If you've been following my Me-Made-May posts, you've probably noticed that I wear knit dresses quite a bit! In fact, I probably wear them more than I did during May... I just tried to vary my outfits as much as I could!
I was excited when I heard that Tasia from Sewaholic had released a knit dress pattern, the Davie dress, but to be honest, I can't say that I was immediately drawn to it. I could tell that it was well designed, as all Sewaholic patterns are, but I just wasn't sure if the style was for me.
It was pretty much because of this fabric that I decided to give the pattern a try. During my last day in Montreal, I went out fabric shopping and bought some solid black cotton knit from Stretch Tex, and some heathered charcoal gray as well, though I didn't have room in my suitcase for that one! I was very impressed with the fabric from there that I used for my maroon Moneta dress, so I was happy to pick up some more. This was a little bit thicker and less drapey than the maroon stuff though, so I decided that my plan to make yet another Moneta dress wouldn't work.
I knew that I wanted to make a dress from it though, because I didn't actually have a little black dress! It was a serious wardrobe gap, but I'm always drawn to coloured fabric so much more than black.
It was then that I remembered the Davie dress, and the samples made up in black. The more I thought about it, the more the pattern grew on me, and I decided to buy it.
I'm so glad I changed my mind, because this dress turned out so well, and it will be super versatile. Although it's a different style than I'm used to, it's very flattering!
I cut out view A (with cap sleeves, knee length) in a size 0, which is my standard size in Sewaholic patterns (even though my measurements don't fit exactly, I've found that a 0 usually fits). I knew that I would want to widen the neckline a little, just out of personal preference, so I started by taking out 1/2" of each side before cutting it out.
Since I have quite a short upper torso, I made the keyhole 1" smaller so it wouldn't be too low on me. Raising necklines is a pretty standard alteration for me, so this was nothing unusual.
Once the front and back were sewn together, the instructions suggest basting the side seams to check the fit, which I'm glad I did. The princess seams were sitting a little low on me (again, due to my short torso) and the armholes were a little big. I took an extra 1/2" out of the shoulder seams, and took in the side seams under the arms 1/4" to fix this. There's a little extra fabric above the princess seam that I'll deal with if I make it again, but it's perfectly wearable like this.
I also decided that I wanted the neckline to be a little wider still, especially since it was now higher after adjusting the shoulders. In the end, I took out 2" on either side, and I also needed to lower the back neckline a little to make it rounded - otherwise, it looked really strange with the wider neckline! I really like it now - I think the wider neckline suits me better than the original one.
Although it's a knit dress, it's constructed much more like a woven dress, since it was originally designed for heavier knits (though the jersey version looks great too!). It has a centre front and centre back seam as well as princess seams, and the instructions suggest sewing all seams on a regular machine, pressing, topstitching, and trimming the seam allowance. I tend to prefer less topstitching, though, so I experimented with some different finishes. As much as I was tempted to just serge all the seams, I wanted them to lay a little flatter, so I sewed them on my regular machine with a slight zigzag, pressed them open, and serged the seam allowances separately. At the keyhole, you need topstitching to keep the seam allowances down, but instead, I used some lightweight Stitch Witchery to keep them in place. Since they aren't really under any stress, I think that should hold them.
I also wanted to see if I could get away with using the same technique to avoid topstitching the neckline and hems. The neckline is finished with bias binding that's turned to the inside, and the hems are just pressed and topstitched. Instead of topstitching, I pressed them up with Stitch Witchery, and hand tacked them to the seam allowances. The neckline seems to be holding up quite well, but I'm not so sure about the hems after throwing this through the wash a couple times. I might have to topstitch them - there'd be no point sewing them by hand since it's quite visible in this fabric.
The last thing I did differently was to add pockets. In her Q&A post about the dress, Tasia suggests not adding pockets, because they would either be droopy and weigh down the dress, or be bulky if the fabric could support them. I've had mixed experiences with knit pockets - the ones in my second Moneta dress droop and bunch up quite badly (I ended up tacking them to the front of the skirt), but the ones in my third (unblogged) and fourth Monetas are quite functional, because the fabric is a little less drapey. Since this fabric was a little thicker than the fabric I used for my Monetas, though, I tried using a woven lining fabric. I had no idea if this would work out at all, but I really, really wanted this dress to have pockets, so I gave it a shot. When I volunteered at Our Social Fabric, I picked up a small cut of black lining fabric that was just enough for the pockets. I used the Cambie dress pieces, and sewed them in like regular inseam pockets.
And luckily, they turned out really well! The pockets don't gape, don't weight down the dress, and don't droop! I don't know how functional they would be for carrying anything very heavy or bulky, but for my phone, lip balm, and some money, they're perfect. In a fabric with more vertical stretch, adding some stabilizer to the side seams (like narrow twill tape) might stop them from weighing down the dress, although removing the vertical stretch in those seams might make it tricky to get on and off.
The instructions suggest letting it hang before hemming, which I didn't think would make a difference since the skirt is cut in panels, but it actually did! I also shortened it, so it's somewhere in between the length of view A and view B now. Depending on how much it had stretched, I shortened it 2-3", then hemmed it.
With those modifications (widening the neckline, tweaking the fit and adding pockets), I'm really happy with this dress! It's very classic and can be dressed up or down easily, plus it's comfortable and flattering. I thought that it would look good with my favourite red heels, but looking at these photos, I think they might be a little much. Oh well - I'll probably be wearing this with flats most of the time anyways.
I'll probably make another one of these in the fall - I'm not so sure I want to make it in a drapier jersey, so it lends itself more to fall dresses made from heavier-weight knits. I have some nice purple ponte knit that I think would be perfect!
Thanks for reading, and thanks to my brother for taking photos for me!
Dress: me-made (Sewaholic Davie)