Friday, May 2, 2014

multitude of sins, make it work, or lbkd?

Over the last couple days, I got a little crazy with sewing and took a stab at making a knit dress.  I know next-to-nothing about sewing with knits and I don't have a serger, but I had 2 yards of black 4-way stretch cotton lycra from when I thought I wanted to try to make yoga clothes for myself a few months ago.

The more I researched, the more overwhelmed I became at the prospect of sewing knits... but I recently threw caution to the wind and went for it as an experiment with no expectations of the outcome.

I originally thought I would make a circle skirt and found some great links and tutorials for that project... but I realized that I had enough to make a dress and had seen a few DIY tutorials floating around.  Some were sheath or swing dresses without separate pieces for the bodice and skirt, but one on Girl Charlee's Tutorial Tuesday was for a fit and flare from The Stitching Scientist.  I needed a break from the Chelsea style, so the separate bodice and skirt of the fit and flare was very appealing. I printed this out - my first experience with a PDF pattern - and put it together.  Right away, I thought something was wrong with the scale or the design. It looked huge, like an over-sized dropwaist pattern... nothing like the cute dress in the tutorial.

At that point, I was already geared up for a project, so I decided to just try to adapt it to my measurements and go for it. I was a little hopped up on pain medicine because my shoulder injury is acting up and I was feeling the need to relax and unwind... so I got creative.  It was like a soft-sculpture experience. When I encountered a problem, I worked through it.  I thought about a name for this dress and my first impression was Multitude of Sins... knit is hard to sew, but also extremely forgiving of some pretty creative (read: jacked-up) problem solving... thus hiding the multitude. As I stayed calm and worked my way through the problems to an actually reasonable solution of my own ingenium... I thought about Tim Gunn's "Make it Work" moments on Project Runway and felt like this was my Make it Work dress... in the end, it's just a little black (knit) dress or an lbkd.

I learned a few things along the way - first off, 4 way stretch is not the same animal as the sturdy low-stretch knits that most apparel patterns are using.  It's much more squirrelly. But it was what I had... and it's amazingly yummy once on the body.

Secondly, I played around with the band finishing technique from the tutorial and I think it is overly complicated - well, especially for 4 way stretch.  I came up with my own that was a rift on a stretch-and-sew class I took when I was 10 years old to make a sweatshirt. We added a double layer of ribbed knit to finish all the edges and just turned it under and top stitched it afterwards.

Thirdly - if you are going to do this with super stretchy 4 way stretch... make your band a lot smaller than you think it should be, because it will bag out a bit.

Once I got my bodice ready, I was preparing to gather the skirt and I felt a sense of trepidation and attempting to gather 4 way stretch, so I decided to pleat it in, instead.  I was really pleased with this effect.  I had a 60" wide piece that I pleated in to the skirt.  It hangs well and skims the body in a flattering way without excessive volume.

It's crazy-comfortable.  I definitely want to practice more jersey and knit sewing.  Girl Charlee will be getting some business from me and I plan to buy the Renfrew pattern too. More pictures when I am feeling better and my sweetie can snap them.... but for now, this will suffice.  I have the knit bug!

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