After a full week of sitting home reading Edith Wharton novels (I'm kind of bingeing; don't mind me) I decided it was time to get goin' with the sewin' again.
You may recall that back in 2012 I bought myself a little Kenmore 1040 for my birthday. I originally named said Kenmore "Midge." She has been renamed, and she is now "Jolene," because really, she ain't no good. That machine has given me nothing but trouble, and I've yet to have it serviced to my liking. So I decided to cast about for something else--I still have and love Phyllis, my Kenmore 1217, as my primary machine, but let's face it: she's a boat anchor. Way too heavy for me to take to classes and sewcials. And no stretch stitches (though she does a mean zigzag) and limited foot options (due to being a left-homing machine) means she's not quite as versatile as I'd like.
So I maybe came home one day with a third machine, a Viking 100Q:
Not fancy, but it is my first electronic machine. It has what I needed (all the basic stitches and a few deco stitches) and is light as a feather. I am not pleased with the cost of Viking feet ($129 for a walking foot?!) , but it came with enough feet to get me going.
Of course I had to justify this purchase, so I pulled out a roll of knit fabric that had been sitting around forever and ordered a new Lekala pattern.
If you're not familiar with Lekala Sewing Patterns--they are a little different from other pattern companies. With most, you order a pattern and cut and adjust to fit. With Lekala, you choose patterns that interest you, send in your measurements and get by email a pattern pre-adjusted to fit you. Sounds too good to be true, right? Especially if you are already fully accustomed to doing all kinds of redrafting and adjusting to get a proper fit. And the pattern catalog is HUGE, and they are super inexpensive, to boot!
I was, honestly, skeptical, so I have several patterns of theirs already that I haven't had the courage to try. But when I saw the line drawing for 4315, I HAD to try sewing it up. Plus I needed something simple but good-looking to get me back into it.
This also gave me a chance to try out the stretch/overlock stitch on the Viking! So I sent in my measurements, plus a little more info about my figure, and had the pattern within a few hours. Details after the jump!
Taping the pattern together was a breeze. The pieces all matched up very well, which isn't always the case for print-at-home patterns. You're not given layout instructions, so you can place the pieces as needed to conserve fabric. I used a soft interlock that I've had around for ever and began cutting.
The dress was also very easy to put together. The instructions are pretty bare-bones, but I'm more or less old hat at dress construction by now. I did wonder about the collar--the line drawing seems to show it standing up, but there is no mention of interfacing in the instructions--so I emailed the company to ask and very quickly got a response from Natalia, who I believe is the owner, saying she'd left it off because she thought it would make the collar and ties too stiff. She was right.
I was really impressed with her willingness to respond and she also emailed me back quickly when I had a couple more questions.
I thought the bodice back pieces looked rather tiny, but they turned out to be perfect!
I only ran into a few problems in making this dress. First, when I originally cut the skirt I could tell from looking at it that it was too short. I said when ordering that I had "elongated legs" but that didn't seem to make much difference. So I ended up adding my usual 3". (Luckily, I had leftover fabric.) To save time I just slapped them on to the hem, though usually one adds them midthigh. The resulting skirt is still well above the knee on me, so it was definitely a good call to elongate.
Second, I also stated that I had a "wider and lower" bust and a higher waistline. The good news: the bust dart was in precisely the right place, which NEVER happens, not even when I move it myself! (I've decided to measure on the pattern how far down it is and just use that as my go-to place from here on out.) But the bad: the pattern didn't seem to account for the fact that the large difference between my high bust and full bust also means I need a longer bodice. So the midriff band is way too high. There's only like an inch between the dart and the band! Next time, I'll specify the grandma bust but say nothing about the waist.
Third: I made a rookie error in cutting. I clipped the fabric to indicate notches, as I usually do--which is fine for most wovens, but for knits means Unravel City. Oops. I ended up with little holes at the seams all over the dress that had to be fixed.
I actually had to patch that shoulder, as you can see. Learned a valuable lesson there! Cut triangles, not notches.
So here's the end result. I took it to a sewing day at a friend's house and she helped pin up the hem (I totally should have gotten a picture of that). She also took one look at the material and decided it looked like Cheerios. Therefore, this is now known as the Cheerios dress.
It's very comfortable and easy to wear. I tested it out on an especially full day--a volunteer shift at the library for the blind, a full day of work, and the year's first meeting of the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild--with excellent results. I wish it were a bit longer, but with colorful tights and a sweater it is great for work. (Though we don't really have a dress code at my office; I would describe the typical style there and general atmosphere as "academic"; which I think some of you will know what that means.) I'm glad I made it! And though I still have a few things to work out with the Viking, I am loving this stretch stitch--so much simpler than trying to figure out the right amount of zig-zag.
In fact, I am kind of on a knit sewing rampage right now--more to come!