Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Two knit sheath dresses

 New Look 6458  

I have sewn two dresses from this pattern.  The first was a bleached denim look knit that I bought at Hobby Lobby. It is a fairly heavy knit with a soft hand, poly/viscose/spandex.  About 2/3 poly, very little spandex.  I cut a 16 on top and a 18 on bottom, shortened the waist to shoulder length by an inch and the length by about 6 inches.  The armhole band is wider than the neckband in the pattern.  Since the 16 is large on my shoulders, I sewed the armhole band deeper, taking in another 1/4" or so of the bodice.  If I were going for the cute boatneck and wide shouldered, tight armhole look of the pattern, I would just cut a size 14 and follow the pattern.  However, I wanted to have an option to wear this dress with a shirt--or not.  The deeper seam made the armhole band match the neckband and the armhole large enough to accommodate a thin knit shirt.  I mostly used the knit stretch stitch for this dress, mode 1, stitch 9 on my S3.  For the hem, I used a knit zig zag to turn down 1/2", trimmed it to 1/4" and blind hemmed it.  Overall, a nice success for a lovely fabric.  The dress, since I can used the leftover fabric for a skirt, cost me about $9.00.

I had purchased another cut of a gray fabric at the same visit to Hobby Lobby.  It is knit and was shelved with the bleached denim.  However, it is very different in feel, pure poly/lycra and quite thin.  Still, it is much more tame, being gray with small white chevrons similar to sergeant stripes in the military.  I wanted to try making some pattern adjustments to this one to improve the fit and add pockets.  I cut the dress pieces the same except that I cut the size 10 armhole, merging it into the size 16 shoulders and cut the size 10 neck in front.  The first version with the size 16 front neckline chokes me a tiny bit.  To make the neck and armhole bands fit this modification, I cut the armhole band 19" long and the neckband 24 3/4" long, moving the markings to the edges.  I couldn't find the notched marking for the back of the armhole on the band.  It's on the pattern for a size 10 but not on the band.  I need to look at the pattern pieces and see if there is another band piece for a size 10.  This time, to make sure I wasn't choked, I sewed the neckband 3/8" in back and 1/4" in front.  I used a decorative stitch to top stitch the bands, setting my Janome Skyline S3 to mode 2, stitch 2, length 2, width 2.  That produces a slightly stretchy stitch that has a zag out into the body every 2 mm.  I sewed the armbands 3/8".  If I trace this pattern permanently to have it to use repeatedly, I will narrow the armbands for this version.  I am not sure that I would ever want to have a nice dress to wear sleeveless again.  I might try a version with sleeves, although the way I cut into the pattern for a size 10 in the armhole would have to be adjusted to the appropriate sleeve size.  I copied the flat square pockets from another knit dress I bought, cutting them 7" x 10" (need to check the width--7 or 8?).  It is a very simple pocket that works better with knits that the usual side seam pockets I use, sewn into the side seam and top stitched to the front.  I top stitched it last, but it may be possible to stitch the pocket to the front, turn in and top stitch the pocket opening in the front, and simply sew pocket and back and front together all at one time, omitting the front from the seam over the pocket opening. 

I hemmed it in the same manner as the bleached denim dress, it is just below my knee in length, with the slit on the right instead of the left.  That's just because I forgot to stop sewing at the slit when I first began the side seams.  Since I was on the left seam, I just stopped for the slit when I sewed the right seam.  The slit may be optional with the shorter length, but I wanted it for extra mobility.  I have a good bit of fabric left over. 


The fabric for the gray dress cost $8 per yard.  I bought 2 2/3 yards for total discounted price of $15.

The fabric for the blue dress cost $9 per yard.  I bought 2 1/2 yards for a total discounted price of $16.

I used MCcalls 8055 to make a skirt out of the scraps, and I mean scraps, thanks to a cutting issue, of the blue dress.  I have more of the gray fabric left but am not sure that I want a skirt out of it.  It is a bit thin for a skirt.  I could use it as a muslin for one of my t-shirt patterns, just to learn the pattern and the sizing.

I am publishing this post quite late so that I can add my thoughts after wearing these two dresses for a year.  I have found them to be quite practical for my lifestyle.  They are not the most flattering items in my wardrobe but they are quite comfortable.  The only things I would have changed was to add pockets to the blue dress and to not bother with an embroidery-style stitch for the top stitching on the gray dress.  These are both simple and serviceable.  The softer fabric on the blue one is already showing signs of wear, but that's more of a recommendation--it gets worn a lot!

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