Refashion: dressing gown to sweater tunic

Notes from sewing with big squishy fleece:

  • Tighten top thread tension a bit (4.5 – 5)
  • Longest stitch length
  • Make sure top thread is tucked under presser foot towards the back, or it gets pulled down and loops at the back
  • Basting by hand helps protect against creeping
  • Experiment with pressure of foot to balance creeping Vs feed dogs not getting enough grip
  • Sew slowly and lift foot every couple inches to release fabric (protect against creeping)

Other general notes:

  • Not sure the shoulders are right – I think if I tried to use this to draft a pattern, I should move the shoulder seams forwards. It feels like I should just shorten the shoulders of the front pattern piece? I am pulling them forwards a bit when wearing it. This might explain the front hem coming out longer too – I pulled the side seams in, but the size is probs still too big for me so the shoulders and too far back? Or maybe it’s a dressing-gown-shape thing

Started by trimming off the neck cuff that ran in a U shape all round the dressing gown neckline, down to the hem. Trimmed it on the cuff side of the joining seam, to avoid the construction unravelling at the shoulders

Used a seam ripper to open up some of the cuff I just removed into a flat piece. Pinned this piece as a panel into the front, to join the left and right front parts together and to give me a round neckline instead of a V (which it would have been if I had just directly joined L and R front. It also would have meant the front of the sweater was much narrower than the back, and while I had width I wanted to take our, I thought it would be easier to do that evenly if the front and back matched to start with). Sewed this panel in to the front.

Used the other end of the neckline cuff that I removed, which I hadn’t opened up, to be a simple round collar. Started pinning it to the neckline from the back. Made sure at the front of the neckline, the untrimmed seam allowance of the front panel folded sideways to help the neckline be a smooth line (didn’t get a picture as I was too busy pinning it, though you can kind of see below in the sewn photo).

Used about 26.5″ for the collar, and when I’d pinned around to where I started, I sewed the two ends together to make a loop. Pressed the seam open and finished the edges separately, then stitched a line across the top to stabilise the seam laying open. Pinned at the bottom to the neckline like the rest of the collar, then sewed to the neckline all the way round with a #1 zigzag (was hoping it would help with some mild stretch. Seems it’s not enough zigzag, or there’s too much fabric to be stretchy). It is large round my neck, but only just goes over my head – I should’ve basted it to check fit. Not sure what I could’ve done differently to make it stretchier. Or couldve made it wider but added a drawstring? Taller collar would mean more bunching up would mean closer fit to my neck as well.

Used widest and longest zigzag stitch to try to finish the collar/neck seam. Machine was not happy about it, skipping stitches (?)/too thick to sew close to the edge. So it is more a zigzag through the seam allowance. Oh well it’ll still help against fraying

Cut the sleeve cuffs off. Shortened the sleeves by the width of the cuffs.

Narrowed the cuffs by 2 inches (I like my sleeves short/pushed up). Trimmed and finished the short edges of the cuffs, finished the edges of the cuffs and sleeves before sewing together (as finishing the neck seam was too thick to do neatly once sewn together). Helped avoid stretching out/fraying the sleeve edges while pinning as well.

Divided sleeve edge and cuff edge into 4 with pins, pinned together right sides together by matching those 4 pins then adding more pins equally spaced in between. Used A LOT of pins as I had a lot of sleeve to gather into the cuff (should I have gathered the sleeve first?). I am ashamed to say I did sew directly over the pins (horizontally), but as long as the spirit of my sewing machine forgives me for that, this method worked beautifully! Used a #3 width zigzag stitch to attach the cuff so that the stitching can stretch.

I wanted to take width out of the body, and remove the A line shape. I also thought some mild slits on the sides would be practical for moving/cycling and also nice shape-wise.

Measured the width across at the hem and at the base of the sleeve (34″, 29″). Marked and pinned to take 3″ out on each side at the hem (34″ -3 -3 = 28″), grading down to 1″ out on each side at the base of the sleeve (27″). Graded straight up the sides (ie halfway up, 2″ are taken out), and graded the 1″ out to nothing along the sleeve over a 6 inch horizontal slant.

Basted allll of that to check fit, and to help protect me from this squishy fleece creeping about on those long side seams. It was much more secure and nicer to sew once basted.

Sewed the new side seams, stopping at the mark I put 4″ up from the hem for the side slits. Trimmed the seam allowance, pinned the laundry label into the new seam to keep it, finished the seam allowance separately up to about 2.5″ above the side slit, then finished the rest of it together from 2″ above the side slit up to the end at the sleeve (saved time and faff doing most of it together). Fingerpressed and pinned open the seam allowance for the side slits, then stitched it down, pivoting to turn the two corners. Sewed a 1″ bar tack with #4 zigzag and very short stitch length at the top of the slits to strengthen them.

The front hem was not straight, and was annoying me, so I folded it up to fall an inch higher than the back hem. Hand basted it to try on and check, sewed it down, trimmed the new hem allowance and finished with a zigzag

Pocket time! In next post

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