My first project of the new year was the Named Tuuli V-neck jersey dress. I love knit dresses, I can simultaneously look fairly pulled together whilst feeling happily comfortable (like wearing secret pyjamas) I’ve made a few knit dresses over the past few years but the V-neck and pleated skirt offered something new and appealing. As with a number of Named patterns it includes a second pattern which with the Tuuli is a bodysuit.
The fabric is Liberty Dufour Viscose jersey I bought from ebay. I’ve done a bit of sleuthing into this and found that it’s probably over stock from a ‘special edition liberty’ ready to wear dress. From experience, Liberty jersey is worth paying that bit extra. It washes and wears incredibly well and is a delight to work with. The Dufour is a viscose knit which has a fair bit of weight to it and lots of drape. I’ve also used the Clarendon, a cotton knit which has a bit more body about it.
The fabric requirements for the dress give 260cm but with a bit of careful cutting (and shortening the sleeves by 5 inches and the hem by 3 inches) I managed to fit it all on. One thing to note is that due to the skirt width it really needs a wide fabric, at least 130 cm.
I received a copy of the paper pattern for Christmas. The bodice and sleeves were easy to trace, the skirt piece however looked a bit daunting. The pattern piece is overlapped but also off set so you need to trace the first half, rejig your paper and join on the second half. There’s a lot of markings for the pleats, which are different for each size so it looks a bit like a particularly involved Burda magazine pattern. Instead of marking all the pleat lines on the fabric I took a gamble and did small snips and bigger snips. I just had to remember that the small snip needed to be folded to meet a big snip (not sure if that makes sense) One really important thing to remember is that each front and back skirt piece needs cutting separately and not on two layers, if It is cut with folded fabric the pleats won’t work properly (they need to go in the same direction all the way around)
I cut a size 46 which was nearest to my measurements. There’s quite a good size range going from a 32 (30-24-33) to a 50 (46-40-49). There’s a bit of negative ease in the pattern, around four inches over the bust and a couple of inches at the waist.
There’s a good reason for the skirt pattern piece needing to be overlapped, it is HUGE, there’s 2.5 metres of fabric in the skirt which all needs to be pleated.
The front of the bodice is cut in two pieces which are joined at the centre front below the neckline. The neckline is finished with a facing which extends down to the waist. The facing is then secured by topstitching which adds quite a neat design detail, this would be much more noticeable if sewn in a plain fabric, as mine is so busy you can’t really see it. The instructions call for using knit interfacing on the facing. As I didn’t have any and my local haberdashery didn’t know where I could get some I experimented with what I had. I found that when cut on the bias Vilene Superlight interfacing had a bit of stretch so I went with that. As it is there’s not really that much stress around the neckline to worry too much about this. The opening is big enough to get your head through without stretching it out and as the facing is stitched down there isn’t going to be much stretching there.
I was a little apprehensive about all the pleating but after taking my time, and using lots of pins, it all lined up perfectly without the need to do any fudging. I basted the pleats in place but also kept them pinned below to make it easier to work with. I added in seam pockets to the skirt, which wasn’t in the instructions but I have a mission to put pockets in everything. This time however I don’t think it worked out. The pockets are hidden in the pleats but the bulk of them affects the fall of the pleats. They also don’t fall on the sides, one is a few inches towards the front and the other a few inches towards the back so they are quite difficult to find when you are wearing it!
There was a lot of weight in the skirt and I doubted the bodices ability to hold it up so I stabalised the waist with some clear elastic. I stretched out a length three quarters the size of my waist. This made a world of difference as it sits well without any pulling. Attaching the bodice was straightforward, I finished the waist seam with my overlocker but because of the pleats it was a little bulky (there’s four layers of fabric in there) I don’t think there’s a way to overcome this though. Finally, I finished the hem and sleeves with a twin needle.
I am incredibly pleased with the finished dress. The fabric works perfectly, the weight really makes the pleats hang lovely (although in the pictures I’d been wearing it all day so there is a bit of crumpling going on) I enjoyed making it, the pattern is incredibly well drafted and everything fits together perfectly. I’ve come to realise this is a very important criteria when choosing patterns, sewing time is so precious that I really don’t need the hassle and headache of fudging a pattern which doesn’t quite meet up as it should.
The only change I will make next time is cutting a larger size for my bust, I think four inches of negative ease is too much for me and it does seem to pull a little from the armscye. Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s great to have another TNT knit dress pattern to add to my collection. I really need to make more knits as on reflection they are the things that get the most wear. I have consequently banned myself from buying any more woven fabric, I can only really justify jersey as there is surprisingly little in my stash. (I’ve just given myself an excuse to go fabric shopping!)