Sunday, May 13, 2007

No woman's closet should be without a Cosmpolitan dress

Several months ago, I, like many other sewers, fell for the Hot Patterns Cosmopolitan dress. I envisioned myself wearing it while prancing about a cocktail party, laughing, socializing, and graciously accepting all the compliments I would get.

This was around the time that I had just started reading Fit For Real People. The authors, Pati Palmer and Marta Alto are big proponents of tissue fitting. Up to this point, I had only used muslins to identify and solve fit issues, so tissue fitting was intriguing to me, as it seemed there was a potential to save quite a bit of time. The thing about tissue fitting is that it's best accomplished if you have another person to help you fit the tissue on your body. It's really hard to pin the center front to yourself, and impossible to pin the center back to yourself.

I tried anyway, using my freshly traced Cosmopolitan pattern, and the whole thing ended up a disaster. The neckline was way too low (as in, my barely there bra was visible) and the huge neckline gaped terribly. I didn't abandon the project immediately, though. I tried to make it work by creating a ruffle from a strip of bias charmeuse and adding it to the neckline in hopes of more coverage. The ruffle just flopped outward unappealingly. So I threw the garment in my closet and moved on. Lesson learned: Tissue fitting - bad, muslin - good.

Well, Cosmpolitan has been popping up all over the sewing blogs and forums, making me want one even more. I had to give it another shot. I had the perfect jersey fabric in my stash, and the latest issue of Threads with an article about sewing with jersey knits. And, oh yeah, I had a complete muslin sitting in my closet for me to start with!

First, the Threads article in the July 2007 (no. 131) issue of Threads has some great tips on using jersey, many of which I am putting into practice:
  • Machine wash & dry yardage twice before cutting the pattern because of progressive shrinkage
  • Use a rotary cutter & mat for a smooth cut
  • Eliminate facings, they'll create ridges in the garment; instead, (1) fold under neck/armhole & topstitch, or (2) bind edges with bias strips, or (3) line/underline using the same fabric
  • Don't finish the seam allowances with a zigzag stitch or serger because it adds unwanted bulk
  • To finish the hem, fuse a strip of interfacing the same depth as the hem, press up the hem allowance, and either topstitch with a single or double needle, or catchstich by hand for an invisible hem

front bodice pattern piece with alterations

On to the fit issues. I spent some time with the muslin, pinning here and there to fix the gaping neckline.

First, I added 1.75 inches to the neckline, and blended it to nothing at ~4" below the shoulder seam (original neckline is marked with blue line).

I remembered a great tip from Gigi of The Sewing Divas on how to eliminate neckline gaposis. I marked the 1" that I wanted to pinch out on the original neckline, then followed Gigi's directions to slash to the opposite seamline, overlap, and blend the new lines.

Also, I lowered the bust dart by 1" and I shortened the bust dart by 1".

I fiddled with the idea of adding a neck dart but after trying the bodice on, I didn't need it, I think thanks to the neckline gaposis fix.

As suggested by Threads, I eliminated the facings; instead I made 2 bodices, shown pinned at neckline, one will be one the outside of the garment and the other will be the lining

The bodice fits great so far although I'm still messing with the bust darts, they create a raised point in the fabric where they end, I think that means I need to taper them more before ending?

The fabric I'm using is the rayon/lycra jersey I got from Gorgeous Fabrics. It is the nicest, softest, drapiest knit I've ever used! An absolute dream. (And yes, the owl silk jersey keeps taunting me from my fabric pile, I am planning to use it in a new skirt/blouse ensemble).


renee said...

Umm, wow. Where were you and this article when I did my facing? Totally correct. You can see my facing, but I've been scared to bind with a knit. Thanks for pointing me to TSD tip.

Why did you move and shorten the dart? What issue did that work out?

Christina said...

Well, on my muslin, the dart is above my bust point, also, I thought I read somewhere that the dart is suppsosed to end 1" away from the bust point, so I adjusted for that too. I have a pretty small bust (A cup) so that's probably why.

Actually, there was a good Threads article last year about knit necklines/armholes, I'll find it for you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great info about the facing.Just after tracing this pattern so its great to know that before I start the muslin!Can't wait to see how you get on with the rest of the dress.Eithne

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see your finished dress! I too and becoming more and more tempted by this pattern.

narcissaqtpie said...

I have that Threads issue but I havent thoroughly read it, so thanks for pointing out that portion. That fabric looks YUMMY. Everyone who's been raving & getting that beautiful looking fabric from GorgeousThings has me ready to jump on the bandwagon!