Here is my version of the Ebony knit dress from Closet Case Patterns in scuba.
Am I the only one who, every time I start a new sewing project, is convinced that maybe this pattern is the one?
The sewing pattern which will completely revolutionise my wardrobe. Alter my concept of dressing. Elevate me out of my comfort zone to a higher level of me-made wardrobe bliss? Before I’ve even finished sewing my first one, I am already envisioning at least 3 other variations…
I started sewing my Ebony knit dress with such lofty ideals in mind…
Believe in the swing…
I had never even worn anything in a swing style before. As either a dress or tee-shirt. My most frequently worn silhouette is fitted at the waist.
It’s particularly when sewing into the unknown that I become convinced that maybe, just maybe, amazing things are about to happen… Plus, to date, I’ve had such good experiences sewing outside of my comfort zone with Closet Case Patterns that I had sufficient faith that this style could have a transformative effect on my life…
(I’m not setting the bar too high here, right? It’s perfectly reasonable to expect a sewing pattern to change my life…)
Welcoming some scuba into my life
In particular, I had been obsessing about the idea of making the Ebony knit dress in scuba ever since I saw Heather Lou’s own awesome scuba version. So, when I saw this blue-toned brushstroke scuba appear on The Fabric Godmother’s website, I scooped it up. I finally had my dream scuba!
And a PDF extravaganza!
A word of warning that the PDF pattern for the Ebony knit dress and tee-shirt is a whopping 54 pages.
My personal rule is that when the A4 PDF is more than 50 pages, I try to source a paper version, but this one slipped by me. Since it’s a simple design, I really wasn’t expecting it to be long, so I didn’t check the page count in advance. Lesson learned.
Since I was hoping that this would be a “change-my-life-forever” pattern, I put together the entire PDF to make all potential combinations. However, I really can’t begrudge the length of the pattern because it’s only so long because it really goes the extra mile of including so many different interchangeable options!
Made just for me
I cut out my Ebony knit dress in a straight size 10. One thing I loooove about Closet Case Patterns is that it is consistently the only pattern company where my measurements fall within a single size range.
In comparison to my last few projects sewing with French indie patterns, where my measurements spanned across 3-4 different sizes, I almost feel like Closet Case’s patterns are made for me. Evidently, my body shape is more “Canadian” than “French”!
Heather Lou’s own Ebony knit dress that I was trying to emulate was the raglan style version (version C), extended out to dress length. I also extended the raglan sleeve to be full-length. Her own tutorial as to how to do all those steps is here.
For my sleeve, I re-traced a long raglan sleeve pattern piece exactly as she suggests. Then I ran out of tracing paper, so I devised a cheat for my dress, which avoided the need for any actual tracing. I folded down the top 5 inches or so of the non-raglan dress piece, then placed it on my fabric. Then I just placed the raglan piece on top of the dress piece, aligning the “lengthen here” lines of my dress and raglan pieces. This gave me a perfect raglan dress “piece”, no tracing required!
The Ebony knit dress is a total breeze to sew up. I used my overlocker for everything except the neckband. I sewed the entire project while my son was taking a nap! It took much longer to tape the PDF together than to sew this dress! Not often you can say that.
And the instructions were impeccable, as per usual for Closet Case Patterns.
Sticking my neck on the line…
The only step that I had some difficulty with was top-stitching down the neckband of my Ebony knit dress.
I have whinged elsewhere about how my sewing machine does not stitch pretty on knit fabrics. So, here I ignored the instructions, which told you to topstitch using either zig zag or a twin needle. Instead, I decided to use a decorative elastic stitch. I’d recently seen this included in the instructions for my Deer and Doe Givre dress. On my Givre, it worked out well. On my Ebony knit dress, I was wanting a narrower pattern repetition but I didn’t manage to get my length and width settings right. The end result was that topstitching my neck band using an elastic stitch actually stretched out the neck band somewhat. But it’s not too bad. Just a minor annoyance.
Ummm, so, don’t do as I did. Instead, do as the instructions say. Always a safe bet!
That trip to Mumu land
When I finished my dress, I have to say that I put it on and kind of laughed at myself. This was always going to be an unfamiliar shape for me, but I just felt a bit ridiculous with so much fabric swirling around me. I did see something interesting about how all that swing looked at the front. But, from the back, I felt like a walking circus tent. Albeit one in a range of pretty shades of indigo and blush…
I just couldn’t do it…
It fit perfectly around the sleeves and bust, but everywhere else there was just soooo much fabric. The final version you see in these photos has had about 8 inches removed from the dress side seams to reduce the swing factor to something more manageable.
Saved by the belt
Luckily, my trusty wardrobe fix of chucking on a belt makes me feel much more put together. With the addition of the belt, this is a garment which will fill a autumn/winter wardrobe gap, being comfy, warm and long-sleeved.
And, while I wrote this post as soon as I’d finished sewing (thing are fresher in my mind at that time), since that time, I’m a little surprised in fact at how often I find myself reaching for this Ebony knit dress. It’s just so damn comfy and effortless. It’s actually become much more of a go-to garment than I imagined.
When I first finished sewing this, I thought, “well, I won’t make that one again”. But I’ve worn this one so much (and through so many big dinners) that I’m thinking that, just maybe, this shape could change my life after all…
** UPDATED ** 16 December 2017
And evidently I am pretty smitten with this shape after all, since I’ve worn my first Ebony Dress so often, I decided to make a second one! When I wore this one to work for the first time, almost everyone in the office commented on it – it gave me more “thanks, I made it myself” moments than any other make in memory! Here it is:
Once again, it’s all about the scuba. This gorgeous floral cuba came from Fabworks Mill shop. I have to say that my discovery of Fabworks earlier this year has somewhat tranformed my sewing. So many amazing and varied fabrics at affordable prices!! Plus, they’re really fast with international shipping!
This Ebony dress is regular view A, so with normal, rather than raglan, sleeves. I tried out the scoop neckline this time, which I am really happy with. I also didn’t mess up the neckband this time!
The only additional tip I wanted to add in case it’s relevant for anyone out there is that, for me, compared to the raglan version, the upper arm of this one is a little tight. So if, like me, you store your chocolate bars in your upper arms, you may wish to size up for the arms.