Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Can you take more knit dresses? :)

I managed to buy some really nice pieces of jersey from ebay, both from individual sellers and shops. I'm a big fan of jersey, especially cotton/lycra and viscose/lycra (especially since I don't always like the colors or designs of store-bought tops) and it's almost impossible to find here. Ebay proved to be a great option, I found some great fabric (beautiful colors and good quality) at good prices too (2 pounds per meter?? I would pay at least double in a shop here!)

The first dress is made out of cotton jersey, no lycra and the fabric was bought from ebay seller sophie162223. I adored the mix of colors the moment I saw them. I chose Burda WOF 04/2008 dress 116 for this fabric.



I liked the way Burda has you sew double strips at armhole and back neckline, than turn them back and topstitch (see below) but I think I'd rather have simple strips. Double strips look more finished but they add bulk. I pounded the seam allowances with a rubber hammer to reduce the bulk but I would still prefer simple strips for next time.



I once again refer you to the Burda workshop about jersey - very useful, especially the part about stabilizing necklines and armholes with bias fusible tape, staystitched with a chainstitch, but I would like to add a few things about sewing with knits (I read all of them some place or another):

  • It is very important to cut your knits on grain (well, it is very important to cut all your fabric on grain). See the Burda workshop where they explain very well how to find the grain on a knit. Have you ever had one of those store-bought t-shirts that you really like but after a couple of washes your side seams are totally crooked? They become diagonal and you have one seam showing in front and another one showing in the back? That's because the knit was not on grain.
  • A walking foot helps with knits (that is my experience). It avoids stretching of seams (although you can also avoid that by reducing your foot pressure, if your machine has that option) and it crosses easier bulky seams (for some of them you don't even need to use a jig to level your foot with the fabric), thus keeping stitches equal (you know how your stitch length shortens when you sew on a bulky part and don't use a jig to help your foot?)
  • I always use a stretch 75 needle or Microtex needles (70 or 80) for difficult to sew fabrics (slinky comes to mind)
  • Since I discovered the stabilizing bias fusible tape (Vilene Bias Tape), I use it to stabilize the shoulders also and thus I don't need to catch a strip of fabric, nylon tape or other stuff in the seam. Love this tape, just ordered 50 m of it from SewEssential.
  • I really love the look of deeper hems and try to have 4-4.5 cm (1 3/5 - 1 4/5") hems if the amount of fabric available allows it.
  • For hemming, I always use a twin needle (I covet a coverstitch machine!), I prefer the needles with 2.5 distance between the needles but a 4 distance needle works just fine too (it gives a sportier look in my opinion). I have a separate bobbin shuttle dedicated to hemming knits and bobbin work. It has the tension reduced to 0 (unscrew the bobbin screw as much as you can without it falling). You can play with your tension on your bobbin shuttle if you have just one but I remember reading that if you do that too often you risk ruining your shuttle for good. I always use woolly nylon in the bobbin (I have black, white and beige and these go for almost everything; I would love to have coordinated colours, but that's what I could find). Wind the bobbin by hand or, if you're lazy and easily bored like me, wind it by machine, bypassing all the tension guides and setting your sewing speed to the lowest setting possible. Otherwise, the woolly nylon gets too stretched during winding and looses its stretchability. And you do want it in your hem for its stretchability! Since I hem like this, I never got popped stitches in my hem and believe me, I can get pretty brutal to my clothes when undressing, especially if I'm very tired or in a big rush.
  • also for hemming knits, I've been using this tip by Sewing Diva Gigi for quite some time now. Great tip, it definitely improved the appearance of my hems. Her tip is for a coverstitch machine, but it works equally well when you sew your knit hems with a twin needle, on your regular machine, like I do.
  • I used to cut 0.6 cm (1/4") seam allowances on all knits and sew them directly. I'm good with a serger (at least that's what I like to think) but still, this method is not the best for more complicated models, with draping details and so on. Now I cut 1.6 cm (5/8") allowances, sew them with a stretch stitch on my regular machine (I don't really like the specialised stretch stitch on my machine, the one that looks like a lightning; I prefer a zigzag stitch, 2.5 long and 0.5 wide) or with a basting stitch (make sure you take the stitching out after finishing your seams in this case) and then serge it away in total confidence.
  • For more difficult hems, I use Steam a Seam to fuse them in place. By the way, I don't know about you, but the European versions of Steam a Seam I found are the kind that you iron on the fabric, fold the hem in place and iron again. They do come apart most of the time in washing and you have to press them back. Well, my dear friend Marji sent me some genuine Steam a Seam and wow! It adheres to fabric without ironing. You only iron it in place to make the bond permanent. And it is permanent - it doesn't come apart in the wash! One remark however, whether you use Steam a Seam or other similar stuff for knits, make you sure you get the light version (Steam a Seam Lite), otherwise it makes your knit stiff. The light stuff is totally unnoticeable.
OK. Sorry for this long digression. Now for the second dress:

