Heidi & Finn Cowl neck dress

Part of learning to sew knits I decided to try the Heidi and Finn Cowl neck dress pattern.  I’d seen some lovely dresses on ModelMumma‘s blog, and was keen to give them a try.  It’s a very basic beginners sewing pattern.  This was my WIP project which I sent a picture of to DidYouMakeThat last week.  It was fun trying to work out what everyone was sewing!

Baby dress sewing pattern knit

As a note to slightly clueless parents like myself – cowl necks catch baby drool.  It’s gross, and very damp.  Maybe more of a pattern for children that can walk and keep their slobber to themselves.  Oh yeah, and dresses are for those that can walk.

It’s pretty cute on, and very fast to sew.  Will be be a favourite?  Probably not.  Will it be a stash-busting childcare outfit?  Definitely.

Fit 

I’m a little underwhelmed by this pattern, it’s very basic, not very interesting and still the instructions to put the cowl neck in are not as clear as they could have been.  The finished result is nice, but the arms were much too long and the neckline was too small (and I cut a larger size than needed) and is difficult to get over her head.  This would be remedied by using a very stretchy knit, but even still I consider it to be too small.   Big disclaimer here, I also had this problem with the Heidi and Finn Hoodie, so either their sizing is a bit off, or my baby has a giant melon head.  Anyone else had similar issues?

Fabric

Nothing too interesting, a pale pink interlock from Darn Cheap fabrics in Heidelberg, $7 per metre and this was made from the offcuts of my renfrew.

Technique

Honestly after making the Hoodie, and the Sewaholic Renfrew this has no revelations.  If you have sewn a renfrew before, it might be worthwhile self-drafting a new collar in a similar shape, as a shaped cowl drapes much better than the rectangle.

Future lessons

I’m not in love with the pattern, but it is quick to cut out and sew which could make it a brilliant stash buster.  The real win here for me is the fact I can cut out a renfrew for me, and a dress for her out of 2m of fabric.  STASH BUSTER.  The finish of sleeves and hems on childrens garments are really important, as kids roll up their sleeve and run about generally exposing more of the internal workings of  garment than an adult.  Next time I’m going to really finish those seams nicely.  Hopefully by then I’ll have my grubby little mitts on my mother’s overlocker…..

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Sewaholic Renfrew

**Total disclaimer, I sell sewaholic patterns on http://www.sewsquirrel.com.au so am completely biased.  On an interesting note this is the pattern that made me start selling sewing patterns online.  I HATE having to order things from overseas and wait, and sometimes trying to source independent patterns in Australia is painful.**

This week I sewed (finally) my first Renfrew, using the cowl neck 3/4 sleeve versions.  And I loved it.  This pattern was fast to construct, so fast that I think I’ll go and buy a few metres of different colour knits and sew up a storm in an afternoon and have a half a new wardrobe.  Or at least 3 Renfrews.  What took the longest amount of time while sewing was deciding how to finish the seams.  Actually what took the longest was unpicking the stupid stitching with a twin needle I did around the arm and then unpicking the arm as I sewed it while tired and stretched the seams.

I followed the Lladybird method of grading between sizes to get a full bust adjustment, but it’s just not enough.  Looking at the front the sleeves are really pulled out of shape and there are folds of fabric running from the sleeve to the bust apex. The bust is a size 12, with the rest of the top a size 10 as being a knit there is enough give for the top to be comfortable, and it fits like a knit RTW.  I’m just sick of the trade off between enough boob room and loose everywhere else or really stretched over my chest and hips to have any fitting around my middle.

Fit

The fit aside from the bust is great.  It looks like the fabric pools under the bust as it’s taut only there with the rest of the pattern loose fit.  That little bit of extra space around the hips is welcome, and the waistband helps stop the riding up.  I will lengthen the pattern next time for my long torso, to ensure no back gap between my pants and top.  This pattern is listed as intermediate, however a beginner confident with knit fabric would be able to do a great job.

Fabric

Sewaholic Renfrew Pattern This is a medium weight interlock from Darn Cheap Fabrics in Heidelberg which was $7 a metre.  According to the pattern you need 2.1 metres (2 1/4 yards) for this version, but I bought 2 metres and had enough leftover to cut out a cowl neck dress for my daughter.    Darn Cheap fabrics does sell online, but if they do fabric samples get them first as the fabric quality tends to be either excellent or poor.  The colour looked wrong when I bought it, but I’m pleased with the end result.  Finally managed to buy fabric in a colour I wear, so it was quite amusing how uninspired the colour felt when buying it.

In trying to learn about the types/varieties of knits, it’s well worth buying (or going to the library) and looking at a fabric reference guide.  I used the Fabrics A to Z to work out what would work rather than tugging on every bit of fabric in the store.

Techniques

After practising sewing with knits on 4 baby hoodies I’ve found the combination if techniques that work for my sewing machine.  After reading a wide variety of advice on how to sew knits, the general conclusion is use ballpoint needles, a zigzag stitch (or other stretch stitch) and the rest depends on your sewing machine.  My machine also enjoys having the pressure on the presser foot reduced to 0, twin needle stitching and a hot cup of tea while sewing.   There is still a great deal of improvement to be had in my sewing of knits, but my renfrew was finished well.  If you had an overlocker this would be half an hour of sewing.

It’s worth being pleased with the time it took to sew and the final result if your husband doesn’t realise you made it.  WIN.

Future lessons

A stable knit really works well for this pattern.  I know some people love the super stretchy knits but this has enough give to be comfortable and loose and still look nice.  Any more stretch and I would cut a much smaller size as the pattern is soft around your frame with a stable knit.  The next one I sew will have a FBA adjustment like VickiKateMakes rotating out from the arm, just to get the fit better around the arm.  Will I make more of these?  Of course!