Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Infinity Dress Part 2

My daughter Kat and I have both developed an interest in sewing. In a way, it seems a pity that this didn't happen when she was young, still living with me. But then again, it's nice to have this common interest to share via text messages, emails, and phone. Kat got me interested in convertible dresses. One of her childhood friends is getting married in a few months, and Kat is going to be the ... matron of honor doesn't sound right, somehow, not as a description of my daughter. But Kat's a married woman these many months now, since April.

Anyhow, Kat's friend picked out a convertible dress for her brides maids and matron of honor. The idea of a single dress that one can drape into many different styles was intriguing. Great for travel, when one wants to go light but not wear the same thing every day. Great for experimenting, to see the different things one can do with fabric, and for testing different styles to see which ones are flattering and which are not.

Kat did some research on convertible dresses and discovered a couple of tutorials that made the construction of one of these dresses look pretty easy. Here are the two we liked the best:

Rowena's blog, Rostitchery and Kristina's blog, Knuckle Salad

Kat picked out a silky black polyester fabric, and I used a ribbed cotton jersey. Kat's fabric was ideal, and mine was all wrong for this project. Kat made a circle skirt for her dress, as in the tutorials. I didn't turn out to have enough fabric to do a circle dress, so I used Kwik Sew pattern # 2956 and chose the slightly flared version. For the relatively bulky fabric I was using, it was probably a good thing I made a less full skirt.

Here are some of the different ways Kat and I found to drape the fabric, once the dresses were made:

is this cool or what? I think these dresses look fantastic on young women. Unfortunately, the mostly open back is not so good for an olde farte like me. Mutton in lamb's clothing and all that. So I decided to make a tank top to wear under my dress. I have an old, stained one that I like a lot, although it's become a little small since I've been doing pushups regularly. I decided to use it as a pattern and make a new tank top out of the same fabric as the infinity dress. Easiest thing in the world, I thought (like I said in my first blog entry, I tend to be an optimist). Yeah. 

What I found out was that you can't cut the straps and neck band the same size you want them to be when you're finished sewing them onto the top. The fabric s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s.  When I started out, the straps and neck bands were exactly the same as those on the original top. Now look at them:

The staps fall off my shoulders, and the neckline gapes. Absolutely unwearable, except maybe under something that's pretty bulky. Hmm ... like that infinity dress I made. 

Unfortunately, I don't have enough of the cheap blue fabric to make another shirt, and it's just hellish trying to rip out seams with that fabric. I know from bitter experience, because I sewed one of the skirt panels wrong side out. How could I have done such a silly thing? But I did. 

So I'll have to move up a step to some other cotton jersey I got at Joann's Fabrics (the "cornflower blue" cotton-poly jersey I ordered online from Sew Sassy Fabrics; they have a wide selection of fabrics for lingerie and swim wear). The cotton ribbed knit from Joann's was very inexpensive. I think it was probably something like $2.99 per yard on sale. But it is a somewhat higher quality fabric than the other, so I wanted to save it until I felt confident of producing a wearable garment. I think I'm there with this tank top. The one I made looked fine, except for the size of the straps and neck band. Well ... and if I'm honest, the sewing technique was dreadful. The straight seams (for which I used a double zigzag stitch) were fine, but the edge stitching meandered all over the place. I did get better as I went along, though, so I have high expectations for the next tank top I make. 

Will I make another infinity dress? Yes, I think I probably will. Next time I'll use silk or rayon knit (I live in a hot, humid climate, so polyester and other synthetics are not so comfortable). I think I'll make the slightly flared skirt again, rather than a circle skirt. 

Here's a discovery I've made: if I plan to work much with knits, I must have a serger. I'm studying up on them to find out which kind would be most suitable. 

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