15 July 2013

Lady Skater Pattern Tour

Even if I was a little slow to cotton onto the fact that a 'skater dress' is an actual type of dress, here it is...the Lady Skater! When I first saw Kitschy Coo's Lady Skater dress pattern doing the rounds, I'm sure it was like 'Oh yeah, Skater hey, cute name'. But it was only when it came time to make my Lady Skater for the tour, that I did a Pinterest search for 'skater dress' (hoping to see some finished versions of the actual pattern) and discovered all of it's long lost 'Skater' cousins from different department stores. It was a skater-fest of all sorts and I was tempted to take this pattern somewhere wild and dangerous but then I remembered it's winter and time for mooching around being cosy and understated.
I knew I would probably like the Lady Skater, I just didn't know I would love it this much! Let me explain, I feel like Lady Skater is the dress equivilent of the girl next door. Friendly, unassuming, says hello over the fence...that sort of kid. She's no statement piece and that's exactly why we love her. A simple knit dress with fitted bodice, flared skirt and options for cap, 3/4 or long sleeves. Being more in the pencil skirt camp and not having worn this style before, I wasn't sure how I'd like it or if it would suit. So I made a safe winter version to go with boots and tights and scarves. That was a week ago and since then it's been worn to work, out to dinner, on the plane, to school pick up and everything in between. There was not the usual fuss over whether to go a print or a solid because lately I've been noticing that the hand-made items I wear the most are the simplest, plainest basics. I love a good print, I won't lie, but the print v solid ratio is getting out of hand and making for quite an 'unwearable' wardrobe. You've got to be in the mood for prints and some mornings they swarm at me!

Given the situation I decided the best bet for making a Lady Skater that would get a lot of wear was one in a solid color, something rich and yummy and a good base for accessories. I'm not usually drawn to brown but there I was fondling fabric at work and I noticed this fabric, I've never noticed before. A random organic cotton knit with the tiniest bit of lycra, beautiful and soft and exactly the sort of thing you'd like to be draped in winter...a blanket of hot cocoa without the burn. This time I was a good girl and obeyed the sizing charts. I made a size four with a couple of mods: 2-3" added to skirt length, 1/2" sheared from bodice length to sit on the waist and sides taken in at waist about 1" each. I didn't have any clear elastic in the stash and used regular elastic for the shoulder seams and waist band. Sleeve length is something I mull over probably more than is normal. I always go for 3/4 or just above elbow sleeves, it's a comfy spot for a sleeve to sit and where cap sleeves cut you off at the widest point in your arm, 3/4 sleeves are universally flattering. These sleeves were meant to be 3/4 but fabric got eaten and now they're elbow length.

Okay, something that's making me a little cray cray...after all this time (well not that long) of sewing knits only now I'm having a hemming situation! Until I started sewing leggings and other things that require a neat looking hem but one that also has to stretch over a body part, I would just do two rows of straight stitch at 3.5 (like for kids tees). On the leggings I tried out a twin needle for the hems, which looked nice but now I'm finding the stitches are breaking when they get stretched over an ankle. Currently I am hemming parts that need to be stretched, like these sleeves, with one row of stretch stitch. Which apart from not looking that nice, keeps eating the fabric. So, given the amount of stretch sewing going on these days I'm seriously considering investing in some sort of cover stitch device...any thoughts?

The ultimate test: would I double dip the Skater chip? Why yes, yes I would. I love it and from all accounts a dress that loves your right back. I'd be temped to make another version in the exact same style. Or turn it into a maxi, a peplum top or some amazing peplum pencil dress. A perfect base with endless styling possibilities...I bashed out this infinity scarf in about half an hour to go with my skater, using this tutorial from True Bias. And on the way to this derelict house I accidentally bought this woollen hat...I blame the skater also!


44 comments:

  1. Great dress! I saw this pattern a few weeks ago and forgot all about it. Now I will definitely revisit it. I use a 2.5mm twin needle on most of my knit hems (except ponti). My tip is to reduce the thread tension to 3 (from 5) and increase the stitch length to 3 (from 2.5). Works a treat for me!

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  2. I tried all sorts of tips and needles and in the end gave up and purchased a cover stitch - love it! I went to Janome in Stafford and they gave me a great deal. You are looking fabulous by the way, love the dress.

