Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sew Cute! Sew Comfy! Foxy Mini Dress (or Tunic)

I just can't get enough of cute fabric, and when I saw this fox print knit, (in either grey or blue background, from GirlCharlee.com), I knew I had to have it asap! I find sewing with knits both easy and challenging at the same time. They are easy because you don't have to worry about finishing seams or any unraveling, but they are hard because the fabric can stretch out of shape so easily, both when cutting and when stitching them up. Because of that, I try to keep the lines of any garment I sew with knits very simple and plain. Lots of straight-line sewing.
Beautiful medium-weight cotton jersey and adorable foxes!

When I received this fabric in the mail, I washed it up in hot water and dried it on "normal" setting to get as much shrinkage out before I cut it. I was a little nervous to cut into it because I liked it so much, and there is always that fear in the back of my mind that I might make a mistake while sewing, and "ruin" it. But with a deep breath, I forged ahead and decided to use this Burda Style pattern 7354 from my stash. I actually created a "Frankenpattern" by using the higher-waisted design of View B, but adding a casing like in View A. I look best in high or empire waistlines, and look dreadful in low or dropped-waist designs. But I didn't want to use a straight View B because it doesn't really have a waist: that's just a self-fabric belt tied under the bust, which looks sloppy to me. And View A has the casing on the inside of the garment, and then you create buttonholes in the top and the drawstring is threaded out through the buttonholes. Well, I hate making buttonholes, so I switched that up, too.


I don't know what it is, but I love designs with fabric gathered by drawstrings. I decided to make it tunic length. I wear yoga pants or leggings constantly and am always in need of tunic length tops to go with them. It is long enough, though, that if I wore opaque tights, it could also be a mini dress (because I am that short).

This is the first double-needle hem that I have ever tried on knitwear.
I did not have to do my normal Full Bust Adjustment with this pattern because of the large amount of design ease built in to the top, so I went with my high bust measurement of 40" and made it a size 18. Another alteration I did to the pattern was to make the skirt part of the tunic an A-line shape by pivoting the pattern outward from the waist. I do this to almost all skirt patterns I work with because I am so pear shaped, with a waist that is usually 3-4 sizes smaller than my hips.

The double-needle stitching on the hem makes it look really professional!

Here is the gathering on the shoulder seam, using a self-fabric drawstring that I made.

Here is the casing that I created and sewed to the waistline.

Another pattern change I made was to creating a casing with the fabric, and pin it to the waistline on the outside. This was tricky because since there was no waist seam, figuring out exactly where to pin the casing was challenging. I tried measuring up from the hem to keep it consistent, and then tried it on and adjusted it a little bit to suit my body shape. 
In my messy sewing room. This even fits my size 12 dress form! The drawstrings make it very size-adjustable.

And here is the finished tunic! I am in love with how it has turned out and I have worn it several times already, though it probably won't get much wear this winter. The sleeve and shoulder gathering make it only a three-season (spring, summer, fall) top because it is basically sleeveless, and the voluminous fabric would not fit, or be all bunched up, if I tried to wear a cardigan with it. Regardless, I am really pleased with how this turned out.

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