Wednesday, April 20, 2016

fabric fears + secret pajamas

This month I discovered a cool sewing community of stash-busters on the blog Handmade by Heather B. They have an ongoing sew-along to sew through fabric they've collected and try not to buy new fabric, to sew more yardage than they buy each month, or to only buy fabric for specific projects and use it right away, without letting it go into storage.  It's really relaxed, low-pressure, welcoming, and open-ended... but they have an optional theme... I like the optional theme, because you could use it to get you thinking or to create connection to a community... but if inspiration calls you in another direction... that is celebrated too.

I found the stash busting sew-along the month after knits were the theme... but lucky for me, this month the theme was fabric fears... so I figured I had to make something with knit fabric from my collection.

As I reflected on the knits I still own and how I like to wear knits, I realized that I like to wear knit dresses as something I call to myself "secret pajamas" - I love that knit dresses look somewhat put-together, but still feel like nightgowns. On Mondays, when I am tired and I don't want to get out of bed & go to work, I turn to one my secret pajama dresses to get me through the day.  These are all knit dresses or loose flowy rayon dresses.  With one exception, they are not me-made, so I would be lacking in the comfy dress department for Me-Made May.

This gave me the idea to make a garment crossed between a caftan and a trapeze dress, with my two favorite pieces of knit fabric in my stash.  A plum colored modal and some vintage black and gold metallic striped synthetic knit.  I fear them because I fear sewing knits on my vintage machine and I fear these two in particular because they are things in my stash that I really like & have been saving for good.  For some day in the distant future when I have my own sewing room and I buy a serger and an overlocker and start making 100% of my clothes, right down to my skivies, and master knits once and for all.

Um. That day may never come.  I should just use this fabric to the best of my ability now! So I did.


I really like it. I traced a ready to wear trapeze dress that I bought from Charlotte Russe online. I wore it all the time this spring in my capsule wardrobe experiment... it was a common outfit repeat, even within the same week!
I just traced it onto the plum fabric and made it as long as I could at the hem and sleeves. It turned out an unusual length that is right above the ankle - it is sort of interesting-modernist... verging on frumpy. It reminds me of a personal interpretation of those big boxy designer dresses from the 90s Vogue pattern books that you would look at in the fabric store and contemplate - thinking if you wore outlandish clothes like that, what kind of life would you have?  It might change everything to dress in such oversized garments.

My dress isn't as dramatic, but the column dress is a different cut than I usually wear and I enjoy the novelty of it, while still being within my comfort zone enough to qualify as 'secret pajamas'.

For the neck and sleeves, I used the ribbing method from the Sewaholic Renfrew - a pdf tee pattern I downloaded, read about, and never made because I was too scared.

The lower sleeve is a double thickness folded to make a band with no finish necessary.

The neck facing is sewn before finishing the second shoulder seam, then the whole thing is stitched down with a double needle.


I used "Stitch Witchery" - or double-sided hem tape, (cut in-half to be narrower) to iron the hem in place before double stitching it too. This made the hem more stable and less stretchy. It's not perfect, but it is better than a lot of knit garments I've attempted.  I enjoyed using these fabrics. I like them together and I now have a soft knit dress for Me-Made May.

I faced fabric fears of a different nature when I made another 'secret pajama' worthy garment out of rayon - my third try at fitting the Lucie dress.  It is long and floaty and will be great in the summer on it's own, or with a cardigan for work.

I bought this yellow and grey chevron rayon from fabric.com, shortly after making a rayon floral babydoll dress that I still love.  I thought it would be the same fabric with a different print, but the quality of the rayon was not the same as the floral - much thinner and super-wrinkly - so I never made anything with it.

I was afraid it would either stay in my stash forever, filling me with regret and buyer's remorse every time I saw it - or I would try to make it into something nice, struggling with a less-than-perfect fabric, rendering it useless & wasted.

So, when I was cutting this version of Lucie, I decided to make it a long skirt to use up all the 3 yards of this dreaded fabric for a wearable muslin.


My first Lucie was too big.  My second Lucie was on the verge of being too small.  This one I went back up a size, but one size smaller than the first make.  I've had challenges fitting the Lucie dress each time I made it and this third iteration was no exception, so, once I knew the fit was off, I just started playing until I came up with something that worked. This one slipped off my shoulders, so I tried a few alterations before settling on a giant inverted box pleat right down the front of the whole dress to take in the width.
I added two vintage shell buttons over the places where the pleats are tacked down.  I also took several inches out of the shoulder seam of the tank, to raise the neckline, further mitigating slippage.  It is still quite scooped in the back, but now it stays on my shoulders. It's not perfection, but it's okay.

Interestingly, the more I iron this rayon, the more it seems to become cooperative.  The first few tries got me nowhere, but it seems like it is mellowing out now that it is a garment and it wears throught the day without wrinkling up like it did at first. I am counting it as a win.

Also, I'm over the Lucie pattern for now.  I gave it three good tries and I need a break because none of them turned out as cute as I thought they would from the photos of the pattern.  I am pleased, though, to have 2 new secret jammies dresses for Me Made May '16 and to be free of 5.5 yards of deep stash fabric I wasn't sure if I would ever use, if it weren't for the stash-busting sew-along.

2 comments:

  1. Nice post, Kate. I like the striped bands on the modal. Hoard your modal scraps... they make great skivies.

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  2. Nice post, Kate. I like the striped bands on the modal. Hoard your modal scraps... they make great skivies.

    ReplyDelete