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SOSM Round 2: Christine Haynes Marianne Dress

July 12, 2015

Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressOfficially, Super Online Sewing Match contestants had ten days to sew Christine Haynes’ Marianne dress for Round 2. Practically speaking, I only had about 4 1/2 days to complete this challenge because I spent most of the last week in Montreal for the major international book history conference. Needless to say, I spent last Friday morning keeping a close eye on my email to find out whether I had made it to the second round and what we would be sewing. I was thrilled to learn that it was the Marianne dress, and, after spending a little while brainstorming potential design options, I headed to my local Jo-Ann to see what I could find. Fabricworm generously sponsored this round, but I had no time to spare waiting for fabric to ship–I’ll have to check them out another time. Red Knits_SOSM Marianne Dress Fabric MacroI hope this photo doesn’t make you cross-eyed! I used my macro lens to show that my main fabric is, indeed, a knit. It’s one of those denim-look fabrics that I imagine are meant to be used for jeggings. I came across it in the clearance section, and I decided to make a Marianne dress inspired by the classic combination of jeans and a t-shirt.
Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressWith fabric in hand, I got to work making a muslin. This was actually my first time using one of Christine’s patterns, though I’ve admired her work for a long time, so I definitely needed to check the fit. I was optimistic when I saw that my measurements fit neatly into a size 8, but the finished muslin was too big and looked frumpy on me. I got out the pins and made quite a few adjustments for a flattering fit. First, I went down to a size 6 all over. The most important thing that this did was raise that front yoke seam to the top of my bra cups, which immediately made for a nicer fit. I also nipped in the side seams significantly at the waist to avoid drag lines from the bust. Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressThere was even more work to be done in the back. I nipped in the side seams at the waist here as well, but I also removed 1 1/4″ total from the center back and did a 1″ swayback adjustment. Finally, I added 1″ in length to the dress along the lengthen/shorten lines because I never wear dresses that feel too short. Although my pattern pieces look fairly different from the originals, I think I’ve stayed true to Christine’s design lines while making this pattern work for my body.
Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressSince I had removed some width from the center back, I had to do the same for the neck binding. This means that I have a slightly smaller neck opening than other Marianne dresses, but my head still fits through! In future versions, I may open up that neckline a bit to compensate and allow me to edgestitch down the seam allowance. Red Knits_SOSM Marianne Dress
I am lucky enough to own a serger, but I almost never use it for the construction of a garment. I prefer to use the 3-step stretch stitch (also known as a lightning bolt stitch) for the seams, and finish with serging as I would on any other project so that I know the seams are nice and secure. In order to keep my seams from ruffling, I just adjust the differential setting on the serger.
Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressThis pattern calls for the shoulder seam to be reinforced with clear elastic, which I find really important for any dress or top made from knit fabric. However, rather than center the elastic on the seam line as the pattern calls for, I prefer to butt the elastic up to the seam, zig-zagging it within the seam allowance. This reduces the bulk in the seam, allowing it to be pressed nicely, but still provides plenty of support. Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressI’ve been using a serger for a long tiem now, but it was only recently that I learned I could get a tidy finish on serging in the round such as this seam where the cuff attaches to the bottom of the sleeve. I used to have a little blip where I had come back to the beginning of the round, but now I’m able to maintain a pretty even seam allowance by serging just a few stitches past it and then pulling the seam out from under the presser foot just as I do when sewing. Much nicer!
Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressThe short sleeved view of Marianne would feel pretty good here in the heat of summer, but I decided to go with the long sleeved version instead. I have a decent collection of short-sleeved knit dresses from my sewing in the past year or so, and I just loved these cuffs too much to pass them up! I may have to wait a little while to wear it, but I think this version will make a nice three-season dress. Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressWhen I started thinking through my jeans-and-a-tee-shirt concept, I considered all sorts of options I could incorporate into my dress to really drive the idea home: pockets, lots of extra topstitching…you get the idea. In the end, I chose to keep it simple. The buttons on my cuffs remind me of the buttons and rivets on jeans, and I did some double-needle topstitching on the hem. To make that topstitching pop, I used a silvery, slightly metallic rayon thread intended for machine embroidery.

