Described as a year-round, day-to-night sort of dress, the Out & About dress is a simple knit dress pattern with a scooped front neck, gathered skirt, and binding to finish the neckline and sleeves. The pattern comes with two hem options (knee-length and maxi), as well as two sleeve lengths (elbow and full). It’s also pretty easy to customize, based on your styling whims.
Since the dress does not have a lot of pieces – just a front, a back, a skirt, two sleeves, and those bindings – it’s ideal for using large scale knit fabrics that may be difficult to print match, since you really only have to worry about matching the side seams. Even easier, cut the bodice in a solid color and the maxi skirt in the print and let it really take center stage!
For my dress, I went the simple route and let this cool striped fabric steal all the thunder. Yay stripes!
I wish I could tell you where the fabric is from, but it was actually a stash busting gift from my gal pal Elizabeth, so I have no idea of it’s origins. What I do know is that it is super slinky and fun to wear, but that also meant it was a gigantic bitch to work with since the fabric wanted to shift around the entire time I was cutting and sewing. Don’t look too closely at my waistline seam, because the stripes get a bit funky over there. Oh well! It’s a loungey happy dress, not like I’m going to the Oscars or anything in it :)
Like all other knit patterns I love and trust, this one was super easy to sew up. Caroline’s instructions are all full-color photos, which makes things very clear if you’re a knit n00b and can’t swing the diagrams (I personally loove me some diagrams, but I know from experience that a photo is MAJORLY helpful when you’re a beginner!). The dress is assembled with the side seams sewn last, which makes it easy to tweak the fit to your preferences.
To make this bad boy, I cut the size XS, but ended up taking another inch out of the side seams because I wanted a fit with negative ease (and also because my fabric is reeeeal stretchy!). Since the fabric is so drapey, I stabilized the shoulders and waistband with 1/4″ elastic to prevent those areas from drooping over time. This is not something that is included in the instructions, but it’s SUPA easy to do – just align the elastic on the wrong side down the middle of the seam line, sew it down with a zigzag, and then put the pieces together as normal. I also cut about 4″ off the skirt, because I just don’t care for anything knee-length on my frame.
I used the included neck binding to finish the neckline, but I did not bind the sleeve hems and instead just topstitched them down with my twin needle (same as with the hem). Other than the twin needle stitching and zigzagging on the elastic at the beginning, this entire dress was sewn up on my serger – even the gathering was done on my serger. Wooho!
Ok, party time fun aside, here’s my secret shame – the stripes on the side seams don’t match up perfectly! Wah! I did cut these with matching in mind, and they were beautiful and straight and matched when I first closed up the side seams… but then I took that extra inch in, and things went haywire. Since this is a knit, i definitely could have manipulated those stripes to match by stretching one of the fabrics, but then the waistline seam wouldn’t have matched. I figure it’s better to have a nice waist seamline (even if I wear a belt over it) than perfect stripes, so the stripes had to bear the brunt of my wrath. Actually, it’s not so bad now that I’m looking at the photos, but I was PISSED at myself when I was staring at it in the mirror. Ha!
But, hey – at least the skirt side seams match, as do the sleeves. So there’s that! Maybe I’ll just stand with my arms down my side all day :)
I really like how this black and white striped fabric looks with other colors – like turquoise (don’t groan yet, but I was definitely belt-inspired after seeing how the fabric looks with my hair lolz). Makes it a little less Beetlejuice, don’t ya think?
I love my new dress and I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so I can give it some proper wear out and about (see what I did there? :)). Right after I took these pictures, the weather got all stupid and cold again. ARGH! I swear, I’m not taking any more bare-legged photos outside… clearly I am angering some Winter God or some shit.
Love the Out & About and want your own? Get your copy here! Now, go forth and check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour:
Adventures in Dressmaking
Four Square Walls
Sewing Like Mad
A Golden Afternoon
LLADYBIRD (that’s meeee!)
House of Pinheiro