Front:



Side



Back view




This is the vintage swimsuit from Burdastyle, mixed with the bottom of the green Burda dress (without the back darts). There are several problems with this pattern, Cidell highlighted them in this post. There were (there are now, they updated the pattern) no notches for the gathering, so I did it "by eye" as we say here. The back straps should be cut on fold and if you want to tie them with a bow like in the Burdastyle photo, you should also lengthen them (you see that I can only tie mine with a knot). I also had to shorten the long strap by 9 cm (4 3/4") and the front strap that brings together the gathering in the bust insert by 5 cm (2").

The dress is made out of a gorgeous jet black viscose lycra bought from ebay shop fabric-fabric. I bought several viscose lycra knits from them and I absolutely love them.

I inserted bra cups (this pattern is so adequate for bra straps because you have that back tie strap that really helps, it give the effect of a bra: cups+back strap), again by using this very useful tutorial by Diva Gigi on the Sewing Divas blog. I only attached the cups at the underbust part and left the upper part unattached (because the insert is gathered at sides and center).

Wrong side



Right side



The viscose lycra is a heavy stretchy fabric and even if stretched the long band as much as I could, I still felt it would need to hug my body better therefore I added clear elastic on the entire length.



Remember to stretch the clear elastic a few times before inserting it, otherwise it would stretch in the garment and you end up with a wavy edge insert of a body-hugging one. Clear elastic is very good because it tends to adhere to naked skin (like those silicon strips on bra elastic, for strapless bras).

A deep hem again...



And because I will use this dress a lot for salsa dancing, I'm wearing it with my new dancing shoes in the picture. Here's a close-up from the manufacturer's website:

47 comments:

senaSews said...

Hi Laura! You made two amazing dresses. I especially love the black one. Very sexy! Never thought of the bathing suit pattern as a dress!

Adrienne said...

Gorgeous dresses! How smart of you to make a swimsuit into a DRESS!!!! Love it!

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Yeah, I will take more knit dresses from you any day! :) Especially when the commentary comes chockful of information!!! Love them both but especially the black salsa dress - swimsuit to dress - genius!

Erica B. said...

Beautiful dresses. The black one is smoking hot!

Salinda said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the great hemming tips. I, too, covet a coverstitch machine. Until then, I'm still looking for the perfect hemming technique for jersey. I'll try yours this afternoon on a tee-shirt.

Catherine said...

I love all of your dresses Laura, especially the silk print one. I love dancing too and know you will be carving up the dance for in your black dress! Thanks you for all your sewing tips and hints, they are so valuable.

Myra said...

All of your knit dresses have been great, especially the green print one and the medallion paisley one. On this post, I am glad to see how to do armholes like the green print dress with the bias tape. I couldn't picture it and Burda's instructions are difficult to read for me.

Dei said...

Wow! Love your creativity. Thanks for the excellent tips.

melissa said...

Wow those are both fabulous! Bring on the knit dresses! I love how you saw a dress in the BurdaStyle swimsuit, too... And the tips are very useful, as are the UK ebay shops (hooray!).

oh, and I was meaning to ask, is this the seam tape you're talking about? Ignore the German, it's the UK version of stoff-art, which I just discovered...

LauraLo said...

Thank you, ladies, for your comments!
Myra, welcome to my blog! I'm glad that I could help.
Melissa, from what I can see, that is the tape I'm talking about, very light and good for knits.

Christina said...

I just love knit dresses in the summer - nothing like fast sewing. Your 2 new dresses are fabulous, like always. I love the swimsuit turned dress!

Gigi said...

Your dresses are fabulous - just like everything you make!

Dawn said...

Wow. Beautiful dresses! I especially love the black one.

KayB said...

Yeah I agree - the black one is smoking hot! ... and the other one is not far behind.
Thanks for the tip about the steam-a-seam. Have to rememeber that!

Shannon said...

Gorgeous dresses - you look exceptional in both of them!

Dana said...

Great dress! I love the colors of the first one. I think any sewists that attempts swimwear in any version is brave. Yours looks great!

Linda said...

Laura - Your dresses are beautiful. And the swimsuit to dress conversion is very nice.

