Self-drafted Scuba Dress

scuba dress on me front

 

I’ve been a busy girl this week. First, I updated my blog with a coat I made a while ago, then I made this dress, and then I also made a cute bag, which I shall tell you about next week. There will be some instructions as well as a tutorial on how to make bag straps in a pretty easy way.

How did I find the time for all this? Well, for one, I am unemployed at the moment. 😉 However, if you have an overlocker, you already know how quickly you can assemble a garment, and it will come as no surprise to you that it took me less than 3 hours in total to make this dress (this time includes some pattern-drafting on an existing basic pattern). If you don’t have an overlocker andlike to work with jerseys, get one. Seriously. Just do it. It doesn’t have to be expensive. I bought mine second-hand from ebay for around 90 Euros.

What fabric did I use?

I bought this scuba from this website a few months ago (UK equivalent here). I only saw today that they finally have a scuba-section. They did a survey last year in which I stated that I wanted more scubas, which made me wonder if I had something to do with that. 😛 Seriously though, I love that I can now find scubas on there without going through all of the jersey-section.

What’s even better is that I have the exact same scuba in a different colour, which I ordered from calico laine and which, due to the catastrophe that is dhl, took about 3 months to arrive in Germany. I’ll post pictures of the dress I made with that in the future. I actually wore it to Uproar in the Dam, so that blog post is well overdue…

I do have a bit of a thing for scuba fabric, by the way…

Onto the pattern…

This dress is mostly self-drafted, but based on an old T-shirt dress of mine (see here). This version includes princess seams, which line up with the front seams of the 4 skirt panels. I added some additional seams between bust and shoulder and forewent the princess seams at the back. I also used some black scuba strips to insert into the neckline and arms and around the waist.

 

 

scuba dress front 1

 

scuba dress side view

 

Some close-ups of the front and back details

 

 

And another update on the Merrylock 3040

I want to show you the hem of this dress, because I’ve been sewing my hems with the Merrylock 3040 for a while now,  but the other day I was reading my blog post from when I first got it and I have to say, not only have I got used to it, it also makes a pretty decent hem now without destroying the fabric. Please see below how well it is now doing with crossing seams.

 

scuba dress hem with merrylock 3040

 

hem inside merrylock 3040

 

hemmed with merrylock 3040

How to add a “t-shirt” neckline

Since getting my overlocker, I have been trying to make a decent neckline for a while and have finally found a version that works for me. Previously, I had been under the impression that the way to sew it on was to leave one shoulder seam unsewn, then put in the band, then close that shoulder seam.

The result was always way too stretchy and I had some wavy, disappearing necklines that I ripped out again or changed so that they would work as a bias binding on the inside of the dress.

I really wanted that t-shirt neckline though…

My problem was obviously that the band I was putting in was always too long.

So here’s how I managed to do it successfully on a dress I have been making for the summer:

 

fits exactly

 

1. I made sure my neckline band was about as long as the neckline of the dress by holding it loosely onto the dress. I had taken a strip of the dress material and ironed it to fold it into a band.

 

before sewing

2. I sewed the ends of the band together.

 

lined up sides

3. Since my band only had one seam, I lined that one up with one of the shoulder seams. Finding the halfway point of the band, I lined that up with the other shoulder seam. The non-folded side of the band is going to line up with the neckline of the dress.

 

all pinned on

 

4. I pinned. While doing that, I had to stretch the band a bit to fit onto the neckline, since I was putting it on the outside of the dress. You can see how wavy the dress is becoming around the neck as it is pulled by the tight band.

 

5. I sewed with the overlocker. While doing so, I had to make sure the dress fabric didn’t escape me. Somehow it still managed, so now the band is a bit wider in some places. It might be better to sew with the inside of the dress facing upwards, as I could have seen it better then.

 

Well, here is the finished product from the front:

 

one more or less perfect neckline

 

 

and the back:

 

and from the back

 

and while we’re at it, here’s the whole dress:

 

the full dress

 

from the back

 

You can see that the shoulders are a bit wonky. I blame my coverlocker for this, but I will master it at some point, I’m sure. The stretchy material is quite forgiving though, so you can barely see it when I wear it.

The fabric is from stoffe.de, the British equivalent is myfabrics.co.uk. At 17.95 euros/15 pounds it is rather expensive, but I treated myself to two metres of it and I think I might have enough left for a short (ending just under the bust) or very short (think cyberdog-short, which ends over the bust) tracksuit jacket. I guess it would be more of a shrug.

It’s a lovely fabric (if you’re into colours) and was really easy to work with. The stretch is pretty good and it has a great drape to it.

I realise that it’s crazy colourful, but I bought it with the sole purpose of wearing it in a field in England this summer, while dancing to some UK Hardcore and/or Drum’n’Bass.

 

 

Making a new dress from an old one

I had this dress I really liked. I liked it so much that I had worn it down to the point where the knit fabric just looked old and frayed. It was, however, one of those dresses that just looked great on me and I wasn't going to give that up.

Actually, I had previously used it as a sort of guideline for making stretchy dresses for myself by holding it onto the fabric and marking the pattern pieces. As you can imagine, this is kinda difficult with a dress that's all sewn together. So now I took the opportunity to dismantle it and make it into a pattern.

The dress is made up of a front and back for the bodice with no darts whatsoever, a couple of sleeves and 4 skirt panels. I unpicked the bodice and sleeves and one skirt panel, then laid them on top of my trusted Swedish tracing paper and marked a pattern around them. I had to adjust this slightly and use measuring tape to  make sure everything was straight, as the fabric pieces were a bit stretched out/crooked.

old dress bodice

As you can see in the picture above, one of the armholes looks different from the other. I really can't say whether I stretched it out or whether the fabric was cut that way. It certainly never struck me as being off when I wore it.

That aside though, here are the finished pattern pieces on my fabric of choice:

patterns I cut from the old dress

two skirt panels cut!

The fabric is a jersey with a similar stretch to the knit fabric. I much prefer knits, but sometimes I just cannot resist a print. I had actually had this fabric for a while as I wanted a really good pattern for it. I couldn't bear the thought of making something with such a gorgeous print that would be ill-fitting. But since I had that pattern now, nothing could stop me.

Now it was really just the case of cutting the pieces out and sewing them together.

I left one of the shoulder seams of the bodice open, as I wanted to put a neckband in.

bodice all sewn together

For the skirt panels, I made sure that I lined up the fully sewn skirt with opposite seams touching, as there are no side seams. I marked the sides with a bit of chalk.

the skirt

Then I made sure the markings were aligned with the side seams of the bodice:

lined up side seam and marking

Pinned and then sewn together, I almost had a whole dress now.

almost a whole dress

The next step will be sewing armholes on and then finishing the whole thing off with the coverlock machine.