I’m a really curious person by nature. I was like a broken record as a kid, “Why? Why? Why?” I never mean to sound like I’m questioning you. I just want to know why you did it that way, and how it works, and why it works that way! And the only way I can really learn something is by doing it. Jump and see if it hurts. Once I was racing a friend on horseback. There was a tree directly in my path. The horse went left, I went right. Do you know what went through my mind in that moment? "I've never fallen off a horse before, I wonder what it will feel like?" Luckily, in sewing there is less risk than in other things I’ve been curious about!
I’ve now made each of the garments in the Handmade Style book by Lotta Jansdotter
. I’ve gotten a sense of what I have to tweak in the patterns to fit my body (There is always tweaking – with every pattern and every body.) Recently, a customer was looking for a knit dress pattern. She wanted something comfortable and not fitted. We talked about the Kiomi Dress. I encouraged her to try it in a knit. Then the most beautiful shade of purple knit
arrived in the store and I had to try it myself!
(It was way too cold to be outside in a sleeveless dress, but warm weather is coming... right?)
Not all garment patterns are suited to jump between woven and knit. I strongly discourage our customers from doing that in most cases. Woven fabrics don’t stretch (obviously), so there has to be ease in the pattern. Knit garments need a bit of zero or negative ease because of the stretch. But after making two Kiomi tops in woven fabric, I felt the cut could work. The neck is cut high and the arms are cut small (less ease where you need it to fit). And the drape of a knit would fall well and not look bulky where it’s loose and swingy through the body.
To decide on what size to make, I used one of my knit tank tops that fits well. I turned it inside out, folded it in half and laid it on top of the pattern. From there I could see that I could keep the same neck and arm hole size as the woven tops I made, but needed to come in through the body. I sized down 2 sizes.
To bind the neck I used the binding pattern pieces but cut them each an inch shorter. Then I sewed the binding on just like the instructions for the woven tops, only I stretched the shorter knit binding to meet the size of the neck opening.
Just the details:
Pattern: Kiomi Dress from Everyday Style book
Fabric: Huckleberry Cotton/Modal (cotton/rayon)
Modifications: Used a knit instead of a woven
I don’t have a full grasp of the complexity of sewing for a three dimensional body, so I haven't tried self drafting a pattern and I avoid proper alterations. When I don’t have a pattern to make the garment I want… I steal it! That is, I use parts of patterns I like and know fit well, and merge them until I get what I want. The Peony Dress sleeve length + the Esme Dress bodice + the Wiksten Tank hem. Boom! I’ve got just what I’m looking for.
I held the paper pattern up to myself to determine the length of the dress. Then I taped the bottom of the Wiksten Tank to my pattern. To get a v-neck of the right depth, I used a v-neck top that I like and folded the pattern piece back. I used the pattern with the v-neck fold to create a new front neck facing.
The Esme Dress already has sleeves but I wanted a short sleeve. I used the sleeve pattern piece from the Peony dress to get just the right length.
The last modification I did was to add inseam pockets. I used the pocket piece from the Pilvi Jacket in the book.
Just the details:
Pattern: Esme Dress from Everyday Style book
Fabric: Plants in Black (quilting cotton)
Modifications: V-neck, short sleeves, shirttail hem
Here's my best advice to you: start with what you have where you are. Roxanne and I have always lived by this advice and it works. What is it that you want to make? What do you have that could get you there? Use old fabric that has no value to you and try it. See what happens. I promise it won't hurt as bad as falling off a horse!