Hey! I sewed myself a knit dress yesterday, and I love it! Check it out!
This is Nancy Zieman's Santa Fe Dress. It is a very simple knit dress or tunic with a draped bodice with the option of sleeveless or long sleeves. This pattern first came on my radar when sewing-blog-empress Gertie posted her version on her blog. I loved Gertie's sweetheart neckline version, but I was even more drawn to the simple draped neckline of the original pattern. I am always on the lookout for nursing-friendly surplice tops and dresses that don't show too much cleavage.
When I found this small scale green and pink printed rayon jersey at my local fabric store, I knew it would be perfect for this dress. Not only is the print pretty and very "me," but I knew it would be very forgiving and hide any flaws. I sewed it up (very quickly; it's an easy pattern) in a size medium with no alternations for fit, and it fits very well!
Some reviewers of the pattern have pointed out that it is a big "nightgowny." I would agree with that. On its own, it is a bit loose and nondescript, although I would definitely wear it this way on a really hot summer day in a casual setting. Incidentally, I have two nursing nightgowns that are not as nice as this that I have worn to tatters - I should make myself an actual nightgown.
Some sewing details: I did most of the construction of this dress on
my sewing machine, rather than my serger, since I wanted to be able to
pick stitches to rework the fit if need be. It was a breeze to sew, and I
didn't even bother to set up my walking foot.
In a less diaphanous fabric, I think I would take in a little at the back and waist, but for
this very lightweight fabric, a little ease is a good thing. Since the
knit was so light and also quite transparent, I copied something I have
seen in RTW knit dresses (I have been closely inspecting my favorite knit dresses!), and lined the skirt with another layer of the
same jersey. This helps to combat clinginess, makes the skirt less
see-through, and gives the dress a nice drape. I will definitely use
this technique again on knit dresses. I left the hem (both hems) raw.
This is my preferred finish for very lightweight knits - it's very
difficult to hem a tissue-weight knit and have it look good. Again, looking at RTW knits, I often see raw edges on lighter, drapier knits and they don't look unfinished.
While this dress is a bit plain on its own, it looks fantastic dressed up with a belt and cardigan. It's nursing/pumping friendly but doesn't show too much cleavage for work. And that draped neckline! The bodice gathers are super flattering. Although it is a very simple design, it may be one of my favorite things I've ever sewn myself!
There is a little bobble on the waistline that I can easily go back and fix or just not worry about it and correct it on the next version. As Nancy Zieman warns in the instructions there is a "lot going on with this seam" and getting all of the tucks, etc., enclosed in the seam was a bit of a challenge. Luckily, as I predicted, this print definitely hides flaws.
I will definitely be making this dress again. I passed up some beautiful gray jersey printed with feathers at the fabric store the last time I went - now I am envisioning that in a long sleeved version of this dress for the cooler season. I am also considering combining the draped bodice of this pattern with the waistband and skirt of the Tiramisu Dress as I continue on my quest for my perfect nursing dress: flattering, comfortable, polished, and providing adequate boob-accessibility.
I wore my new outfit to work today (I added a necklace), and it is so comfortable and wearable! Yay!