Normally I don’t do a lot of alteration or repairs to RTW for anyone except myself, for all the reasons every sewer is aware of, however, I will do them for friends. A co-worker asked me to fix a dress for her and as soon as I saw it I knew it was something other sewists would like to see. It’s this a stunner? I just love simple and ingenious knit garments that really take full advantage of the unique properties of a knit.
Let’s analyze this garment, it’s from Michael Kor’s “Michael” line, which I think is his middle priced RTW.
The fabric is a soft and drapey raspberry colored 95% rayon-5% spandex jersey. The seams are conventionally serged and the neckline and armholes are bound with the fashion fabric and turned to the inside. The hem is coverstitched. The photos really tell the story. My daughter saw this on my dressform and fell in love with it, it’s definitely a worthy knock-off!
The gathers in both the original and in the repair are done by hand with embroidery floss. There is also a little tab of fashion fabric (like an appendix) sewn at the top of the center front seam, I think this is a stay so I stitched the gathers to it. Notice the center front seam; this seam ends up right below center bust and the front of the dress is cut in one piece. The top of the bodice above the seam is on the straight grain and the lower part of the dress starting at the center seam is on the bias. Photo 1 is the un-repaired dress from the side, notice the curve to the front seam and the wide cowl neck. The gathers begin at the point and go all the way to the center neckline, this creates the V-shaped neckline and the gathers over the bust. Photo 2 shows the front before the repair, essentially the top of the dress is a big, droopy cowl shape and nothing more.
There are a few other interesting details to this dress; the front pattern piece is a full two inches longer than the back (see photo 4 below), I believe this is accomodate the gathers. There is also a center back seam and side seams. The center back seam is cut on straight grain and not contoured to a body shape. There is clear elastic reinforcing the shoulders and the neck; the sleeves have no elastic.
Here is my (crude and not to scale) sketch of what I think the front pattern piece must look like. Of course I also had to see if I could find a pattern to use as a base to knock this off, and I think Jalie 3024 is good jumping off point. The basic shape is there and the all that needs to be added is the cowl and the center front seam by slashingthe pattern. The cap sleeves could also be cut higher onto the shoulder to be more like the original. All in all a really beautiful yet simple knit dress.