I used my (current) favourite stretch dress pattern, McCalls 5974, which is another of the Palmer Pletsch patterns, which I talked about on my last blog post.
I must say though, that fitting when using a stretch fabric is so much less of an issue that I only do minimal changes.
I bought this lovely, heavy, polyester jersey when I visited my daughter in Oxford, at John Lewis' opening day. I do love a bit of spotty dotty!
I know that some sewists are reluctant to use stretch fabric, but it really isn't that much of a challenge, as long as you use decent quality fabric. Oh, I can't stress that enough! Cheap stretch fabrics can be awful to handle, and it's really not worth your time or effort. Shopping around can mean we find quality fabrics at genuinely reduced prices, which is entirely different to cheap fabric at prices. Quality fabrics will be a pleasure to sew. I will tell you a little story at the end of this post about how I re-learnt this lesson the hard way, but for now, I am cutting into this lovely quality spotty dotty, which was £10 a metre, and I needed 2.4 m. No zip required, only the thread (which I keep stockpiled when it's on offer) so the dress cost £24.
The only alteration I have to do at the cutting stage is to fold out the sway back alteration lines, seen here:
I am fortunate enough to own an overlocker and a coverstitch, which does help to add a professional finish to stretch garments, but they are by no means essential. What is essential is a stretch needle! This has a slightly rounded point, which gently separates the fibres, rather than piercing them, which can result in laddering.
The original pattern has pleats at the centre front, but I find they accentuate my tum, and not in a good way, so I moved them to the side, which is a great improvement.
Here I am, basting the pleats in place. As you can see, you can never use too many pins!!
I used my Janome coverstitch machine for the neck and sleeve edges, as well as the hem. I love the finish it gives, but it is by no means essential to have one!
Oh, and I always sew seams together with the regular sewing machine, not the overlocker, as it is easier to unpick seams if you need to. Once the overlocker knives have done their business it's a bit late!
When setting in sleeves, I handle knit fabrics a little differently than how I described in this post, when I said I did three lines of ease stitches, one outside the seam line and two inside. With knits I do two lines inside the seam line as I have found in the past that removing the line of ease stitches on the outside of the seam line left a row of tiny perforations which, after a few washes, made the sleeve begin to separate from the bodice! Whether or not that was a one off fluke, I don't know, but I don't wish to take the chance!
This dress goes together a dream. I certainly never need to insert the optional zip, as it goes over my head very easily, and a little wiggle ensures I can pull it over my body relatively easily.
Here is Valerie, modelling the dress.
I wore it this week and was so warm and cosy. That was until I split egg yolk on it and had to put it in the wash...
Oh, yes, I promised you a little story about not using cheap fabric. Well, I was so happy with my spotty dotty dress that I rummaged in my sewing room cupboard and found a length of thin jersey I have had for years. It looked a bit cheap but I thought I would get away with it, as I like the pattern so much. Well, I made it and tried to hem it yesterday. It was horrible. The pattern went off at an angle as it wasn't printed straight. The hem was all over the place, as the fabric was stretching in all directions, and the sleeves were just plain baggy. Dear Reader, I binned it. Lesson learned! I sew almost all my own clothes and like them to look good and be proud to wear them. I would not have wanted to put my name to this dress, so out the door it went. All those hours wasted, but a valuable lesson reinforced!
A happy weekend to you all.