Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cashmerette Washington Dress + Lekala 4119 Frankenpattern - fabric choices and sewing

Has it really been almost a month since I last posted here? This time thing is freaking me out. Weeks are flashing by like glimpses of bystanders at a carousel that's running too fast. A while ago I saw a movie about someone who had a remote control with which he could fast forward through the "boring bits" in his life. Of course that ended really badly, and as we've all learnt from countless movies on time travel and such, it's not a good idea to mess with spacetime. But I feel like running constantly on fast forward, and I sure wish I had a slow motion button that I could use from time to time. Just to be able to get at least some of all the things done that are on my list. Lists, actually, but let's not get into that again right now... So what was I writing about? Ah, my newest dress.

I've already shown you how I frankenpatterned (I just love this word) the Washington dress and my favorite top. Now for my fabric choices. I found this lovely plaid stretch cotton in my favorite color combination, and took it from there. I had some fairly slinky dark purple rayon jersey in my stash, but it was really, really very thin. I mean see-through kind of thin.

Washington dress - fabric for top | Twice the Fun

So I decided to double it over. Just cut two front and back pieces, sew two tops individually, and then join them at the neckline and armholes. That even takes care of the hemming (which I'm not too fond of on thin knits) and should be easy as pie. Right? Well, ummm... But more on that later. Let's get on with fabric choices first.

Skirt and top were set, now I needed fabric for the yoke. The combination I had in mind was this:

Washington dress - fabric combination 1 | Twice the Fun

Unfortunately, the plaid stretch cotton turned out not to be stretchy enough on the bias. The pattern asks for 50% stretch, but the bias of the fabric would only give me roughly half that amount. I really think I should have cut it anyway, pinned just the yoke and tried putting it on over my head. Oh well, that idea came to me after I had sewn the yoke and skirt, and I'm not taking this apart again because I'm actually pretty pleased with the finish. But I'll definitely sew another one with a plaid skirt and yoke. I think I may have found a great plaid jersey... I'm really pleased to see all those plaid fabrics appear in fabric stores. I love plaid. Maybe even more than I love corduroy (if that's possible LOL).

However, as my intended color combination did not work out as planned, I had to dig into my stash and find something else. First I came up with a pale purple almost lavender cotton jersey.

Washington dress - fabric combination 2 | Twice the Fun

Ummm, okay. Maybe a little blah. So how about a little more contrast. I happened to have some teal cotton jersey in my stash that came pretty close to the teal in the plaid.

Washington dress - fabric combination 3 | Twice the Fun

Fine, this was close enough. My mother-in-law's comment was, "What an interesting color combination. You know, when I was your age, we didn't combine colors like that. Isn't it great how people have become much more open-minded?" Well, you can't say she isn't diplomatic LOL.

Sewing the skirt and yoke was really easy. All the notches matched up perfectly (which I've learned not to take for granted). I had cut the plaid very carefully so the horizontal lines would meet in the side seams, and that worked out fine. Even the points where yoke and skirt meet in the side seams turned out beautifully - on BOTH sides.

Cashmerette Washington Dress + Lekala 4119 Frankenpattern - fabric choices and sewing | Twice the Fun

Wow, I'm definitely getting better at this. More often than not I've managed to finish one side of something really neatly only to go slightly (or not so slightly) off on the other side. Thinking about it, that might be because of the sewing direction, and fabric shifting one way or the other. Probably my new sewing machine helps me keep my fabric layers together more neatly. Or the hours upon hours of sewing practice, reading books and blogs about sewing, watching Craftsy videos, and going over sewing techniques in my head time and again are finally paying off. Or better machine + increased skill = very happy sewist!

I even took the time to finish all seams using an overlocker stitch on my sewing machine. Of course it's not the same as a serged stitch, because obviously the sewing machine doesn't cut away any excess fabric while sewing. Well, there is an add-on available for brother sewing machines that will cut the fabric for you, but I must admit that I find this concept pretty scary. Once it's cut, there's no way back. Even though I hate ripping out seams (who doesn't?), it happens every once in a while. Even if it's a triple stitch or worse, even if it takes me longer than cutting and sewing combined, throwing away a piece of fabric just because I've made a stupid sewing mistake is totally unthinkable for me. So, no automatic fabric cutting devices for me.

Fortunately, the overlocker foot and stitches on my sewing machine come pretty close to serged seams, and I'm really happy with the neat finish. Even if it's on the inside, and only I will ever get to see it. Okay, and you, because I can't resist bragging a little bit and showing you some more photos...

Cashmerette Washington Dress + Lekala 4119 Frankenpattern - fabric choices and sewing | Twice the Fun

And another little detail I love about the skirt: I hand-sewed the hem using a catch stitch. After all the work I had put into a neat finish, this step was very well worth it. And I actually like hand sewing. Yes, I'm strange like that!

Cashmerette Washington Dress + Lekala 4119 Frankenpattern - fabric choices and sewing | Twice the Fun

Now that I've talked about preparing the pattern, choosing my fabrics and sewing the skirt and yoke, there's only one thing left: sewing a doubled-over top. Easy as pie, you remember? See for yourself. Coming up next: another little step-by-step ;-)

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