For the last few years my mum and I have been attending sewing courses with Jane White Couture in Barton-upon-Humber. It’s become a bit of a tradition and we like to stay over and make a little holiday out of it. Earlier this month we completed the Jersey Day workshop. Up until then I had only made one other garment using a stretchy knit fabric and I was keen to improve my skills and put my overlocker machine to good use.
On the day we had the choice of bringing our own sewing pattern and fabric or choosing from Jane’s collection. A few weeks before I remembered a lovely McCalls dress pattern I had received free with Sew Now magazine but unfortunately I had no idea what I had done with it. I have recently bought a house and at that point most of my sewing stuff was packed away in boxes in the garage. I swear I spent longer searching for the pattern than sewing the actual dress! Eventually, on the day before the course, I found it 🙂
This pattern appealed to me as I liked the a-line skirt and the choice of necklines and sleeve lengths. I hoped that with the right fabric I could create the vintage look I love while enjoying the comfort of jersey. Luckily, Jane had the perfect fabric – a pretty floral print two-way stretch cotton. A vital beginners jersey tip Jane shared with us was the importance of the stretch test on the pattern packet. As you will know from the clothes you buy from the shops, some fabrics are stretchier than others. Some only stretch when you pull it in one direction (two-way stretch), others stretch from top to bottom and side to side (four-way stretch). Certain patterns require a different amount of stretch and that is where the test comes in. You simply hold your fabric against the gauge and then stretch it. If it roughly stretches from one point to the other, it’s perfect. If the stretch way exceeds the second point, your dress will probably be a disaster.
My chosen fabric was just right so I set about pinning and cutting out the pieces. Once this was done, the first job was to sew the back and front bodice pieces together at the shoulder seams. Jane recommended using a seam tape, which reminded me of a thin piece of interfacing, to stabilise the seam, helping the top keep its shape.
The next job was the neckline. When sewing with woven fabrics, such as cotton, the neckline is usually done by using a facing or lining, but this rarely works with jersey fabrics. Instead you cut out a thin band of the fabric a few centimetres shorter than the length of the neck edge. This is then folded in half and pinned around the edge, easing in the neck edge to fit. It’s hard to explain but if you click here it should open up a useful video I found on YouTube.
For a jersey beginner like me, the neck band was a bit fiddly but hopefully it will get easier the more I do it, and once this process was complete I finished the dress in no time. The sleeves were a joy to insert and I attached the skirt sections together in minutes using the overlocker.
The dress has an elasticated waist which I think creates a flattering shape. This was done by making a casing. First I sewed the bodice to the skirt using a sewing machine with a slight zigzag stitch to prevent the threads from snapping when the garment stretches. Then I sewed the seam allowance together using the overlocker but leaving a gap to insert the elastic.
I couldn’t be happier with my finished dress, which I have called the So Glad I Found You Dress as a nod to the epic search mission I endured beforehand. I think it will be fantastic for spring and cooler summer days, perhaps teamed with a denim jacket and some pink pumps. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find either of those items when photographing the dress! I hope you like it too.
Thanks so much for reading my blog 🙂