Ponte dresses are the workhorses of my office wardrobe, because they can be so comfortable while still looking presentable. For my next ponte dress I wanted it to be in a solid color, but there had to be some interest to it so that I didn't just look like a giant cylinder.
Well, I think we have mission accomplished with Burda 11-2013-133. The "sunburst" of darts all radiating from a single point at front and back fit the bill perfectly. I made option B, without the stand up collar.
I actually missed this dress the first time when I leafed through the Burda Style magazine because it is photographed in a busy print knit that hides the unusual darts. But then Beth from Sunny Gal Studio made it for a client and she highly recommended it for being so flattering. And as usual she is right about this pattern.
Burda 11-2013-133 is a plus sized pattern, so it starts at size 44. I typically make size 40 at top and 42 at bottom, so I knew I would have to grade the pattern down. Since I was also worried that it might be too tight I only graded it down one size, to 42. That turned out to be a bit too loose I think. I guess I should have made a muslin, but I never do for ponte knits because... well, I don't have a crappy ponte sitting in my stash waiting to be used for a muslin. And using actual muslin or a non-stretch fabric obviously wouldn't work. So, I'm not sure how to make muslins for ponte garments short of actually buying extra fabric. How do you guys do it when you sew with ponte knits? Do you just dive right in like I did or do you make a muslin? And if you do, what do you use? In any case, my grey dress is still quite wearable, so I'm not too sorry.
The radiating darts are the star of the dress and any mismatched darts would be literally front and center for everyone to see. So no pressure there... I am getting good at matching seams with the sewing machine but with a serger is a very different story! Not wanting to risk it at all, I first machine basted all the darts and the seams where they meet. I used a contrasting color thread so that I could easily see it and ensure that the serger sewed on top of it, keeping the seams matched. This worked like a charm to match the seams with the serger, hooray! The annoying bit came when I tried to pull out the basting thread, since being sewn over made it stubbornly difficult to remove. Oh, well. Small price to pay I say.
Still, my darts don't all truly match at a single point. That is because the fabric is somewhat thick (as most pontes are) and at the very center you have 8 layers of fabric! I graded them as best I could, and I think I fared relatively well. The millimeter differences are only visible if you really inspect the seam from close up and let me tell you, nobody is coming *that* close to my belly button!
After the radiating darts, my favorite feature of this dress is the slit neckline. Because the slit is rather deep, my head fits through the neckline with no problem at all. And since all the seams are stretchy I can skip the zipper altogether, woohoo!
Since I get cold at the office and to dress it up a bit, I made a knit cardigan-slash-jacket to go with it. I used a thin knit in tomato red for the wonderful contrast that it brings to the grey column of the dress. The pattern is McCall's 6844. It was voted Best Pattern of 2013 at Pattern Review and with 130 reviews I think everything has already been said about this pattern. I made view C, with the peplum that is longer in back than at front. Oh, okay, I'll say one thing about this pattern. Don't be tempted to skip the interfacing on the collar. I am always looking for shortcuts that I can get away with but leaving the interfacing out of this jacket will just end in tears. The collar hangs infinitely better when it is interfaced.
Ah, and a note for myself. I have a pear shaped body, so my shoulders are narrower than my hips and I always make a size smaller on top than on bottom. But with this jacket, I had to use size M all around as usual but go down to size S at the shoulders. The problem was not that the shoulder seam stretched out because I sewed it with a strip of selvedge precisely to keep it from stretching. Either the pattern has wider shoulders than usual, or perhaps the collar opens easily and pushes the shoulder point further out. In any case, going to the size S shoulder was a very quick fix.
BTW, if you are wondering what is going on with the brick background in my photos, the answer is yes, it is photoshopped. I am living in a new house now, and I am still looking for the best place to take blog photos. Instead of that plain brick wall that I used to have before, the one I have now has a window, a hanging plant and a door, all of which I find distracting. So I've copied areas of brick and pasted them over these offending features. Hence the weirdness that you see. But I think I'll keep looking for a better place to photograph because in addition to looking weird, all that photoshopping takes too much time. We'd rather be sewing instead, wouldn't we?!
Here is my review of Burda 11-2013-133 at Pattern Review.