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Monday, August 9, 2010

KS3758 + KS3523: Mixed print tank dress

I've said it here before, but man, do I love a knit tank dress. I mean, I'd live in them if I could. However, when I was pattern shopping for my idea of the perfect tank dress, I didn't find one that had everything I wanted - a nice scoopneck, something that I could wear with a regular bra, fitted through the bust, a nice empire or waist inset and a lightly gathered skirt. Sounds simple, right. I guess not, since my search came up empty handed. Lots of things came close, but nothing was a clear winner. So, I decided to create my own using the top from KS3758 and the bottom from KS3523.

I actually first used this combination of patterns in January. I made a long-sleeved dress out of a really lightweight navy wool jersey. Make a long story short, I fought with getting the pattern pieces right and while I liked the final dress well enough, it was a pain in the arse to get to the finished product. I got busy and never blogged it and by the time I was ready to write about it, the poor dress, which was already a touch on the too big side, was much too frumpy to photograph well. Here it is on the hanger. Looks kind of pitiful, doesn't it? :(

It looked much better on. Well, at least it did several months ago.

After the first go round, I knew where I needed to make changes and was excited to make a sleeveless version for summer. But, what fabric? Enter the Bold Boho Panel Print from Gorgeous Fabrics. I'm trying to experiment more with printed fabrics and working with a panel print would prove even more of a creative challenge. I retraced all of the pattern pieces so they could be cut as a single layer and started playing around with them, eventually deciding on a layout.

I had originally thought I'd use plain black for the neck, arm and waist bands, but right before cutting, I happened to place the waistband piece over the border of the panel print. It was the perfect width and that is when this dress became a mixed print design. :) I have a RTW BCBG dress that I just adore and it uses some really cool placement of a border print - it became a reference of sorts.

On my first version of this dress, I wasn't very comfortable with the idea of negative ease and this dress really needs it to fit right and not droop in odd places. This time around, I embraced negative ease and lo and behold, it fits so much better! This dress is pretty simple to put together, the hardest part is re-engineering the original bodice and skirt pieces to get the correct lengths that will play well with the rest of the dress. You have to remember that the bodice will stretch down a bit once the skirt portion is attached, so you have to play around to see what works the best for you.

Here is a summary of changes I made to the original pattern pieces (in case anyone wants to recreate this style at home):
* I cut the bodice of KS3758 at the line for View B and then still had to shorten it about an inch or so. This left the inset band from KS3523 sitting just above my natural waist. This style could easily be turned into an empire waist dress just by shortening the bodice length even more.
* I stabilized the shoulder and both waist seams with clear elastic. In RTW garments, you'll often find seams stabilized with clear elastic, but it's often enclosed within a serged seam. I don't own a serger, but using the "lightening" stitch on my regular machine does a good imitation of the serged edge. I found the first few times I tried this technique, it was a hot mess, but with a little practice, I think my poor sewist's version looks good. Not only that, it's functional and makes the garment feel more secure.

* I made the "skirt" portion from KS3523 much longer than the original pattern piece - the final skirt being 22 inches long or so. Again, this is something you just have to play around with and see what works best for you. For the hem, I used my twin needle and after playing with the tension, it doesn't seem to be tunneling anymore.

This version of the frankenpattern went together very smoothly. Well, with one glaring mistake. Can you spot it?

Doh! In case you were wondering, ripping out the lightening stitch is a real pain, even for such a small area. Otherwise, this dress was void of the crazed hair-pulling moments that characterized the first version.

Carolyn has referred to some of her more subdued, basic dresses as "whispering pieces", which I love as a descriptor for a garment. This dress, however, is a shouting piece. It's loud and kinda crazy, but I love it. Cool and summery, perfect for the office or running errands on the weekend. I'm so glad that I didn't go with the black bands - I think the border print keeps the dress light and fun.

Will there be a version 3.0? Oh yeah!


  1. It looks great! I would be frightened of negative ease too. That said, this dress doesn't look at all tight or clingy on you. Just very flattering and very summery.

  2. Very cute!! Your print placement is great, and construction is beautiful. I must play around with my lightning stitch some more. Your finish looks great.

  3. I love how you have put the two patterns together to make this dress exactly how you want it. It's fabulous and the fit looks just right. I love the fabric and the way you have used it is perfect. You will definitely have to make more of this style - and why stop at three :)?

  4. I just adore this dress! It's the perfect style for summer and your placement of the pattern pieces was right on. I loved this fabric as well but passed on it as I didn't have a clue what to make with it.

  5. I love this dresss - great choice of fabric and placement!

  6. The negative ease and serged seams can give anyone problems. Not to mention tunneling.

    Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about? lol

    Pretty print, pretty dress. :)

  7. Awesome, as usual!

    You should do a post about which items you've worn the most.

  8. So cute! I'm with you on knit dresses - best thing ever.

    Maybe you can put a serger on the list for birthday/Christmas/Thanksgiving...

  9. This is such a cute dress! I love the way you combined the two patterns with such great success!

  10. Love the bright blue on you- a colour I can only dream of wearing! Clever work on the patterns.

  11. Fantastic dress - very refreshing - great fabric choice!

  12. I am seriously wearing the navy jersey dress you have posted on the hanger - right now. Except I got it at J. Crew. I swear it looks exactly the same though!

  13. Everyone needs a little loud and kinda crazy. You look terrific in this bold dress.

  14. I had a dress JUST like your blue jersey dress. Except I bought it. Hehe. On a side note, I really like the red top / print bottom dress on the pattern picture. I LOVE those kinds of dresses. So comfy and hide my tummy well.

  15. I love a good shouting dress! Most of mine shout :) anyways, yours looks wonderful on you, perfect for summer! I admire your patience on working out the hem tension, it looks really good! That's the kind of detail that makes home-sewn clothing look really pro :)