Saturday, 12 February 2011

Finished at last - the 'Uptown/Downtown' dress

I mentioned in my last post that I was working on the HotPatterns ‘Uptown Downtown Knit Dress’.

As that was a couple of weeks ago some of you might have been wondering where it is – how long can a 'Beginner' knit dress take? Actually my lack of posting has more to do with extremely exasperating difficulties with our internet connections than anything else but hopefully, after seeking professional assistance, those problems have been resolved. That said, the Uptown Downtown dress also presented me with some frustrations. But, as you have been so patient with me, I can finally offer you not one but two versions of this dress.

This is the first one I made

I used an inexpensive novelty double knit, called ‘Requiem Tiger’ purchased from Vogue Fabrics (how I love those people!). Fabric limitations meant I had to make what is called on the pattern ‘elbow length’ sleeves but they are actually more like what I would call short sleeves. I also didn’t make the hem band – I just cut the skirt to the length I wanted it then turned up a hem. It’s a fun, casual dress, although the sleeves were a touch pouffier than I would have liked. All in all, though, I was pretty happy with this one so decided to plunge straight into another one.

It was the second version that had me climbing the walls! This is it

The fabric is, I think, some kind of cotton/spandex knit. I can’t remember where I purchased it but it’s been in my stash for a while. Anyway, whatever it is, it behaved very differently from the double knit used in my first version.

As soon as I attached the neckband I was unhappy – this time the neckline was so loose that it was actually dropping off my shoulders, quite unlike my first version. I tried to tell myself that I liked it that way but the truth was I didn’t and then my DH stepped in and said that it was no good, it would have to be redone. So, I had to rip out all the serger stitching and cut a new neck band. I cut this one a full two inches shorter which turned out to be about right – despite the time and effort spent I was glad that I reworked it.

My second problem came when attaching the sleeve bands. I had no difficulty with the short sleeves but with the long sleeve version the smaller cuff has to be stretched out an awful lot to attach it to the sleeve fabric. Because of my neckband trouble I decided that I was going to use my sewing machine, not my serger, to attach the cuffs so that I could rip out the stitches more easily if I wasn’t happy. It was just as well that I did because after two failed attempts I had to re-cut the cuffs about ¾” larger in order to get them on properly. Although my fabric was stretchy, it just didn’t stretch enough to make this easy.

Lastly, a word about the hem band. As many other people who have made this pattern have pointed out, if you want the hem band to gather the skirt in, like the picture on the pattern instructions, you will have to cut the hem band smaller than the pattern allows. For my version I had to cut a couple of inches off the width of the band just to get it so that the skirt was straight, you would need to cut quite a lot out of it to get a gathered effect.

So, if you are planning on making this dress I think you do need to be aware that results are going to vary depending on how soft and stretchy your fabric is and it’s not very easy to judge exactly how it’s going to turn out. In general I really like the designs that HotPatterns offers and the video tutorials on their site are wonderful. Despite the challenges this particular pattern posed I am not unhappy with the final results and, now that I have a better feel of how different fabrics would behave with this pattern, I might make it again but definitely not right now. Enough already with Uptown Downtown dresses!


  1. I think they both look great. I like the tiger print. Knits are funny, aren't they? I've been having some issues lately with knits and I realized I just don't know much about them.

  2. Sorry to hear about the fabric issues. I'm glad you persevered because they both look comfy, casual and chic all at the same time. Unfortunately I am currently in wadderville with no hopes of escape anytime soon. I do think I can rework one of my fails though. Arg! Sewing is such a pain sometimes!

  3. I love the second one best - but both are fab!! I do think you are personally looking fantastic - the winter weather must agree with you. I'm glad you really worked through this pattern (and all of its issues!). I have Hotpatterns Sailor Pants but have not (yet) made them!

  4. I think I like the gray one the best, as I'm not that crazy about hem bands in general. I'm new to sewing knits, and you are SO right about how they all behave differently.

  5. You and your dress just added to my Saturday morning inspiration.

  6. I really admire that fact that you tried sewing knits... I am quite hesitant to touch knit after a bad cardigan project last year. Both dresses look amazing. However I understand how you would have felt with the second one. Good work Eugenia!

  7. I think you created an uptown and downtown dress, respectively! I love both versions of the dresses you made, you look lovely in both! Thanks for the great review for this pattern. I haven't tried Hotpatterns yet, but what you encountered is good to know!

  8. Even though they were a pain I think it was well worth it. They are both super cute and knit is soooooo comfy. I bet you will wear them tons.

  9. Isn't it funny how supposedly simple styles can cause the most problems?!
    But it was worth it because now you have two dresses that look like wardrobe winners!

  10. I think both dresses look fabulous! I've been seeing that tiger print around blogland and it looks great used on this dress (tho I agree with you about the puffy sleeves). But I love the black dress, even tho it did give you headaches! It looks so chic!

  11. That first one is adorable. Love the fabric and even LOVE the puffy sleeves. Thanks for the inspiration. Off to order some double knit....

  12. Both dresses look great, just a little different in drape. This is really flattering on you.

  13. It looks like you conquered a fussy fabric, and ended up with a great dress!

  14. Both dresses look really nice. And your experience sounds so familiar. Every knit acts differently, doesn't it? I never know what to expect when I am sewing knits. But they are so comfortable, it is worth the effort. Wearing your dresses will be easy :)

  15. Your experience with this pattern is so similar to mine! But I didn't have the guts to try two. I admire your persistence. I do think both dresses are flattering. And knits are so easy and comfy to wear! Well worth the effort to sew.

  16. Yikes, I can't believe this pattern was so problematic and that so much would depend on the stretch of the fashion fabric. They look great on you - perfect casual or dressy frocks - so it's great that you powered through.

  17. So fun that you got such different looks! I think they both look great. I'm glad that you were able to persevere through the painful bits. It looks like a win in the end!

  18. Glad that you persevered. Both dresses look lovely. The black is downright elegant! Well worth the effort.

  19. I have always liked this pattern. Both dresses look great, my favorite is the first. Thanks for all the hints and tips.

  20. For such a simple looking pattern , it seems problematic to say the least .I would of given up lol !! the end results are both lovely .

  21. Both dresses look great on you. It's always amazes me how the one pattern can produce such different looks. I haven't entered the word of knits yet. Before I do, I think I'll have to do some serious practise.

  22. I love both versions, these look like really versatile dresses and I am sure you will get a lot of wear out of them.

  23. I have that tiger fabric from Vogue Fabrics too! It makes a wonderful dress. Even though I have no idea what I'm going to do with mine! Even tho the fabrics presented some challenges, you've made two very lovely and very different dresses that no one would think came from the same pattern!

  24. Despite your frustrations, you have some very nice dresses! I really love the fabric on your first one. The style is very figure flattering on you too! Thanks for stopping by with the nice comments!

  25. Both dresses look fantastic! All your fussing with the second dress gave you great results.

  26. Both of your dresses are great!

  27. Great dresses, in spite of the iffy sewing!

  28. Putting in the extra time paid off ~ both of these dresses look wonderful on you.

  29. It's hard to feel great about projects that were such a pain right after they're finished, but I'm guessing these are going to be in your wardrobe making you happy for quite a while! They look great!

  30. Oh! Love the two dresses, but the first one is divine! It's youthful yet elegant. It is normal fabrics react differently to the same pattern, I'm glad you went ahead in the corrections because the result is great.

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