A couple of weeks ago summer arrived in Geneva in a big way. It was suddenly super hot and sticky – the kind of weather where you just want to lie in the shade and eat icecream all day. As such, planned projects with sleeves and/or structure got unceremoniously shoved to one side in favour of something light and cool and comfy.
Enter the “Out and About” dress from Sew Caroline, a simple knit dress with a gathered skirt, paired with a lovely soft cotton jersey from Grünemeter – light grey with multicoloured irregular dots that look like they’ve been splodged on by hand. YUM.
Construction-wise there were definitely some good moments with this project – I discovered that my machine has a “stretch stitch” (the one that looks like a lightening bolt), which was exciting. I used this with my walking foot for all the seams, and it worked well. The seams stretch but feel strong at the same time. I also used clear elastic for the first time to stabilise my shoulder and waist seams. This was easier to insert than I was expecting, is nice and thin and gives a reassuring firmness to the seams, I’ll definitely use that again.
BUT this was only my second ever attempt at working with knit fabric and I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle a bit. Gathering the skirt was frankly a bit of a nightmare. For some reason Lady Janome just did not want to play with the jersey on a long straight stitch. I tried re-threading, I tried changing needle, I tried fiddling with the tension, but it just kept jamming… low point, paused for watermelon… I finally found through trial and error that if, when it jammed, I lifted the foot and gently tugged the fabric out/loosened everything back up, I could continue sewing (without cutting the thread) and still pull up the gathers at the end. Small victories.
The pattern is deliberately loose-fitting so I deviated from the construction notes, checking the fit on the bodice before attaching the skirt. I took the waist in by 1cm at this point, lowered the neckline and added a couple of darts to better accommodate the girls / eliminate armhole gaping. However, once I attached the skirt I felt the bodice was still too loose and so took another 2cm off each side at the waist. I also followed Caroline’s additional tutorial to make the dress sleeveless, binding the arms with self fabric and topstitching with a double needle. M came in at this point and said – “hey it looks just like my tshirt”, which I’m chalking up as a win.
Ultimately I’m happy with how the dress turned out. I’m not sure that the shape is as flattering as the fit-and-flare silhouettes I’m used too, but for a breezy weekend dress I think it does just fine. And it is COMFY – like secretly wearing your pajamas to the supermarket comfy. And when the weather is this hot, that’s a huge plus.