This was a whirlwind project that I cut out one morning recently and sewed up on the serger the same afternoon. I’ve made a few slightly more complex projects recently, so I really just wanted something fun, fast and frivolous to zip up in a couple of hours that would hide all the holiday food I’ve been eating. And it really was all those things. The only fly in the ointment occurred when I slipped the finished garment over my head and thought, “Hmm, slightly nightgown-ish”. This was compounded when I went through to show my husband: “Hey look! I made this whole thing today!!” And he said, “Well, it’s nice… but it looks like a nightdress. Is it?” Hmmm. Damn, I thought.
So I made a few changes, because, the thing is, this dress is really, really, really comfortable. The dress directly above and below with the grey cuffs is the original version I finished and I only have one picture of it on, taken by my three-year-old, haha. The French terry I used is amazing – it’s a good quality Euro knit that I bought some time ago, fully intending to make something for my son, but the print is quite large-scale that wouldn’t work so well for a three year old’s t-shirt. I can’t deny though, that it somehow adds to the night apparel feel.
Why did I decide to make this in the first place? Well, I was lying in bed and thinking about my A/W sewing plans, as you do, and specifically about this pattern: the free Jersey Dress from the In the Folds/Peppermint Magazine collaboration that already resulted in my olive green jumpsuit in the summer. I’d downloaded the jersey dress pattern along with all the others that took my fancy (if you haven’t checked them out yet – you should. They’re free to download and the drafting is great) and had put it in my autumn plans some time ago.
What really pushed it up the list though, was the emergence of the #sewfrosting sewing challenge from Heather of Closet Case Patterns and Kelli from True Bias. Have you heard of it? Of course you have: everyone and their sister has been making something for it in the last few weeks. But just incase you haven’t seen it yet, the idea is basically to throw caution to the wind and make something that is “frosting”, rather than “cake”; in other words, something impractical, whimsical and fun, rather than sensible, practical and everyday.
To be honest, this is not something I especially struggle with as my main thrust in the last year or so has been to force myself to make “cake”! This isn’t uncommon for learner sewists I don’t think as we want to make ALL the crazy things before we settle down and refine our style. Or perhaps that’s just me, lol. Anyway, I figured that, rather than make a fancy frock for my #sewfrosting challenge (and I sort of did that with the Magnolia dress anyway), why not make something altogether more casual? The more I thought about it, the more I decided to give this crazy print a try – and see if I was brave enough to do the school run in it!
Pattern printed, I quickly taped it up. There are only 6 pattern pieces, but I decided to try using some pre-made abstoffe wool ribbing (wonderful quality), and therefore I only needed 4 pieces: the front, back, sleeve and neckband. I used a scrap of grey French terry for the neckband to coordinate with the hem and cuffs. I took three inches out of the sleeve length, both because I usually have to take a little and also because the abstoffe ribbing was quite wide.
The dress has a slightly diamond shape because of the pockets and I really, really liked the very simple way those pockets are formed, with a line of stitches into the body of the dress. Really ingenious and effective.
However, although the resultant dress was lovely and cosy and actually much like the official pattern picture, sadly I looked more like Wee Willie Winkie than the hip 40-something mum I was going for (yeah, I know, but you gotta aim somewhere). My sewing self of a year or two ago would probably have called it a lost cause and moved on, but now-me decided, heck, I can do something with this! So I did the following:
- removed the grey ribbing; while lovely, it was adding to the pyjama vibe
- cut the dress length by around 6 inches so it was above the knee
- cut a scoop neck: because it’s a raglan neck I taped the arm pieces to the front body piece and cut the scoop from around the mid-point of one arm to the other, arcing down in to the chest to a depth of around 3 inches, which I measured on the original dress as being about right
- I shortened the arms to just above the elbow from full length
- I fiddled around and um’d and ah’d about how to finish the raw edges of the dress. In the end I used a black ribbing for the hem and a thin strip for the neckline, although you can’t really see it here against the black turtleneck. I decided to finish the sleeve hems by just turning and coverstitching. I also really liked the neckline raw, but I cut it a little wide for that.
In the end I think it looks a lot more dress and less nightwear, although maybe not 100%. Once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it and all that. The truth is the fabric somehow looks a bit nocturnal, despite the fact it features 80s ghettoblasters. I’ve worn it out a few times, mostly layered on top of a polo or turtleneck like here and my babysitter was bowled over by it, “Wow!! That’s super hip Claire!!”. So that counts for something I guess, right? Lol.
I have two wonderful pieces of blue merino wool and I would love to make up at least one of them into another sweater dress. They are thinner and have a lot more drape than this French terry, so I think it will give a whole different feel to the garment. I think I’ll probably start with the original pattern and see how it looks in a different fabric first. The raglan sleeves for this pattern are actually the best-fitting I’ve used so far and, as mentioned, the drafting is simple, but really excellent, so I’m looking forward to it.
Now back to my totally over-ambitious Christmas sewing – anyone else???