Procrastinators unite! Today I give you a good reason to shelve projects. Embrace the UFO. There are times when it’s absolutely a good thing!
For proof, when I cut out this Victory Patterns’ Lola dress out of this thick French terry it was a hot August, I was falling asleep mid sentence from 1st trimester exhaustion, and I was bored to tears by this pale lilac fabric. Yes, it’s French terry, but at the end of it, I would just have a plain, solid color knit dress. Endlessly useful, but not the makings of a very interesting sew.
I started looking for ways to embellish the French terry.
Blockprinting? Maybe, but what print? And what color?
Embroidery? Ugh, that sounds like a lot of work, and French terry has little recovery and kicks up a lot of lint. Pass.
Applique? Maybe, but again this French terry was so lofty, adding bulk just seemed, well, bulky.
Contrast fabric? Yes–contrast is good. I found a peachy pink top at the thrift store with this giant gold sequin bow appliqued on it that would be a nice foil. But how to combine them?
Finally, with my monthly sewing group coming up, I decided I needed to do some old fashioned experimentating.
Slashed French Terry Lola
Stitch lines, slash between them, fold over sections and stitch
From my scrap box, I pulled out a piece of sweatshirting and a random knit and sewed parallel lines to hold them together as if I were quilting them. Then, instead of making a second row of quilting lines crossing the first, I slashed in between each line through the sweatshirting only. I fiddled around with pinning things this way and that to create different effects. My favorite out of those ideas involved folding pieces one way, stitching over them, and folding them the opposite direction about an inch away.
This made for a really interesting undulating sort of texture. It looked okay in the sweatshirting, but I knew the French terry would really shine as it would expose the looped side of the fabric as well as the smooth side. I’ve always believed that things are the best when they’re just allowed to be what they are instead of trying to force them into being something that they’re not (i.e. Tofurky [SO not turkey] vs. Ma Po Tofu [just delicious–all tofu should aspire to be so tasty]).
The t-shirt was only big enough to back the bodice, so I decided that the textured portion would just be for the bodice and I’d save a couple of scraps to add a little contrast on the pockets.
The problem of sequins
But that big bow applique. One of my first big sewing projects as a kid were the Christmas stockings I made from those old Bucilla kits (which are really really fun kits FYI). The act of hand applying sequins on those stockings is permanently seared in my brain. I actually really liked it, but it was a slow, tedious process. The bow was made on a machine, the sequins having been applied on a hank and then stitched with some sort of industrial machine. A much faster process, but still more tedious than just slapping on a little screenprint bow and calling it good.
I didn’t have enough fabric to cut around it, so my options for dealing with the bow were to keep it, or ditch it. Ditching it would mean unpicking hundreds of stitches individually to release the sequins. You think unpicking coverstitching is a loathsome task? HA! Keep it I would in all it’s slightly 80s leaning glory. Thankfully, these particular sequins were thinner than those old Bucilla ones and therefore easy to cut through and sew. Neither my serger or sewing machine had any issue with them.
I hand basted the right side of the stripe knit to the wrong side of the French terry for all of the bodice sections. I do this frequently on my knit tops and dresses to add underlinings to battle sheer knits. It takes some time, but I’d way rather have an underlined top than wear a shifty camisole under a top.
I centered the bow on the center front bodice to make it the focal point. Then, I stitched around the bow a scant 1/4″ away from the sequins. I cut away the French terry to expose the bow and sewed another row of stitching right on the cut edge. From there, I joined the side fronts to the center front piece.
Drawing lines with a washable marker at a 45 degree angle to the stripes, starting from the bow and working around towards the back on either side, I set about starting to stitch the two knits together on the lines.
Of course the center back piece had to be chevroned, and after I slashed it and applied the fold over and stitch technique, I was even more pleased with the results than I expected to be. The stripe peeking out was a nice contrast against the lilac, and the French terry proved to be an utter champion for this technique. I was definitely jumping on the other side of my Instagram pic of the center back. It’s not often that experiments work out just like you hoped for.
The rest of the construction was per the norm other than folding back the hem towards the right side of the pocket and edging the bottom of the hem with some stripe fabric. The darker lilac on the hems and neckline was cut from a very fine rib knit tee.
Lola, the pattern
After a couple versions of this pattern popped up on Patternreview (I’m thinking specifically of Lori’s and Shirley’s)like eons ago, I put this on my must sew list. I love super warm slouchy knit dresses in winter. Pair them with boots, layer under and over them…that’s totally my style. I avoided Lola for a while because the garment’s finished measurements were pretty loose in the waist for my normal body. At half-way through this pregnancy, I can very comfortably wear it, so I know that there’s a whole lotta extra inches going on in a non-pregnant body. Ah, but a pregnant me is nice and snug in this dress with no added alterations. I guess I’ll add a belt to it next year after my waist and later bust come back to some semblance of normality. Who knows?
My only beef with the pattern were the 3/8″ seam allowances. As I serge all my knits, I really prefer 1/4″ seam allowances on knit patterns. On patterns with 5/8″ seam allowances added, I don’t mind shaving off the extra, but shaving off a mere 1/8″ becomes a little hairy. As it turned out, the French terry was so heavy, that having to sew at 3/8″ and then serge the seam allowances to clean things up was probably not a bad idea, just more time consuming. I’m fundamentally lazy when it comes to sewing knits. On the bodice pieces, I pressed and sewed the seam allowances flat so that I wouldn’t have to contend with jumping the hump as I was creating the slashed texture.
We’ll see how long I end up being able to wear this dress this season, but for now I’ll enjoy it and have something fun to look forward to wearing next year.
My full review is here.