As I mentioned when Me Made May 2017 started, I am full on participating! It's a way for me to show the self sewn wardrobe I have made on the blog, and on my instagram @fairfit. Its also a way to share some garment construction tips and insights into my favorite patterns.
I know a lot of designers are asked, "why don't you draft all your own patterns?" For many reasons, I don't- for one, I am really focused on pattern puzzles and patterns as a tool for teaching, I'm not really a very effective ready to wear designer. I like to mix in my artistic, Fair Fit pieces with really great ready to wear designs that complement them.
And patterns take a while to perfect and draft, and by sewing up other designers work, I get to learn and understand other design perspectives. That helps me grow as a teacher, and informs the work I bring to the Fair Fit garments I make and share in my classes.
And I'm a pattern snob. I really like GREAT patterns- not patterns designed quick from blocks I am sure are not that great and whose fit I am likely to struggle with- bad blocks= bad fit. I also am not a basic sew kind of person. I like statement pieces- If I'm going to take the time to sew it, I expect it to be a compelling design.
That's why Victory Patterns by Kristiann Boos is one of my favorite pattern companies. I have never had a fail with ANY of her patterns, and seriously guys, I have never had to do an adjustment to her patterns. Now, that is probably because her patterns are designed from a fit model or base standard that is really close to my body. But she informs you of this in her patterns and provides plenty of support in her instructions to help you customize. This, I like, and this kind of quality I can recommend to my readers and students.
And her most recent design, the Jackie Dress is totally stunning. Let's dig in in case you want to make her. In this spring wardrobe series, we are going to break it down and in each post I'll share a garment construction solution- the "teachable moment" that I used in each piece that you might want to use in your future sewing.
What I learned
Jackie is a knitwear pattern, and that means if you sew up this dress you are going to learn some great knitwear seams, facings, and finishings. The back of the dress is probably the most complex part- it gave me the opportunity to revisit covered buttons, and the facings will teach you how to create the gorgeous structured neckline.
Notes on the covered buttons- here's something I didn't know or do, until a tailor I was working with instructed me. He asked me to use a light weight interfacing on the fabric for the button- it helps grip the fabric better, and especially with the knitwear, you are gonna wanna do this! Otherwise, they have a tendency to slip out over time and come apart.
Also, I'll admit, on some patterns I don't really need the notches. NOT THIS PATTERN, folks, you need every notch and they are so helpful for creating the princess seam lines that create the flattering shape of the dress.
What I love
What I love about this pattern is its attention to detail. The lines are very precise, which leads to a flattering fit. And the neckline is really striking- building it is worth the effort and helps make this dress a real statement piece in my wardrobe.
This dress is knit, which makes it really comfortable, and offers you the chance to make it in a variety of stretch fabrics. I will likely not make the sleeved version, due to the fact that we only get 2 months of cool weather here in Louisiana, but I may make a sleeveless fall version in stretch velvet.
And, the armhole facings are fabulous. I used to do a different method, but now I am sold on this way of sewing them. You should get the pattern just to learn this method of knit finishings.
Notes on Skill Level
I'm imagining my beginner knitwear students making this, and I'd have to say I'd go with this dress as an intermediate sewist. The thing you really need to watch is the seam allowances. They are a very small, scant, knit seam- theres no room for you to shave off very much with the serger. You need to really have your knit material handling down, and be sewing some very accurate seams to make the dress, otherwise, your fit will be off and likely you will struggle with the facings.
Also, the facings require you to have experience sewing and handling knit fabrics with precision and accuracy. Knits stretch, which means they have a lot more movement than wovens, so you really need to be able to nail your seam the first time, and not be weaving in and out of a 1/4 to 1/2 inch seam allowance.
If you are ready to take the leap, and advance as a knit sewist, then go for it. You will learn so much- pretty much if you can make this dress, you are going to grow as a knit sewer and move into even more advanced projects.
I had to think of how I wanted to sew in the clear elastic, because I don't really like to use it. But this dress needs it to add to the structure of the shoulders, so I want to share with you how I did it. Here are some photos and the steps I used to reduce the number of steps and save myself some time.
Step 1: Sew the Seam at Seam Allowance
And then pin the clear elastic to it as shown.
Step 2: Align the Serger with the Clear Elastic
I took off my presser foot so I could see what I was doing. I lowered the needle, and then I removed the pin. Then I put the foot back on.
Step 3: Serge the Seam
Pretty much you have to line up the clear elastic while you sew, so take your time. But this method got me the desired end result pretty quickly.
Are you a lifelong learner too? I'm always looking for ways to learn and grow, and I designed a free workbook that provides you the opportunity to consider your own process and bring some new methods that I teach to your sewing practice. There are a series of exercises inside to help you find new ways of learning while you grow your skillset. Go here to this link, get the workbook and give it a try! I'll also send you some more informative posts on sewing, design, and learning as well.