Dress Making and Over-Ambitious Plans

Posted: 20/04/2013 in Sewing
Tags: , , , ,

I swear I tried to keep it simple, this time.  Honest.  Serious.

I swear it.

While I was browsing fabric bundles for my knitting needle roll WIP, I came across a couple metres of some nice, drapey, heavy microdot jersey fabric for next-to-nothing on Ebay.  Not having the income to buy new clothes, and not wanting to miss the opportunity to create something using polkadots – one of my favourite patterns – I snatched it up!  I figured I could make a pretty dress of some sort without too much trouble, jersey being a little tricky to sew but nice and stretchy, so easy to fit.

Keep it simple, I told myself.  So I looked online for some simple sewing patterns that wouldn’t require me to spend money.  Not easy when you’re plus size, as it seems the selection of clothing patterns to fit you is extremely limited even if you’re paying for them, let alone looking for free.  Not like with knitting, sadly.  The simplest design seemed to be this:  Four rectangles, sewn together, with arm and neck holes left open and then hemmed.  Of course, it needs something doing in the waist to shape it.  The usual way with this pattern is shirring.  You can’t really add shirring to a stretchy fabric like jersey, though.

You can smock it, of course…

But then I remembered that smocking, depending on the way you do it, can be much less stretchy than shirring, so the pattern would need modifying.  Instead of adding shirring all the way around the body below the bust, it’d be best to just add two smaller panels of smocking – either one at the front and one at the back, or one at each side.  And the way smocking works means I’d need to use more fabric than normal, but since I’m not smocking all the way around I’d need to work out how large I want the panels to be, multiply that by 2 and add that number to the width of the dress body to make sure I had enough fabric for 3x the width of the smocked panels.

I remembered I have some lovely polkadot picot bias binding in the craft box that’d make a lovely hem for the dress.  Of course, I’d need to do something to tie the picot edge in with the rest of the dress, since there isn’t enough to do the neckline and the hem.  I could always do proper embroidered smocked panels, smocking in thread the same colour as the picot edging and using a smocking pattern that would in some way emulate the picot shape.

Oh!  And of course dresses need to have pockets!  Nice, simple, uncomplicated patch pockets.  Nice patch pockets with a bit of the bias binding at the top, to tie them in with the hem.  Nice, smocked patch pockets with a bit of bias binding added.

So I’ve gone from a simple rectangle-based dress I could probably machine sew in an hour to an embroidered English-smocked dress with matching patch pockets, that will need quite a lot of hand stitching and probably take me a few days to make.

Watch this space…

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