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  3. Love this dress on you. I could see how it would easily become a wardrobe staple.
    I just bought some ponte in a similar colour so I may end up making something similar to this soon.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  4. Love it! This is really a great basic - comfy, lovely, and goes with accessories, dilapidated houses included. I'd love to see it as a maxi dress. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  5. Have you thought about trying this flatlocking technique described by Lauriana from Petit Main Sauvage ? http://petitmainsauvage.blogspot.com/2013/06/flatlocking.html

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  6. Great looking dress and now I am all curious about looking up 'skater dresses'! I reached the same point of frustration with knit hems, especially since sewing for my 3 boys and the way they trash their clothes, no version of regular sewing machine stitch (twin needle or otherwise) was cutting the mustard. Snapped stitches everywhere. I bought a coverstitch over a year ago but I have to confess I am still not besties with it, despite having spent a hideous amount of money. I got the Bernette something-or-other. I would have bought secondhand but they seemed rare as hen's teeth. The stitch looks great and stretches well but I am not sure about the tension on the looper and finishing the row of stitches securely. And my kids still manage to wreck the occasional hem, more than on any 'bought' t-shirts. The instruction book is almost useless. So anyway... sorry about the essay but I guess I would say yay for coverstitch machines but really research your choice.

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  7. Love it, you look excellent in brown! As far as hemming, I'm team coverstitch (I have a Janome 1000CPX) but have you tried this way to sew a mock band? http://katiekadiddlehopper.blogspot.com/2013/06/hemming-knits-faux-band.html You're sewing three layers together so your machine is less likely to eat it and it looks pretty neat :)

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  8. I have come to love my triple sig zag stitch. I find I really like how it looks and I use it all the time as its easier than threading up the twin needle, stronger and it doesn't slip stitches as my machine does on normal zig zag. But if you can afford one a cover stitch machine sounds pretty fab.

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  9. I love your version of this dress, I was considering that pattern but figure I can get a similar effect just adding a skirt to my t-shirt pattern. I just bought a coverstitch machine! I got an Elna 444, which is the same thing as the Janome 1000CPX. I'm sure you've seen Andrea's (Four Square Walls) review of hers- I really like it so far, I haven't used it a lot yet and I did have a super light weight knit that I couldn't get it to work with, so it's definitely not a cure-all. But worth it if you make a lot of your own clothes!

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  10. Ahhh I love it!! It's such an excellent basic! Totally flattering and friendly. I totally feel you that sometimes the handmade items that get the most wear are the most basic. It's nice to add some of these to your wardrobe!! Also, I'm envious of your whole look here, and amazed that it pretty much came together right before the photo shoot!! I've been dreaming of coverstitch machines too. Just saw a Janome one mentioned somewhere on a blog that looked relatively civilized in price...

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  11. this looks so great on you- I love the color! Makes me want Autumn to come STAT!

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  12. Love this dress! It just seems so perfect for casual days...in any season!

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  13. I bought a coverstitch machine just over a year ago and....wish I had bought it years and years before that. I love it. I don't feel self-conscious about the hems on my handmade garments when I go out. I bought the Brother coverstitch, based on Sew-4-fun's recommendations (she doesn't blog anymore, sadly).

    Here is my first post about it
    http://sewblooms.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/coverstitch-machine.html

    I use it all the time for binding the neck edges of t-shirts and tanks as well. I bought a couple of binders off ebay for this, as the brother only comes with one size binder.

    I wish I had bought the top-stitching foot, as I use the coverstitch machine to topstitch quite a few knit seams, which I did not anticipate doing.

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  14. Errrr how have I completely missed the existence of this pattern? I feel foolish -- I thought I followed every blog, competition and pattern release possible. Anyway, it's totally my style and something I'd love to make and wear. I always enjoy your prints but you look great in this too! Of course.

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  15. i had no idea that there was any such thing as a skater dress either, so you're not alone with that one! i would love a coverstitch, but just can't swing the cost at the moment. it's firmly on my WANT list though! i have found that when i use a twin needle (if i can get a good stitch--it's hit or miss) a shorter stitch length works better. everyone says longer, but a short stitch uses more thread and should therefore have a little more give to it. anywho, great dress! i've been beefing up my solids and basics as well. they may lack the fun factor, but they definitely get worn more often, which makes me oh so happy.

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  16. Looks awesome. Love the serendipitous wool hat. I have the exact same solid-vs-print issue, except that I think mine is waaaay, way out of hand. I can't remember the last time I sewed something in a solid! I wonder if this is a common impulse, to only by fabrics with a pretty print?

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  17. This is so.damn.cute. Your whole outfit is actually. Now I wish it was winter and I could snuggle in a long sleeve knit dress...

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  18. Great look, I love the way you have styled it too. I too am considering a coverstitch machine, I will be interested to see what you get and then whether I will succumb to getting one too.

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  19. I drew a picture of a dress like this to make - and now I see there is a pattern to match it. Awesome! And your version has convinced me to do it. I just use the humble zig zag stitch. Works most of the time.

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  20. Your dress is beautiful! I'm a twin needle fan. I always use wooly nylon in the bobbin and rarely have a problem with broken seams.

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  21. Stayin' classy lady! Looks fantastic. I'm always drawn to crazy patterns too, but try to restrain myself, because like you, I wear them a lot less!

