My favorite way to start a project is to purchase a fabric in a print or color I like, then look up inspiration using similar fabrics. This time, I started with Navy Blue Midweight Stretch Ponte De Roma Solid and set off to find dress styles that could work for the office.
I fell for the way the contrast piping elevated these otherwise basic silhouettes, and after looking up several tutorials such as this one, I thought I could try it too! For the pattern, I chose a new to me pattern, McCall 6988, which has seamlines similar to the inspiration dress on the left.
Ponte is a fairly easy fabric to sew with, so I have no complaints. The only tips I have are:
- Try not to stretch it as you sew or you might end up with some puckers as I did along the piping
- Iron carefully or with a pressing cloth or it can get shiny
- Do yourself a favor by investing in the proper marking tools!!
Previously, I was using my NYX jumbo eye pencil to mark any muslins in dark fabrics because those triangle chalk lines weren’t bold enough for me. It was a silly idea as the lines were thick (it’s jumbo eyeliner after all) and therefore not accurate, and it probably doesn’t come off. Luckily, right before I started this dress, I ran out of eyeliner, so I went shopping for real options. I ended up purchasing these two to try and I’m pretty happy with both for different scenarios:
- Chaco Pen Style Liner White @ $6.12 – a life saver when it comes to spongy stretch fabrics such as the navy ponte, the chalk brushes right off after you’re done
- Fons and Porter Mechanical Fabric Pencil @ $8.77 – doesn’t work so well for stretch fabrics but great for wovens such as broadcloth and cotton
As for the piping, I had fun experimenting with it! I used an invisible zipper foot to install it as I didn’t have a piping foot and I think it works fine. I only had issues at the intersecting points and armholes, as I tried trimming the cording within the seam allowances thinking it would make for a smoother finishing, but in areas where I didn’t sew at the exact 5/8″ seam allowances, the lack of cording is very obvious.
I only made a muslin for the top half of the dress as that was all the ponte scrap I had and found I needed to make a 1/4″ narrow shoulder adjustment. I also shortened the waist by an inch for good measure since I am short (5’1″). However, what I missed was the sway back adjustment that I really needed. I tried a few things here after the fact, such as taking out a wedge from the waist and tapering to nothing at the side seams, but that made the hem too short, so I unpicked it. Next time, I might add the 1″ back to the waist but make the sway back adjustment and add the length back to the hem. Even now, the length is perfect only because I didn’t hem it (yay ponte!).
Overall, I’m not 100% satisfied with the fit and finishing of this dress, but I’m happy to have practiced a new skill and found some new additions to my toolkit.
For the next make, it wasn’t planned but turned out to be a wearable muslin made from the ponte scraps – the Wanted Tee by Vanessa Pouzet. In this case, the neckline is unique, so it pops when made up in a solid fabric. A couple of things to note on this otherwise wonderful pattern:
- The pattern instructions are in French only – if you do not understand French, do yourself a favor and bookmark this Youtube tutorial here
- The pattern needs to be printed in A4 paper (European style) – I personally find it cheaper to order A4 paper on Amazon and make it work on your own printer rather than take it to a copy shop to print for more than the price of the actual pattern!
- I can’t read French so I don’t know if the pattern already mentions this but the fabric requires a good amount of stretch to fit the neckline pieces to the bodice – I found that this navy ponte worked well and think it would look just as sleek in this Wine, White or Black on Black Ornate Flocked Ponte De Roma
Other than that, the diagrams are easy to read and the tee is quick to make up and quite satisfying. I graded from a size 36 to a size 38 at the waist and hips. While I usually have to make narrow shoulder adjustments, I didn’t think I needed it here. However, it is very snug at the bust and armholes, so that will need to be adjusted in my next version. With the long sleeves and ponte, this version seems more fitting for cooler weather, so maybe next time it will be in jersey or other lightweight fabric.
That’s all for this post! Thanks for reading, and let me know how else you would use solid colored fabrics!