Like a crystal which captures all the best of the colors of one's surroundings, my modern knit dress has a fabric which holds all the vibrant beauty of the hues for the season of Fall. Smattering in easy, freehand strokes, the rich intensity of deep brown tones, notes of cranberry, with gratuitous colors of aqua and turquoise, fall in random placement like the dying leaves in my outdoor surroundings. Maybe it's the painter in me, but I guess you can tell this water colored work of art transferred into fabric holds a special place in my estimation.
Such a fabric deservedly was made out of an equally wonderful pattern for a tailored, versatile, and complimentary mock-wrap knit dress. Who knew easy dressing could be so great?! RTW certainly doesn't offer dresses like this one.
Can you find me there among my fall surroundings? This is another great example of "hiding in plain sight", meaning camouflage. My first camouflage dress can be seen here. With a dress like this one though, it would be a shame to hide!
Here are THE FACTS:
FABRIC: The fabric is a 100% polyester knit which is unlike any poly knit I've found or come across before. It is very soft and completely wrinkle free with pretty slight sheen. The fabric make-up has very tight chains for being a knit, and therefore it is rather stable, only stretching when stretch is needed. The wrong side is a peachy skin tone while the outside (right side) has all the color.
NOTIONS: Only one simple notion was needed here - thread. The thread was bought soon after I had picked out the fabric
PATTERN: Simplicity 4074, year 2006, view B
TIME TO COMPLETE: My dress was finished on November 20, 2014, after maybe 8 hours of sewing enjoyment.
THE INSIDES: My fabric's raw edges do not fray or roll - this is a very tame knit. Most edges are stitched over, but some looked cleaner simply left raw, as-is.
TOTAL COST: This water color knit fabric was one of the first things I picked out at Hancock Fabrics for myself after we were married in early 2011 (three years back now). After a few years, I really don't remember how much it cost (about $20 or less) and at this point I'm not really counting anymore - just happy to have something made!
This is the dress that came sooo close to never being made. I wanted to make it in late 2011, but we had a baby on the way, and I wasn't going to be able to wear it so it went on the back burner. Then, in the middle of 2012, we had a major sewer backup which was flooded our basement with a few inches of filthy sludge. My precious water color knit and its matching pattern had been on the floor because I intended to make it soon, and had it ready to be laid out and cut. The pattern certainly had to get thrown away (boo hoo, among other things), but I wasn't going to give up on the fabric. I normally don't abuse my fabric the way this one endured the ringer. My water color knit went through several hot washes with borax and detergent, managing to hold up color and texture very well, and actually ending up quite clean smelling after some hot dryer trips, too. At long last, in 2013, I finally had found and ordered another of the same pattern so I was able to make and wear my dress. After much wearing, we also finally took the time to take some pictures of my dress this year (2014) so I could do a post on my blog about it. Whew! What a time exhaustive trip. Have you ever had a project that seems fated to be crazy impossible to get to the 'done' part?
Putting all the setbacks aside, my dress' pattern, really is one of the very best...ever. I have absolutely no idea why this pattern was discontinued so soon and so many others just not so intriguing stay in print. As was mentioned above, it has great tailored details which combine with some beautiful princess-style seaming for the most attractive fit I have found in a knit pattern to date. This dress makes me feel like I have some good curves, but at the same time it keeps me feeling happily stoked about showing them, and I think it would work equally as appreciative for skinny or larger ladies, too. Those little tailored details make this dress take a bit more time, but it is still remarkably easy. You also learn a few good new skills and some fine points. Before I made my dress, I read the article on "Perfect the Wrap Dress" in the September 2013 Threads magazine, and this dress ticks off all the high points to look for in a "classic" pattern. Even fit and sizing seemed to be right on - I didn't have to go up or down sizes other than for my normal grading adjustments for my wider hips and waist. The only other wrap pattern I like this much is the Butterick 5030 which I used for my gold brocade dress.
I love the look of the neck details, but most of all, I enjoyed doing the sewing that got me there. In lieu of bust darts, the dress has provides fullness with a few tucks/pleats coming from the corner of the shoulder seams next to the collar bone. On next side of the tucks/pleats there is a sharp corner to the shoulder seam so the neckline and its facing can extend up and meet at the back of the neck. See the right picture. I made sure to have a stark contrast of color at that shoulder seam corner so the detail would be a bit more noticeable. This spot was very tricky to sew but not impossible. Just taking the time to do the markings at the cutting stage and being precise and careful at the stitching stage makes this corner (or any other sewing, for that matter) work out fine.
Between sewing this knit dress and reading the Threads article, I now realize how important it is for the neckline of a knit wrap (or even mock-wrap) to be stable and non-stretchy. You can use bias tape, interfacing, or seam tape to stabilize...whatever works well for the pattern. For this dress, the wrap neckline's facing is interfaced. I invisibly hand tacked the interfacing down from inside by barely catching the fabric and using matching skin-toned thread.
The wrap is a very convenient mock wrap, with ties to continue the deception. Of course, the ties do help cinch the dress in further at the waist for an added practical purpose.
At first I found the instructions for the mock wrap front a bit confusing. I was skeptical (just a bit) that it would really work the way that it was designed for the under wrap to end prematurely and not go all the way down the same length as the over wrap. Wouldn't the shorter under wrap ride up or maybe show as an obvious line when I wear it? Turns out, my doubts were unfounded. I followed instructions, and made it as is, except for lengthening the bottom of the under wrap just a few inches. See my inside picture for some clarification on my chat about the inside of the mock wrap.
Having this dress be a mock wrap makes it even more of an effortless easy piece than it is already. I hate to say it to hubby, 'cause it sounds like a hint, but this dress is totally the perfect good-looking travel piece. I only wish the bottom hem was more defined instead of so flowing. A slightly stiffer, more shaped hem might be more complementary, but I haven't yet thought of something to add to the hem to get that shape without ruining the overall appearance. For now, it's just fine.
Believe me, my water color knit dress never stays hanging in my closet for too long! It frequently gets worn...and just as often gets a compliment. You know you're made something better than RTW when someone tells you they've admired your dress from the moment they saw you. Even my hubby says it's hot! Score!
All those colors makes it versatile and fun to match up with different boots, tights, sweaters, jewelry, and even tank tops underneath. See me wearing cranberry tights at right? It's so fun to play with color. Now I know how wonderful the artist Monet must have felt to have worked with all those colors in his paintings, such as his "Boat on Water - Orange Sunset" at left. Yay for water color!
I can't wait to make the other versions offered on the pattern I used for this dress. Maybe a sleeveless version for the summertime, or the long cuff sleeved high necked front seam version in a winter sweater knit...ah, too many ideas and not enough time are the bane of the seamstress!!!