress as I was not worried about the sleeves being a little see-through or needing the extra weight.  With both the dress and lining inside out I laid the lining on top of the dress and stitched them together along the seam allowances at the shoulders and down the sides. I could then just flip on side of the lining over the dress and pull the arms through the armholes. I then turned in and whip stitched the lining to the armhole seam allowance. I wanted the lining to be attached at the side seams to prevent it from riding up and the lining seams showing through the dress fabric as bumps. I finished the dress with bias binding at the neckline and a 2 ½ inch hem and a double fold hem on the sleeves. Heming the sleeves on the machine slightly stretched them and in hind-sight I wish I had finished them with bias binding or sewn them by hand, although it is not noticeable when wearing.
I wore this dress on Saturday and it is very comfortable. I think the lining really makes a difference as jersey dresses can often feel insubstantial and stretch out of shape. The deep hem and the lining prevented the hem stretching out of shape, even after sitting down and crossing legs etc. I was thinking of adding a patch pocket, but I ran out of time on Saturday morning as I wanted to wear the dress that day and have decided to leave the dress as it is. I like the slightly dizzying effect if the stripes meeting at the side seams.
Action shot

Bias binding at neckline

whip-stitched lining at armhole

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