December 8, 2014

The definition of cake: black knit Winter Dress

I’m as tempted as the next sewist to make party dresses and bright green coats (OK, maybe that’s just me), but when I took a break from Christmas present sewing, I thought that a nice piece of dress-cake* would be just the thing.
And so: a black wool knit Winter Dress. What could be more useful than a knit, scoop neck, black dress? I cannot think of a thing (admittedly that probably just shows my lack of imagination).
I’ve never sewn with wool jersey before, but this was just a dream to work with – and it’s the same fabric from Mood that Lauren Lladybird made her wrap dress with (yes, I was the person nibbling at her heels to get the end of the roll….).
The Winter Dress was designed by Deepika over at PatternReview, and it’s a simple knit bodice with long sleeves (there’s an optional flounce sleeve version but I’m not that flouncey myself), and inverted box pleats at the front and back.
I made a few adjustments to the pattern. First up, my measurements put my upper half solidly into a 3X, but when I compared it against my well-fitting Moneta bodice it was way, way, bigger. So I cut a 2X, and then once I put it together I shaved another 4 inches off the waistline to get the fit that I wanted (I also sewed this in the flat, doing the sleeve and side seams last which made it easy to keep whittling it down).
Instead of using clear elastic (which I have yet to learn to do accurately), I zigzagged regular elastic to the waistline seam allowance, although I stopped it just short of the side seams, to prevent it causing a bump.
I scooped out the neckline by another 1.5 inches – no high necklines around chez Cashmerette. Then to finish the neckline I did my trusty standby neckline technique: put Wonder Tape on the wrong side, fold over, and coverstitch. It works well on stretchy fabrics, and has even worked for me with silks in the past (because it’s such a narrow hem).
I really like the result – it’s super comfortable and a great basic dress for accessorizing. The sleeves are a smidgen too long, but I actually like being able to curl up in them on cold days, so I think I’ll leave them as is.

So if you’re looking for a basic knit dress pattern, this one is definitely worth a try. The bodice is similar to the Moneta, but the ever-so-slightly A-line skirt and box pleats give a different look to the gathered skirt, and it’s a bit easier to sew if you’re a total newbie. I whipped this up in about 90 minutes!

Can you bring yourself to sew super basic garments occasionally? I’m trying to do it more and more because nothing makes me happier than wearing homemade every day, and to do that, I probably need to not look like I’m going to a disco (though I know Oona would disagree).
* In case you haven’t heard of this before: the sewing blogging community commonly talks about “cake” projects and “frosting” projects – the first set being “boring” basics you need and wear all the time, and the second set being fun, sparkly but more special occasion garments
Disclosure: I received this pattern free from Deepika. Thanks, Deepika!

32 thoughts on “The definition of cake: black knit Winter Dress

  1. Bobbi says:

    Looks great! I’m sure you’ll get tons of wearings this winter.

    1. Jenny says:

      Most definitely!

  2. tanyamaile says:

    Perfect basic dress! I like your version much better than the one in the pattern photo. Wool jersey is just so awesome — I got some myself from Mood, although a different color. I find that these “cake” dresses get a bit more wear out of my wardrobe as they’re easy casual staples that are great for everyday.

    1. Jenny says:

      Yes, I’ve never used it before but I was delighted by how warm and soft it is… just gorgeous. I’ll be getting more in the future. The only question is how to wash it – do you put yours in the washing machine? Or is it hand wash/dry clean only?

    2. tanyamaile says:

      I would wash it in cold on delicate cycle and lay flat to dry. That’s what I do with my sweaters. Always best to probably handwash or dry clean though! I ended up with a nice merino sweater that someone didn’t wash properly and it shrunk 🙂

  3. i like it! looks great with your chunky necklace! i have black knit fabric for a winter dress but i can’t get myself excited about it! maybe after xmas i will production line a few winter monetas!

    1. Jenny says:

      I think production lining is totally the way forward – I made myself 4 wrap dresses like that a few months ago, and I wear them all. the. time.

  4. Nicole says:

    Interesting. I just ordered some wool jersey for a winter Moneta. I may need to reconsider. Or buy more 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      You should give it a go! If you don’t like the gathered skirts the box pleats are a nice alternative

  5. Michelle says:

    Great-looking dress! It might be “cake”, but you can style it a ton of different ways, and I’ll bet that you get a lot of use out of it.

    1. Jenny says:

      Definitely! The hardest part of this mini photoshoot was deciding what accessories to wear because they all go with it 🙂

  6. Staci says:

    So beautiful and such a classic style. Love it! You look fabulous!!

  7. I’m such a wally – I glanced at the title and assumed it was a review of a stretchy dress one could wear to eat lots of cake! It looks lovely on you.

    1. Jenny says:

      That is TOTALLY the point of this dress

  8. You know I totally love basics! This is very chic on you. Regarding washing wool Jersey I must admit I wash all mine in my front loader machine on a cold hand wash cycle – this is how I pretreat then continue to care for the finished garment. Not had a problem but if that makes you edgy I’d just cold hand wash it.

    1. Jenny says:

      Good tips! I have to sheepishly confess that I didn’t pre-wash the fabric so I think I’m going to have to be very very careful…

  9. mags says:

    Love this dress on you, and that’s a great tip about the elastic!

  10. This is a perfect addition to any wardrobe, and you look great in it! 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks, Sally! You should try it 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      Thank you Annamari! One of the benefits of knits is they’re (usually) easier to fit!

  11. Hi Jenny, I have a basic question for you and I was hoping that you can answer it for me. I am new to the “Indie” patterns. I fell in love with your “Winter Dress”, you look simply adorable in it and have been looking for something similar, so I purchased the pattern through Pattern Review and downloaded it. Now here is my problem….. I saved the pattern to a flash drive and took it to Staples to copy it. The pattern was going to cost me $33.00 to print it out. Is that correct? What am I missing? I was ready to copy the pattern, adjust the pattern, cut out a sloper and then get to the black knit I was hoping to get this done for this weekend and now the wind it out of my sails and I am just in my sewing room looking at this bundle of fabric and feeling like a failure. I previously purchased the “Doe” Indie pattern and the same exact thing happened, the pattern was going to cost $60.00 to print…. I feel so defeated. Can you help me?

    1. Jenny says:

      Hi Patricia – so PDFs come in two versions: a print at home version, and a print at a copy shop version. Most people (I think almost everyone!) print at home – basically you print the pattern on regular Letter (or A4) paper, and you then tape it together (or, you could get it printed on regular sheets of paper at Staples rather than on the huge paper). That’s what I did for this pattern. Here’s a guide to how to do it – Not everyone likes the process, but it definitely won’t cost you $33!

    2. Jenny says:

      I should add that usually both versions are in the same PDF file you download, but sometimes they’re sent to you separately.

  12. Marjie says:

    That dress looks good on you, and can be dressed up or down depending upon your needs. Sometimes “boring” sewing is exactly what we need! I actually made about 6 versions of a McCalls stretch knit dress (M6612) in the 2 weeks before Thanksgiving, so I could just pull one on every day without thinking. That is perfection right there – boring, but perfect.

    1. Jenny says:

      You’re a woman after my own heart!

  13. Alessa says:

    Great dress! I made a longsleeved jersey dress in navy the other day, to wear to a Christmas party, after I realized that all my other dresses have polka-dots or stripes or some other whimsical pattern, not quite suited for a semi-elegant party. At first it felt a bit boring, but I wore a lacy slip underneath, which peeked out at the neckline, and now I’m in love with that dress… 😉

Let me know what you think!