Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Greensleeves dress

Just like my last post, this dress has been a long time coming! You see around 2012 I was working out my style and getting into a lot of fashion and craft blogs. Since I was also getting into sewing at the time I naturally started to try and recreate the sorts of things I was seeing, either direct copycats or just the general vibe, and at some point I guess I found my personal style. Woop woop, high fives all round!

Along the way I discovered Free People, and fell head over heels with their whole aesthetic. Now as a whole their style is a lot more bohemian than my own, but there are certain pieces that I needed in my life. Pieces like this dress (and this shirt...) I've loved this dress ever since I first saw it a couple years ago and have never given up the idea of one day recreating it!

Free People Brunch Date Dress (Now out of stock)
I mean that cut-out Peter Pan collar is hard to resist...

*Wipes drool off keyboard* Right, on to the pattern hack. After years of anticipation I grabbed my trusty Plantain pattern and set to work.

(Sidenote: the Plantain is drafted with a bunch of ease around the waist/hips, which is not what we want for a fitted skaterdress... Luckily, I've made enough Plantains/Plantain hacks that I have a slimmed down version of the pattern that gets used at times like this. I still ended up taking another inch or so out of the waist midway through construction, since a fitted t-shirt still has more ease than a dress bodice.)

For the hack itself everything was relatively simple...

*Cue low-tech illustration*

Pattern alterations: Red= New Neckline, Green= Original pattern

First I cut off the T-shirt pattern at the waist. Then, using the Plantain neckline as a guide, I redrew a new front neckline emulating a Peter Pan collar. I added 1" height to the CF, then scooped down (1/2" away from the CF) to get the Peter Pan look, rejoining the original neckline at the shoulder.

Then I drafted self-fabric bindings for the cutouts and the full neckline, making them each 85% as long as the openings themselves. (Mainly because I once read on Closet Case Files that the best ratio for drafting neckbands and bindings. I've applied it to every band I've made since and never had a gaping neckline.) I also added a half circle skirt for swooshiness. Swooshiness is a high priority in my life!

Much swoosh
After that it was just a case of constructing the dress as you would a normal skaterdress. Then, for the neckline, binding the two peterpan scoops before binding the full neckline. That makes it sound easy, but I actually had some major issues due to the bulkiness of my knit. It did not play nicely with the topstitching and there was a lot of frustrated unpicking... which then resulted in a hole right at the CF of the neckline *Face palm* Only I could make an undarnable hole in the most obvious place possible. So yeah, the topstitching is meh and there's a hole but I'm pretty sure the general coolness of the neckline detracts from this... hopefully...

Neckline hole + too low waist seam
The whole dress was sewn with a stretch stitch (sometimes called lightning bolt stitch), seams finished with a zig-zag and hems a 3-step zig-zag (My favourite hemming technique for knits!). I stabilised the shoulders with clear elastic and would've stabilised the waist too... but the weight of the skirt dragged down the waistline and I'm undecided about whether I'm going to chop it off and raise it at some point.

While we're on the subject of things that could be improved next time, there's definitely something funky happening with the fit of the bodice. There are a lot of drag-lines around the armscye and under the bust which other versions I've made don't have. I'm not sure if it's the neckline alterations or because this knit has much less stretch than others I've used in the past, and no recovery . Either way it's something to think about.

Moving on to my favourite topic, fabric!! Obviously my fabric choice takes this away from being a direct copycat of Free People, but personally I prefer my knit. It's a super gorgeous shade somewhere in between teal and kelly green. I don't know what you'd call it but while I was cutting it my friend it was "Cam in a colour" so I'm going with it. It's 100% cotton, hence the lack of stretch and recovery, but it is SO SOFT, almost like it's brushed. So essentially, this dress is the most comfortable thing ever!! Far nicer to touch than the 100% Polyester Free People was using...

There wasn't much left on the bolt so I bought everything they had (roughly 1.7m with a jagged bit cut-off) and set to work. The jagged fabric scuppered my plans for long sleeves and I ended up with these weird slightly-longer-than-3/4-length-sleeves. They're a little annoying but still pretty warm, so I'm happy.

Awkward sleeve length
All together it was a really quick pattern hack... minus the 3 years delay from inspiration to realisation...oops!! This dress has definitely filled a gap in my wardrobe of  comfy dresses that don't look like you've given up on life (aka things to wear when you want to be in bed but have to adult instead) It gets reached for way more often than I expected and I'm thinking I'll definitely make another... although probably not too many more since the neckline is pretty distinctive. On a similar note, this dress has also made me reconsider the Peter Pan collar. I always thought they were too cutesy, even for me, but this slightly edgier take on it has me reconsidering...

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