Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Two winter street dresses and further serger woes.

I've just returned from taking my overlocker in for a check to see if it is repairable. It'll be away for 7 - 10 days and of course might not be repairable or parts might not be available. The trouble is, the fault is intermittent and they're the worst to sort out. Just before I took it today, I switched it on and it appeared to be working again. I did notice yesterday that even though the display disappeared, the machine continued to work. The tensions etc are not set automatically so the display is really just an aide memoire. Nevertheless, I don't like the occasional crackling coming from it. I'd prefer for it to be repaired and have told them to go ahead if they can and it's less than a certain amount. However, I did have a look at new machines while I was at the dealer. I rather fancy the Pfaff Coverlock 4.0! The dealer, who isn't an elna agent, did comment that my machine was high quality so I certainly don't want to wish it away!

I managed to finish serging the side seams of my winter dress before I felt I had to give up with my overlocker. The dresses are finished by hemming with a double needle on the regular sewing machine. So that's two winter dresses finished  in the last two days! They are very quick to run up - even for me!

First, my middle daughter's. She wanted the maroon fabric which is why I used it for a muslin for myself - I wanted to find out how it behaved and to make sure I could follow the steps. I hadn't previously sewn a stretch dress or added neckband in the way recommended. The biggest problem is that the front waist in particular was much too low for me despite having lowered it by 2.5 inches - I hadn't lowered more than that as I wasn't sure if the knit was going to stretch down. It didn't seem to. So DD2 is fairly tall 5' 9" and rather pear shaped. I decided to redraw pattern with my measurements but used it first cut to the same lengths for her - though in a smaller size, a medium rather than the XL for me.

I didn't run into any problems making it for her. She requested that I keep the sleeves very long as that is how she likes earing them. I ended up cutting 4.5 inches off the hem as she said is was way too long for her out of the packet. well, some of that extra length came from the lowered waistband, of course. Anyway, I had shortened pattern but then had to cut a further amount off after the fabric was cut out and I was able to try it on her (neck and shoulders done at this point). This removed the pegging from the bottom of the skirt and that, combined with the waist being taken in, made it rather more of an A-line/straight shape.

She likes it, though, and went back to university wearing it today. Her exams start tomorrow. I think the skirt needed to be a size bigger. She doesn't want me to make her anything else until she loses a bit of weight she's put on recently. She has chosen the thing she wants me to make next, though.


By the time I got to my dress, I was feeling quietly confident. This is the first time I've remade a pattern and I think the process has been very helpful. Following advice, I bought a Fiskar's trimmer and this made such easy work of trimming the pattern pieces. I thought my French blue fabric was the same as the maroon - it cam from the same source. However, it handled quite differently. he first thing I noticed was that the selvedge was all over the place. I don't think the recovery is as good as the maroon. There was no vertical stretch. I had some problem with the neckband, thinking it was too loose, but after relaxing and pressing, it is actually fine. my main problem came when I accidentally sewed the back on the wrong way, outside in, so I had to unpick and re-sew. By this time, I was getting more proficient in the use of clear elastic, so the waistline is nicer than either of the other two. However, I had run out of clear elastic (I ordered some mail order and got it today but can't find locally) and definitely had to re-use the elastic I had already sewn over. That, together with the narrower elastic I was able to find locally allowed me to finish the dress. So no real problems, though my serger playing up didn't help the process!


Anyway, I love the dress. I was thinking that the front waistband was still a little too high as it goes above a belt. However, I actually prefer the dress without a belt and it lies correctly then. I've had it on all day since DH took photographs this morning - and even ventured out in it! This is a first - me actually wearing one of my garments (I've fulfilled my secret Me Made May pledge - to wear one garment outdoors in May!) I find it very comfortable and think it will be a very useful part of my wardrobe.

However, this is a winter street dress - and today was a very hot day, so this is perhaps not ideal. I will make one in floral with shorter sleeves. I won't be doing much sewing until my serger issue is resolved, though, unless I do it at class tomorrow, which could be a possibility. Otherwise, I plan to concentrate on making basic fitting garments, where I certainly don't need a serger. I'm away for the whole of next week, so my time for sewing is a bit limited, anyway.

Best wishes


  1. I love both of these, although of course yours is more my style. The teals suits you beautifully. The more practice you have on one pattern, the better the result tends to be - and this dress shows that. I think you can well and truly wear it out!

  2. Thanks, Sarah Liz. I have since made a lighter weight floral dress and wire that out today! I'll take better pictures in daylight tomorrow and post it too. The dresses are so comfortable.
    I hope you are starting to feel better.


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