Hello hello hello!
Recently I’ve been pretty obsessed with House of Cards — or more specifically, the wardrobe from House of Cards (especially the clothes that Claire Underwood / Robin Wright wears). Every day when I watch it I automatically start drooling whenever I see a new dress saunter on screen. Finally, I decided to try one for myself. Of course, I have no skill or patience (yet) to make one out of a structured fabric and pattern, so I grabbed my much-used Agnes pattern and a mid-weight ITY knit and decided to just go for it!
I started with the Agnes pattern (traced and cut out) and just continued the hip line straight down the dress. I tucked the bottom half of the dress in a tiny bit, just to help emphasize the pencil skirt portion, but not enough to impact my ability to walk in it. The fabric has an almost sueded hand to it, so it’s super snuggly, and I’m glad I chose a thicker fabric. The dress hugs closely enough that if it was a clinger, thinner fabric, you’d be able to see every little dimple and line! It’s not super stretchy along the grain, which is great since the dress really needs to hold its shape by itself. It also means the dress has to be a lot more tailored since it can’t just stretch across my body where it needs to stretch.
As you can see above, the lack of darts in the back (where my body is curviest, apparently) made the dress very baggy and wrinkly across my lower and mid back. After wearing the dress all day and feeling like I looked sloppy from an ill-fitting garment, I went home and sewed some long darts into the back (although they started out as short darts and I just kept adding on to them!)
As you can see, the darts REALLY tuck the dress in nicely and make it look a lot more professional and appropriate! Not to mention, the dress is actually, surprisingly, more comfortable now that it’s tailored to me! While some of the seams pucker a bit when they rest against my skin, I’m expecting those to sort out after the first wash or so.
One very important thing I learned about sewing needles from this project is that while the thickness of the needle (90/14 vs 100/16 etc.) may correspond to fabric thickness if the fabric is woven, it seems to be almost the opposite for knits. I found that if the fabric is tightly knit (sports knits) rather than thickly knit (sweater knits), then you actually need a skinnier needle! I know! So counter-intuitive! I kept going up in needle size at the beginning of this project because nothing was behaving as I was sewing and my machine was making some truly terrifying sounds. Finally I realized — it’s because the needle can’t get through the closely knit fibers! I switched to a 75/11 ballpoint needle and all my problems vanished.
Next, I have a friend who requested that I draft a skirt for them (and then sew it, obviously) so I’m headed fabric shopping with her tomorrow!