Sunday, 16 May 2010

McCall's 5890, travel wardrobe piece #2

Following the advice of Carol and Arnysews, I embarked on a knit dress to add to my travel wardrobe.
I used McCall's 5890, which was recently reviewed in Australian Stitches. The fabric is wicking polyester from Stretchtex.
I have a lot of this fabric, having originally purchased it in industrial quantities for kayaking sun tops, and generally find it rather tricky to sew, although very easy and practical to wash and wear (and it has a 50+ UV rating).
My sewing experience this time was no exception.
First I had trouble with the pattern sizing. Knits are nasty for fitting, IMO, as you never know how much stretch a particular knit will demostrate for any given pattern, so a toile is next to useless. This knit does not have a lot of stretch, but following the Stitches article, and the finished garment measurements on the pattern sheet, I made a size 10, one size smaller than my measurements indicate according to the pattern envelope, as this pattern runs rather large. I made a FBA princess seam adjustement, but in a haphazard manner, just cutting the curve in a bit more of an exaggerated manner, as I was relying on the stretch of the knit for fitting. (I know, lazy)
Despite this size reduction, the size 10 was grossly oversized, and resembled a potato sack when sewn up. Picking a beige fabric did not diminish this resemblance.
I took in the seams with perhaps a little too much enthusiasm (2cm each vertical seam = 12cm), and ended up with a rather close fitting dress. This removed the dowdy appearance, but perhaps has made the dress a little too figure revealing.I plan to make a petticoat to reduce the under wear outlines.
Then I had to finish the neckline, sleeve and skirt hems. Previously, I have found this fabric a nightmare to sew from the right side - skipping stitches, breaking needles, etc, etc. This time I started with brand new jersey needles, reduced pressure foot tension, gutermann thread, and the sewing was not too bad, but the lack of stretch meant that the neckline was a bubbly mess.
I ran over this with the coverstitch (after unearthing the machine and the manual from last year's swimming costume marathon), and the mess increased.
I unpicked the coverstitch.
Next, I read several helpful blogs, and glued down the neckline with a fabric glue stick. Unfortunately, I forgot to include the clear elastic in the neckline before gluing. I gingerly separated the neckline, applied the elastic, and found that fabric glue cannot cope with slightly stretched elastic. I hand basted the neckline, and the very dodgy sleeve hem
SAM_0882
(the other sleeve hem is only moderately dodgy,so I am ignoring it, then coverstitched again.
This was more successful.
SAM_0898

Glueing the hem before coverstiching made it really easy.

SAM_0890

SAM_0897

I love my coverstitch machine - except when it eats the fabric. Some people say knit sewing is easy. I would like to get to that point, but at the moment, I think knit sewing is far more tricky than stable wovens. Wait and see what a mess I can make with my $24 per metre merino!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I was remiss in my last post. Katie KID,MD was kind enought to point me in the right direction to source gripper elastic, after I admired the cool running shorts she made for her husband. I forgot to give her credit for the idea. I did try her source, but unfortunately Sewsassy did not have it in stock when I was in internet shopping mode (and their shipping is a little Australia unfriendly). I ended up buying the elastic from Rockywoods, as they also had some solar weave breathable nylon I wanted to try. My husband is very pleased with his arm warmers, so thanks Katie.

22 comments:

ejvc said...

Well, I think it turned out rather nicely. Did you use your serger for the seams? I am assuming yes, but your talk of skipped stitches makes me wonder. Perhaps the reason you find knits difficult is that you are sewing fitted garments? I have been rather happy with my T-shirts since I got the all-important correct machine for them.

Claudine said...

It is so nice to see pics of you again on your blog! Photos of your daughter are nice, too, of course. That dress is extremely flattering on you, without being at all dressy. You will wear it a lot.

KID, MD said...

It looks wonderful on you!!
I'm glad that you found some gripper elastic. I've just gotten some wicking knit from Rockywoods. It's up soon...

Shannon said...

Wow! That dress looks so good on you!

RuthieK said...

Probably the sexiest beige dress I ever saw! It really shows off your hourglass figure. If that's a background dress keep going!!

Janis said...

I love this dress on you! It's the perfect travel dress, both functional and beautiful. You will get lots of wear out of it. I am eagerly awaiting the rest of your travel wardrobe, as I am planning one myself for a fall trip.

lsaspacey said...

Wow, I just went and looked at that pattern. I would have never picked that one up from the pattern photos. However, your dress is gorgeous, flattering, and fits you perfectly. Great job.

Shannon said...

I love this dress- it looks fabulous on you! Now I want this pattern!

HeathersSphere said...

Such a fine looking dress on you! The neckline looks superb!

Mary Nanna said...

It looks great on you - it sure sounds like you worked hard to make it work!

Knit sewing is a whole new ball game which I too struggle to get right - but the rewards are surely worth the effort.

Carol said...

I think this is a really nice dress. I skipped over that pattern before and I'm adding to my list now. You look great! Congratulations on your SWAP prize, too!

Sharon said...

That dress is stunning, you look fantastic and as a travel dress you won't go wrong.

Congratultions on the SWAP win as well.

Sue said...

The dress looks great.
I think hand basting is a step a lot of sewists ignore but it can help a lot with tricky fabrics.

arnysews said...

Wow! that dress is fabulous on you. The neckline is very flattering. That's exactly what I wished I looked like in a knit dress.
You so need to make another one in a great print and knee length just so you can watch your DH's jaw drop!

Handmade said...

Yes, it does look great on you! That fabric is really tricky - rather deceiving - I have also experienced skipped stitches when sewing on the right side.

ejvc said...

Another quick question, Karen, it looks like your photo is much longer than the pattern illustration. Any particular reason?

The Slapdash Sewist said...

That's a great travel knit--flattering, good coverage, neutral color you can dress up with accessories. I think it was worth the trouble!

kbenco said...

Eivc, it is cut out exactly to the pattern. The extra length would be due to my short legs. I nearly always shorten skirts and trousers, or, as in this case, wear them longer. I prefer an ankle length skirt to a mid calf length.

gwensews said...

After the fussiness, that dress turned out very well. It looks great on you. Congtratulations for making it work and not giving up!

MareeAlison said...

Karen - over the past few years I've made a large number of knit tops. The first few I tried turning under like on your dress. I felt the finish I ended up with was a bit unprofessional and then I tried clear elastic and that helped some. I have a coverstitch machine but that wasn't necessarily the answer. I now tend to self bind the necks using one of about 3 methods and I really like the professional looking finish.

I really like your dress - it's very flattering.

Justbecauseitmakesmesmile said...

OH MY WORD!!!!

That dress is beautiful on you!
I was hesitating about this pattern, now I desperate to sew it!

Unknown said...

Agree with all the praise...very va-va-boom for a basic dress! great job and flattering to your figure and skin tone.