Ok, so it’s not the finest example of stretch rayon jersey sewing technique. Whatever. This is a great dress.
Side view. Yup, definitely pregs:
Unfortunately my first foray into walking feet didn’t go so well. I ordered this one from Amazon which looks identical to the official Kenmore one:
BUT, it kept getting stuck with the lever arm at the top and the foot clamped down, causing the stitches to bunch up even more. Talk about frustrating! I should probably just go ahead and order the “real” one but I’m worried it will have the same problem.
I can tell sewing this kind of fabric is going to take a bunch of practice and engineering. But it seems like it’s worth it because it’s super comfortable to wear. Here are a couple tricks I used to finish this one:
1) Stabilized the bottoms of the armscyes with clear elastic:
(Please ignore my less-than straight stitches.) The pattern called for vilene bias tape but I used elastic as I didn’t have any. I added it after everything was sewn together but before finishing these seams and I think it worked well. At first I tried stabilizing the whole neckline with elastic but I didn’t like the way it felt, so ripped it out.
2) Used tissue paper to keep the fabric from bunching:
Of course I didn’t figure out to do this till after most everything was sewed up in its nice bunchy way, but I did use this on the hem and it worked beautifully. I just pinned the hem in place and stuck a bit of spare pattern paper between the top layer of fabric and the presser foot (I found I liked the open toed foot best for sewing this knit). This kept the fabric sliding evenly under the foot. The only tricky part was holding the stitches down while I (carefully) ripped away the tissue paper afterwards. Especially because this was a double-needle stitch with a looser bobbin thread and there was some tendency for the the stitches to stretch out when I pulled on the paper.
3) I made the bodice and skirt separately and pinned them together to test how much the skirt weight would stretch out the top before sewing them together. I also stabilized this waist seam with the elastic which I think helped distribute the weight a bit more evenly.
Again, the top of this dress is Burda 5456 and the bottom is Burdastyle 06-2010-132. I cut a 40 for the top and somewhere between a 38 and 40 for the skirt. (I guess this was my first time using a pattern from the magazine and I haven’t quite got the hang of adding seam allowance yet.) I will definitely be making this again as a non-maternity dress, and probably as a top as well. A couple things I would do differently next time:
- I cut the skirt back with a CB seam but it ended up being almost totally straight. So next time I would omit this and cut it on the fold.
- The shoulders were really wide, even stabilized with bias tape. I had to take them in about 1/2-5/8″ each.
- I added 3/8″ to the bottom of the front bodice as a kind of FBA. But I found I needed to take about a 2″ wedge off the end of the wrap part because the distance across the bottom of the wrap was much shorter than the distance over the top. Next time I would take the wedge out under the bust point. I might sew some elastic just into the wrap part as well.
- I took about 5/8″ off the bottom of the back bodice because of the stretch produced by the skirt. But I should have taken more. The empire line dips down in back rather than being parallel to the floor.
Oh, I almost forgot tip #4) I used Mikhaela’s trick to keep the gathers on the skirt the right length when sewing. After I pulled the gathers together I put pins at the ends and wrapped the bobbin threads God’s Eye-style around the pin to hold them in place. Thanks Mikhaela!