Tag Archives: Joan dress

How I made the Joan dress out of a knit

Hello again!  Are you tempted to make a Joan dress in a knit?  I used a ponte from Girl Charlee Uk which is lovely quality & a joy to sew with as well.  But what did I do differently to take the Joan dress pattern that is designed to be used with woven fabrics, to get an almost nice fitting version in a beautifully comfy knit?

joan dress

As promised I’m going to share the method & adjustments I used – I am not saying there isn’t an even better way to do this.  But it worked for me!!  Maybe it’ll launch you on your own journey to give it a go?  Coming up with your own adaptations & ideas?

First of all I prepared myself with this article (very timely) in February’s Seamwork magazine on how you can use patterns that are designed for wovens for knit fabrics.  It’s an excellent piece written by Christina Haynes & tells you what to consider about how adaptable the pattern is, how you can break the rules, how darts & closures are not always needed,   It gave me food for thought & prepared me.

joan dress

However, I think my best preparation, as already mentioned, is that I had seen how a tie neck bodice could be made in a knit with the Colette Patterns’ Moneta dress.    I also prepared myself to make the bodice as a toile & sew each seam in basting stitches to fit before overlocking.  And this I did (although why I did not get that sway back right irks me a bit as I will have to go back & adjust it).

Fitting – from woven to knit

So, after some thought I decided to make the Joan dress in my usual size & if necessary make it smaller.  I also felt confident that I would not need any kind of fastenings, so cut the back pieces (bodice and skirt) on the fold (minus the seam allowances) The ponte de roma is a reasonably stable knit with some stretch but not toooooo much.

joan (2)

I was going to make this pattern up with darts & all because Joan is a shapely darling & just because you don’t always use darts with a knit, doesn’t mean they are banned or wrong.  I think the first time I used darts in a knit was with one of Maria Denmark’s dresses, Audrey dress, which uses back darts for shaping).  So I felt that the ponte would behave positively if I stuck to the darts to make this dress super shapely.  And it did.  I just had to make the darts bigger & take much bigger side seams.  As I said, I sewed it all using a long basting straight stitch (with a ballpoint needle) to then work out what fitting I needed to do.

joan dress

Long straight ‘basting ‘ stitch – see the adjustment I am making from the original stitching line

Once I was close to the final fit, I then used my overlocker for the final seams.  NB I basted the side seams but did not overlock them until later, see below!

Here is how much I took the darts in by.  And the side seams.

joan dress darts

Please look closely – there are two lines of stitching, honest!

I plan to make more Joans in a knit, so made a copy of the bodice pattern as adapted for knits…will save me time next go.  All in all by my reckoning the side seams came in by a further 1cm each plus the extra shaping at the darts.

I also used this approach when the time came to fit the skirt – sewing with my basting straight stitch before using the overlocker when I had done the fitting to make the final seams.

So that is how I got the fit (almost, bar sway back.)

Stabilising seams – from woven to knit

You wouldn’t generally stabilise seams in a woven, but I always stabilise my shoulder seams in any knit tops/ dresses that I make by sewing clear elastic, seam binding, or even narrow ribbon in the seam allowance.  My overlocker has a special gap in the foot which allows you to thread through tape/ elastic (providing it is narrow enough) so that it becomes part of the stitching process as you serge the seam.

I also stabilised the waist seam – with clear elastic.  You wouldn’t be able to use non stretch binding or ribbon here otherwise you would not be able to get the dress on & off without a zip.  However I think it is needed & I sewed the seam attaching the bodice to the skirt, then used my regular machine to attach the elastic (not at all stretched, just flat) to the seam allowance.  This adds stability & recovery should the seam get under pressure with being put on/ taken off.  That’s my thinking, anyway, there might be other reasons that it is useful, it certainly will not hurt it.

Inserting the sleeves- from woven to knit

Of course you know that I am going to tell you that I inserted the sleeves flat, not needing to gather the sleeve heads, but carefully used the stretchy properties of the fabric to accommodate sleeves into armscyes.  (I had removed the basting stitches before being able to do this) The sleeves were then completed with the side seams of the bodice in one single seam.  (Which I knew would be OK, as I had already fitted the bodice by basting it together).

Process for attaching the collar & tie neck – from woven to knit

There were some adjustments I made to the process for adding the collar & tie neck.  I still stay stitched the neckline, front & back (with a long machine straight stitch).  I also cut the tie pieces on the bias, (as per woven pattern) as these pieces have to work hard to go around the curves & despite working in a knit, I think you need the bias to max out those curvalicious properties).  Next time I will remember that I only need to cut the collar as one piece too!  After all there is no centre back seam to allow for…But, here’s the main difference between the pattern for the woven & the changes I made- the pattern creates a lined bodice as a woven & this is how the collar’s finish is kept nice & neat, hiding the raw edges within the lining.

joan dress

Now although my raw edges would be nice & overlocked, I did not want them peaking out at unforeseen moments, so I took the route taken with attaching the collar to the Moneta dress, sewing the right side of the collar to the wrong side of the bodice neckline, then flipping the collar out to the right side.   This leaves the inside of the neckline, an area that I felt might come on show accidentally, super neat.

