Saturday, December 29, 2012

Testing, testing . . .

For a long time, I've been thinking of drafting the Renfrew t-shirt into a tee dress;  I'd planned on using the skirt portion of the Mission Maxi to just extend the top.  But then a couple weeks ago I came across this pattern at the sale at JoAnn's:

Simplicity 2054

And I thought, "For $2, why should I re-invent the wheel?"

Last weekend I had time to trace it out and make up my first version.  Looking at the finished measurements, I decided to go with a size 12 for the bust and size 14 in the hips.  Although my body measurements put me in a size 10 at the bust, I felt there might not be enough ease the way the pattern was drafted, and I wanted a looser fit there.

The design is a very basic shift-style tee dress, with three sleeve variations and an optional cowl.  I went with the elbow-length sleeves as these are generally the most practical for me.


For my test run, I used a cotton/lycra faux-ikat jersey I'd gotten from Girl Charlee a few months ago.  It was a piece of fabric I was disappointed with once I saw the real thing, so there was no risk if the dress didn't work out!  I sewed it almost entirely on my serger, only using my sewing machine for the hems, which I did with a zigzag stitch.


The pattern instructs you to sew the sleeve and side seams and then set in the sleeves, but I chose to sew the sleeve heads into the armscye flat and then do one long seam from the hem edge of the sleeve to the bottom of the skirt.  I think this was easier with knit fabric and didn't seem to affect the fit of the sleeve cap.

But, my first dress came out too big.  This is partly because I wasn't really paying close attention, and sewed the seams with a 3/8" rather than a 5/8" seam allowance!  When I tried it on, it was so loose I realized what I'd done, and went back and redid the armscye seam.  After which, I realized I should have stuck with the size 10 bust after all!  Here's the first, fixed dress:


I'm not sure if it comes through in this picture, but there is a lot of extra room and fabric under the arm.  However, I ended up really liking the fabric - it has a really nice heft and drape, and I don't even mind the print so much now.  Hubby really liked this dress - go figure!

The next day, I decided to try it again, so I redrew my pattern pieces down to the size 10 for the bust, shoulders, sleeves and waist, leaving everything beneath the waist as it was.  This time I used the fabric I really wanted to make this dress in, a charcoal grey argyle print, also from Girl Charlee.  I did everything the same, this time remembering to use 5/8" seam allowances, and got a result I'm really happy with:

Hubby likes this one even better!

Much better fit!  And soooooo comfy!  I'm planning a slew of these dresses!

Here are some comparison photos between the first dress and the second:

Less excess under the arm.

Much better fit at the shoulders.

From the back.  I could probably use a tiny swayback adjustment here.


I haven't seen a whole lot of renditions of this pattern out there in blogland, but I think it's a really great basic, wearable piece that can serve as a template for all kinds of variations.  I'm already thinking of adding some ruching to the sleeves of the white one.

And I've already ordered some more fabric to make a few for spring . . .

26 comments:

  1. Three cheers for comfy and cute clothing! Hip hip, hurray! I've been disappointed with some of the fabric I've ordered from GirlCharlee too... I find it so hard to tell the quality and drape of fabric from a written description! What key words/features do you look for when you buy jersey online?

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    1. I was disappointed with the white and grey fabric because I'd thought the print was much smaller than it turned out to be - I should have read the description better!

      These days, I'm looking at the stretch percentages and weight description, and comparing those to the fabrics I've already ordered. I should be getting the new order next week, so we'll see if this works out for me!

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  2. They're both great dresses, but I particularly like the grey argyle one. They are just the type of dress I like. I'll have to look out for this pattern.

    I find it very hard to judge how fabric is going to be in real life from a description. Particularly with jersey, as there seems to be so many types and weights.

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    1. I agree: I think my biggest problem is not reading the fine print! I see the swatches, and think "Ooooh, pretty!" and just add it to my basket!

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  3. I don't know if it's just my untrained eye but both versions look great on you!

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    1. Thanks, Evelyn! The white one really isn't that bad - I wore it all day the other day and felt great in it. But knowing I could get a better fit, I couldn't leave it alone!

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  4. i forgot about this pattern! i think i discovered it before i had a serger and i just didn't bother with knits then. i've been eyeing that argyle fabric lately, it's soooo cute! the first print is cute too. i had a major "oops" with mis-judging the scale of a print recently, but that's a story for another day! great dresses, no doubt they'll get lots of use!

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    1. I really love the argyle too, and it has a great hand. I wish it came in other colors: grey isn't really a great color for me, but I guess it's winter-appropriate!

      I feel a little decadent wearing these dresses: they're so comfy, I feel like I'm wearing my jammies!

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  5. Oh, this is a great basic dress pattern! I love that ikat print-- it's super cool!

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    1. Thanks! It comes in pink on white too, just so you know ;-)

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  6. OMGOsh, those are so cute! They look great upon you.

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    1. Thank you! I'm excited to make a bunch more of these - I have a feeling I might be living in these come spring!

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  7. Brilliant, Gail. You're fine tuning your skills with each and every project.

    While the white version looks good, the argyle is tailor made!
    The fit at the shoulder is spot on as is the sleeve opening.

    As to the grey, is it not the perfect backdrop for accessorizing?

    Holiday hugs

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    1. Thanks, Gerry! I have to admit I'm proud of the progress I've made with fitting this year!

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  8. Both versions look really good! I love the fabric of the first, and the second version does fit better! (I should go check out this pattern.)

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    1. Thank you! You should check it out! I'm already imagining myself running around town in the spring versions I'm planning, and, you know, just generally being casual chic! ;-)

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  9. Ooh so pretty and comfy :D And great job on the fit :)

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  10. I love the grey argyle dress. I received a swatch of that with my GirlCharlee order but found it too thin for winter use. I wasn't happy with two jerseys I bought from there but was rewarded when I exchanged them for a black n white striped cotton/Lycra jersey. I just hope they make more of their prints in that instead of that thin jersey.

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    1. It is on the thin side, but my house is usually kind of hot, so it works for me! Plus I have a gazillion sweaters, LOL! I really like the lycra/cotton mix jerseys though - they have such a nice heft and drape. I wish they offered more prints in that fabric.

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  11. Oh! That argyle is so cute! I love it. I think I might even have that pattern- what a great Renfrew dress alternative!

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    1. Hehehe - if I can get someone else to do the work, I'll usually go that route! In my defense, I do really like the cowl, so it's nice to have that pattern included.

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  12. Both are very cute! I love that argyle print... Hadn't seen it because I'm still on fabric buying hiatus, which means I can't even go to GC's website. :) I can see how that will be a great pattern to have and use many times!

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    1. Yes, I've arrived at the same situation. I just unsubscribed from GC, Fabric.com and Hawthorne Threads' updates, because I just can't seem to say no to a good deal! I have SO much fabric I've added in the last few months, I'm going to try to keep from buying anything at least until April.

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  13. OMG these both look great on you. Even though the white one is bigger, it doesn't look bad at all. They are both very flattering and they sure look comfy!

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