So, how are you? What's happening in your corner of the world / worldwide web? What do you think of this dress? Don't I look just like a basketball referee? (Too many questions?) It's ok, I don't mind as I think I like it anyway. The Referee Dress is kind of the fall out from this post by Melissa Esplin and some lovely soft cotton knit I had recently acquired (yeah from Mood) with no real purpose in mind.
I loved the idea on Melissa's post (despite it being made for a teenager) and because I'm addicted to stripes, I loved the original Urban Outfitters version even more. Particularly the contrast of horizontal and vertical stripes and the split and staggered hemline (which almost makes it sound intoxicated). Despite the fact the original was on sale for $30 by the time I saw it and despite the fact that I didn't actually have enough fabric, I was set on making it myself.
As with Melissa's version, I used Grainline Studios Scout Tee as the basis. Is there anything that can't be based on the Scout Tee? I squared off the hem and then lengthened it by 46cm/ 18in to the front and 58cm/ 23in to the back (I'm six feet tall). The stripes are horizontal in front and vertical at the back (which is great for not having to match stripes!) To get the dress out of one and a half yards of fabric, which thankfully was 60in wide, I had to piece the dress front at the waist. (Not so great for having to match stripes.) I tried so hard to align it exactly so that you wouldn't see the join but it is still pretty obvious. At the time I didn't have my serger which might have produced a better result.
I used clear elastic to stabilise the shoulder seams so they don't sag under the weight of the fabric. I've used this technique a lot with heavier knit tops, dresses and jackets and it works really well. I butt the elastic up against the seam after I've sewn and pressed it to one side and then use a wide zig zag to secure it in the seam allowance, trying to make sure that it doesn't go over the seam line but does go on it.
The dress doesn't have pockets which is a shame. I did try inserting some in the same lightweight knit I used to bind the armholes, but even in a light knit they pulled the side seams down and added bulk at the hips which didn't look great so I took them out again.
I'm so pleased with the neckline. I made the neckband wider than the Scout pattern - finished it is 1/2 inch, and I used a scrap of French terry left over from my knit Belcarra and for once it went in first time with no puckers. I like the contrast with the stripe and I decided not to top stitch it as I like the clean finish - although I have to press it well after washing to make sure it lies flat.
I bound the armholes with the lightweight knit. I cut two lengths 3/4 inch wide folded them in half lengthwise and then with right sides together and raw sides aligned stitched around the armhole. I left a little space at the beginning and the end of the seam so that I could join the two ends together. Once that was done I finished the seam, pressed the binding to the inside and topstitched with my twin needle. Despite my hatred of bias, I like this finish although it would so much neater if I'd been able to finish the edges on a serger (and I could stitch straight ...)
The only thing I didn't take into consideration here was the width of the shoulder. I didn't reduce the length at all. As it doesn't have sleeves to hold the shoulder in place when I move so tends to bunch up on my shoulder. So, if I was to make it again I would take about half an inch off each shoulder at the armhole.
The split angular (drunken?) hem is a key feature on this dress so it needed to be very precise with four right-angular sharp corners. I wasn't sure how to finish the hem to achieve this. Then I remembered the Sutton Blouse has a similar hemline so checked out the sewalong and there was the perfect solution. I again used the twin needle to stitch the hem and made sure that the front hem was folded exactly along a stripe.
It's a very simple dress but the different orientations of the stripes and the hem detail make it a bit different and fun to wear. Looking at these photos it seems it would probably be better made in a knit with better recovery or a woven as I seem to have a saggy bottom. Also the insides aren't pretty; whilst obviously you don't have to have a serger to sew knits it does make for far prettier insides.
So, I'm channelling a look that says saggy-bottomed, scruffy seamed, drunken basketball ref; yeah well, never mind.
See you soon x