Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Lady Skater Dress and the Perfect Pattern Parcel!

Many of you will have already heard about the fantastic new company that is Perfect Pattern Parcel as some amazing bloggers have been showcasing their makes from the first parcel of five patterns over the last week or so. Today it's my turn!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Purple Ponti Knit Lady Skater Dress Sewing Pattern

Perfect Pattern Parcel has been created by Jill and Rachael to support independent pattern designers (which we all know I'm all for!) and also to raise money for children's education by donating an amount you suggest to Donors Choose. Donors Choose is an organisation that matches up the needs of teachers and their students for specific projects with willing donors. The funds raised from each Pattern Parcel sale will got to help K-12 students in minimising educational inequality and encourage a community where children have the tools and experiences necessary for an excellent education.

Each parcel, containing five PDF patterns along a similar theme from a variety of indie designers, is available for two weeks. So you have until 21st March to snap up this one. The brilliant thing about each sale is that you can name your own price (yes, really!) and give the indie designers and Donors Choose the support you want.

To celebrate the launch of the the first parcel Jill and Rachael are also running a giveaway with some amazing prizes over on their Facebook page.

Parcel 1 focuses on sewing patterns for women that are modern classics. All the patterns included I think provide great scope for a stylish and wearable wardrobe and are also all pretty quick and easy makes! The patterns are:


Parcel 1 Collage

My choice was the Lady Skater Dress from Kitschy Coo as I've actually had my eye on this pattern for some time as the next step in my challenge of sewing with more knits. However, you can certainly expect to see some more makes using patterns from the parcel in the near future as with a selection this good it was a tough choice!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Purple Ponti Knit Lady Skater Dress Sewing Pattern

The Lady Skater dress has received some rave reviews around the blogosphere and now I've made it I can totally understand why! Firstly, the cut of the dress is fantastic; I love the shape of the neckline and the way it sits, the fit of the bodice and the fullness of the skirt which is just perfect to skim rather than cling to the tummy and hips. The only slight issue I had is with the back waistline which seems to dip quite low on me and I've got some excess fabric above. I'll probably raise this a little when I make it again.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Purple Ponti Knit Lady Skater Dress Sewing Pattern

Secondly, the instructions are amazing! Included in the download is a brief version for the confident seamstress plus an in depth version with colour photographs of each step, which for a relative knit newbie like me is invaluable. I picked up so many tips and snippets of advice about working with knits in general just by working through these instructions. If you're new to knits, or even if you just want to work on improving your techniques, I'd say this pattern is worth buying for the learning alone.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Purple Ponti Knit Lady Skater Dress Sewing Pattern

In saying this, however, I'm not saying everything went totally smoothly with this make or that I ended up with a perfect dress first time. The two techniques I was most apprehensive about (attaching elastic to the waist and shoulder seams and attaching the neckband) actually went really well. In fact I love how the topstitched neckline looks! Once this was in though I really struggled to get the neckline and stitching to match up neatly when closing the second shoulder seam. I followed the tip to sew this by machine before overlocking to make it easier to keep everything aligned but still must have redone this at least four times before settling on a very short of perfect result. Also not great is my matching of the waist seams at the side. I'm not sure what I was doing wrong but as the side seams are sewn up in one as the penultimate step I just couldn't get these to match no matter how many pins I used. I think things may have been shifting under the foot so a walking foot may help.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Purple Ponti Knit Lady Skater Dress Sewing Pattern

I used a gorgeous purple ponti knit which I picked up purposefully for this make in A-One Fabrics on Goldhawk Road. It was on a meet up with Lizzie who was paying London a visit for a few days and having made some gorgeous Lady Skater's herself I was able to pick her brains about what sort of knit would work best! It was my first time working with such a stable knit and I absolutely loved it! So much easier to cut and manage than a jersey and it really holds the shape of this style well.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Purple Ponti Knit Lady Skater Dress Sewing Pattern

The only issues I had with it were when it came to using a twin needle for the hem. This was another new technique for me and let's just say is not one I've fallen in love with straight away! I was apprehensive about getting the edge of the hem caught in the stitching when sewing from the right side but this was no problem. I had major issues with skipping stitches and snapping threads despite using stretch needles and following every tutorial I could find when it came to threading. I spent a long time fiddling about and ended up with a result I am fairly happy with but still with a skipped stitch here and there. I found using a longer stitch length, slightly tighter tension and taking it super slowly helped but this may just be specific to my machine. Also my favourite tip was not to backstitch as I think this was getting me off on the wrong foot by tangling my threads from the very start!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Purple Ponti Knit Lady Skater Dress Sewing Pattern

Despite any struggles, now I've got the hang of it I'll definitely be making this up again. It is SUCH a quick make for a dress and I can see me getting a lot of wear out of many variations of this for work. It feels comfortable, practical and hardwearing but I also feel really great in it.

The other bloggers in the tour have been sewing up a fantastic variety of makes. To check them out click the links below.


I can't wait to try out the other patterns and see what Jill and Rachael have in store for future parcels! If you like the look of these patterns and would like to find out more click the button below to be taken to the Perfect Pattern Parcel site.

Perfect Pattern Parcel Buy Now

28 comments:

  1. Wow, lovely make!
    I want to get a bit more confident working with wovens first but have my eye on knits as my next big challenge and it looks like the Lady Skater dress could be a good pattern to explore. Thanks for all the useful tips, I will definitely be revisiting this.post when I attempt it!

