After nearly a year since I sewed anything jersey, the onset of Autumn really brought a sense of a need to sew with jersey again! My 2 previous stretch projects were from Tilly and the Button’s Coco pattern – 1 top and 1 dress; both of which I love. The release of Tilly & the Button’s Agnes pattern lead me to seek out some jersey fabric to create some wardrobe staples for the Autumn/winter. Then I saw the Bettine dress which literally leap frogged all plans, I knew this was my kind of dress! The fabric I used for this project was originally intended for a Sewaholic Davie dress. This however I saw as more of a Spring/summer dress so had missed the boat with that one and will wait until next year to tackle.
The Bettine dress however appealed to me as I thought it would lend itself to wearing a thin jersey top underneath and I do love layering! It reminded me of a RTW dress/top that I have from the high st which I have had for years and wear loads either on its own with leggings or with a top underneath and tights. So all in all I couldn’t wait to try this pattern. I had read some reviews from other sewists who had said it was a relatively straight forward garment to make too – this added further to its appeal!!
The original pattern suggests using light to medium weight drapey fabrics e.g. Viscose, cotton voile, lawn or chambray. No mention of jersey. However, Tilly wrote a blog post on ‘Tips for making a Jersey Bettine dress ‘ and talked about it being a relaxed fit dress….SOLD!! … I decided to launch in and go straight for the jersey version.
The fabric I chose to use is a light to medium weight jersey from Guthrie and Ghani (another T&B/G&G combo for me – this is becoming a habit!). I found cutting it out really tricky, it kept slipping all over the place! I used my regular fabric scissors but whilst using them I was thinking a rotary blade and mat would be much more suitable. I see a letter to Father Christmas coming on! Tilly has a useful blog post on cutting knit fabrics here. Whilst we are on the topic of useful blog posts, Tilly has also written one on sewing with knits on a regular sewing machine here. Man I love her blog!! One clever lady.
Before I go into the details, here it is….
The long sleeve white top underneath is just a RTW jersey top which allows the dress to be worn at this time of year. A cardi would work equally as well but I wear a lot of outfits like this so here is my style!
I chose to use a walking foot throughout. This is a special foot which is recommended for working with stretch fabric as it helps feed the 2 layers through the machine evenly and stop them slipping.
The bodice and sleeves are all one piece of fabric which is lovely and straightforward. In the original pattern instructions, facings are used around the neck but Tilly recommends making a neckband when making a stretch version. The sizing for the neckband and instructions for attaching are included in her tutorial.
I used a twin stretch needle for top stitching around the neckline, hem and cuffs. You can probably spot a little wobble at the centre neckline which is a bit annoying but overall I think it gives it a really professional finish and there was no way I was going to unpick those 2 stitch lines!!
A twin needle is used to create 2 rows of parallel stitching. It is used with stretch fabrics (in which case use a stretch twin needle) and can also be used for decorative stitching. They come in different sizes that relate to the size of the needles and how many millimetres the 2 needles are apart. It creates 2 rows of parallel straight stitches on the right side and a zig zag stitch on the reverse.
There are a couple of useful guides on using a twin needle here and here. A second spool of thread is used on top of your machine. The 2 threads are threaded through the normal threading route, then one goes through the left hand eye of the needle and one goes through the right. Remember any automatic needle threader won’t work in this case so you need to thread them by hand! Fancy that.
There are cuffs on the sleeves and optional tabs can be sewn.
I didn’t feel a few hand stitches would be sufficient to hold this light weight jersey in place so I decided to top stitch.
You can see that the stitching has caused fabric to create a raised channel. I think this is called ‘tunnelling’ and can happen more when using lighter weight fabrics such as this one. I have read various tips on avoiding this and these include altering the thread tension, the bobbin tension, the presser foot pressure, the width of the twin needle you are using, stabilising the hem and lengthening the stitch length! When it came to doing the hem I tried reducing the bobbin tension but this didn’t help. I did reduce the thread tension which did eliminate the tunnelling but it does feel a little too loose. My machine doesn’t have the function to alter the presser foot pressure so I will try and get some stabilising tape and have a little play for next time!!
The tabs can be secured by a button at the pointy end but in this case I didn’t feel that the dress needed that so I just opted to use a single line of stitching to secure.
The elasticated channel joining the bodice and skirt sections is incorporated when you sew the pieces together which was nice and straightforward. Clear instructions and diagrams are given for this in the pattern.
So there we have it. Another brilliant pattern from Tilly & the Buttons and another stretch fabric challenge. I am determined to master the twin needle! In a woven fabric I think this would be a really good project for those wanted to try their first dress.
I have already started on my second in a lovely viscose fabric so will include the pocket version this time. The thing that I love about this dress is that it is totally what I like to wear. Some of my previous makes have been really enjoyable to make and I do love them, but I struggle to find the occasion to wear them as they are a bit more ‘formal’ let’s say and have been difficult to get that perfect fit that makes them more comfortable. Well not in this case – totally comfortable and I can see this getting a lot of wear!
Until next time, when it will probably be my 2nd Bettine (hopefully it will be on a par with this one!)
Thanks for reading!