Attaching the collar - following on with the overlocker

Attaching the collar – following on with the overlocker

(Tip: To make sure I got the collar sitting in the right places I also basted the collar on first of all, with a long straight machine stitch, before passing over with the overlocker.  This is much easier than negotiating pins & the tie neck has some very specific match points needed & if they slip it would be more than a bit of a spoiler).    However, remember I mentioned how the bias pieces are needed to navigate the curve of the neckline?  Well I felt that even with a hearty press, the collar might not stay put on its own accord.  I took counter measures & actually slip stitched the collar edge to the neck seam, as that is how the collar liked to sit – kind of folded along its length to hug the curve of the neckline.

joan dress

That might not have made any sense at all to you, so here’s a close up.  The collar is permanently (well as permanent as my hand stitching) in this position.

The kick pleat

Now the woven version of the Joan dress relies on the lining to help with the finish of the kick pleat.  For a knit version, with no lining, you just have to make sure you create the same kind of overlap, securing where necessary to sustain it.

joan dress

I trimmed some of the vertical pleat extension off for the edge that would be underneath the pleat & turned the long vertical edge over & secured it with a regular straight stitch.

joan dress

The top layer of the kick pleat does not have any vertical stitching on it, but I have reinforced the diagonal top edge of the pleat with regular straight stitch.  This also holds the top edge in place.  The hem holds the bottom edge in place and together I think this is all that is needed.

Finally hems.

This is  a figure hugging dress which means the hem of the skirt could be subject to some stretch with a stretch fabric.  Sleeve hems are definitely areas of potential stretch stress.  So hem the Joan dress in whichever way you usually hem your knits- twin needle, coverstitch or triple zig zag.

What do you think?  Tempted?  Go on!

JOan  dress

 

 

Joan dress (by Sew Over It) in a knit!

Well hello Joan!

Joan 1

How many of you were in general swoon when you saw that the Joan dress by Sew Over It was released last autumn?  I Know I went into meltdown as it came out when I was camping sewing & I just desperately wanted to make one for myself ( but couldn’t for various reasons).  However let me tell you a secret…even when I saw it back then, I harboured a fantasy to make Joan with her sexy curves & drop dead gorgeous tie neck….in a knit.  The ultimate in style meets comfort & easy care.  And if you have followed me for a bit, you know that those principles are the ones I prize very highly for everyday sewing/ wearing.

joan dress

So the Joan dress is a fitted dress, with 3/4 length sleeves and a cute tie neck.  It has a separate bodice/ skirt & on me you can see that this seam sits above my natural waistline.  It has bust darts, waist darts (front & back – bodice & skirt), back neck shoulder darts & a kick pleat.  Clearly inspired by Joan Holloway from Mad Men, this is a very grown up dress & one that is super flattering.

joan

Having made the Colette Patterns’ Moneta – a knit bodice with a tie neck I felt confident that I could adapt the Joan dress ( a pattern for use with woven fabrics)  to make in a knit.  Potentially I could lose the zip & the lining, sewing all of it (or most of it) on my overlocker.  The fabric needed to be a stable knit, and I thought a ponte de roma would do the job.

So over I went to Girl Charlee UK, specialists in all sorts of knit fabric to peruse their pontes.  And I have remarked before how extensive their range is.

fabrics

Well, I shortlisted three and asked the lovely folk at Girl Charlee to send me samples & opted to make my Joan dress out of the houndstooth in black/ café.  (They were kind enough to provide me the fabric – thank you!)  This is not my usual colour, (I would have usually gone for a monochrome dogtooth had there been one) but I knew it would fit with my wardrobe & I think the café background is warmer & less severe than a white background so a cool discovery & more gentle for winter skintone.  I decided to go for pattern as I thought it would be a bit  more racy than the maroon which would have been a lovely Joan and a safe bet.   All of the samples felt delicious to the touch – lovely quality, & I have to say, this houndstooth was a delight to sew, but is so soft to wear.  It is lovely.

joan dress

To make it up, I had to do some serious fitting,& I think I could have made a bit more of a tweak on the sway back (& actually I still could since this dress has a separate bodice/ skirt so in theory I could review that back waist seam some more …)  I bet you could really get that Joan Holloway figure hugging maxed out even more, however this is the fit that I am comfy with.

joan dress

There were a few changes & allowances I had to make when adapting the Joan dress pattern for sewing with a knit, & I will write about those in the next blog post.

joan dress

So I am going to leave you with some photos of the finished Joan dress & the wear report.

joan dress

Folks, I felt strangely girly (Or actually it should be ‘womanly’ in the most positive sense) – & comfy – at the same time. Win!  And then  I washed it, hung it on the line & when dry put it straight into the wardrobe.  No ironing.  Score!  It’s got the perfect amount of cosy for this time of year too – worn with black tights & a cardi I am sorted.

Tune in next time if you would like to see what I did to make the  Joan dress in a knit.

PS Trying out different locations in my cottage as backdrops – this is the hallway that combines as a dining area (not that you get to see the dining area!)

Disclaimer I was lucky enough to have been sent a copy of the pattern by Sew Over It & the fabric was also provided to me by Girl Charlee UK in return for a review.  All views are honest & my own.