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    1. I didn't believe it until I tried it but getting to grips with working with knit fabrics really isn't as scary as it sounds! The rules are a lot more flexible than working with wovens and I think a trial and error approach really helps! Good luck!

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  2. Fiona you look so adorable in your new Lady Skater! Thanks for sewing with us. Your dress is just so cute!

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    1. Thank you for inviting me to take part and giving me the chance to try out this pattern Jill! Indie all the way!!

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  3. fabulous!!!! your stitches look amazing. i'm so impressed :) thanks for sewing along with us! XO

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    1. Thank you for asking me to get involved Rachael! You've pushed me on that step further in conquering knits!

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  4. Thanks for sharing about the Perfect Pattern Parcel! I think its a great way to be exposed to new patterns PLUS be able to donate to charity. Your Lady Skater looks great btw. I love the purple you chose, its very flattering :).

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    1. Thank you! It was a tough choice as there were lots of beautiful colours in the shop I was in but I'm glad I went with this! It is a really great idea isn't it

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  5. Beautiful make. I just downloaded the POP and don't know where to start. Such good patterns. The Lady Skater is really occupying my mind though. I was even thinking of a purple! I've had the skipping stitches problem on ponte as well. Frustrating.

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    1. I had exactly the same feeling as you! I was tempted by the Ava but was limited on time so decided to go with a knit pattern! The Ava may be on it's way soon though!
      Do you think the ponti was the problem with the twin needle? I thought it was something to do with the needle or the way I was threading it...maybe I should try it on another fabric!!

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  6. I'm so impressed! The color is beautiful, and it looks really adorable on you. This is going in my list of "one day" projects!

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    1. Make it high up on your list because it's such a quick make you'll be ticking it off in no time!

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  7. This looks great Fiona, I love this pattern! Quite a few people (me included) suffered from the waist being too low as well, I'm going to raise mine on the next version. I also had the same issue lining up the neckband join at the shoulder, but I think it was because I hadn't attached my neckband quite straight, so it was narrower at one side! I love the pattern parcel idea, although I already have the lady skater and ava, which are probably the two I'd make...next time!

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    1. Good to know about the waist, I'll definitely try taking a bit off next time! I think I need more practice with the neckband...
      I'm looking forward to seeing what Jill and Rachael come up with next too!

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  8. Good work! This looks great, such a good "everyday" dress! I too am new to the wonderful world of sewing knits. I think I should buy this pattern and have a go!

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    1. I think you should too!! The instructions for this pattern will make you feel like an expert in no time!

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  9. Luuurrrvely - love the colour on you :-)

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    1. Thank you! I do love a bit of purple!

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  10. This is beautiful! And the pattern sounds so tempting to invest in just for the tips. I've just had my first go at sewing knits with the Coco dress & all went really well till my machine kept throwing hissy fits at my attempts to twin needle the hem. I thought I was just being useless, but I find the fact that you had the same troubles really reassuring & I'll give it another go today. I also love the look of the dandelion dress, so I guess I'll get a move on & invest in this parcel before it's too late!

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    1. O I'm so glad to hear it's not just me who has twin needle issues! Were you using a quite stable ponti type knit too? I'm now wondering if this was the issue... I think patience and a lot of playing around with settings is the key! Hope you bought the parcel!

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    2. I've been using a double knit cotton jersey, so relatively stable, but not the same. I still haven't got my machine to fully cooperate all the time - it goes well for a bit, then plays up again - so I think for now I'll have to accept good enough and try another knit fabric with it and see how it does! I'm sure (I hope) I'll eventually work it out? If you get other useful tips as you sew up other things do share them though! (My machine is a Janome 7025, by the way.)

      And I definitely got the parcel - it's such a good cause & you sold me on the usefulness of this pattern!

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    3. Hooray! I think Dixie's concert tee looks like a great speedy make too. My machine is a Janome 7021 so must be pretty similar to yours! I will be sure to share any twin needle tips!

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  11. Ooh, your fabric has sewed up beautifully. I am so glad you liked the pattern. I had a similar problem with skipped stitches when I sewed ponte last year with a twin needle. Now I have a cover stitch machine which has eliminated any of these woes! Enabling :)!!!

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    1. O no! I've only just got a serger...I can't be lusting over a new machine already! Good to hear you've had trouble with it on ponti too though!

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  12. Lovely, the colour is stunning on you! I have made 4 so far, 2 for me and 2 for my girl, including a purple one. I too had a problem at the back waist so ended up taking about an inch out, but once I'd got that sorted all was good. I love ponte knit, a dream to sew for the most part, but on some I have had problems with skipped stitches when topstitching too.

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    1. Wow 4! Although in saying that I'm not surprised at all as they are such a quick make with a gorgeous end result! Sounds like maybe it's not me being completely inept with the twin needle!

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  13. I think that's one of the cutest Lady Skater dresses I've seen! Beautiful job on the neck band! As for the twin needles, I've recently started experimenting with them myself and have had some of the same issues. On my machine I found thread breakage could be solved by only using high quality thread with the twin needle. And I found the same as solution as you for skipped stitches, which is just to sew slowly. So it's definitely not you "being completely inept"!

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    1. Thank you! That's another great tip thanks, I didn't think about the thread maybe being an issue too.

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!