To celebrate the making of my second Appleton Dress, I figured I should finally write about the first one that I made 5 months ago.
But first, some monologue:
Cashmerette patterns are named after streets in Boston. The Appleton is named after a street in the South End, which happens to be within walking distance of basically every job/all education I had between 18 and 30. I'm talking like 6 different jobs here, and two degrees, and if I extended that circle a bit more I could encompass at least 2 more jobs. It's weird to think that for 12 years I spent the majority of my brain power in such a small area of the city.
|In case you're curious, my jobs did NOT include working at the AMC Loews or Escape Room Boston.|
It was nice to be able to take a walk through the Boston Common and Boston Garden at lunch, or to pop over to all of the shopping in Downtown Crossing so easily. But, I can't say I miss the T delays and crowds of tourists. (Sorry, everyone who has ever visited Boston.)
I picked up my Appleton pattern at Clementine, a beautiful little haberdashery in Rockland, Maine. We were staying in Camden, Maine for a quick getaway sans child and I made a point to find a local fabric store so I could treat myself to a project.
I also got several yards of a knit Art Gallery Fabric (Magnolia nightfall from the Charleston collection by Amy Sinibaldi for Art Gallery fabrics). It says it's 95% cotton 5% Spandex.
|My haul from Clementine.|
And here I am wearing it. We snapped this picture before dashing off to catch the train/drop off at daycare/drive to work:
This dress features heavily in my work wardrobe rotation, so I figured it was time to make another one. Since I've worn the first one quite a bit, I knew there was one primary change I wanted to make, but it was really to go back to the way the pattern was intended to be sewn up. More on that in a minute.
First, my original pattern alterations:
|The front of the wrap|
I wanted to preserve the original printed pattern, so I traced two sizes: a 16 and a 20. I needed a 16 on top and a 20 in my hips. You can see below that I cut the 16 in the shoulders/neck. I made sure that when I traced the neckband pieces, I cut a 16.
I have an absurdly long waist, so I measured the widest point of my hip from my shoulders and compared it to the widest part of the hips in the pattern. I needed to add 4", which also helped spread out the difference between my 16 top/20 bottom. You can see in the photo below that if the extra length wasn't added, I would have had to dramatically flare out at the waist.
The first time I made the pattern, I thought that because of my long waist, the ties would hit too high above my waist, basically on my rib cage/under the bust. You're supposed to cut the right side (the side that sits on top) of the wrap slightly narrower than the left, so it ends about 80% of the way across your front, instead of 100% across your body like the left side of the wrap.
In the picture above, you can see the fold on the right of the pattern piece. You're supposed to cut the left side unfolded, then cut the right side without that 2" or so. Because the neckline is diagonal, if you fold over 2" the edge is higher than the left side edge by 1-1.5". That's where you attach the tie that goes around your body.
Thinking myself clever, I thought that if I cut the right side the full width (i.e. cut it exactly the same size as the left side), that the lower tie would correct the too-high-waist problem.
I don't think it did actually make much of a difference, although I think it made the front of the dress perpetually lopsided when I tied it: because I was pulling the waist tie lower, it would throw off the angle of the vertical edge of the wrap, so it would rotate just enough so that the front edges of the wrap pieces didn't line up.
When I cut my second version of the Appleton, I actually followed the original pattern intentions, and weirdly I think it's actually straighter and the waist ties seem to hit appropriately. Above was the picture I took before I hemmed it or finished the sleeves to see if I was going to keep it as a dress or turn it into a wrap top.
Let's talk fabric. This was sitting on my Trello board (here's a post on how I use Trello to manage sewing projects) and I haven't found any other knit dress patterns I like so I figured I'd go for it.
I paid $16.20 for 3 yards of this DTY knit from Michael Levine when there was a 20% off sale. (It's no longer on the site, otherwise I'd link directly to it.) It's incredibly soft, and you can't beat $5-something a yard. I'd never heard of DTY before -- apparently it's the matte cousin of ITY (which has more of a glossy sheen).
The colors are super rich, and I love the large floral in theory. What gave me pause when I first sewed it up is I thought maybe the large floral had a muumuu vibe, if you know what I mean.
|Exhibit A: muumuu.|
I thought maybe if I made it into a wrap top instead of a dress, it would mitigate the muumuu impression by reducing the amount of large floral fabric, but I decided to just stay the course and finish it. Please weigh in in the comments if I look like I'm walking around in a muumuu because I'd sincerely like to know.
Finished garment pictures. The morning light was shining right in my eyes, so I'm squinting quite a bit in these, but the only way I can take a picture in daylight is if we do it right before work. (Because there's no way in hell I'm going to get dressed up on the weekend to take pictures when I'm hanging around all day. Sorry, that's precious sewing time!)
|Don't you love the picturesque view from my deck? A winter wonderland!|
|Much like my soul, the trees are barren of signs of life.|
|The view most people see as I race past them up the corporate ladder.|
|These flats are my "wearing tights" shoes and I've had them for like 6 years. Maybe time to invest in some new shoes.|
I will say after having worn it at work for a full day that this version is even comfier than my last version. The fabric is soooo soft that I might not even stop wearing it if you tell me it looks like a muumuu.
I do have an exciting update on the "sewing better" front.
Tip Numero 1:
First, I used 1/4" Washaway Wonder Tape to stabilize any areas that needed top stitching. Normally if I do a zig-zag stitch on a knit, the machine stretches the fabric a bit and warps the seam. I read a hot tip on Cookin' and Craftin''s review of the Blackwood Cardigan that suggested doing this and guess what, it really does work!
Here's how I did it (demonstrating on a scrap as I forgot to take pics in progress):
First, I laid the sticky side of the tape down along the edge of the hem (for both the sleeve hems and the bottom hem).
Next, I tore off the paper side to expose the other sticky side.
Then I just folded it to the appropriate hem length and sewed directly on top of the tape sandwich. It added enough stability to prevent stretching, which made a perfect stitch. Once I wash it, it will just dissolve away. Another bonus is you don't have to pin, because the stickiness holds the fabric in place.
Tip Numero 2:
The instructions call for a piece of clear elastic when you're sewing the shoulder seams to prevent over-stretching and add stability. On my first Appleton, I first tried to serge the seam but the fabric seemed to just shred. I think part of this was a fabric issue - it didn't like the serger - but using the elastic would have definitely helped.
When I started my second Appleton, I knew I wanted to use my serger and after testing fabric scraps this knit seemed much more amenable. However, I still hadn't picked up some clear elastic and I did want to stabilize the shoulder seams, so I did a Google search for alternatives to clear elastic and found an awesome tip.
All you do is cut a bias-cut piece of fabric and add it to the seam sandwich. I used some scrap quilting cotton. Because it's cut on the bias, it's a little bit stretchy, but much less stretchy than the fabric would be on its own. That means that there's less stress on the shoulder seam.
It worked like a charm and now that's my new favorite trick for sewing with knits!
That's all folks. Don't forget to let me know if I'm committing the most egregious of fashion faux pas and also please let me know how many wrap dresses are too many wrap dresses. Asking for a friend...