Last week I reviewed the Japanese sewing book She Wears the Pants. I mentioned that I was thinking of making the Draped Mini Dress but wearing it as a tunic. Well, I made it this weekend but I’m still not sure I like it on me.
I made size L, using a lightweight synthetic knit. It’s either rayon or poly. I’m really not sure. Maybe it’s a rayon/poly blend? I got it for less than $2 a yard at Fabric Outlet. It was priced at $1.99/yard and the store was having a 40 percent off sale that day. So this is my mockup. Here’s the photo of it in the book.
I didn’t make any adjustments except to the hip/upper thigh area. I added a half-inch (~1.3 cm) to the pattern before I cut anything. I’m sure there’s plenty of ease in this pattern but I was taking in consideration the fact that I usually grade up a size in the hips, and this is supposed to be a dress with drape. It wouldn’t be too drapey if it was too tight across the hips – even if I am using a knit fabric. (I adjusted the photo so you could see the drape but the background is a bit over-exposed. The perils of photographing black.)
I don’t have a serger so I used a zig zag stitch to sew this up. I think it would have been easier to sew if I had a serger to do the top stitching along the neckline and hem. This lightweight knit was a little fiddly but for a mockup, I think it turned out OK.
This is a simple top to sew but the armhole and neck bindings can be a little tricky if you haven’t had any experience sewing knit bindings. The bindings are essentially long rectangles (see cutting layout below). Because this pattern uses a knit fabric, it will stretch to go along the curves.
The front piece of this dress is rather wide so you have to tape the two pieces together. Unlike the back, it is not cut along the fold. As with most Japanese sewing patterns, you have to add the seam allowances, which are indicated on the cutting layout. For this dress, you do NOT add seam allowance to the armholes or the back neckline because these three areas will have binding added to them. But you do add a 7/8″ (2 cm) seam allowance to the front neckline. If you look at the diagram of the front neckline, you’ll need to add some length to the seam allowance on both ends. This has a triangular shape because this will fold over and be stitched down. I wasn’t sure how to draw that seam allowance so I just took a guess and made an approximately 45 degree angle for that bit.
I’ve told people that the diagrams are sometimes more important than the written instructions in Japanese sewing books. Well, I didn’t quite pay attention to the instructions about the neck binding. Oops. I looked at the first part – sew the back neck binding to the back but didn’t really look at the next illustration. Thus I didn’t fold over the binding twice before sewing it down. I just flipped it over to the other side and sewed it down. I wondered why the binding seemed a bit wide. Heheh.
Also, my back neck binding seemed a little short so you should gently stretch it as you’re sewing it OR just cut it a little longer than the diagram indicates, and cut off any excess. I actually pinned the binding to the back and it seemed like it was long enough but when I finished sewing it, I saw that a bit of the fabric of the back neckline was caught and folded over. Ack. Luckily it was only an inch or so from the end so I unpicked it that part and stretched the binding to fit. It doesn’t look very neat but I didn’t want to unpick the entire seam (#lazy), plus this was my mockup.
The armhole binding is done a little differently that I’ve done with other knits I’ve sewn – folding the binding in half and then stitching to the sleeve hem. For this dress, you sew the binding to the armhole, gently stretching as you sew. Then you fold it over twice and then sew it close to the edge. I decided to give it a whirl. As you can see here, I had a lot of extra binding left over. I cut off the excess.
If you haven’t sewn knit bindings before, you may want to practice sewing a strip of knit to a shorter piece of fabric. It’s not really something you can pin and sew. You just stretch and sew. For a good video about sewing a binding to a curve, see Cake Patterns video Binding on a Steep Curve on her Hummingbird sewalong tutorial.
And here’s what the armhole looks like with the binding folded over and stitched. I decided to stitch in the ditch to try to hide my zig zag stitch. it was supposed to be top stitched.
It looked pretty good but it was a bit thick. I didn’t trim my seam allowance and I’ve got a total of four layers of fabric that I stitched through. My fabric was lightweight so that wasn’t a big deal. I think the idea was to give the sleeves a bit of weight but they stick out slightly. Granted I didn’t press the dress at all so maybe that can be fixed with a little pressing.
Here’s a sort of side view. The neckline is a bit plunging for me – not exactly something I would wear to work unless I paired it with a camisole.
If I leaned over, I think I would be flashing my bra. For me, this “dress” is too short to wear as a dress. Thus I’m wearing pants with it. I might consider wearing leggings and boots with it.
If you like short knit dresses, this one’s for you. I still need to trim down the back neck binding because it’s folding up and you can sort of see the raw edge peeking in the back here (just to the left of center).
If you’d like to win a copy of She Wears the Pants, just comment on my post reviewing the book to be entered. You just need to comment by Thursday, May 21, 11:59 pm Pacific (California time).
Thanks for visiting and happy sewing!