If any garment could pull me from a seemingly endless sewing slump it would be a Lady Skater Dress. I have made so many versions of this Kitschy Coo number that I have had to trace the pattern twice already, as my first version has fallen apart! This is my easiest “go to” pattern for a work outfit. Pick any random jersey fabric, cut it out, spend some quality time with your overlocker and 2 hours later it’s done. Ta da! It always fits perfectly, is so comfortable to wear and you can dress it up or down.
I have made so many versions of this lovely pattern. But I have to admit that this one started as a disaster. The fabric was something I picked up cheap off ebay and although I was smitten with the print online, when it arrived, although I still loved the huge cobalt blue roses with copper centres, I noticed the fabric had a weird brushed feel to it on the right side. Undetered, in one of those misguided “oh it will be alright” moments, I ploughed ahead with a flouncy sleeve spring/summer version. I made the bodice, inserted the sleeves and then realised it wasn’t going to work. The fluted sleeves that looked so gorgeous on my La Isla Bonita dress were totally out of kilter with something that felt autumnal when you touched it. I remember throwing it dramatically onto The Pile.
The Pile is a dangeous place in my sewing room. It houses all kinds of creations, from those that took ages to make but just aren’t quite right (normally sans hems or proper finishing) to things I have totally fallen out of love with but can’t bear to get rid of the fabric I invested. I am convinced it is a wormhole to another dimension as things seem to magically appear and disappear willy nilly. Not many garments make it out of The Pile.
Fast forward to the Christmas holidays. In a final bid to overcome by missing sewjo I undertook a major tidy up and renovation of the sewing shed. Including, yes, you guessed it … The Pile. This half-make and its remaining fabric was a couple of inches down – I had forgotten how soft and lovely it felt. I yanked it out for closer inspection and decided to do a mini makeover on the half finished dress. I should like to pause for a moment here to remember those garments lost in another dimension from my tidy up. Once The Pile was cleared the inter-dimensional portal closed and those makes the other side are now lost forever … However, I shall await the day with interest when one of our space probes encounters a giraffe print blouse bodice with no sleeves floating above the dark side of Uranus. Don’t say I didn’t warn you …
Anyhow, it was time for some major seam ripping as I got rid of those summery sleeves. I didn’t have much fabric left but there was enough to cut out full length sleeves, having decided if it was going to be a warm and cosy dress it needed the warmest and cosiest option. I inserted the seam in the round rather than described in the pattern simply because I had run out of love for unpicking more seams on a fluffyish knit fabric. Yeah, I know, sometimes I am such a lightweight!
It was time to attach the skirt, after I added some side seam pockets (using those from my Moneta pattern). For me a dress or a skirt feels lacking without pockets nowadays. Adding pockets doesn’t take long and, although many sewers pooh pooh the idea of side seam pockets in a knit dress, I am a convert. I tried it on and the top and sleeves were great but, oh dear … what had happened to the skirt?!
The skirt was very short. Not just “Hello peeking knees” short but more of a “Uh oh, please don’t bend over” short. The more I looked in the mirror, the more I realised it was very, very short indeed. It appeared in my hurry to cut this dress out I had forgotten to add my customary 2 inches to the hem, and for some reason with the way this fabric falls it came up even shorter. I looked at the fabric I had left over … there really wasn’t much, but I though there might be just enough to squeeze out a band to use for the hem if I pieced it. So that’s exactly what I did. It is a very long way around the hem of a Lady Skater skirt. Just saying.
Actually, I’m really pleased with the finished dress, although it’s still about an inch and a half shorter than my ideal. (I have now written a big note to myself on my skirt pattern piece as a reminder.) Those eagle eyed readers will probably also notice my dramatically placed grey rose over one boob. There were so many obstacles to pattern placement with this fabric I can’t tell you. In the end the choice was rose over boob or slap bang in the middle of my chest. The centre front option looked terrible, that kind of central placement I think only really works with a mirror print, so I picked floral boob instead (I decided I have the “tude” to carry it off!).
This will be my last dress for a while as I am about to change up my sewing over the next few months. After lots of feedback The Curvy Sewing Collective is about to launch the Season of Separates challenge, where we will be tackling trousers, skirts and tops. As this is a major gap in my wardrobe and something I always have problems with in RTW I am looking forward to honing my separates skills. If you’d like to join for February’s instalment as we learn the intricacies of crotch depth and other “pant” sewing mysteries then pop over to the Curvy Sewing Collective site and grab yourself a badge.