Sunday, 19 May 2013

The neckline saga

Like many sewing bloggers out there, I am under the spell of Hisako Sato's Drape Drape series of pattern  books. The books had been sitting patiently on my shelves until last weekend I decided to make a dress; I attempted to sew pattern no.3 from the first book, waste gather drape dress.

Spot the differences!

According to the size chart (shown below), with my height of 177cm, bust 86, waist 73, hip 97, my body measurements put me somewhere between L and XXL :) From the very beginning, I had a gut feeling that something would go wrong.

When I drafted the XL size, I automatically added 3cm of seam allowance in case I needed some extra fabric, even though the general recommendation for knit fabric is to draft one size down due to the stretch properties of knits. The biggest difficulty at that stage was that I was not able to properly measure the size of the finished garment due to the complexity of the pattern vs standard bodice shapes.

Also, when I laid out the pattern, I came to the conclusion that if I cut the dress as one piece, the waist would be situated somewhere below my bust. So I cut two separate pieces, a bodice and a skirt, adding 5cm to the bodice and 5 cm each to the top and bottom of the skirt. 

Technical drawing of the pattern
The first fitting of the bodice resulted in complete failure - my shoulders were too broad for the garment. The bodice was so tight at the neck that it looked as if I was trying on kids' clothes. The sleeve holes were too small as well. So I made the following modifications:

* cut into the neckline to create a bigger hole 
* partly released the gathers, to allow my arms to fit in

But these two actions slightly affected the balance of the lines and you can see on the two pictures below the problems with the dress. 

The left side of the neckline is gaping
Slight diagonal pulls coming from the chest
I looked up how to remedy the neckline in different fitting books and re-sewed it twice. It now gapes a little bit less but you still can see there is something wrong with it. 

Currently the neckline is not stabilized but its finish is a tiny rolled hem. Maybe I could add some knit stay tape and when attaching it  pull it in order to gather the neckline a little bit. Do you think it might work well? 

As for the rest of the dress, there are no major problems. The skirt fits well but it does not hug super tightly. Because I had enough troubles with the neckline, I decided to to put more stress on it and omitted the invisible zipper.

Only now I realized that I did not take pictures of the back. During the "photoshoot" I was so concerned with the neckline that I completely forgot about my rear. 

The biggest conclusion that I drew from this project is that I still don't know a lot about knits, especially when it comes to problems with fitting and deviation in proportions. Also, I should have analyzed this pattern with more attention before constructing the garment. Moreover, I did not make a muslin as I usually would.

Luckily for me, I've got 1.5m more of the same fabric and my next knit project will be based on a simpler pattern! In Tokyo, summer is in full swing. As you can see from my pictures, flip-flop season is beginning!

Which summer knit dress pattern would you recommend?


  1. Так, я пост еще не прочла, но скажу, что мы практически одинаковых размеров:))) я чуть выше и 86-69-96%)))

  2. I'm glad you are going to give it another go as it has loads of potential. Despite the gaping in the neck the fit across the shoulders now looks spot on. I do love that drape drape book and have made up one from DD2. I needed to tinker with the fit as well - and then realised it just wasn't me... but that would be a good knit dress.

  3. madeonthecouch20 May 2013 at 04:35

    I like the fabric you've used here, it looks very pretty and summery! When I'm working with knits I pretty much always just draft my own pattern- it always seems to work out better that way. Then you know exactly what you're going to end up with! I always start with a trace off of one of my RTW tops, and then work from there, making up the pattern as I go. Generally they're pretty forgiving, and you can get away without having to make too many adjustments if you use knits with a good bit of stretch and recovery in them...

  4. You know, I was so much attracted to this dress that I absolutely had to make it. For the remaining fabric I'll try to use your method and close a garment I already own ^.^

  5. Oh... It seems to me that Japanese sewing books are made for Japanese tiny ladies or teenage Western models...

  6. Можно меняться одеждой!

  7. Oh this dress looks so pretty on you! You successfully modified the pattern.

    By the way, how are the fabrics in the book and of yours? The fabric on the book looks so thin (I can see the contours of legs!) and soft, that it should stretch a lot! Also, the dress on the book looks more smaller (i.e., fitted ) for the model, especially around shoulder, than your dress for you. So I just wonder whether difference of fabric's stretches caused the big difference in fitting?

    Once I sew two blouses, out of two fabrics, from one pattern. Then I found one was TOO saggy and another was TOO tight, because of fabric difference. Since then, I am a little scared of knit fabrics and when I sew it it is like gambling! (and naturally there have been some wins and some defeats. )

  8. I've only sewn one knit dress and I haven't had the guts to back! Tricky stuff :)

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  10. Ruffles Gazebo26 May 2013 at 12:56

    Im really glad you posted this when u did! I think I will make this dress this week, and was wondering about a lot of things u answered!
    I think in the end it turned out quite nicely, and the thing ive found with knits a lot is.....there is a lot to learn and mistakes will inevitably happen! or at least it has with me!

  11. I am glad I addressed some of your questions in this post :-) You are so right about knits: learn by doing!

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