I gave you a peak at my new Out And About Dress in my What I’m Lovin’ in October post and, as promised, today I’m going to share all the details with you!
When I was first dreaming about garment-making, I started examining my closet. I wanted to see what styles I gravitated towards so that I could be intentional with the styles I was going to attempt to sew (no need to waste my time tackling a pattern I won’t enjoy wearing). This is actually a great practice even if you don’t sew – find out what styles you like to wear that make you feel good. Use that knowledge to decipher whether you really should buy that clothing item (especially in terms of “but it’s only $5!” sales which can lead to closet overload).
I quickly noticed that my favorite dresses had a cinched, elastic waist (I’m a sucker for comfort – and I don’t like for clothes to hug my midsection 😉 ). I also like sleeves. I certainly don’t mind sleeveless (and very much appreciate sleeveless in this year-round incredibly humid climate that I call home), but when I have even a little sleeve I feel less obligated to add a cardigan (although, next to scarves, cardigans are my favorite accessory!).
At the time, I had been following Sew Caroline and a few other clothing bloggers on Instagram and falling madly in love with their handmade styles. When Sew Caroline released her Out And About Dress pattern, I knew I had to give it a try!
It was quite a bold choice for my very first garment pattern. In general, knit fabric can be tricky to work with because of the stretch (though there are tons of great tips out there – Addie K’s post about twin needles totally changed how I sew with knits!). The cinched waist is definitely the hardest part of the pattern. Caroline has really great instructions to walk you through it (step-by-step instructions with pictures = why you should use indie sewing patterns!).
For my first version of the Out And About Dress, I used a sweet fawn print cotton jersey fabric from Girl Charlee (my choice is no longer available, but you can find similar versions here, here and here). For my first time working with knit, this fabric was a good choice – it wasn’t super, duper stretchy which made it much easier to control.
I knew I would need to alter the placement of the waist because I am petite. Before I started, I found a dress in my closet with a cinched waist that fell where I wanted this one to fall. I measured from the shoulder to the waist and used that as a basis for how much I needed to shorten the front and back bodice pieces. I ended up shortening them by about 2 inches.
It turned out perfect!
While making this dress definitely built my self-confidence as a seamstress, it was a little more labor intensive than I was prepared for so I decided to stick with some easier patterns for a bit (aka: less sleeve-setting and waist-line-cinching – like the Canny Tunic – still an absolute favorite & closet staple).
I’ve been on a serious garment-making kick as of late and was feeling much more confident so I decided to dust off the pattern for a second try (because I still love wearing the first one I made!).
I found some mint colored knit fabric at JoAnn’s and bought 2 yards on a whim quite a while ago. I had ear-marked it for a future Out And About Dress so I’d avoided using it with my other projects because I knew it would be perfect for this one. I can’t remember what the bolt said, but I think it may be a ponte knit – it’s super duper soft with a four-way stretch (which sounds much stretchier than it actually is).
A few alterations I made to my 2nd Out and About Dress…
- Elastic waist: I inserted elastic when I made the waist (I’d tell you how I did it, but it was a total disaster the first time…then I had to shorten the bodice after construction and start all over again with the elastic so I’m not gonna go there 😉 ). I’ve heard the elastic will prevent the waist from drooping/stretching out over time. I knew I’d want to wear this dress constantly so I figured it was worth the effort.
- Slightly shorter sleeve & cuff: To make the dress, I used almost every inch of the 2 yards so I didn’t have enough to make separate sleeve cuffs. I had planned to flip the hem up twice and stitch, but I tried the dress on before doing so and realized that the sleeves were longer than I wanted so I chopped them and used the excess to make a cuff (so in total: I cut 3 inches off each sleeve and used 2 inches of that to make the cuff. Had I realized I was going to cut 3 full inches off, I would’ve used all 3 to make the cuff…trial and error, y’all).
- Finished the seams with pinking sheers (not so much of an alteration, but just a note): A few months ago I finally “splurged” on a pair of pinking sheers. Ever since, I’ve been using them to trim the seams in all of the garments I make (unless I use french seams like I did for my Date Night Dress). It makes the interior of the dress look much more professional (the perfectionist in me hates having uneven, jagged, raw edges of the fabric exposed…even on the inside).
- Bound the neckline: For the neckline, I followed this tutorial from Indie Sews to bind the neckline. Since I was using a twin needle, I have a double top-stitch line which looks very professional if I do say so myself!
- Reinforce the shoulders: Because this knit was pretty stretchy and a little heavy, I knew the weight of the dress would put a bit of pressure on the shoulders. I had some twill tape leftover from the Finlayson Sweater I sewed for the Hubs (see the sweater on Instagram here!) so I just lined it up over the underside of the shoulder seam and carefully sewed into place from the top side of the fabric (lots of pins here to keep the twill from moving while I sewed from the other side for a cleaner look with the thread).
I have to admit, I’m quite pleased with how it turned out! I’m glad I took the time to make the alterations – I know I will be wearing this dress a ton!
If you are interested in sewing your own Out and About Dress, Sew Caroline offers it as a digital PDF AND as a printed pattern (to avoid hours of taping and piecing, I highly recommend this version! And it’s the same price – win!).