Garage sale?

Hey guys! My pattern stash is getting out of control, and I'm thinking about holding an e-garage sale to clear out some unused ones. If you have a moment, I'd really appreciate your two cents! 

America: the Dress

Happy Fourth, Americans! 


I saw the crazy Fourth of July fabrics on Girl Charlee and had to go for it. I made a Colette Moneta with a partial circle skirt (this one from my Tiramisu pattern) instead of the gathered skirt, just like my last one. These things come together so fast, it's amazing. It's a beautiful day in Seattle, so we walked around the bit of Seafair that's south of Lake Union. 


I have a secret for matching stripes -- want to hear it? I use a disappearing fabric marker to mark on the pattern where the stripe is, and which colors go where. Works like a charm! Any temporary marks I want to make, I just write on there, and it's gone the next time I use the pattern. 


Not the greatest picture, but see what I mean? I also mark at the corners and in a few other places, because that helps make sure every little bit is perfectly aligned. Easy peasy! 

Have any tricks for matching stripes? 

Colette Moneta and my thoughts on the Colette Guide to Sewing Knits

As I follow along with the Wardrobe Architect project, I've realized that I need super-comfy clothes that fit my work-from-home lifestyle, but that also look nice enough to jump on a video call, or run down to get the mail, or out to get groceries, and so on. I had decided that I need 3/4 length sleeves, boat neck, knee-length knit dresses -- and that's exactly what Colette just released in Moneta

I've had this killer black cotton-modal-spandex knit from (of course) Girl Charlee banging around for a few months, just waiting for the perfect project. It's a nice medium weight, clearly very high quality fabric, so I'd been saving it for the right project. This is definitely it! It's so dreamy -- so comfy, looks great, drapes perfectly, and oh, that recovery. I normally avoid waistline gathers like the plague, and I'm not totally sold on this one, but oh man do I love this dress.

I have always finished knit necklines with bands, so just doing the faux coverstitch routine of serging, turning, and stitching the neckline with a twin needle was a new one for me. That's how I hem knits (...and more wovens that I'll readily admit to), but never on such a curved seam. I used my trusty Wonder Under to assist, cutting it in smaller pieces as I worked around the curve. I mention this, because it's a bit of a double-edged sword. The neckline gaped quite a bit afterwards, when it had been perfect before hemming. The fabric is just so stretchy, and I didn't restrain it enough as I worked, so the Wonder Under just sort of fixed it in its too-stretched place. Steaming the crap out of it helped, but I can tell that until the Wonder Under gives up -- and probably not even then -- it's just going to be a bit stretched out. 

See the purple ribbon bra strap carrier?

See the purple ribbon bra strap carrier?

My solution:  bra strap carriers. I ordered a bunch of 1/8" ribbon, broke out the snaps, and got to work. The idea here is that the carriers will support the shoulders of the dress, stopping them from falling off my shoulders (and hopefully preventing them from stretching out even more), while also keeping any bra straps in the right place. I gotta say, they work like a charm. The dress stays put, and it just looks daringly boatnecked instead of gapey. Next time I make this dress is such a bouncy fabric, I'll either make a more conservative neck (and cut it wider if I need), or I'll turn and pin it while it's on the dress form, or I'll just use a band. Bands are so easy! 

Yep, black dresses are tricky to photograph, especially when you can't be bothered to make an effort with lighting...

Yep, black dresses are tricky to photograph, especially when you can't be bothered to make an effort with lighting...

I cut a straight medium, without any funny business. I'd normally grade up for the hips and do an SBA (...or think about doing an SBA), but knits are so forgiving, and the hips have plenty of room, so I figured I'd just go for it. I probably could've taken some height out of the bodice, since, yet again, it's so stretchy that the weight of the skirt pulls it just a little lower than I'd like. But it's still perfectly comfy as is, and a belt helps, so, *shrug*. 

I constructed the entire thing on the serger. That worked... pretty well? Attaching the already-shirred skirt to the bodice with the serger was quite challenging and rather inexact; next time, I'll definitely stitch that on the regular machine first. Then, I can go nice and slow, and I'll be able to control the fabric closer to the needle. No more hoping for the best, trying to do it all in one go. 

Nope, the dress isn't on backwards. 

Nope, the dress isn't on backwards. 

I found the instructions about how to shirr the skirt with elastic was also rather confusing. Was I supposed to trap the elastic within the serging, without cutting or stitching through it? Would I have a better time of it shirring on the sewing machine or serger? How could I pull on the far end to keep things moving along, when so much of it was covered by the presser foot? I checked the new Colette knits handbook for ideas, and it actually had different method(s) than the one in the pattern, but it didn't really answer my questions. I'd've wanted the methods in each to match up exactly, with the book giving next-level advice, but the book is more general than that. There was just a basic description of the process, which was rather apparent, without any useful-beyond-beginners advice. 

It breaks my heart to say, but that sort of sums up my thoughts on the book. For example, I've always hated finding the grain of a knit. I've always followed Tasia's advice and inched along one individual rib in the fabric, pinning. It takes forever, but it works really well. So, I was particularly eager to see what the Colette book had to say. Its advice is to pick up the fabric and adjust it til it hangs correctly, without twisting or otherwise being weird. Great idea! So I picked up my four-yard cut of spandex-y knit... and got nowhere. The fabric was so stretchy that it was pulled down by its own weight, so almost any position it was in looked both fine and twisted, and the four yards were waaay unmanageable, unlike the little cut in the book's photo. Another thing I had been looking forward to was fit advice -- I love the Mabel skirt, but since I'm different sizes in the hips and waist, do I treat that conundrum the same as I would in a woven, but without adjusting any darts? Or what? But there wasn't any advice regarding that, so I think I'll just wing it and report back. 

The book can feel a bit like a first draft, or a fleshed-out outline. A lot of top-line stuff, but not a lot of non-obvious, more in-depth, experience-based tips that I usually love to find in sewing books. (And then there's that one photo that just has a washed out yellow square fabric -- totally impossible to see what's going on!) I love the Colette Sewing Handbook so much, because it flows so well -- it was clearly very well planned, edited, and written. It has insight into things that I've done a hundred times, lots of new tips and tricks for beginners and the more experienced. And it was spiral bound! I'm really sad to say that I didn't find any of these qualities in the new knits book. I did feel super inspired after reading it through, and I'm glad it's on my shelf, and of course, I'm thrilled to support Colette -- but this one is for true knits beginners only. For troubleshooting or a thorough explanation of a new technique, I'll probably turn first to the internet. 

I did love the insight into manufacturing and the industrial sewing of knits. I think that home sewing and industrial sewing are two different disciplines with different goals and values, and that us home sewers should resist feeling inadequate next to their amazing speed and efficiency. But I like to take tips and inspiration from industrial methods when I come across them, and it's always fun to learn about how any professional does their thing. 

But back to the dress -- I see my future filled with Monetas! Maybe some with a circle skirt? Maybe one to try out each of the collar options? Maybe one in bodysuit format, for wearing under summer skirts? Oh, the possibilities!