Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Simplicity 2754, Cowl Neck Empire Waist Knit Dress

Thank you for the suggestions on the panties! I make them with black cotton crotches, but that is not enough to contain the unexpected flow I sometimes get. I am intrigued by the idea of building in an extra layer, though. I make my pads of cotton flannel and even one layer of flannel might be enough. The crotch pocket idea is also interesting, but I would have to figure out some sort of closure for it; it would be horrifying if the lining wormed its way out when I was changing clothes at the gym! Will consider these suggestions.

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I will buy pretty much any pattern for a knit dress (as long as it's not a glorified t-shirt), so at some point I picked up Simplicity 2754. I liked the empire waist, cowl neck, and full pleated skirt (so much nicer than a gathered skirt in this style).

When I bought this yellow/gray fans fabric from Jomar in Philly it really said maxi dress to me, but I plan to use my rayon knit from Spain for a maxi-dress (it's too lightweight for a Fall/Winter dress) *and* I need Fall/Winter dresses more than Spring/Summer dresses. So I stuck to my guns and made it for Fall/Winter. With the shorter elbow-length sleeves it will be wearable into Spring.

Original Front Bodice When I initially put this together I hated it. I thought it looked like a nightgown. I almost wadded it. So I spent some time analyzing it and I realized a big problem was the front bodice. I had cut it without really paying attention and it was pretty much a single big pale yellow fan. I didn't take a photo then, but I pinned it back on and took the photo at left so you can see. I had already serger constructed everything, all that was left was hems. But I knew I would hate the dress if I let it stand.

So I cut out a new bodice, being careful to balance the motifs so that I had three instead of one. Then I carefully cut the old bodice out of the dress, clipping just outside the serger seams (luckily, there was adequate ease, so it was OK to lose some; I do not seam rip serger seams unless it is really, really necessary). It was a little challenging to pin the new bodice into the space, keeping all the seams in the right places, but I managed it in the end. I overlapped the seam allowance on the new bodice so that it extended out beyond the clipped off seam allowances of the other pieces and serger stitched with the new bodice on top, clipping off the seams allowances of the new bodice and just barely catching the edges of the original back and cowl.

It went together pretty well; I lost a bit of the reverse V shape on the empire seam and there is a little seam distortion on the lower right bodice seam (*my* right side, which is on the left in the photo), but in wearing this yesterday I think it has to do with the perpetual problem of my serger not keeping tension on the right needle thread. I have rethreaded, turned the tension dial, and done everything else I can think of the keep that thread from looping and nada. When I went to clip my work badge to the seam I noticed that the seam is almost doing a flatlock thing because of the loopy right needle thread. So I'm going to have to go in and sewing machine stitch that seam to make sure it doesn't pull apart.

The new print motif looks SO MUCH BETTER. The pale colors of the print combined with the relaxed fit do make it look a little nightgown-y in general (had I made a fitted wrap dress it wouldn't have been as much of a problem, I don't think), but I'll just have to live with that.

Back One of my mom's pet peeves that she passed on to me is that ready-to-wear, even on the high end, often doesn't match the back and front. So the front will have some sort of neckline embellishment, for instance, that should logically go all the way around the neck, but the back neck is plain. I think this looks so cheap! This dress suffered from that syndrome. While the front is designed with the empire waistline and pleated skirt, the back is just a single t-shirty piece. Cheap!

I lined up the front and back pieces and marked the empire waistline on the back. The front skirt is shaped to fit into that upside V waistline, so I just folded it down so that it was flat and even with the side seam and cut the back skirt like that. It looks so much better this way. I didn't make a swayback adjustment because of all the volume, and I think I lucked out here.

There's not much to say about this dress! It's cute, easy, and goes together well. The cowl is supposed to be cut on the bias. Because I had plenty of fabric I went ahead and did it, but honestly as long as you're using a lightweight knit I really don't think you need to. I have been into deep twin-needle hems on knits lately; the skirt on this ended up being really long (didn't want to shorten it in cutting as I keep getting burned by that) so I did the deep hem. It gives a little weight to improve the hang of the dress.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

18 comments:

equatorcollection said...

I saw the first picture and went wow! Love the pale wintry colours contrasted with the black boots. Not nightgown-ish at all. Didn't like the big yellow flower in the bodice as well and love what you did for the back. Congratulations on making this work!

Pammie said...

I love those colors - Great dress - wrt the dress being "nighgowney" I saw a picture of Cindy Crawford wearing a knit with an awesome think (but not matching!) belt with the dress and it did look fantastic - in this case, black?

amber said...

I love what you did to the back skirt. I passed on this pattern b/c I hated the plain back, but your changes have made me reconsider that decision. Adorable!

NGLaLALa said...

Great dress! I need more fall/winter dresses...

lewintx said...

wow, what a difference changing the bodice makes. it really shows what can make or break a sewing project, doesn't it?

cidell said...

I too am regulalry burned when I cut something shorter. It never works out for me. Cute is right for this dress. Can't wait to rip into mine now!

melissa said...

oh wow that print is just fabulous - the pale colours are just so elegant for winter. And I'm such a sucker for cowl necks! The weird things is not that I'm totally in love with the dress, but that the tech drawing just really grosses me out and has zero appeal whatsoever. Usually this happens the other way around for me, but no, I keep looking back and forth between your dress and the tech drawing - love! hate! love! hate! How odd.

KID, MD said...

So cute! I totally agree with you about front/back matching. I particularly hate when trim is only on the front. Like no one is ever going to look at me from behind! I love that you not only brought the seam to the back, but put in the pleats as well. Lovely touch.

Katharine in Brussels said...

Nice save! The new front is more balanced. Hey, that pet peeve is a great inspriation. I hate the plain back (dresses) too. And all the viewer sees is the rump in that look, a back empire waist is so much more graceful. Hey, knickers with added layers stitched in sound like a swell, swell idea!

Christina said...

I love how this turned out! I started to make this recently too, but in a wool jersey that was just too heavy, and I hated it - I don't know what I was thinking. I should try it again with a lighterweight knit.

Ripple Dandelion said...

You are on a roll with the cute dresses. Love this one. I agree with the other commenters, that you are so right about the plain back being a design copout. Your solution is just perfect. I'm glad you shared your thought process on this.

Little Hunting Creek said...

That's really pretty - and what you did to the back is GENIUS

AllisonC said...

It's amazing how changing the print layout can make such a difference, I've fallen foul of that before! And now you have me thinking about fronts and backs of clothes!

Vicki said...

You made me laugh with the gym comment! Yes, it could be a tad embarassing...
The new dress is cute. Good work on making it work for you.
(ok, now my word verification is pante....)

neighbourhood.gal said...

Nice dress! I have got to get on the stick and make myself a garment. It has been entirely too long.

Also, in the TMI realm, I use the Diva cup and a flannel pad on my heavy days. The cup is super comfortable and could totally be used daily.

senaSews said...

Cute dress, especially with the matching gray tights!

Trudy Callan said...

Looks awesome.

eword10 said...

What a great idea you had for the back of the dress. I would have never thought of that. Cool! And I love the print and colors of this fabric. Great dress. You look very chic.