This past spring, the Atlantic Sewing Guild to which I belong had what was called a Knits Challenge. The idea was to sew something out of knits, preferably one of two McCall’s patterns, McCall’s 5890 or McCall’s 6247, but not necessarily so. The patterns were chosen for the general simplicity to encourage many to try, but also for their versatility as each had a wide variety of pieces. I had sewn with knits before, like with this customized dress from two patterns, so I went with trying a pattern not meant for knits as my challenge. In the spirit of sewing with knits, I would be expanding my range to be able to sew more things with knits should I succeed, meaning I would be sewing with knits more often in the long run as was the goal for everyone to get some more experience sewing with knits.
On a rather late decision, I chose McCall’s 6602 for my pattern because I thought I could make it very sexy with some design customization, that my current model Susan would like or love, and that she would also model it. I asked Susan because I wanted design in a practical manner of working with someone’s tastes, for real life practical reasons should I ever do this for pay. She would also need to be willing to model it, of course, if I were to be showing it on someone, which I wanted to do.
The McCall 6602 pattern had a lot of potential to be sexy, but it did a horrible job with its pictures to convey its potential (see pics below). The seizure inducing mess of a fabric option was terrible, and didn’t show the pointy design feature on the front. Meanwhile, the plain fabric version hid that pointy design feature. In other words, the design could have done without it like other similar dresses. So if one didn’t highlight it, what was really the point?
That was how I went about creating my design, to show the pieces as if colour blocking, but added a sexy touch. I noticed that pointy strip it had to be running on to the bust, as if to point out the bust points, although it did more so in the sketch rather than in the way things turned out. Leading, sure, but then I thought about putting lace there to give a little peek into areas of the bust not commonly seen. Everybody does cleavage when it comes to flaunting bust. The other areas, like side and under side, are less often seen, and would be sexier for that reason, in my opinion, so long as the person had the natural bust for it. I’ll let you figure out what shapes that might be from a funny Facebook tagging meme I had created several years ago… and one that was quite popular for some reason!
I was lucky my friend and model Susan did have a bust for it, and didn’t mind showing it off.
With this project being for a knit project, I chose a black jacquard spandex like knit and laced it with pretty heavy red lace so it wasn’t too scandalous. Just scandalous enough you could see some side and under bust, with the strip also running down past the waist and hips to allow the wearer to choose what message she wanted to send that she was wearing for underwear… if any.
I extended the strip past the front in a feature not in the original dress pattern. That and the beautiful V-drop collared back design would confirm to all who saw it the person wouldn’t have been wearing a bra. I then made the neck a V-style to match the back theme, as well as the bent in the strip on the side, and showed next to nothing of chest to leave the focus on the lace strip. Too much competing interest isn’t a good thing in design. Then I upped the hem line to where Susan liked it to be sexy. Finally, I used a matching white jacquard knit for the back collar, trimmed with red, for a punchy red, white and black colour combination. So nothing too revealing, but definitely subtly suggestive!
My major challenge with sewing this dress was fitting. Using a knit, I reduced the pattern down to what I thought was a zero ease garment, but it was still a touch too big, and the back collar didn’t sit too well. I ended up making it twice, essentially, with what amounted to a slightly negative ease, or smaller than size suggested by a few sizes, garment. The wearer could then stretch it just a tad to hug her curves. Also had to take in the shoulders to help it not slip off. It was OK as the pattern suggested for standing around and walking. Dancing would have been a bit more nerve wracking for potential wardrobe malfunction. Ripping wouldn’t be a concern because I serged the entire thing on all the seams and edge finishes! Only did sewing to top stitch down a few seams, strips and such. Having done lots of origami over the years, I probably even serged a few seams and edges to attach certain pieces you probably still wouldn’t have expected.
The results are shown in the gallery below, with my grading system to follow.
|1. High contrast||7|
|2. Non-generic colours||3|
|3. Interesting colour combinations||6|
|4. Tone or big bold prints||10|
|6. Good fit||8|
|8. Creative cuts||9|
|9. Practical wear and care||8|
|10. Memorable look||10|
- Red, white and black is high contrast, but the white is only in the back. Skin tone helps a bit otherwise.
- The jacquard tone and lace gives a tad of offset to plain old red, white and black.
- You see a lot of stuff with two of the three colours I used, but not too much of all three.
- Everything had a pattern on it, whether jacquard or lace, with the black and white jacquard matching.
- Not so much symbolism, but universally suggestive. Anybody from any culture looking at this dress would be noticing the bust window and trying to make out details through the mid-section to see what the person was wearing underneath. No meaning lost there!
- Collar bottom could still be tightened, probably raised a bit to make a better fit.
- Only real asymmetry would be the jacquard pattern not easily seen, and lace strips being a bit different side to side so as not to be an exact symmetry. I could have easily done different coloured lace windows, but felt it was too distracting. I wanted you to be looking at the wearer’s body and what the garment allowed you to, not get a reaction from the asymmetry which you might not have liked considering our human nature’s propensity for symmetry.
- I love the cuts in the pattern, and except for that extended strip on the back side along the bra line, I can’t take credit for it. But I did choose the pattern for the creative cuts!
- Very easy to throw in the wash and steam iron, or just hang dry. Probably could just stretch out the wrinkles in wearing as it gets stretched just a tad upon wear for the body glove fit. You should have seen the look on this girl’s face in the laundry room when I was transferring my wash to the drier and I had a look at how the dress came out. I told her it wasn’t mine, and that I had designed and made it. She came back with she still thought it’d look hot on me. I disagreed, telling her I thought it’d look hotter on her, lol.
- I think it’d be memorable to see at a party, if nothing else for how long it might grab someone’s interest to gauge what the person might or might be wearing underneath.