Monday, 29 January 2018

The first of my MAKENINE - The Drapey Knit Dress

I know that I am not at the forefront of the sewing world and that this dress pattern came out in 2015, but I am pleased to say that I have completed my first MAKENINE project before the end of January. So  here is my version of the Great British Sewing Bee Drapey Knit Dress, and I have to say that it has turned out better than I expected. I have worried about this make from the beginning but when I wore it to church today, it was comfortable and it made me feel good.

This is a very unconventional pattern, which is what attracted me in the first place. It is based on Japanese cutting styles. I have always been fascinated by Japanese patterns but have never tried something like this before. I bought this piece of medium weight jersey intending to make this dress but the problem with pattern books is that they are so heavy that I didn't take the book with me when I was shopping and as usual I hadn't made any notes but was shopping from memory. The instructions say "stable double knit jersey". My knit fabric was quite stretchy... I think something like a scuba would have worked better and made a smarter dress. Having said this I really like my dress now that it is finished.

I made this dress using my conventional sewing machine, I haven't got an overlocker but my machine has an overcast stitch which I use all the time for sewing stretch fabrics. I began by following the instructions in the pattern and sewed 1.5 cm seams with a narrow zigzag. First I attached the pockets and I was fascinated to see how the two front pieces attached  and folded into place to make the asymmetric pleat at the neck. But, it was at this point that my stretchy fabric began to cause problems. Everything seemed so stretchy and my dress front didn't have enough structure. I pressed the seams open but the fabric was too springy and it wouldn't hold the press. I was about the throw everything in the bin but at this point I had nothing to loose so ignoring the pattern I finished the seams the way I usually do with jersey. I neatened both seam allowances together with the overcasting stitch and suddenly my dress began to take shape. 

I hope that you can see in this photograph that all of the seams have been stitched first with a narrow zig-zag and then neatened with the overlocking stitch. I am afraid that it isn't very clear because the cotton I used was a very good match and doesn't show up very well. These reinforced seams gave the dress the structure it needed and luckily I hadn't throw it all in the bin.

I like the neck detail very much. You need to read the instructions closely to make sure you cut out the left and right fronts the right way round. They are not the same. The fabric and pattern pieces both need to lie right sides up otherwise the pleat will fold over the other way. 

The pattern calls for a knit or bias interfacing which is ironed on to the neck facing. Instead, I decided to use a light weight conventional interfacing. This has given the neck facing a bit more body and so the dress hangs better from the neck. I ironed on the interfacing and neatened it around the edge with the overlock stitch to avoid a bulky hem.  I know from experience that if I wear this dress a lot the interfacing will eventually begin to tear, but by then the dress will be showing some wear and tear in lots of other ways too. 
I graduated the seam allowance around the neck and used my pinking shears to clip the wider seam. The neck lies nice and flat despite the layers of bulky jersey in the folded sections. I was very careful to under-stitch the facings to the seam allowance just 3mm from the seam.

I don't usually make dresses with pockets. I know that some people wouldn't make anything without, but I don't like the lumps and bumps. This dress relies on the pockets to emphasise the line of the hips and I like this feature too. The pockets gape just enough to see that they are there.

The back of the dress is cut in one piece with kimono sleeves and here I think that my soft, draping fabric works well.

Last of all I finished the hems with a stretch twin needle. I really enjoyed wearing this dress today and the sun came out this morning so that we could take these photos outside before more black clouds came over.

and here come those black clouds!!
I am looking forward to wearing my new dress to work during the cold weather. I think I will probably make this pattern again in a double knit jersey of scuba and may try some more Japanese style patterns in future. Have you made any that you really liked? I would be very interested to hear your recommendations.


  1. I like the look of scuba but have heard people say that it is cold on the skin. I have stayed away from stretch and knits as I like to line all my clothes and I have that pattern. You have encouraged me to keep a look out for some knit over the next few weeks.

    1. I think people are right about scuba. It looks lovely and is really easy to sew but it isn't warm. Natural fibres are much nicer against the skin, but I need clothes to wear in an air conditioned office and need to look quite smart so it is ideal for that.
      This dress fabric is more like Crimplene and is very warm and cosy, especially when worn with thick tights.

  2. This looks very stylish Rosemary. What a fab make!

    1. Thank you Caroline. It was quite a stressful make but I am pleased with the finished result.