Alright hagfish. We’re not going to get into your whole eating your prey from the inside out. It’s just too much for me to face in the morning. We’re just going to get right to the plotting. It’s all about my sweater dress obsession today. I have in my possession four yards of super stretchy sweatery knit that I really would like to be a sweater dress. One such as this little number…

{image Avenue}

I’ve been working on this sweater-dress problem for a few weeks, even getting so far as to making a muslin from an adaptation of this pattern from Serendipity Studio. For those of you too lazy to click, the Serendipity dress is a kimono-sleeve style number with a full skirt. I converted the skirt to a straight skirt and tried to get the sizing right for a close fit that stayed a healthy distance away from a stuffed sausage-looking dress. I made the muslin from some strange black stretchy fabric from the Hancock value section. Suffice to say the muslin was underwhelming.

The main trouble I’d been having with coming up with the design I wanted had to do with getting the skirt to hang in a smooth, yet fitted fashion. Since it’s a knit fabric, it’ll be more clingy by nature. I’ve found that I like skirt styles that start out from a high, wide waist band and that fit smoothly over my hips. If there are too many gathers, it’s unflattering. Also unflattering is a waistband closer to my natural waistline as this accentuates my extreme waist tilt! It’s hard enough getting this line right in wovens, working with a knit was baffling.

‘ve been waffling about adding fitting details (like darts) or just going for a gathered waist that’s more like the RTW sweater dresses that seem to rely on shaped waistband made from a rib-knit coordinating fabric and the ‘shape’ is mainly the shape of the body underneath. I also wanted to avoid the shapeless, classic ‘plus size’ knit dress look that screams ‘house dress.’ I decided to utilize a BELT in providing the shape… something closer to this:

{image Avenue}

Ah, the beauty of a belt. I think I will still try to add SOME shaping around the waistband, but that will some mainly from cutting the fabric in one piece with a dip for the waist and then adding some sort of elastic treatment at the waist area. Either a few rows of casing (hard to get straight on a one-piece pattern, easier (but bulkier) if I cut bodice and skirt separately) or the stretch out the elastic while zigzagging directly onto the fabric method. I think I’ll end up wearing with a belt, but it’d still be nice to help things along. I don’t find it super comfy to just belt up something loose – the belt slides around and there are odd folds where the fabric gets bunched under the belt.

Here is a swatch of the fabric I’m working with – it’s very stretchy and thin and will probably need to be lined or underlined.

And here’s a little sketch of where I’m going…

I’ve madly searched the pattern books and haven’t had any luck finding a pattern. I’ve developed a strong desire of a large turtleneck and there just isn’t a lot out there for shaped, knit dresses. I found a few of  the housedress-style patterns for knit dresses, and a few tunic patterns with the neckline I have in mind, but no great mix with all the design details I really want: knit fabric, floppy turtleneck, shaped waist, real (NOT dolman) sleeves, straight skirt and available in my size to avoid having to grade AND deal with the perfect amount of ease for a knit pattern. I DID find two patterns that are close, though, so I’m hoping to franken pattern them into the perfect sweater dress!

First up I found this Sandra Betzina tunic pattern from Vogue…

{Vogue 1197}

What I like about this pattern is the neckline, the awesome, super long ruched sleeves and the fact that it is a Sandra Betzina pattern. While I think her style is generally crazy pants, the sizing goes up to a 57″ hip and the instructions are usually great. This particular pattern has raglan sleeves, which I really like as well. Of course, there is no waist shaping to speak of and this isn’t a dress pattern – the tunic only goes midthigh and I want a DRESS!

I also found this Kiwk Sew pattern which at first glance seems almost perfect!

{Kwik Sew 3659}

Look, you slime-producing fish of the deep! A knit dress pattern! What’s not to like?? Well, I’ll tell you. This sweater is cut in only TWO PIECES for the main body! The arms are dolmann style and cut as one with the bodice. Sigh. I really like that sleeve style sometimes, but it’s not comfortable to wear with coats and cardigans – the sleeves bunch up too much! Also, this only goes up to a 47″ hip, so I’d have to grade up; something I’m trying to avoid as I have a hard time compensating for the extra ease in knits. When I grade on my own I end up with something that’s either too small or too giant…

Nevertheless, I got both patterns. my thought is that I can use the Vogue pattern as my main pattern and ‘line up’ the waistline dips of both patterns and then use the skirt shape and length from the Kwik Sew pattern to extend and shape the bottom of the Vogue tunic. The Kwik Sew pattern will be smaller, but I’m hoping that it’ll be easy enough to eyeball the skirt shape and trace on to the sizing lines from Vogue pattern, if that makes sense.

So that’s the plan so far. I will put it into action shortly – last night I mostly finished my Colette Jasmine blouse – tonight I hope to do all the hand sewing to get the collar under control and to hem the sucker, then I’ll move on to operation sweater dress.

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