Thursday, 3 May 2012

Lace dartless dress

Following on from my knit drafting adventures, I made this! It was supposed to be a "quick" project, but as always seems to happen, my ideas ran ahead and it ended up needing hand basting and pattern matching...

I've been wanting to make something with lace for ages (I have a number of laces in my stash), and realised this sort of design would be great as I wouldn't have to deal with too many breaks in the pattern as there are only side and CB seams and no darts.

Pattern description

Dartless sleeveless sheath dress with bateau neckline.

Fabric used

This was two fabrics, both from lime green "Sofia" doubleknit (poly/rayon) and a navy stretch poly lace. The trimming at neck and armscyes is cotton jersey from a sheet (bought in a sale to make clothes with because of the lovely colour).

Did it look like the sketch/idea when you were done?


What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

The fit is super, and (if I wasn't faffing around with lace) it's a super quick make - and will be a great starting point for many variations.

Drafting details

I used the knit block I drafted as a starting point. The neckline was raised at the front, and widened into a bateau neckline. I lengthened the block by simply squaring down from the hipline - I wasn't sure if it would need to be pegged slightly to give a good shape, but it actually worked just fine with the straight shape.

Construction details

I cut the doubleknit using my pattern pieces, then laid the lace over these, adjusted the pattern placement, pinned and hand basted round the edges, then cut the lace. I need to practice this sort of hand basting a bit, as I tend to pull it a bit tight, which can distort the lay of the fabric a bit (I had this problem previously with this dress). I cut the lace on the cross-grain as it had most stretch lengthwise, and I wanted this going around my body. I pattern-matched the lace, but didn't bother with any couture techniques of disguising the seams.

Because of the sharp angles at the sides of the neckline, I actually finished the neck before sewing the shoulder seams. I used a strip of cotton jersey cut cross-grain (for the most stretch) and serged this onto the neck edge with the right side of the jersey strip facing the wrong side of the dress. As I serged it I stretched the jersey strip slightly to snug up and stabilise the neckline (I probably could have pulled it a bit tighter). The binding was then flipped to the outside of the dress, the raw edge tucked under and topstitched. This matched up reasonably well at the shoulder seams (although one is better than the other!)

I was going to finish the armholes in the same way, but decided I liked them without the extra colour there, so put the binding on the inside (i.e. serged the binding on right side to right side of dress then flipped it inside) and stitched it down by hand, catching just the doubleknit layer so the stitches do not show through to the other side. The hem was finished by serging the two layers together, turning up and stitching by hand through just the doubleknit layer again (although I realised when I finished that some of the stitches caught the top layer so aren't totally invisible. I was watching snooker whilst hemming it...).

This isn't totally finished - I plan to put a (decorative) bright orange exposed zipper down the back, but decided the one I was going to use is too long. I could shorten it, but it would look a bit messy - I want it to finish a few centimetres above my waist. I know some people aren't so keen on exposed zips, but I really like the look of them, and I also wanted that detail to help keep the all-over lace pattern dress from looking too old fashioned (although I think the contrast binding and bright colours help too!)

Would you sew it again?

Not to the same design as I'm not sure I have the need for two lace dresses in my wardrobe. However, I do plan to make variations on the design - watch this space!


I'm soooooo happy with this dress, both the look and the fit. I wore it out the same day I finished it and it's super comfy to wear. I'm looking forward to sewing some variations now.


  1. Oh, it is gorgeous! I love the navy with that stunning pea-green. Lovely colour combo. And that you wore it with those tights, awesome!

  2. Thank you for your lovely comment Carolyn - unfortunately it ended up in spam somehow so I've only just seen it!

  3. Wow! Thank you for this! I have cream colour lace and navy blue satin both strecht and I found a nice simple pattern but didn´t know how to work the two fabric. This is so helpful!

  4. Thank you! I can't wait to see what yours turns out like, the combination of navy and cream sounds lovely.

  5. Very nice! I don't think it looks old-fashioned at all! Cool colors and the lace is really nice! (I found your blog because I am current learning self-drafting by doing a knit t shirt based on this book:

    It's neat to see what you've done with something similar! I'm going to add you to my google reader! :)