I’m no stranger to stretch fabrics – they’re very much a staple of lingerie sewing fabric! But up till recently, I’d never really used them for garment sewing. The main reason for this was my lack of overlocker – although you can definitely sew stretch garments on a regular sewing machine, I didn’t seem like the cleanest way of doing things and that was enough to put me off. But once I got my overlocker? Well, let’s say there’s been a dramatic increase in the amount of stretch clothing I’ve made 😉
For my first project to try out my overlocker’s stretch-sewing abilities, I thought I’d go for something super simple: the stretch pencil skirt pattern from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual.It was the perfect pattern to start with: it only has one pattern piece (the front and back are the same), with a simple elastic waistband. I picked up some really nice double knit I’d been eyeing off at Spotlight for a couple of months, and set to work. In a couple of short hours, I had a new skirt! A few simple alterations: I narrowed the skirt at the side seams, tapering down to the hem (even the smallest size was wider than I would have liked), and instead of just anchoring the waistband with stitching at the side seams, I sewed it down along the back with a twin needle, the same way I hemmed it. This was the first time I’d successfully used a twin needle to sew stretch fabrics, and I was actually really pleased with the finish! I’d love to get my hands on a coverstitch machine one of these days (as I’m seeing a lot of knit clothes in my creative future now!), but until then, this will do nicely 😛
Not too long after that, my attention turned to a pattern I’ve actually owned for quite some time – the Nettie Dress and Bodysuit pattern from Closet Case Files! A few of you may remember that I hacked it (very successfully) to make bathers for my sister’s Christmas present last year, but until now I’d never sewn the pattern as drafted. I love stretch and sweater dresses in winter – they’re so comfy and warm while still looking somewhat chic and put together! What I really had my heart set on was a turtleneck sweater dress, which was not a neckline option for Nettie – but I thought with a little hacking, I could get the look I wanted 😉
I traced off the dress view, grading between a size 8 at the bust and a 4 at the waist down (though the pattern is stretch and has negative ease, the size difference was significant enough to warrant sizing down). I cut the full length sleeves for this version. To make the turtle neck, I started with the high neckline for both front and back pieces, but cut the neckline shallower and higher. I did this very roughly, but if you want to be more scientific than me, the total length of the neckline ended up being approximately the circumference of the base of my neck plus two centimetres. I then cut what was basically a very wide neckline binding, about 16cm tall + 3cm seam allowance, and the exact length of my neck circumference plus seam allowance – I decided that I didn’t want to have negative ease around my neck, and this proved to be the right decision.
Once I’d sewn the edges of the turtle neck together and folded in in half, I decided this would be a good opportunity to make sure it fitted over my head – and it did, just! I would definitely check that you can get your very fitted neck binding on over your head before sewing it to your dress – much easier to fix before it’s on! The rest of csontruction was done as per instructions and it went incredibly quickly – from starting cutting to finishing, it was done in three hours! Safe to say, I’m addicted to sewing stretch dresses now…
…in fact, I have to admit I’ve already sewn another Nettie dress! That will be the subject of another blog post, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait to see that one 😉
Until next time,
Miss Maddy xx