Monday, 19 August 2013

Paisley Tiramisu

So I made a dress from knit fabric. Those who know me will realise that me using a knit fabric is a very rare occurrence. In fact I've only ever made one item from knit fabric before. I didn't really enjoy the experience and wasn't enamoured by the outcome, although saying that I wear the dress a lot, so it can't have been too bad! It was also made long before this blog existed, so that's probably double reason it can't have been that bad, as it's still going strong!

Anyway to join in with the WSBN's Cake day, I decided I'd be brave and make Steph's Tiramisu dress.

Tiramisu Knit Dress from Cake Patterns- Multi-Size 30"-50" high bust, 25"-50" waist 

I love the image on the front of this pattern and all the other versions around the blogasphere have tempted me that I needed to really give it a go.

So armed with my pattern and some paisley knit I secured from the Arthur Toye half price sale, I got creative. I'm not really sure what the fabric is, it's polyester knit, but it has a kind of sheen to it.

The first problem was what size to cut. The back and midriff pieces are sized by the high bust measurement. The front pieces are sized by the full bust measurement and the skirt is taken from the waist measurement. It all sounds good, it ensures the dress has a good fit where it's needed. 

However, I was stumped. My high bust measured 39", and my full bust 40". Very odd, because the pattern actually states cup sizes, well using these measurements I was cutting a 35 back and 40A front. There's no way I'm an A cup. I think the problem is I have a broad upper back, which was possibly skewing the upper bust measurement. But after consultation with others and the creator herself, I went with these sizes.

I had loads of fabric left over, look at this lot!

I encountered all sorts of strange problems which I kind of cobbled through. 
  • Having a 35 back and 40 front, my shoulder seams were completely different lengths, so I had to trim the front ones to fit the back.
  • I didn't know whether to cut the front midriff with a 40 measurement to match my front bust pieces, but in the end went with the 35. [The midriff pieces actually have the bust measurement along one size and the waist along the other.]
  • The pattern asks for gathering stitches to be run through the bottom of the front bust pieces, I don't know why these were there, as when I put the front bust pieces together, the bottom of the front as well as the bottom of the back pieces were shorter than the tops of the midriff pieces. I even wondered if I was supposed to add a seam allowance to the back, the difference was so great.
  • I ended up trimming about half an inch from the top of each midriff piece so the side seams would match up.
When I tried the bodice at the first fit check, I was decidedly concerned. It fit, but it was like a decidedly fitted T-shirt. In fact you can see the pulling there from the under bust seam.

I really didn't know what to do. I was considering completely starting again with the spare fabric....

After consultation with members of the WSBN (I feel so lucky to have them all at the end of a Facebook page!), I was told that the weight of the skirt would probably lengthen the bodice and also help with the fit. So I soldiered on.

I unpicked my basted side seams and attached the skirt pieces to the midriff pieces. Mindful of how tight it had been I finally stitched the side seams as narrow as I possibly could. I like the way the whole side seam is stitched as one from the armhole to the bottom hem as with a men's shirt.

I kept my fingers and toes crossed (which made the sewing difficult :-) ) hoping it would work out. I think the gods were on my side. The finished dress looked OK...

I left the dress hanging to drop out the hem. Then had a panic about two hours before our tea party, when I realised I'd not hemmed it! I contemplated leaving it, but decided I'd probably not cut it straight. Thought about using my new twin needle, but decided I didn't want it much shorter, plus didn't really know how the needle would behave. So in an hour I hand stitched the hem, stuck the dress on and rushed out the door, nearly forgetting my lemon drizzle cake I promised to take along!

This is only the second item of clothing I've ever made from a knit fabric. I think I did much better with this, using a very narrow, but long-ish zig-zag stitch. All this is suggested on the pattern, which is great for a beginner or a novice with knit fabrics. The pattern also recommends the use of interfacing to ensure particular seams keep their shape. I cut lengths of about an inch wide to face the shoulder seams and the pockets.

Oh, pockets, did I mention this pattern has pockets! I've put pockets in each side seam. Great, I love pockets! However with the drape and feel of this fabric, in hindsight I might have left them out, they just don't lay flat and bulge unless I really am careful how I fold my handkerchief! :-)

None of the seams are finished. I don't have an overlocker and the fabric doesn't fray, so, why should I? I'm please with how the edging went on the neckline and the sleeves. They look quite tidy!

So the finished dress...

Mm, methinks the wind had blown my hair somewhat!

I think I possibly could have got away with it a bit shorter, this is a very ladylike hem length! Anyone would think I was a librarian! :-)

I don't really need a swayback adjustment, I just didn't pull the dress down

Can't resist an excuse for a twirl and this does twirl quite well!

The details
Fabric:  Polyester knit in a paisley pattern from Arthur Toye's sale, July 2013.
Notions:   Just the interfacing for the seams and sewing thread.
Pattern:  Cake Tiramisu
First worn:  For the WSBN Cake Party at the end of July
Worn with:  Everybody black pumps from a shoe shop in Edinburgh (UK), and some red tights (I think they are Columbine Chilli colour from Farmers.)
Changes made:  Well none really, bar the fudged alterations mentioned above. I did cut the skirt a bit longer, but only about an inch.
Another one?  Well maybe. I like the shape of the dress. It actually gets lots of wear, I think I've worn it once a week since I made it. The fabric does lose shape with wear, so I have to remember to wash it frequently. The problem I've experienced is that I have to wear a vest top or something else under it. If I make it again I think I'd cut a larger front, so I'm not constantly wearing something under it. At the moment, it is decidedly indecent without.

So, to whet your appetite, here is a final photo with it's names sake (made by Sewist Stitch)

The nice photo...

...And the greedy one :-)


  1. I love the way your frock came out :)

  2. Your dress looks great - working with knits is growing on me.

    1. Mm, strangely enough, me too! I might have to give another one ago.

  3. Lovely dress Nikki and I think you need to do more knits!! :)

    1. Will do, it came out much better than I expected, so am encouraged!

  4. Sounds like you worked through those fairly big problems with the pattern with aplomb... well done! I really love the grey with those fun red tights :)

    1. He he, thanks. I'm glad it's in greys and blacks, I can wear all sorts of coloured tights with it. Might have to try the mustard yellow ones!

  5. It looks even better in real life - and I agree, we are so lucky to be able to easily bounce ideas off each other, all our combined experience, yay :)

    1. Yep, agreed. I really don't know what I did before I met you all! How did I manage to sew anything?

  6. I think you did a great job! And it's such a pretty fabric!

  7. Pretty dress, I'm glad you got the fit sorted! My mum is really keen for me to sew her a Tiramisu, is it definitely worth it?

    1. I do like the dress and wear it quite a bit. Although you may want to do a fit first for the top, unless she's a pretty standard size. I think the front of mine was too small and so I have to wear something under it, otherwise it's a tad indecent!

  8. Love the fabric you chose! I think the more you sew with knits the more you'll like them. I've made 3 super comfy knit dresses now and wear them all the time!

    I landed in NZ on Friday night and travelled up to Christchurch to pick up the kitties today and now they are snuggled up by the fire :)

    So happy to be home, we did our first grocery shop on Saturday and it was so nice to see all those kiwi brands we missed. And L&P chocolate? Mind = blown!!

  9. I'm still really cautious of knits. That has to be my sewing project for the next year or so! BTW our elephant painting came from Nood in Wellington.