midnight blue ponte dress a.k.a my new uniform

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Alrighty, I’m back – more pictures from the same photoshoot as the Belcarra blouse and my watercolor Hemlock tee! I was productive that day. Anyways – Happy New Year and all that! My school semester has started again, so I’m back to full-time-student living. I recently made two knit dresses from the same pattern, and I’ve used them tons already – I’m seriously (in a capsule-wardrobe kind of way) thinking of making them my uniform and make a couple more in different colors with a few different detailings, and just wear that all semester. How easy would that be!

Fabric: Navy blue viscose+poly ponte/courtelle jersey from Stoff&Stil.
Pattern: Dress #23099 from Stoff&Stil, bought in size 36 but probably closer to size 34 now after all the alterations.
Techniques: Sewing with knits, overlocking, twin needle stitching, neckline binding.

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I actually came across this pattern while helping my students in the sewing class pick out their own patterns – to make it easy on everyone (slash me) all the fabric and patterns came from this one fabric store chain, so the girls could fairly easily pick out fabrics and patterns from one place through the catalogue or website (which has been down a lot lately – sorry if the links don’t work!). I thought the dress looked cute, and like it would be easy to wear – how can you not love being fully dressed with just one garment, which is comfortable as well? I also liked the exposed zippered pockets – dresses with pockets, yey! I already had a length of what Stoff&Stil calls courtelle jersey, which I assume and suspect is pretty much the same as ponte or double knit fabric. It’s a stable, moderately stretchy knit, it’s kind of heavy, and it drapes well.

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 To make the zipper opening one piece of the pocket bag is sewn on with a rectangle, which is slashed and turned inside out with the zipper edgestitched on. Being the wise-ass I am, I thought the opening would be too small for the zipper, even though I bought the recommended zipper length. I made the opening longer only to find it stretched out during sewing and was too long! So – either interface to make it more stable, or trust the pattern and it will all work out. I also ended up basting in the zipper before edgestitching to make it easier on myself (not without attempting to sew it on with just using pins first! Whoa, no good.) The pocket is constructed by sewing the second pocket bag piece to the first – quite easy if we disregard my zipper blunder.

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This was the first time in many many years I’ve used a pattern from Stoff&Stil. They are sort of retro in their usage actually! There is only one size per envelope, and they are precut with seam allowance included in a non-fusible interfacing type material. There are no printed markings, so notches are cut into the seam allowance, and drillholes indicate grainline and other markings. It’s a bit of a puzzle, but a cutting diagram and numbered list of pattern pieces show you what you’re dealing with. I would find it extremely frustrating as a beginner to attempt this though! Being able to identify different pattern pieces (say, a skirt from a sleeve) is an advantage in working with these patterns.

According to their size chart (I started with the EU36 size) I needed to add a few centimetres to the bust and the waist. I dutifully added them and then cut and constructed the dress. I barely even tried the dress on during construction since I had checked my measurements and eyeballed the non-interfacing patternpieces against my body, which looked fine. When the dress was done, it fit mostly ok, and I was really thrilled I was able to just quickly construct and have a wearable dress. Dressmaking made easy! The waist was a bit roomier than I prefer, so I ended up basically shaving off all the width I had added in during the measuring stage. Then I went to a friends surprise party, and revelled in all the lovely attention I got for wearing a handmade dress that looked like something storebought (yes, I totally eat those compliments up!). But it irritated me that the waist was still too wide and also too low. I finally unpicked the overlocked seams and took off a good 1″ from the front length, and 1,5″ from the back, and took in the sides by maybe 4″ total.

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After that I was much happier with the fit – the dress now sits at my natural waist, it is fitted but not tight, so it’s perfectly comfortable. Oh, and there is supposed to be a zipper down the front, but I didn’t feel like having it there, so I didn’t bother. While I took quite a bit of length off the back bodice, it still looks like it is maybe too long. Look at all these wrinkles!

