The last few weeks have been colder than usual in Los Angeles, with cloudy mornings and even a few days of rain! This month also happens to be Me Made May and I wish I could be wearing more of my warm weather clothes but alas I know that before long the weather will turn quite warm and I'll probably be complaining about it being too hot. So, I will continue making clothes for my Southern California climate and if it's cold I'll just grab a sweater. Today's DIY is a fitted summer dress made in a so soft teal knit fabric.
The fabric is part of a new line of solid knits from Art Gallery fabrics. I was thrilled when they asked me if I'd like to try out some of it. I selected this gorgeous teal color and immediately knew that I wanted to make a summer dress. The fabric was really lovely to sew with. It's a really nice medium weight, not too light, not too heavy. The fabric is not sheer so you'll never have to worry about your undies showing through. yay! If you're new to knits, I think this would be a great one to start with. The line comes in seven different colors, a mix of neutrals and lovely, summery colors.
I've been really into racerback styles lately and wanted to draft a pattern with a racerback and gathered waist. I set to work making a sample but got befuddled out on the waistline and not wanting to lose any time, decided to go with an existing pattern. I've had Simplicity 2443 in my stash for years and have never used it. The style was very similar to what I envisioned so I jumped right now. I had actually already cut out all the pattern pieces for both the dress and jacket so it was very easy to get started.
I cut a size 16 and lengthened the bodice by 1 inch. The design has kind of a drop waist so I probably did not need to lengthen it but the additional length makes it look more like the original. I figured that I didn't need to worry about an FBA because the knit was stretchy enough. The instructions were a little bit funky and seem like they're written for a woven fabric in a lot of places but I just went with it. For instance the zipper at the side seam. Most knits don't really need a zipper and reading other sewist's reviews, a lot of them omitted the zipper. I chose to use the zipper and I'm glad I did because the waistband is fitted enough that I can't get it over my bust without the zipper.
The only bummer was that after I had the dress almost all the way done, I tried it on and it was just too big on top. It was so baggy and awful, I nearly cried. I had just spent hours on this thing and it looked awful! But a quick little pinch at the side seams revealed that all was not lost and some simple adjustments could fix the problem. I ended up taking out 3/4 of an inch at each side seam and I had to reinsert the zipper. I really love the fit now and I'm so glad that I made the adjustments. It was also a little tricky to stitch around the pockets with the side zipper there but it worked out all right.
The trickiest stitching came at the neckline facing. There are a lot of little curves that look really cool but it's hard to stitch around and not have any wrinkles. I was also surprised that the seam allowance at the facing is not enclosed at the facing. I had some little lumps at the top curves when I was done and fixed it but clipping out the excess fabric from the bodice. Make a note that the seam allowance for the facing is only 3/8 inch. Which was a surprise when I got to that step and realized I had stay stitched 5/8 inch in step 1.
One new technique I tried out for this dress was while stitching the hem. I used a twin needle with wooly nylon thread in the bobbin. The wooly nylon thread is kind of stretchy and the stitching was much flatter than usual. Following tips I read on the interwebs, I hand-wound the thread onto the bobbin. I recommend trying it if you struggle with twin needle stitching. Here's a pic I posted on Instagram.
I really love this dress and can't wait to wear it this summer. It will be perfect for wearing to work under a cardigan or out for weekend brunch. The facings and racerback make for great design details but they're not too revealing. I want to send a big thank you to Art Gallery fabrics for giving me this fabric. It's really beautiful and it was a dream to sew with. I'm sure I'll be seeking out more of it in the future. Happy sewing!