With less than three weeks to go until The Big Cruise (Southampton UK to San Francisco) I’m starting to panic that I haven’t made enough dresses. Not only will I need day wear but also evening wear – even if I don’t go to the posh black tie evenings I know I will still want to dress up a little for dinner.
And to make it even more complicated, we will be leaving the UK slap bang in the middle of winter with temperatures around freezing, then sailing into warmer climates until we hit Barbados which apparently has an average temperature of 29 degrees that time of year. We then carry on to Mexico (average 23 degrees) ending up in SF which should be about 13 degrees. After short stops at Los Angeles and Las Vegas we round off the holiday in Washington DC – which I am led to believe will be very cold in February. So not only do I need day and evening wear, I need a Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter wardrobe – eek!
Anyway, with that in mind, my latest make is my first Lady Skater dress from Kitschy Coo. I’ve seen so many gorgeous Lady Skater dresses around the blogosphere that I just wanted to make one myself. I really love my Moneta dress but the gathers make me feel that it is more suited to wearing in the daytime. Whereas I can imagine myself wearing the Lady Skater not only during the day but also dressing it up with a nice jacket for the evening– in fact, I wore this dress last week with my purple Morris jacket and I felt very smart.
The pattern is available as a pdf download from Kitschy Coo here
Although I have bought a number of pdf patterns in the past this is the first one that I have actually printed out and used.
The pattern printed out over 22 pages and assembled pretty easily. There were a couple of sheets where I had to manipulate them to get them to fit flushly against their neighbour but it was easy enough to do.
I purchased 2.5m of this lightweight jersey fabric (140cm wide) from the Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham http://www.fancysilkstore.co.uk/
It was around £7.00 a meter (that is a guestimate as it has been in my stash for a while)
It has a 4 way stretch with a 70% stretch on the cross grain and drapes beautifully. I’m not sure about the composition but it feels like a viscose and lycra mix which would account for the great stretch and drape.
I pre washed the fabric on a cool program and tumble dried it afterwards. There wasn’t any noticeable shrinkage.
The pattern measurements use your high bust measurement rather than your full bust. This is great, especially if you are full busted, as it means that you get a better fit around the neck and shoulder area.
Kitschy Coo use their own measurement system starting at a size 1 and going up to a size 8. I quite like this as I’m generally an 18/20 (UK sizing) in RTW clothing but with the Big 4 pattern companies I often have to use at least a 22 which doesn’t do much for my morale. A size 8 sounds so much more dainty doesn’t it?
My HB measures 41” which puts me between the size 6 and 7 for the shoulders, neck and chest area. However, my high waist is 41 and the Lady Skater size 8 measurement only goes up to 38”, thus I needed to grade the pattern out to a size 9 which took it up to 40”. Because this pattern is for knits I wasn’t worried as I figured it would incorporate enough negative ease to cover that missing one inch.
I made up a quick bodice muslin from some jersey knit fabric in my remnants pile. This showed that I didn’t need to make many adjustments to the bodice. I didn’t have enough fabric to make a skirt muslin so I had to guess what adjustments would be needed. This is what I did:
- Reduce the sleeve length by 1” to accommodate my short arms
- I used this technique for a full bottom adjustment of 2/3” (although it is for trousers it works fine for me on a skirt): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cPWFM-Sk7w I find that doing this adjustment helps to stop the back hem of my skirt being much shorter than the front.
- I added 2” to the skirt length as I like my dresses and skirts to come down to mid calf.
I used an 80/12 ballpoint needle to sew the dress.
All seams were sewn on my sewing machine using a zig zag stitch set to 2.5 length, 1.4 width. I then overlocked the raw edges to neaten and strengthen them.
Seams were sewn at 3/8” as per the pattern instructions
I used clear elastic on the shoulder seams to strengthen them overlocking the elastic in place to make sure that it wasn’t going to go anywhere.
I also used clear elastic on the waist/bodice seam to give that strength and stability.
I stabilised the neck both front and back with a small piece of lightweight stretch fusible interfacing.
I often draft my own neckband as I generally find that the ones which come with patterns aren’t a ‘one size fits all’ – so much depends on the fabric that you are using. However, I did use the pattern neckband this time and it fit perfectly. I’m really pleased with how beautifully flat it is lying – no stretching or puckering at all.
Things that didn’t go well or things I would change next time
I only just had enough fabric and so didn’t have the luxury of choosing where to place the pattern pieces. Looking at the finished dress it seems to me that the two large circles on the front bodice draw unwanted attention to The Ladies. In hindsight, I wish I had swapped the bodice back with the front when laying out the pattern.
The finished dress
The dress fits almost perfectly, perhaps it is a little snug around the waist so I might grade up the waist by a further inch for my next version. However, it is lovely to wear and I received quite a few compliments when I teamed it up with my Morris blazer.
I would be hard pushed to decide which is my favourite pattern between the Lady Skater and the Moneta, both are easy to make and feel great to wear.
Cost to make
Fabric – 2.5 m at £7.00 per meter – £17.50
1 reel of Gutterman thread – £1.60
Clear elastic – approx. 1m at 87p
washable tape and fusible interfacing – estimated cost 25p
Total Cost: £20.22