It can be difficult to get a nice hem on knit fabrics, so I combine several techniques for a nice finish. I first serge the raw edge to clean it up and lend it some stability. Then I press up my hem allowance using Wonder Tape rather than pins to keep things perfectly intact until I can get to the sewing machine. I stitch with a double needle and a longer stitch length to allow for some stretch. To prevent tunneling, I drop down the tension as far as I can and use Wooly Nylon in my bobbin.
Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressOne last photo: my husband/photographer/artistic director decided that since my inspiration was “all American,” I should toss a football around in the photos. I do not know how to interact with any kind of sports balls, so that didn’t work out so well.

I’m just thrilled with how this dress turned out. I can’t wait to get some use out of it when the weather cools down, and I may have to make some short sleeved versions before then. If you’re looking to try sewing knits for the first time, this pattern would be a great start.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2015 8:42 pm

    Your time crunch definitely didn’t stop you from another great make!

    • July 13, 2015 5:37 pm

      Thanks! It sounds like I wasn’t the only one with a few conflicts this week.

  2. July 13, 2015 1:26 am

    I love this classic “all American” look! Can’t believe you found that fabric at joanns!

    • July 13, 2015 5:38 pm

      Thank you! I really lucked out with the knit selection–they can be pretty hit or miss.

  3. July 13, 2015 10:30 am

    Wow, your Marianne is PERFECT! It fits like a glove, and the fabric combination is super cool.

    Would you mind sharing how you did the swayback on a dress like this without a waist seam?

  4. Anne permalink
    July 13, 2015 11:23 am

    You and that football… Ahahah. I think the buttons are my favorite part. And I’m so jealous of your conference! Hope you had a great time. Maybe you should start a PhD/book history blog? Please? 😉

    • July 13, 2015 5:39 pm

      Haha…I’m already spending so much time at the computer that I don’t think I can manage another blog. But I do some book history tweeting over at @cherylaread 🙂

  5. July 13, 2015 12:34 pm

    What a fantastic effort of getting the fit so perfect! Love your fabric choice too.

  6. July 13, 2015 2:34 pm

    Love your dress & would love to know more about how you did those back adjustments, especially the sway back one.

  7. July 13, 2015 3:22 pm

    I love the denim-look knit as a dress, and it goes really nicely with the contrast fabric! I really admire your fitting skills, too. This fits you so perfectly!

    • July 13, 2015 5:40 pm

      Thank you! That means a lot–I’ve only gotten serious about proper fit in the last couple of years, and I still have a lot to learn.

  8. July 13, 2015 7:09 pm

    Super Cute! This dress is so versatile! Love the jean knit fabric!

  9. July 13, 2015 8:37 pm

    Your “casual” idea turned out really nice, LOTS nicer than just jeans and a tee shirt!! Great job 🙂

    • July 18, 2015 7:37 pm

      I just love how a knit dress is way more comfortable than jeans, yet looks more put together. Such a win!

  10. July 13, 2015 10:14 pm

    The fit is spot on! And the length is flattering too! I like the thoughtfulness in choosing the two fabrics and the buttons are perfect! Best of Luck in making it the next round!

  11. July 15, 2015 7:09 pm

    Your dress is fab, from the fabric to the fit!

  12. July 16, 2015 12:50 am

    {{{Hugs!}} So sorry you haven’t made it to the next round! Just know that you are a solid sewer with awesome ideas! It’s impressive how you take a concept from conceptualization to completion! xo

    • July 18, 2015 7:38 pm

      Sue, you are so sweet to come back and comment a second time. It’s too bad that I don’t get to continue on. I suspect I shouldn’t have admitted to shopping at JoAnn…


  1. Super Online Sewing Match II: Round One Showcase of Marianne Dresses | Sew Mama Sew | Outstanding sewing, quilting, and needlework tutorials since 2005.

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