Pattern Smooshed Knit Dresses

I’ve made a lot of knit dresses lately, and I don’t think I’ve blogged any of them. It started with Kitschy Coo’s Lady Skater dress pattern. Having conquered almost every other sewing blogger on the internet, the Lady Skater claimed me too. I could not resist the siren call of a nice looking Tshirt dress. (Kitschy Coo might be horrified I’ve described it thus but you know spades etc) I’d been thinking about doing something to the Renfrew tee to get me knit dress but I didn’t quite know how to go about it.

Actually, I did try to just lengthen the Renfrew tee into dress length.  I got a rather unflattering sack.  Its only redeeming feature was that it made my partner laugh.

But that was then. Now? Now I know it’s pretty ridiculously easy to do pattern mash-ups.

I had a sewing date with the lovely Helen of Funkbunny. We are the same size, almost, although with different shapes. That’s kind of a surprise to me because I see Helen as gorgeous and curvy and me as rectangular and shapeless.

(I’m aware my perception may not match up with reality, but it was fashioned by years of good natured teasing by elder, curvier sisters and though my body has changed since those teenage years, my brain fails to realign perception with reality. Sewing and taking photos of myself has made me see myself more clearly, but shaking the inside my head version of me is difficult. It’s not a particularly negative perception, mind. Body image is just one of those fairly insidious, intractable issues where self perception, other’s perception, an imposed ideal and confidence – or its lack – intermingle.)

Helen had made the Lady Skater, and trying on her version allowed me to confidently cut out two, without making a trial one. The first two were cut in almost diametrically opposite fabrics: a ponti like thick stable knit with not a lot of stretch, (orange) and a soft, drapey rayon-y knit with ludicrous amounts of stretch (purple). I kinda knew the soft drapey knit was a bad idea, but I plunged on anyway because I wanted the dress out of that coloured fabric.

Now I love both those first two Lady Skaters and I wear then reasonably frequently; the orange more than the purple. But the skirt lacks pockets and is still too full for my tastes.

Then I made a Belladone and I knew I’d found my skirt. It’s not too dissimilar to the Cambie skirt but I didn’t feel the rightness for me of that skirt as I did with the Belladone’s. I didn’t really know how smooshing a skirt intended for wovens would go with a knit but hey, it’s a knit. What on earth could possibly go disastrously wrong? 

Spoiler alert: nothing does go wrong.  It was really easy to smoosh these patterns together.

Basically, I just cut out a Lady Skater bodice, and a Belladone skirt.  As the Belladone skirt has pleats, I folded these pleats on my pattern pieces, thereby eliminating them.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the pleats and indeed, I rather like them, but I did not want them in my knit skirt.  Once I folded away the pleat, I matched the Belladone skirt waistband to the Skater skirt waist band and realised the curves were roughly similar, so I thought, meh, I’ll just sew it up and see what happens.

Lady Skater skirt on top; Belladone skirt underneath. 

My green ladyskaterbelladone dress is what happened.

That dress is made out of a similarly slinky, thin drapey knit as the purple dress.  Yes, I probably should not have made a dress from it, but well, I wanted that coloured dress.  Actually, I wanted a teal dress and I had a teal knit, but it turned out that the piece of teal knit fabric I had was no more than half a metre wide and even my creative pattern placement would not render a dress feasible from that teeny tiny amount of fabric.

So, chuffed with my green dress, I went onto make another.  However, I wanted a bit more breathing room in the bodice, so I widened the waist of the bodice piece of the Lady Skater bodice by a smidge (about half a cm), thereby giving me an extra two centimetres.  And I made my navy Belldone-skater; Skaterdone, Lady Bella dress (otherwise known as my boring navy dress).  My boring navy dress has to be my favourite.  The fabric is just right – not too thick, not too thin.  There’s plenty of room in the waist without it being a sack.  And it’s NAVY, which means I can wear it with all the crazy-coloured tights my heart desires (to wit: my heart desires purple, yellow and royal blue).

And then I thought I should finally make my second Tiramisu, modified the way I had wanted to modify it.  Mostly, to tighten up the cross-over, mock-wrap bodice bit but also to change the skirt and pockets.  What I wanted was the Belladone skirt and pockets, but keeping the four pieces of the skirt, or rather, the centre seam as that seems to be an important part of the design.   I simply cut the Belladone skirt not on the fold, chanting to myself: “Add seam allowance; add seam allowance” when cutting the centre front.

Last, I decided I needed a fancy knit dress.  If you have managed to read this far: well done.  This is my entry to the Franken-indie The Monthly Stitch competition. (Took me long enough to get to the point, no? If we were in person I’d be talking really really fast and waving my arms lots, so you would not have time to get bored, and you’d be too afraid of being hit by my waving arms to walk away from me.)

As worn during Me Made May.

I had this gorgeous red fabric – I think it is a double knit.  I have no idea where it came from.  It’s possible I stole it from someone at Social Sewing (if so, oops, sorry) as I honestly cannot recall buying it.  

I love cowl necks, and Maria Denmark’s Day to Night top is an excellently drafted pattern which goes together very smoothly.  I had made it once before as a top with short sleeves, in the same purple as the purple lady skater. I re-drew the lady skater bodice, blending it with the Day to Night cowl neck but maintaining the lady skater’s grainline rather than the day to night.  I had no logical reason for doing this; the grain lines are different so I had to choose one.  I figured I was making a modified lady skater with a cowl neck, not a day to night cowl neck dress, so I needed to use the lady skater grainline.  Good reasoning, yes?  

The Day to Night’s cowl neck is perfect!

I used Sewaholic’s Renfrew 3/4 length sleeve, as I like it, and added my now perfected knit Belladone skirt.  I did forget to give me a bit more waist room, so the waist fits snugly, rather than roomily.  This isn’t a bad thing for a dress intended as a bit more fancy than my usual.

So I now have a perfected knit dress, and I can switch in and out a few different elements – sleeves, of course, bodice, neckline and skirt (well, it’s almost always going to be the Belladone skirt…) and I can go from casual to work to fancy.  I’m going to try my darnedest not to buy any other knit dress patterns (you have my permission to laugh at my hubris).  I have a wardrobe full of knit dresses, and I have gone from wearing dresses once in a blue moon to 3 – 4 times a week, including weekends.  Who even am I any more?

{for competition purposes! only the Tira-done and RenDay to Skater-Night-done dress were made in May, and I’m only entering the RenDay dress, hence if you want to see pictures of the others, you have to click on through to the Kollabora links.}

Rather grainy photo of the whole dress.  I blame winter.