BJ made, knit wrap dress, simplicity 1653

I haven’t sewn with a knit before. For the Mad Men challenge I thought I try one. The pattern I’ve chosen is Simplicity 1653.

I got this lovely wool/modal knit from Addicted to Fabric.


I’m going to write this post as a sew-a-long adding a bit at each stage of the process.

I’ve often found pattern instructions from the ‘big 4’ cryptic, so I ignore them. But this one says it’s an ‘amazing fit’, so I thought I’d try extra hard to do as the instruction say. I’m not going to make a muslin though, too impatient for that. I will however take all the measurements, select the correct pattern pieces and then baste it, wrong sides together, try it on and mark the seams prior to sewing (something I haven’t done before). I’ve never had much luck using tailor’s chalk, it always seems to rub off before I need it. I’ve recently acquired this pen which seems to work well. It marks the fabric clearly then after a few days it fades away completely.


Tonight I did some measuring and cutting.



25 Feb.  As I was cutting I noticed there are different seam allowances for different sections, definitely something to be aware of. For instance the side, front and back seams have 1 inch seam allowances while others have a quite narrow 3/8 inch. I put the stretch needle into the machine.


I stay-stitched the left and right necklines, I can see this would be particularly important in such a stretchy material and sewed the dart in the left front and made the pleats in the right front.


I did some reading about sewing knits. The walking foot on my machine will be useful to reduce stretching. I’ll use a small zigzag stitch for the seams (hopefully the dart and the stay stitch already done in straight stitch will be ok). I’m not going to use my overlocker/serger, so fit adjustments i.e. seam ripping, if needed, will be easier. I’ll give the double needle a go for hemming.



A fair bit of progress tonight, the left and back darts, the right pleats, the front sleeves attached and some hemming on the right front using twin needles (a first)!


26 Feb – more progress today, I attached the front sleeves and sewed the back to the front at the sleeves. The next step, according to the pattern instructions, was to baste the remaining seams wrong sides together to check the fit. I was very reluctant to do this step, being impatient. But actually it’s a great idea and makes fitting much easier.

2014-02-26 17.55.31

The fit looked pretty good, with no major adjustments needed. I attached the ties, then cut again 3/8 inch from the basting. I completed the seams, rights sides together using the machine seam and over-lock function.

27 Feb – tonight I applied the bias binding around the neck and used the double needle to stitch it down.

2014-02-28 07.58.11tmp_20140228_073326-802469955

I also came across this excellent and very informative post by Tilly about preparing and cutting knits. I wish I’d seen it before I started this project, oh well next time.

1 March- I pinned up the hem using my ruler stand (not sure if it’s called that) and glad I did because it was all over the place. I used the double needle to do the hem and the hems on the sleeves, then all done. Was lots of fun will definitely be making another knit up soon.



More really helpful tips here from Gillian, found them a few hours after finishing the dress!


5 thoughts on “BJ made, knit wrap dress, simplicity 1653

  1. Pingback: Joan dress for the Mad Men challenge | barbarajanemade

  2. Hey Barbara you are going great guns on the dress. Cant wait to see the finished product. Thanks for the tips on working with stretch fabric. I haven’t used stretch either, but your experience is very encouraging.


      • The finished product looks lovely and the fabric hangs really nicely . It would be nice to see it on the live model.
        My fabric shopping took a long time due to bad preparation and general indecisiveness. I ended up with a wrap top pattern to make with two Japanese print quilting fabrics! Should be interesting…


      • got to research a mad men pose and organise my photographer (aka Simon) for some final photos. Japanese prints and wrap tops sound very you, look forward to seeing your progress. tessuti online got some gorgeous japanese cottons in this week, you might want to have a look at them.


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