Closet Case Patterns Nettie Dress

This might be considered a crime to dressmaking, but I had completely overlooked the Closet Case Patterns Nettie Dress & Bodysuit until very recently. To be honest, I don't really see the need for crotch poppers in my life (or gusset) and as I'm not a huge fan of the scoop neck/back, I'd let it pass me by, only realising that combining the high neck and high back was actually one of the pattern's options after seeing Helen's fab version! I'm four makes into my #2018makenine already, so naturally when temptation presented itself in the perfect pairing of pattern and fabric, it felt about time to venture off plan...

My first (and definitely not last) Nettie Dress!
I don't often sew with knits, but I was keen to invest some time in learning to work with them better, and create some tighter fitting clothes. I've seen this seventies-vibe rib knit from Stof & Stil pop up on Instagram a few times and knew it would make the exact Nettie I needed in my life! I greedily and excitedly bought both colourways - heads up, the other is still on sale, plus see Rosie's amazing turtleneck made in it here. It was the first time I'd ordered from Stoff & Stil and I was really impressed - quick delivery, and they sticker up each fabric with a care label and fibre break down. This one is a combo of polyester, viscose and elastane and is labelled as having a shrinkage wash of 3% (I didn't pre wash as I'm a risk-taking maker, but it's washed just fine post-sew).

Extreme stripe matching!
The fabric is really stretchy and has a great recovery, plus it's thick enough to cover lumps, bumps and knicker lines. I spent loads of time lining the stripes up before cutting and found that it was a surprisingly stable fabric to lay out, cut and work with (having used some really dodgy knits in the past)!

Also more new shoes, because you can never have enough...?
My only problem with the fabric, and quite a big one, is that the ribbing makes it deceivingly stretchy. I was excited to find that Nettie is drafted with 'negative ease' something I've not particularly noticed with knits I've sewn up before - finally a knit that turns out close fitting! - but the amount of ease still hinges on the stretch in your choice of fabric. I added 8.5" to the length; cutting a size 10 and grading to an 8 for the waist and hips, but ended up with an insane amount of excess in the finished garment, which I think can mostly be put down to the fabric.

Stripe match still fairly strong post-taking in
Nearly matched stripes...
The curve of the hip into the thigh was way too severe for my twiggy thighs, so I took a good 4" around the hips and about 2" at the waist, grading into the bust. The result is a much better fit, but there's a bit too much width across the upper back. Otherwise, the fit on the neckline and shoulders is ok! I've since double checked my measurements and found I could downsize to an 8, grading to a 6 at the hips, but I'll probably redraw the curve of the thigh to suit my body shape better too (and of course, better consider the stretch of the fabric I'm using).

Back view, with a bit of excess on the upper back
I really played with my machine and overlocker settings; adjusting the presser foot pressure and using a walking foot to try and get things right with this particular knit, and apart from my slightly wobbly hems, it worked out well! I also can't believe I'm saying this, but I braved using a twin needle for THE VERY FIRST TIME to finish the Nettie's neckband and hems. It was so easy to thread up and use that I don't even know how I got the idea that it might ever be difficult! No looking back for future knits!

Twin needle finished neckband!
Thank you Chris for the ever-patient photography
Despite a couple of hiccups, I'm really pleased with the finished dress and will be making it again as soon as I track down the perfect fabric (similar to my mad Lander Pant fit-quest, I feel on a mission to get the fit nailed). The bold stripes make such a simple garment look like so much more than 'just a basic' and I know it will get a lot of wear.

Big smiles for Nettie!
As a bonus, I feel much more confident in approaching knits from investing that bit of extra time in making this dress. I'm even feeling brave enough to go straight into sewing up the other colourway of this fabric... question is, should I use it for another size-tweaked Nettie, or the new Nikko Dress by True Bias (which actually recommends rib knits)! What would you do?

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3 imperfect Landers, but what have I learnt?

I'm obsessed with the True Bias Lander Pants, partly because I love the silhouette and partly through sheer determination to nail the fit. I've made them 3 times now, with sizing tweaks each time: pair 1 in khaki cotton drill (blogged here), the second in black denim, and the latest in blue denim, but have I actually made them work? I think I'm starting to understand that size isn't everything *ahem* when it comes to trouser fitting...

Lander Pants pair 3!
I've downsized each time when making the Landers. By no means were my first two pairs unwearable, but the fit is looser than I would like around the waist and hips. The differences between the sizing brackets are pretty subtle and having a 1" side seam allowance to play around with gave me a little more confidence to downsize again, this time cutting a 4.

From top: Size 8, Size 6 and Size 4
With this pair, I've finally achieved the snug hip/waist fit I was going for, but what I wasn't fully prepared for was the knock on affect that this would have on the fit in other areas. It turns out that when wearing them, they aren't particularly comfortable in the crotch area - like sitting down in them all day at work is just not fun. Thinking about yourself as having a 'long crotch' is quite weird isn't it? So thanks go to the Closet Case Patterns pants fitting adjustments guide which made me feel a bit more confident in diagnosing and accepting this area of mis-fit.

Pictures by my friend Alex

I wish I'd found this trouser fitting bible sooner in my naive quest for proper-fitting Landers. Here are the things from it that I'll be addressing in Lander Pants pair four (and I'm determined they'll be my perfect pair):

1) A low seat adjustment for my flat bum (yes I noticed this with previous pairs, but one thing at a time).
2) Lengthening the crotch!
3) Using a curved waistband to avoid the slight gaping at the back.
4) And... using the pocket piece/positioning of the smaller sizes as I think they look just too big on the bum of the size 4.

My slightly baggy pair two worn for a weekend in London
In good news, I've found that a heavier denim works really well for jean Landers and I'd definitely use it again in future. I know I need to add a good few inches to the cropped view to make them that perfect 'Insta-fashionista' ankle boot-skimming length - though I'm tempted to just go full length next time - and I've got better at inserting the jean buttons each time. Interfacing the right hand fly piece helped (the pattern doesn't specifically instruct to do this) and using proper quality Prym buttons with Prym pliers made the task much easier.

Buttons on pair 2
One thing I still don't get is how do people do neat button holes for jeans? I used the automatic buttonhole function on my machine which was fine, but once opened, they seem to just look messy and frayed. I ended up going over the machine stitching by hand just to make sure it was secured in place. If anyone has any tips or could point me in the right direction that would be fab!

So I'm clearly not done with this pattern just yet. And I hate to admit it, but I definitely should've done a muslin at the start. I'm convinced by looking at the Instagram hashtag that the Landers suit/look cool on just about anyone, I just need to finish finding that balance between fit and comfort with mine, but I think I'm getting there... 

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