I was just looking at the Burda dress last night as a possible next project. I couldn't get a feel for what it would really look on from the model in the magazine. Now that I have seen yours, I like the way it will fit. Of course mine will be just a wee bit bigger than yours. ;). Either way I think it is a great design for all figure types.

Audrey said...

Beautiful dresses.
Audrey (Brasil)

Lindsay T said...

Thank you so much for the great tips. I am on a jersey kick myself right now so I really appreciate them. Great dresses too!

Mary Beth said...

LOL, yeah, I can take more knit dresses LOL, each one is better than the last and that's almost unimaginable. Great fabrics and techniques, too. You're just rockin!

Els said...

Fantastic and Beautiful as always.

Lori said...

Laura, fantastic dresses. I really like how you changed the swimsuit into a dress. Keep the knit dresses coming, you do fabulous work.

Cherie said...

Laura, fantastic dresses! Also love your tips. And I also covet a coverstitch machine. I think you'll be the hottest woman on the dance floor!

Tini said...

o lala! love both dresses! And how cool is that you made a swimsuitpattern into a dress?!?

Alexandra said...

Beautiful dresses! I love the latin shoes, too.

toy said...

you look great in those dresses

Vicki said...

Thanks for all the tips. These should up my knit sewing a notch or two.

Your two dresses are great. What a fun idea to use the swimsuit pattern and turn it into a dress!

cidell said...

What a nifty idea to combine the two patterns. I looooove it. Gosh, and you give so much helpful information too.

AllisonC said...

yes can never have enough knit dresses. I love them - the black one especially is smoking! And how creative to make a dress from a swimsuit pattern.

Sandy said...

Both dresses are awesome. But I must admit you are definitely wearing the black one! It looks amazing on you.

paco peralta said...

Laura .- other two nice clothes and you look divine. greetings, Paco

Heathace said...

Hi Laura! I am one of those lurkers. Of course your tips will be used in my future sewing. But I love those shoes. Who is the manufacturer?

Sew4Fun said...

Beautiful dresses, especially the black one, Laura. Va-va-voom! Perfect for dancing. And what a great use of a swimsuit pattern. Very ingenious!

Melissa said...

Gorgeous dresses Laura! I plan to make the first one up - hopefully sooner than later.

Katrin said...

Hello Laura,
both dresses are beautiful. Love the colours of the first one but the black one is breathtaking! Perfect for Salsa dancing
I have almost the same dancing shoes, but mine look really outworn...I should soon get new ones, I think...

LauraLo said...

Thanks again for all your comments! Audrey (Brasil), Sandy, Toy, Heathace, welcome to my blog!
Heathace, the manufacturer of the shoe is the UK company Supadance. If you live in the US, I'd rather recommend Capezio, which is as good as Supadance but much cheaper! I paid about 125 Euros for these shoes and they are satin!

Jenna said...

Laura, I love the dresses that you have been making especially the BWOF dress 103 You are so talented

Tany said...

OHHHHH, hot and sexy!!! Laura, both dresses are TDF! The last one just took my breath away... WOW!!! And the shoes... Exquisite! You'll be the star on the dancing floor with that outfit!

Rose said...

Keep those knit dresses coming! I love every one you have done. My favorite is the print jersey. Wow! You even made a swim dress. You are ready to go from the pool to the dance floor. (I would keep those incredible new shoe away from the water, though) How creative you are! I appreciate all the sewing information. You are helping my learning curve increase rapidly.

Nancy W. said...

both dresses look great. Very clever to transform that swimsuit into a dress. Great idea!

Mamis said...

A surprise is waiting on my blog!
Atit am putut traduce in limba engleza.

Anonymous said...

Thank you VERY MUCH for all the details about sewing knits, we all learn a lot thanks to people like you.
God blessyou for sharing :)

My name is Lourdes and I dont have a blog.

mirela said...

Oh Laura the dresses are perfect and look perfect on you! I'm planning to sew the first pattern as a top, and thank you for all the tips on stretch fabrics. I just wrote a looong boring post on stretch and you still have so many great tips! Thanks!

P.S. Hahha "By the eye" dupa ochi ;)

Cennetta said...

Great dresses. That black number is HOT!

Keiler said...

You're amazing. I love all the interior photos of your clothes. It's impressive!

Oh sew crafty haberdashery said...

Stunning Dresses,
I particularly like the black one.

Livonet Suaqui said...

Hello. I have some questions, do you use a special fusible/stay tape, etc for hem in stretch fabrics like jersey? I see that in the first dress you use bias tape/ or stay tape in the armholes? Am I right? I am so confused about bias tape and Stay tape, what is the difference and how you use them? Thanks