I just finished my singing gig dress, Butterick 4849, and it presented some interesting fitting challenges. All the challenges stemmed from the choice of fabric (matte jersey). Matte jersey is one of the recommended fabrics for this pattern. I knew going into it that I would have to adjust the pattern, so I started with a size 12 and did two muslins. The first was a mock-up of the bodice, done in a wool/lycra to just approximate fit and to see what macro-adjustments the pattern top would need. The second muslin was in a matte jersey, and I discussed it at length here.
I threw some questions out to my fellow Sewing Divas, and got some great information about working with matte jersey that I wanted to share. My first question was about counterbalancing the weight of the trim. As you can see the trim is only on the neckline in the front. I tried, without success, to curve the trim around the back neck – the beading and buckram backing made that impossible. I considered a waist stay, but Els and Phyllis had better suggestions. Phyllis suggested padding the back neck facing with wool felt to add both heft and weight. Els suggested sewing lengths of lead drapery weighting cord to the facing.
I ended up following both their advice and applied wool felt to the back facing. That added a little heft to the back neckline that matches nicely to the heavy trim. But the trim still dragged down the front, so I took Els’ advice and ran the weights along the bottom of the back facing using doubled, waxed thread and a loose whipstitch:
The weight of the fabric presented a challenge as well. I asked the other Divas what they would do to prevent too much lengthwise stretching of the bodice. I wasn’t as worried about the skirt, but I didn’t want the bodice pulling down the way it does in the muslin. Georgene had a great suggestion of stabilizing the armhole seam with clear elastic, which I did. The trim itself adds some stability because it doesn’t have any give.
The dress in its un-edited form was so long that it brushed the floor. I cut 18 inches off the bottom to make it look more like the picture on the envelope. The final area of concern to me was the hem. I asked both the Divas and over on Stitchers Guild what they would recommend for hemming matte jersey. My concern was to avoid weighting the hem too much.
MaryBeth suggested either a rolled hem, like she did on the dress she made for the funeral, or “you can also just carefully cut and **run**”
Els suggested a hong-kong finish on the raw edge of the hems and then hand sew the hem allowance in place. She also made a great suggestion that I stabilize the hem along the stitching line by placing a length of Scotch tape just above it on the skirt. This would keep the hemline from stretching out as I stitched.
Georgene mentioned that her profession experience is using either a ‘scarf’ pearl hem (serged, but tight and narrow) or turned and coverstitch. Anther suggestion was a hand-rolled narrow hem.
Why am I grinning like a madwoman, you may ask? Because Skippy my Eviler Twin got what she wanted, and for my singing gig for the number three guy at the Vatican, I paired this lovely dress with fishnet stockings. Just a little bit of my subversive side coming out!