My New Look 6000 dress is finished and I can solemnly declare, hand on heart, that this is my favourite of all my handmade makes. When I first saw the pattern on Scruffy Badger's winter dress round up, my immediate thought was how lovely it would look made from a red knit. Just one small obstacle - I've never sewn with knits before and I didn't have the time/bravery to fully get to grips with my overlocker. However, once I'd read Gertie's tips on sewing with double knits and realised I could use my regular sewing machine, I decided to give it a go.
It was pointless making a muslin in woven fabric, as double knit is just so different in feel and drape. So taking Gertie's advice, I cut the pieces out in my size and just did a basted fitting on my dummy. The pattern seemed to run on the large side and the bust darts were worryingly low down, but all I had to do was move the bust darts up the bodice, take in the central darts and side seams a little and hey presto - a perfect fitted dress.
I'm convinced this was due to the magical properties of double knit - if I'd tried the same changes on a woven fabric I doubt whether the fit would have been so good, so quickly. Double knit is very forgiving and seems to follow the curves of your body instinctively. Plus, if you do need to remove stitches, the fabric seems to just bounce back into shape, with no unsightly stitch marks left behind. I used a ballpoint needle and the dress sewed up like a dream - not one skipped stitch.
Double knit is now officially my new favourite fabric, knocking gabardine off its perch. For some reason though, it's not that easy to get hold of it in the UK. I got mine from Calico Laine, as recommended by Suzysewing. If you're a complete lazy arse like me, then I really recommend sewing with it as it allows you a wide array of shortcuts. Along with the basted fitting which saved a lot of time, here are the other shortcuts I took:
1. I left all seams unfinished!! Yes, you read that correctly. Here's what Gertie has to say on the matter: "Double knits don't fray so no need to finish the seams - hurrah!" If it's good enough for the high priestess of the perfectly finished seam, then it's good enough for me!
2. I didn't insert a zip - there's more than enough stretch to get it over my head.
3. I didn't use facings around the neckline. I find there's always a lot of bulk with facings, even on a light fabric, and as double knit is quite a thick fabric (the clue's in the name!) I wasn't even going there. I finished the neckline with bias binding instead, using this very clear and straight forward tutorial which worked a treat.
4. No lining - the fabric is warm and thick enough not to need one, and because of the no-fray seams, it still looks good on the inside.
The dress feels lovely to wear - soft and slinky yet cosy at the same time. It's also ridiculously flattering, pulling in your bad bits and emphasising your good bits. Can you tell I love it?!
My inspiration for the dress was this picture of the lovely Joan from Mad Men.
Joan is just so beautiful she's almost not of this world - she certainly swims in a different river to us mere mortals. So my dress is an homage to her gorgeousness. As a final nod to Joany, I added covered buttons to the sleeve cuffs.
Thank you Scruffy Badger, for alerting me to this glorious pattern, I would never have spotted it otherwise - that's what I love about sewing blogs! I'm going to really enjoy wearing this to the xmas party I'm attending tomorrow night. I can't wait to see the other makes in the NL6000 fest.