I’ve been making dresses all summer long – mostly sleeveless ones from stretchy polyester fabrics. I love wearing dresses! They’re comfortable and cool. I think men are definitely missing out in the comfort department.
But it always seems to me that as soon as September rolls around, it starts getting cold mighty fast. Then I usually abandon my bright-colored floral dresses for darker colored pants. But my waistline seems to “improve” each year, making it harder and harder to fit into the small selection of pants that I purchased in 2007. Thankfully I’ve been slowly adding stretchy yoga-type pants to my wardrobe.
What about dresses or skirts for winter time? Even if I wear leggings and boots with a dress, my legs are very cold. How about long skirts or long dresses? I’m not terribly fashion conscious, so I’m not sure what to do. So I’ll start by trying to make a dress with long sleeves!
This pattern seems to fit the bill. It’s designed for stretchy knits, has a cowl neck (good for the small-busted), and longish sleeves. It’s Kwik Sew 4026. I also have the perfect wintertime knit from Fabric Mart.
The first thing I notice about KS 4026 is that the pattern is made from tissue instead of the paper Kwik Sew normally uses.
On the upper left is an older Kwik Sew pattern and on the lower right is the new tissue pattern. I hope this is not a permanent change as I prefer to trace the paper pattern, preserving the original for future use.
I also notice that two of the pattern pieces are mismarked along their sizing lines. I’m cutting a Small, but the Small cutting line is marked as the Large. They’re simply listed in the wrong order. Keep an eye out for this!
Construction is pretty straight forward. The instructions tell you to complete the bodice first and then attach the skirt portion to the bottom of the bodice. However, I almost always have to take in the sides under my arms so I’ve learned to sew the sides last.
I’ve also made at least two other cowl neck patterns. One was Simplicity 2580. The front bodice piece for this dress is made with the neckline on the fold. So the front bodice is double-thickness and there is no possibility of a wrong side of the fabric showing. The cowl neck for Kwik Sew 4026 is made with extra fabric at the neckline. Sometimes this extra fabric flops around on the outside and you have to remember to put it back inside the neckline where it belongs. Here’s a photo of the neckline from the wrong side out so you can see what I’m talking about:
I completed the dress, wore it for a while, and decided that KS 4026 had some serious fit problems for me – the waist was too low and the cowl neck was too wide. The cowl neck was so wide and loose that it tended to get wider from shoulder to shoulder over time, causing the shoulder seams to fall towards my back and down my arms. It drove me crazy.
I tried to fix this problem by making the bodice tighter around the chest. I also removed 2.5 inches from the bodice length to bring the waist up. I think it looks better with the higher waist, but I’m not absolutely sold on it. The final product is shown at the top of this post.
This dress seems to just accentuate my rectangular torso and wide hips. Wearing a belt helps, but I think that I’ve moved the waist too high and should move it back down to its original position. And sadly, my bodice changes did not help with the bodice-slipping-off-of-shoulders problem and it still drives me crazy.
Edit: I ended up purchasing a longish winter jacket to go with my imagined collection of winter dresses and skirts. The jacket is fine, but my great discovery was of something I hadn’t seen before: fleece-lined leggings! I bought one pair with no feet and one with feet. They are awesome! If I wear leg-baring dresses in the winter, I’m definitely going to choose these fleece leggings over my regular black leggings.