I’ve been learning to sew with knits lately, which has proven to be a lot of fun. Today, I’ll show you three versions I made of a dress pattern called Mirri, from Wardrobe By You. It looks like a wrap dress but actually isn’t—the bodice is sewn in place, which is how I prefer wrap dresses. (They can’t come unwrapped this way.)
Here’s my first Mirri, modelled by the ever-lovely Nellie:
This is sewn from a knit fabric that I found in the sale bin at my local fabric store. It’s probably a polyester and lycra blend. The idea was that the test-sew would be cheap—and disposable, if it didn’t work out, but pretty enough to wear, if it did work out.
This pattern has a minimum of pieces—left front, right front, back bodice and the skirt, which is the same for front and back. The fronts have self-facings, and there are two bands to finish the sleeves. No zipper or fastening. You just tug it over your head.
The dress is quick to cut out and quick to sew—the only note I made on the instructions was to finish the edge of the self-facing on both fronts before sewing the dress together. (Because you know what I did the first time.) I used the serpentine stitch on my machine to do that, then the overlock stitch for the seams. I sewed down the collar with the twin needle and top-stitched the sleeve band with it, too.
For the hem, I pressed on a narrow strip of fusible knit interfacing to stabilize the hem, pressed it into place, then sewed it with the twin needles, too. I like how polished that finish looks.
The fit is perfect and the length is just right. No fitting changes! Yay!
I cut out a second Mirri in a scuba knit, which is heavier than the first knit fabric, that I also found in the sale bin. The image on the scuba knit was printed in 80cm panels, and also mirrored on the center fold. I pushed this around a bit and decided that there was no ignoring that mirroring so I should work with it. I centered the skirt pieces and the bodice back on the center fold. Each skirt piece used the better part of one 80cm panel, then the bodice pieces all came out of the third one.
This one is a bit bolder, but I like it a lot:
The side seam on the skirt mirrors similarly to the center front and center back.
This version of the dress taught me a lot about the differences between knit fabrics. The scuba knit is a lot thicker so I made a few changes as I was sewing. On the first dress, I pressed both waist seams down, but to avoid bulk at the side seams in the scuba knit, I pressed one up and one down.
By this time, I also had a system for the collar. You sew the bottom of the collar (on the fronts) to the back neck, then the shoulder seams after that. This is the only tricky bit, as there is a nice 90 degree corner at the end of the collar seam where it meets the shoulder seam. I had the best luck sewing the shoulder seams from the sleeve toward the neck on each side. I pressed the collar seam up (towards the collar) and the shoulder seams back. I had turned under the seam allowance on the back neck facing on the first dress, making a neat inside collar with no visible seam allowances. On this one, I finished the facing and didn’t turn it under, which reduced the bulk of the seam. It still looks neat, and I like the look of the twin needle stitching to hold the facing in place.
This dress fits more snugly and the collar stands up higher. The scuba knit just has less stretch and drape. (I think it’s going to be warmer, too.) In future, I’ll cut a little more ease when using a scuba knit.
You can also see that while I was sewing the second Mirri, Nellie’s corner got a little more crowded. Now, she has to share the space with a bookcase to hold my stock for booksignings, as well as (inevitably) some dragons.
Finally, I graduated to more expensive fabric. I’d been saving this piece of cotton and lycra knit until my skills improved. It’s from the Netherlands and is really amazing. I loved it as soon as I saw it, but wasn’t sure what to make with it. Mr. Math always hums Go Ask Alice when I pull it out to look at it and it is a bit wild. (That’s why I love it.) I should have taken a picture of it uncut, but you can see it at EmmaOneSock where I bought it – this link will take you to their product page for this fabric, if they still have any of it left. I actually used the pieces cut of the scuba knit as my pattern when cutting this out—then I used the first cut skirt as a pattern to cut the second, so I could make sure the pattern matched up.
It still needs a good pressing, and to be hemmed, as well, but Nellie really wanted to try it on:
Since I only had two panels, I didn’t have many options for placement of the pieces. In hindsight, I don’t know why I was convinced that the two skirt pieces had to be identical. There really is no matchy-matchy with this fabric and more chaos might have been more interesting. Also, if I’d used another zone for the second skirt piece, the two front bodices would have been more different than they are.
This knit is stretchier than the scuba knit, but still a bit thicker than the first knit fabric. The fabric is fabulous – very soft. It does have a little more tendency to stretch in the cross wise direction – and ripple – so I’ll stabilize the shoulder seams with interfacing the next time I knit with it. The fit is (no surprise) right in between Mirri 1 and Mirri 2.
I feel as if my choices for pattern placement didn’t do justice to the fabric and might have to buy another panel of it to make a T-shirt.
I’ve cut out (yet) another Mirri, but will show you that in another post. It’s in a lighter knit than the first one so I’m going to line at least the bodice. (New challenges abound!) Also, I’ll play compare-and-contrast between it and a wrap-front dress that I’ve cut using a pattern from one of the big pattern companies.
And yes, I love wearing dresses. 🙂
What do you think of my Mirri‘s? The more, the Mirri-er?