After my little adventure with the Thai fisherman pants it was time for something more girly. A dress. So, I had a look at all the pretty dresses from Studio Faro's pattern puzzles (I still miss the weekly Pattern Puzzle, even though the timing was a bit unpractical for me. It was like a regular meeting for pattern making geeks!) and quickly decided to go for one in jersey.
That still left a couple of options but I decided to go with this one:
For those of you who are not familiar with Studio Faro: it is (as far as I can tell from the blog posts and site info) a one-woman company in Australia specializing in both pattern making for fashion companies and pattern making lessons for fashion students and enthusiastic amateurs. For years, she also ran the "Pattern Puzzle" on the Studio Faro Facebook page. This meant that she would post a picture of random pattern pieces and readers would guess what it was. I found that quite addictive, and I know I'm not the only one...
And if that wasn't enough, in the week following the Pattern Puzzle, there would be a blog post showing the design and describing how to create the pattern from your own slopers. There is just one catch: these tend to be designs, ideas, experiments, not tried-and-tested projects. So there is no guarantee each one will work out well.
If, like me, you are used to drafting your own patterns, that will be familiar territory though.
Anyway, I went to work on the Jersey Ruche Dress. An interesting design idea in which you slash and spread the front and back pieces of the fitted dress block for jersey fabrics in such a way that you can line them up to form one big pattern piece. There will just be a line of gathering where a side seam would have been (the smooth side has the one remaining side seam). And there is a set-in sleeve at the side with the shoulder gathers and a kind of raglan sleeve at the other side.
This time, I didn't try to be clever and drafted the pattern according to the instructions. I just had to fudge a bit with the main piece because my jersey block probably has a bigger waist-to-hip ratio that usual. And I planned for short sleeves instead of long ones.
Choosing a fabric wasn't that easy. I wanted to use something from my stash (should always be possible, it is huge). The pattern pieces were less big than I had feared (some of these pattern puzzles and really terrible when it comes to fabric economy, again because they are just design ideas) but not every fabric would work for a design like this. It would have to have the right hand, be soft and drape well. That means cotton was out. Cotton jerseys are lovely but they tend to have a bit of 'body', a stiffness which would not work here. And the fabric had to be light and thin enough for all those gathers. Some viscose/rayon jerseys, although they drape wonderfully, can be really heavy and get bulky when gathered. Stretch and recovery were less important in this case (although don't want to use one of those knits which only every keep on growing, ever again)
But I had something in my stash which was certainly thin enough, but maybe a bit too thin. A sort of marled grey/green jersey. A mystery blend containing (probably among other things) viscose and a tiny bit of wool.
This fabric works really well with those gathers but it is a bit transparant. I picked those pictures in which it doesn't really show. It did in some of those I didn't choose. So, I guess this will be an indoor dress (I often like to slip on a comfortable dress when I come home from work, so having one which is only suitable for that purpose is fine with me). I thought about making a full lining but that felt like more trouble than this dress was worth.
I did make a sort of all-in-one facing which holds the neckline and armscyes together. I decided on that after I had sewn the outside pieces. The neckline moved around in a way I didn't like: the gathers at front and back crept up and there was also kind of issue with the raglan sleeve (I forgot what that was). I made the facing for those pieces without the gathers and stabilized it with some very light-weight knit interfacing. Sewing that in helped.
I still wonder if it would have been better to cut the neckline a little lower, or to put in denser gathering. I don't know.
Oh, and I used the rolled hem setting on my serger to hem the dress. That is often the easiest options on very flared-out hemlines, especially in thin fabrics. I had to be careful with the tension: It still had to be stretchy but I didn't want one of those "lettuce edge" hems (which are just serged rolled hems on very stretched-out edges). The result is OK but it looks like the edge of stitching is pulling a little bit if the light falls on it in a certain way.
All in all, it's not one of my best dresses but certainly not one of the worst either. And it was fun to make, the right kind of project for the time in which I made it.