Italian Jersey Floral Maxi (Maternity) Dress
Hello, Mood Fabrics! It’s been a few months since I’ve blogged for the Mood Sewing Network, thanks to some big events in my life. We’ve been dealing with job changes, a potential international move, and–oh yeah–a wee little person due in September. Not only have all the changes (and the pregnancy symptoms!) kept me away from my sewing machine, but sewing for a rapidly growing bump has proved daunting. For the first few months, maternity clothes were way too big, but all of my woven dresses quickly became uncomfortable. Since February, I’ve been living in knit dresses, like the Colette Moneta and the Cashmerette Turner. Secret pajamas are currently my full time uniform.
Now that I’m a little further along, however, some actual maternity clothes seem necessary. I’m certainly not getting any smaller, after all! To that end, I’ve been hoarding maternity patterns. Flowy tunics, comfy leggings, and–of course–knit dresses. Butterick 6226 is a particular standout from that last crowd. It’s, essentially, a sophisticated take on the caftan with a swirling maxi skirt, optional draped sleeves, interesting bust gathers, and a deep v-neckline. Though it may be a maternity pattern, it’s actually shapely enough that many non-expectant reviewers have sewn it up for a cute summer maxi dress. Anything that I might actually be able to wear after this summer sounds fabulous.
The pattern specifically calls for lightweight, moderate stretch knits, like rayon or cotton jerseys. Mood has been on its jersey game lately, y’all. There are so many gorgeous rayons, specifically, that picking a fabric for this pattern was an exercise in restraint. I wanted to order everything. In the end, I chose this Italian Blue and Green Floral Printed Jersey, a large scale digital floral print in the most gorgeous hues of navy, aqua, lime, and sky blue. It has 4-way stretch and is highly breathable, making it ideal for a summer maxi dress like this one.
If you’re new to sewing knits or just tend to stick with woven fabrics, I can’t recommend this jersey enough. Not only is it super soft and drapes beautifully, but it is one of the easiest fabrics I’ve worked with in awhile. Unlike many rayon jerseys, it doesn’t roll up when cut or bag out, when manipulated the slightest bit. It stays put, irons nicely, and generally does what you ask of it. That turned out to be especially fortuitous on this pattern, since it was a total pain to put together.
This dress turned out beautifully, but I had my doubts along the way. There are too many fiddly pieces and strange directions for a simple knit design, while the sizing is comically off base. Based on pattern measurements, I went down two sizes to a straight 16, but probably could’ve gone down even further. I ended up going my own way on many things–ignoring instructions better meant for a woven fabrics, serging every seam I could, and stabilizing both the neckline and waist with clear elastic. Luckily, this fabric took everything thrown at it, from a bizarre armscye shape to an unexpectedly deep hem. If you’re interested in also sewing this pattern, I’ll have a thorough review of it on my blog tomorrow, with all the gory construction details.
For all the pattern peculiarities, however, I adore this dress. It moves beautifully and feels so breezy in the sweltering Texas heat. Even better, there is plenty of room for that steadily growing bump. I will definitely be making other versions of this dress–in shorter lengths and with those darling draped sleeves, for sure–and probably ordering more Italian jersey, while I’m at it. If a woman has to sew maternity clothes, they may as well be in gorgeous fabrics and silhouettes, don’t you think?