Friday, May 6, 2011

Completed: My First Dress

Actually, if you count that horrid jumper I made in 7th grade, then this isn't my first dress. However, this is the first dress I've sewn that I can actually wear outside the house! Hurrah! This project was a long time coming (I actually completed it in two days, but the date of completion was one year plus one day after that post!) and was also on my list of creative goals for this year, so I was psyched to complete it!

We have no full-length mirror in our house, so I felt like the Statue of Liberty as I walked around the house swathed in green jersey and jumped up in the air before our smaller mirrors to see what I thought of a few ideas. I also have no dress dummy, so there's another thing to add to my wishlist. While we're on the topic of wishlists, let me add a serger. Sewing this jersey dress on my regular sewing machine worked, but it was tricky. I had to practice on a few scraps to get a feel for what my machine could and couldn't do.

A pattern (Schnittmuster) was another thing I didn't have -and didn't want. Patterns totally stress me out. I tried on a jersey dress I already own and like and made a few notes about what I'd change on it if I could, then traced the dress + changes on my green jersey. I did this on my bed because it meant I didn't have to kneel on the floor forever. This is such an easy way to make your own dress! We all have something we like, so just use it as the template!

Here's a perfect example of how ridiculous the hemline became after sewing the side seams with a sewing machine. I did long zig-zag stitches as recommended for people using sewing machines with jersey, but I think either the feed on the machine or maybe me tugging at it too much (or both) led to this problem. I thought this might happen, so I'd added extra length to the project when I cut the fabric, but a serger would've prevented this.

After cutting, I decided I didn't want to do an elastic band like my template dress, so of course it was too wide. Waaaay too wide!

It was at this point I panicked because I realized I'd forgotten that I would have some exposed seams on the hemline and the arm and neck openings. for the hemline I used contrasting thread and did a zig-zag stitch in an attempt to create a decorative hemline that hopefully looks intentional. I gave it a rather deep hemline just to protect myself from issues after future washes.

When I bought this green jersey last summer (on clearance, can't you tell with that crooked dye job?), I also bought a strip of black jersey as well. I cut a strip off along the length and used that to make the 1" trimming tape on the neck and arm openings. Thankfully, as jersey, it has enough stretch so I didn't have to make bias tape, I could just fold it over and iron it to create the trim. It also attached really easily, so that was a relief!

The rest of the black jersey became the belt/sash. I decided to do this instead of elastic because with the sash I can make the dress either an empire waist dress, or tie it low over my hips and pull the dress up to blouse over the belt for something more like a tunic to wear with leggings.

The V-neck turned out a tad wonky, so it doesn't lay completely flat, which is a shame, but it could've been worse. However, after so many tryings-on and drawing adjustments with the fabric pen while jumping up in front of our tiny mirrors, I think it turned out pretty well. It certainly looks different from what I first envisioned as I traced the outline, but the end result definitely has features from my inspiration images.

My two favorite things about this project are that 1) I actually did it!! I didn't think/know if I would, but I did, and it was worth it! and 2) it is so nice to have a dress that hits me at my favorite length: just below the knees. I'm 6'1" (185cm) and it's nearly impossible to find stuff that long. I'm totally inspired to try this sort of thing again and since I'm a huge fan of knits, a serger is definitely on my wishlist!

What about you? Have you ever sewn your own clothing? What did you make? Have you ever sewn with knits?


Karoliina said...

I like it! And I'm going to want to see a picture of you wearing it. Please.

MS said...

You did it!! That is a huge celebration! It opens the door, don't you think, to doing more? It's always the first one that is the hardest. It looks perfect. I love the v-neck. I also would love to see it on you, but I also know I wouldn't put myself online in it for the whole world to see. :) You're awesome. And I love the embroidered flower sticker on the post, as well as the zigzag border on one of the pics. LOVE LOVE LOVE. :D M

Georgianna said...

Hey, congrats! It's always an accomplishment to finish something as useful as a garment that you will enjoy wearing.

I used to sew A LOT. Made tons of my own clothes, even plenty of knits. I once sewed a bikini – wore it, too! But, it's been years (for the sewing AND the bikinis). Would love to get back to it one day. :)

Allison said...

Hooray, hooray, hooray... three cheers for Juliette!

I have a few self-made clothing items that would probably fall into the same category as your 7th grade jumper. It's great to have a little success, isn't it?!? And not only that, you picked a somewhat challenging fabric to start with... wheh, that's some guts for ya.

Looks great, love it!

Sewandthecity said...

I love your dress, and well done for attempting it and actually making it! It looks perfect!
I made a mini skirt and a matching short top when I was in high school. It was not a success. However two weeks ago I got my courage back and made a little dress for my 3 year old daughter. She said the dress would go nice with some butterfly wings.

Kelly said...

Oh my gosh - you are so brave! I can't believe you just jumped in with no pattern like that and whipped up a dress your first time out the gate! I have sewn a sweatshirt and some yoga pants out of knit, but I definitely need more practice with knits. I found a little hand-me-down serger to practice on, but it is intimidating!

Barb said...

I am verrrry impressed -- making a dress with no pattern is a scary thought. Nice job! Tried it once when I was a kid and never tried it again! And yes --- you NEED a serger. They aren't terribly expensive and I'm thrilled at all I can do with it. I want to serge everything in sight!

Carolyn said...

Oh my gosh! So great! Love the colors. Etsy time? :)

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