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It definitely doesn’t feel like my backside is all wrinkly while I wear the dress (hah….), but I suspect that the wrinkles on the skirt is due to some static cling that could be solved with a slip, and that the wrinkles in the bodice is from some excess length, and maybe width? There is a swayback situation going on, but like I mentioned in making the muslin for my plaid shirtdress (which is just missing the buttons and the buttonholes, but I’ve totally stalled since I don’t think I will really wear the finished dress!) my back is quite narrow at the waist, and I think adjusting the pattern accordingly would be good. How informative taking back view pictures is!

I actually have another dress from this pattern, so I’ll be posting about that one soon. In the meanwhile, I leave you with this lovely outtake of what most of my pictures looked like, trying to get the wireless remote to work properly:

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18 thoughts on “midnight blue ponte dress a.k.a my new uniform”

  1. How beautiful! I also have a navy ponte dress…it’s so versatile and easy to wear; a true wardrobe staple! Yours is beautiful and does look like something you could buy in the shops. I love the zipper pocket details.

    1. Thank you Elle! Versatile – that’s exactly the word! I love how put together I feel in something that is so easy and comfortable to wear. Thanks for the compliment, I’m soaking it up! ;) (oh and HI fellow Chicagoan! I’d like to think I can consider myself a Chicagoan even if I was only there for three years… yeah?)

    2. How strange… none of my comments seems to have saved! I’ll try again. Thank you Elle! Versatile – that’s exactly the word! I love how put together I feel in something that is so easy and comfortable to wear. Thanks for the compliment, I’m soaking it up! ;) (oh and HI fellow Chicagoan! I’d like to think I can consider myself a Chicagoan even if I was only there for three years… yeah?)

      1. Helloooo fellow Chicagoan! I’ve only lived here for 1.5 years so far so I totally think it’s fair for you to call yourself a Chicagoan! Next time I go to Vogue I’ll think of you!

      2. Ooo, yes! Always a highlight and at the same time frustrating experience going there! ;) Hope Chicago is being good to you, it’s a great city!

    1. Thank you Donna! I’m really coming around to navy as a basic color in my wardrobe – it certainly is classic, but I feel not too boring!

    1. I do too Gillian – it definitely makes it a basic with a little flare, something interesting to it! Though, I am thinking a pleat-less version for my next ponte dress (and dark purple?) – the pleats in the back especially have not been super flattering, but it might be that the pattern just needs more tweaking.

  2. This looks great, and I love the idea of making it in different colours! I’ve got 2 knit dresses (bought) I wear loads for work, really need to make some!

    1. They are so easy to wear! It’s like all I you have to do is wear tights and shoes in a color that works nicely – though sometimes I haven’t even done that, and it’s been ok! ;)

    1. Thank you Lisa! The next dress I’m posting about from the same pattern is without the zipper detail. I kind of miss that about the newer dress, so I think the next one will maybe have a straight skirt but with the zipper. I love that I can quite easily change just a few details about the pattern and get a variety of looks!

  3. I really like the simplicity of the dress. Was that the same company of the dress pattern you wore on the London meet-up? I had a look at the website but my Norwegian isn’t great ;-)

    1. Hey Rachel! It’s actually the exact same pattern – I just tweaked it a few places. It’s the next post coming up with lots more details, but basically I skipped the zipper, added a centre front seam, and did a differently shaped neckline for the green dress you saw me in in London. Hehe… I can imagine the website doesn’t make too much sense to you! ;)

  4. What a lovely dress. It looks like a dress you could wear a lot without getting tired of it. I love the pleats and the zippers.
    I usually avoid the patterns at S&S exactly because of the lack of any markings. But also because of the hard to understand instructions.

    1. Thank you Anne! I agree – I think I’ll be able to wear this quite a lot without feeling bored! Hehe… And I totally get that you avoid the patterns from Stoff og Stil – they aren’t the most user friendly! And yes about the instructions too, they are quite short and not very illustrated. I think I did ok with this particular pattern since it doesn’t have too many pieces, but I wouldn’t want to attempt something more complex from them. Let’s just say I’m glad my next big project (trenchcoat) is a Sewaholic pattern!

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