This blog post is somewhat different from others. Other than listing my materials, fabric / pattern measurements, process, and results, it focuses on the 7 big challenges I encountered during the process of making a supposedly easy rectangle dress from an old Japanese sewing magazine.
The road to create this dress was filled first with enthusiasm, which quickly turned into surprised annoyance, frustrations, and self doubts.
The dress was supposed to be done in a couple of days. It took a month.
It’s supposed to be easy to pattern draft, cut, and sew. It certainly was not.
There were times when I was so angry for “wasting” so much time making this dress.
I almost cut it all up when the dress was almost finished. I was *this* close to run my scissors through the whole unfinished garment and unleash my rage.
Thankfully that never happened. No matter how frustrating, perseverance triumphed them all.
Yes, it was annoyingly time consuming to make the dress. The result wasn’t perfect, either!
However, I learned SO MUCH about how three different fabrics can behave, especially when they’re forced to work with each other. Slow fashion is time consuming, especially custom-made / bespoke garments. Its underrated gem lies on the knowledge and mental strength gained throughout the process.
So at the end of the day, I am very grateful. And I’d like to share my challenges with you. In case you’re trying to create a garment that combines woven and knit in similar way, I hope they can help you in any way.
Better yet, I hope this post can cheer you on. Perhaps you’re a sewist who lost your sewing mojo a little bit, or stuck in a certain rut. Perhaps you’re obsessing over how your garment is not perfectly finished. It’s alright.
It’s going to be okay. You are amazing, and you can achieve anything (really) when you persevere. Give yourself time, trust in your own pace. And seriously, life is imperfect, and there’s so much beauty in it even when we often don’t understand it. Cheers!
CREATING A REVERSIBLE DRESS WITH POCKETS USING THREE DIFFERENT FABRICS – ONE WOVEN, TWO KNITS
This would be the underlying challenge throughout the whole process. I chose a pretty printed rayon(?) woven that’s really slippery, a taupe jersey knit, and black lace knit.
The woven would be on one side, and the jersey knit would be the backing for the lace knit on the other side.
Right off the bat, people told me I was crazy. It’s going to be very difficult, and the fabrics I chose are likely not to play nice with each other.
And you know what? They’re absolutely right. But I didn’t listen, and I was paying the price for making this dress for a month instead of a couple of days.
That said, if I changed my plan then, I wouldn’t be able to get challenged any further or overcome them. I also wouldn’t be able to learn so much more. Sometimes you just grow so much from going through with crazy ideas!
At the end of this process, I was able to overcome this challenge by having a reversible dress with pockets I’m proud of!
CHALLENGE #2: THE RECTANGULAR DRESS PATTERN DOESN’T WORK
I used a rectangular dress pattern from an old Japanese sewing magazine. The pattern consists of three long rectangles. Two pieces for the front, and one for the back side. Five seams total – two on the sides, one on center front, one from center back down the back, and one across the shoulder blades on the back.
After drafting my patterns and cutting my three fabrics, I picked up the taupe jersey pieces. I started following the directions to combine the two long rectangles before working on the front center seams.
I noticed something didn’t look right. There’s so much fabric excess around the neckline. I wasn’t sure if the pattern calls for a much stretchier fabric, or if the pattern is incorrect.
In any case, there’s no way I could create a smooth neckline using the existing pattern. So I picked my tailor’s chalk and draft a deep dart on on the shoulders. I also had to lower the neckline to make it work.
After that, I pinned the lines, and traced them back to the pattern paper.
Then I took the jersey pieces back to the cutting board, transfer the dart pattern and new lower neckline. Once I sew them together, I was relieved to see the pattern adjustments worked great!
CHALLENGE #3: WORKING WITH VERY SLIPPERY KNITS AND WOVEN
I didn’t realize how slippery ALL of the fabrics were. Here are some things I did to help overcome this challenge:
1. After washing and air drying all fabrics, I put a big piece of paper underneath the fabrics and leave them overnight. This is to “relax” them before pattern cutting.
2. After the fabric pieces were cut, I used masking tape as straight line stitch guide or temporary seam presser. I also used them to mark the points where the stitch should start and end, as well as notch replacements.