The almost-a-disaster dress

Happy Me Made May, everyone! I’m actually wearing today’s make to kick off my Me Made May (find details of my pledge here). Anyone else taking part?

Right, I’ve finally got around to blogging my last March make: the Heather Dress. Not so tardy, really, as I made a change after completing it, and it’s only just come back off the sewing pile. It’s another installment in my search for the perfect knit dress pattern. Read on to find out if I’m still searching…

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In a Nutshell:

I remember thinking “I must make this dress!” when the pattern first came out. It had everything I was looking for in a knit dress: a fitted silhouette and big pockets, plus some interesting style lines to make it a bit different to the other knit dresses I’ve made. Took me a little while to get around to actually buying the pattern, but I’m glad I waited as I got it on sale and got to take advantage of all the online feedback about the pattern sizing.

Pattern:

The Heather Dress by Sew Over It. It’s a princess seam dress designed for stable, medium-weight knits with options for three sleeve lengths. I made the short “capped” sleeves. My measurements put me at a 12 for the hips and between 10 and 12 for the bust, but I opted to cut a straight 10 based on the finished garment measurements (lots of ease at the hips!) and feedback from other sewists.

Fabric:

I used a fairly cheap ponte from my local fabric shop, which comes in several different colours. Some of the colours are subtly marled by having each row a different depth of colour. Originally I was going to make the centre panels bright pink, but when I went to buy the fabric they had the teal back in stock so I made an impulse decision to use that instead. I’m kind of wishing I’d stuck with the original plan…

New skills learnt:

This was my first time making pockets into a princess seam, and come to think of it, it’s the first time I’ve sewn a princess seam on a knit garment. It’s also the first time I’ve tried colourblocking, and I think that shows…

Changes I made:

  • sewed a smaller seam allowance (6mm) at the back to give myself a bit of extra breathing room at the bust, since there wasn’t any wearing ease here.
  • Cut the neckline lower using the neckline from the Deer and Doe Plantain tee.

Construction:

This is my first time sewing a Sew Over It pattern, and I’m pleased to report the instructions were really easy to follow. I found myself laughing aloud at one point as the pocket started to come together. So clever and surprisingly simple!

There were a couple of small changes I made while sewing, however. For some reason the pattern has you put the sleeves in last, but I much prefer sewing them in flat before doing the side seams, so that’s what I did here. I also had to make the hem smaller on the sleeves, as there was not enough fabric there at the underarm to take a 1.5cm seam allowance. I don’t consider these true cap sleeves either, and I think next time if I choose to make the short sleeves I will make proper cap sleeves that end halfway down the armscye.

Time taken: 2 hours 20 mins, plus an extra half hour to redo the neckline.

Overall verdict:

When I first tried this dress on I had such high hopes, but when I looked in the mirror I was seriously dismayed. It looked all wrong. Something about the high neckline and the fabric colours I’d chosen made me think of sports kits. Here’s a couple of ropey shots (no makeup, taken by Daisy) showing the original neck:

As you can see, I’d calculated the neckband length wrong and it wasn’t lying flat, plus I didn’t like the lumpy top stitched finish with all those layers there. I needed an entirely new neckline, and way of sewing the band that wouldn’t be so bulky. I threw the dress over a chair in disgust and hoped it would magically fix itself, because I really couldn’t be bothered with it anymore.

After a couple of weeks the answer came to me, and I hacked down the neckline using the Plantain shirt pattern piece, and then used the new-to-me binding technique detailed in Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. This results in the bulk of the layers lying within the neckband, rather than under the dress fabric, if that makes sense. I also topstitched in the ditch rather than into the dress fabric, which gave a much more pleasing finish.

I’m so much more happy with the final version of the dress. It’s incredibly comfortable and much more flattering. It’s not exactly easy to style, though. The combination of those strong colours and seam lines make it a statement piece and I can only really wear it with grey or black. Here’s some more pics showing the dress from different angles:

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There are a few fit issues at the top, particularly around the armscyes. I think I need a narrow shoulder adjustment (1cm on each side is my standard) and a bit of extra room at the bust. From what I can gather, Sew Over It draft for a B cup, so that makes sense. As a B/C cup (I literally am between the two) I don’t generally need to do full bust adjustments, but with this particular pattern I think I do. It looks in these pics like I need a swayback adjustment too. Not sure what those two little pull lines mean under my backside! Probably just the way I’m standing as I’m sure they’re not there all the time. Then again, perhaps I do need a little extra fabric there (full bum adjustment!)

Changes for next time:

I definitely want to make this dress again, but in a different fabric. I’m thinking a polka dotted centre panel (black with white dots or purple/pink/red with black dots) and then black for the rest. I’d also like to try a single colour version (red, perhaps?) and I’ll definitely make a winter version with the long sleeves. I’d like to try making it about 8″ longer too. So yes, I foresee quite a few Heather dresses in my future 🙂

Costing:

Pattern: £6.00 (bought in a sale)

Printing: £6.02 (2xA0 sheets)

Fabric: £10.78 (1.8m at £5.99 per metre)

Total cost: £22.80

I’d say that’s a bargain, particularly as I’m planning to make it again and again!

Has anyone else made the Heather dress? Or do you have a different favourite knit dress pattern? And are you as excited about Me Made May as I am?!

One last pic for luck:

 

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Why yes, I am knock kneed. Thank you for noticing!

 

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5 thoughts on “The almost-a-disaster dress”

  1. That’s cute. When I first saw the pics I thought you were wearing a cropped cardi over a dress. I do like it and I like the strong colours. It is definitely better with the new neckline.
    My favourite knit dress is a longer version of a princes seam top pattern. I just continue the curve for the hip and make it however many cm longer it needs to be knee length. I’ve drawn up paper patterns of it now as I’ve done it in a really wide and flowing skirt and a skinny version.
    Me Made May is an interesting idea. It doesn’t have to be just sewing does it?

    Like

    1. Hey Jill, good to hear from you! Me Made May was started by a sewist, but you can wear any me mades you like. The idea is to make your own pledge whatever you want to keep it fun and challenging for you. The idea is to improve your relationship with your me mades, and work out how to incorporate them into your everyday wardrobe more.

      I like the idea of extending a favourite top. I’ve just made one that would make an excellent maxi dress, so I’m planning to try that this month. With summer coming, I’m going to need more cool clothing!

      Like

  2. really like the colours and the neckline. Think you have done a good job. I’ve sewn a heather dress with long sleeves and found them very tight, I also used a looser double layered 3D jersey (not sure what the fabric term for it would be) which doesn’t work as well. Must make a heather dress in the recommended fabric!

    Like

    1. Thanks! It’s a shame your Heathers haven’t worked out as planned. Fabric choice really is key to the success of a sewing project, isn’t it? I’ve learned that the hard way too…

      Liked by 1 person

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