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  22. Very cute:) love ur styling too, as always ;)

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  23. Oooh, this pattern is so cute and looks great on you! I may consider it, if I ever get to a point where I'm not nursing a little one ... I would hate to stretch out that nice neckline! ;-) I use a twin needle on my regular sewing machine when I want a nice finish. It's a bit of a pain, but a whole lot cheaper than a coverstitch machine, which I have also lusted after!

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  24. Adorable! Both the scarf and the dress. While I love your use of prints, I am a (mostly) solid fabric sort myself so I understand the quiet comfort of a good warm cocoa brown when staring into the closet in the morning. Sometimes I use a hand sewn catch stitch for knits. It takes quite a bit longer but stretches really well. No visible hem though, so it wouldn't work if you wanted to see the stitching.

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  25. You know, I've been buying prints like crazy, and I do love them, but it wasn't until this post you wrote that I stood back and reconsidered the whole thing! I actually also mostly wear solids, knit solids at that, and although I'm really looking forward to sewing up my prints, I think I'd better add a slew of solids to my list or I might create problems for myself too.
    I love this version of the dress, and as soon as I saw it (at around 1am, but nevermind!), I rushed over (on my iPad that I was reading in bed) and bought the pattern. Now I have one question... I adore the chocolate brown fabric you've used. Where did you get it? I'm also in the process of upgrading my sewing machine from my 37 y.o. Husqvarna, and looking at either an overlocker or a cover stitch (I'd get both if I could!) so the comments here are very useful for me too :)

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    1. Thanks Helene, the fabric is from The Fabric Store in Brisbane...

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    2. Thanks so much! I wonder if they have it in their Melbourne shop. On the phone now....

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    3. Score! Melbourne didn't have it, but I called Brisbane, and they knew exactly what I wanted. Luckily they still had some for me, and gave me tips about not drying it in the sun, but it sounds like there's only enough left for perhaps one more dress, so if anyone else wants it, better call quickly. Lucky we live in different cities Sophie, so my copycat dress and your beautiful original one won't likely ever meet ;-)

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    4. Oh that is so funny! Yeah I should've mentioned that we post fabric between stores all the time.

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  26. It looks like the perfect fall/winter dress for all the good reasons you stated.

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  27. This is gorgeous! What a great shape on you! I love it!

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  28. This is so gorgeous and autumnal, you look lovely in it. Great shoot location too - where do you find all these great places? I know what you mean about not knowing how much you'd love it, I felt the same. I also didn't know skater dress was a thing.

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  29. A beautiful staple! I love this silhouette and the color is perfect for fall.

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  30. This dress is beautiful on you! I am a big fan of brown myself and agree that it's often the "basics" that are the most wearable (and least "homemade" looking). I am inspired to try sewing something for myself for a change! On the hems note, have you tried a walking foot? I haven't been sewing with knits all that long but have found a walking foot with my twin needle to be a great combination. But I may not be demanding that much stretch...

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  31. gorgeous! I really love your choice of fabric, and totally agree about the basics and solids (or stripes in my case, which is my version of solid) being the most used. The fabric color is perfect for your season there right now. It makes me wish HARD that it wasn't brutal yucky summer here, and I could dress in long sleeves and drink hot chocolate. You look amazing in your version! I hear you on the hemming thing. If you get a good stretch, it doesn't look as nice as one would hope. A while ago I was ready to get a serger on craigslist and kept an eye on it till I found something I liked. There was this nice Pfaff serger/coverhem machine, which was REALLY what I wanted, and I sent an email about it only to hear nothing for a while. So in the meantime I wound up snatching this barely used bernina serger at a crazy price...Like 300$? I can't remember. Several days after I got that one the lame owner of the coverhem machine emailed me back saying they still had the machine. I was pretty pissed. Lol. Come on! Answer your damn emails! Someday I would still love a coverhem machine because I sew more knits than anything else.

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  32. oh, and I had no idea that skater was a dress style!

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  33. Honey- you've got seriously cool style. Love this dress! Definitely going on the sewing inspiration board. You are too good!

    And- The lightning bolt stretch stitch over a layer of interfacing or parchment is my best method for hemming slinkier knits. Sometimes it just needs that extra weight with the back and forth stitches, and I just tear away the interfacing when I am done.

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  34. I just love this dress. The color, the way you've styled it...everything. I have been eyeing this pattern but am nursing my little boy. Perhaps I will hack it to have a singlet underneath the outer layer so I can lift up the front. :)

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  35. I love your version! Re hems, I don't have anything except an old Pfaff, and I've made a couple of dresses like this - I usually use my narrowest setting zigzag (which I get by pressing the narrowest zigzag and another switch at the same time - so it's half the width of the normal narrow zigzag - only discovered this after years with this machine) for both sewing and heming knits. Looks like a striagh stitch but I have no problems getting my big hands with narrow wrists into the very fitted sleeves with tearing the hem.
    When I have fabric I am crazy about, like Liberty jersey, I hem by hand with herringbone, which is super stretchy and invisible:)

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