Saturday, January 10, 2015

Miss Bonnie and the Tale of Two Cotton Jerseys

Good evening, dear ones! Tonight, Sam is making his world-famous spaghetti and has decreed that I must sit on the couch, drink wine, and do something fun. I'm supposed to complete a book proposal by Monday and the first chapter of this particular one is trying, very slowly, to murder me. I've rewritten it four different ways and it just won't gel. So, I'm taking the night off. While I do have a new Tessa Dare book to read and Project Runway: All Stars to watch, I thought I'd prattle about my latest dresses instead. So, sparkling shiraz in hand, let's do this!

Surprise! I'm still sewing knits. The combination of a looming deadline and chilly weather has really kicked this stretch-obsession into overdrive. When writing a page feels like cutting open a vein, a quick, cute sewing project can be the difference between singing Enya and boiling bunnies. Both of these dresses were gloriously quick: 2.5 hours each, from cutting to hem. Our neighborhood rabbits are breathing tiny, adorable sighs of relief. 

Note: The pictures of this dress were taken, when it was 27 degrees outside. They aren't great, admittedly, but they were taken quickly to avoid frostbite. High five for still having all my digits to high five with!

Beyond the fact that these are my most recent projects, there's another reason I paired these dresses together. They're cotton jerseys, from two different suppliers. I thought it might be interesting to compare and contrast the two fabrics, as knits can be more difficult to buy online than wovens. Cotton jerseys really run the gamut, when it comes to stretch, recovery, and weight. As such, these are two very different dresses, even using the same fabric type and pattern.

The rose dress was made with organic stretch jersey, in dusty rose, sent to me from Organic Cotton Plus. (Color out of stock, but they have this gorgeous plum!) Fairly heavy, this jersey is 13.25 oz and has 10% spandex content. The blue dress, meanwhile, is made from Girl Charlee's in-house jersey. It's billed as medium weight, at 10 oz and 5% spandex, and was sold as "Paris Green." That color is also sold out (Another lovely plum in this fabric!), which is good because it prevents me from sending a rant-filled, unbearably pretentious e-mail about how Paris Green and turquoise are two completely different colors. Paris Green was the violently poisonous, completely gorgeous deep yellow-green of the Impressionists, while this... this is just perfectly fine turquoise.


Manet does Paris Green!

Mary does turquoise!

Ahem. Sorry, y'all. I just got really, really excited about finding supposedly Paris Green fabric, ordered it, and opened a box of blue jersey. Maybe it's that I was raised by an artist, but that somewhat sickly, deep green has always been one of my favorite hues. We're only now able to recreate it properly with synthetic dyes and my sewing room is painted with one such modern iteration! I'd kill for some fabric in the same color.

Why, yes, that is the nerdiest rant I've indulged in on this blog. Never underestimate my ability to get all riled up over silly things!

Both of these fabrics have sat in my stash for a few months. While I adore wool jerseys, I have mixed emotions about their cotton cousins. They are so, so comfortable, but they can also cling to every lump and bump. I love all my various lumps, but I don't necessarily want them zeroed in on either. However, after my success with sweater knits, I itched to try some more Frankenbonnies! I ordered two more wool jerseys from Mood, but while trying not to badger the postman, these jerseys caught my eye again. How would cotton look in my new favorite pattern? 

Turns out, I like the results quite a bit!  Like my sweater dresses, these are both made with a combination of Blue Ginger Doll patterns. It's the Violet skirt (size 18) paired with Bonnie's bodice (18), which I narrowed at the waist to match Violet's original proportions. Are they clingier pieces? Unquestionably. However, they're sublimely comfortable. The rose dress, specifically, feels like the world's softest pajamas. They also turned out to be two fairly different dresses.

Despite cutting the same size, the rose dress is slightly tighter. The jersey from Organic Cotton Plus has phenomenal recovery, thanks to that high spandex content. It's the springiest jersey I've ever felt, which bodes well for its longevity, but also makes it mold to my body. The bodice that worked so well with sweater knits ended up rippling around the bust. On one hand, it's a knit dress and this happens with knits, on the other hand...curse those wrinkles! Everything else about this dress is beautiful. The weight of the jersey gives the skirt a lovely, swishy drape, and the color is just divine. Dusty rose is one of those colors that I'm ambivalent about on the rack, but love to wear. It makes everything so, well, rosy!

Meanwhile, the turquoise dress fits well, but probably won't retain its shape over time. The knit has a good deal of stretch, but doesn't recover easily. After a day of wearing this, the collar band flops and the elbows bag. Even in these pictures, you can see how any bit of movement makes the band do weird things. That being said, I prefer the bodice fit here. The looser knit means everything skims, rather than clings. Unlike with the rose dress, the lines of my slip are completely invisible and the bodice doesn't pull. Woohoo! I also prefer the slightly lighter weight of this jersey, since it doesn't bunch quite as easily. 

Both dresses were sewn mostly on my serger, with hems sewn and sleeves gathered at my traditional machine. The hems were turned up with Stitch Witchery, then twin-needled in place, to prevent warping. I also added in clear elastic at the waistbands and shoulders, to stave off loosening there. The rose jersey was much easier to construct, because it didn't curl up as drastically as the turquoise. When pinned together it stayed in place, whereas the turquoise required extra vigilance, to make sure all the bits where aligned and not curled under. The seam allowances on BGD's knit patterns are 1/4'', which is super small, so this was more of an issue. 

Neither one of these will replace the sweater dresses in my heart, but they are already getting worn a lot. It's hard to say no to secret pajamas, even if they cling a little bit to the lumps! So, which jersey wins the competition here? I'm honestly not sure. Despite its cling issues, I keep coming back to the rose Organic Cotton Plus fabric. Knowing how it clings now, I would size up the next time around, but it feels so dishy on and was easy to sew. I have my eye on some that plum for myself, for a short sleeved version of the Frankenbonnie. While I really like Girl Charlee's fabric options, despite color confusion, we'll have to see how this dress wears over time. If it exceeds my expectations, I may order from them again, because some of those prints are too cute to resist! 

Either way, my box of Mood sweater knits arrived last night. Bring on the wooly knits! 

Note: The OCP jersey was given to me, in exchange for an honest review, while the Girl Charlee was bought out-of-pocket. I couldn't resist that "Paris Green!"

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