After the failure that was my Astoria top, I was eager to try my hand at sewing with knits again, simply to prove to myself that I could make something half-decent if I really tried. I wanted something relatively simple, with as few details that could go wrong as possible. Enter the Seamwork Mesa, with its simple silhouette and perfect blank canvas to show off some wacky prints.
I have to be honest and say that I thought this would be easier to sew than it was, and I was not anticipating the fit issues I ended up having with it. Nevertheless, I persevered and ended up with something I’ll be proud to wear in public, so that’s a major improvement from last time! It isn’t by any means perfect, and the seams look a little messy on the inside, but I am still so happy with it.
I’m pretty sure the designer of the fabric used this gif as inspiration…
I purchased the psychedelic four-way stretch jersey fabric from rosebud_wine on eBay, costing £10.50 for 1.9 metres, plus a little bit of postage. It’s lovely soft fabric with plenty of stretch in each direction and very good recovery, so for the price I’m really impressed with it. Marianne, who runs the shop, is lovely and replied extremely quickly when I was bombarding her with questions about pretty much every single one of her fabrics. She has some lovely jerseys and chiffons, so I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on her shop to see if any other fabrics tickle my fancy.
As suggested by the instructions I used four-way stretch fabric, but I’m not too sure that I actually like the vertical stretch. The problem I seem to be having is that when I try to pull the dress down after it shifts a little when I walk, it just stretches rather than actually moving. I think I’d prefer the Mesa with a two-way stretch fabric, but that’s my personal taste.
I cut a Medium everywhere apart from the waist, which I graded down to a Small based on the finished measurements. My measurements are 37-29-39, so I expected a good fit, but it was too big on me everywhere. I know the Mesa isn’t supposed to be skin tight, but it looked unpleasantly baggy rather than relaxed. Whether this is down to my dress having more than the recommended 25% stretch I’m not too sure, but I had to do some serious alterations. The bottom hem was the worst to fix; the twin stitching at the hem seemed to cause the fabric to bell outwards, which looked horrific, so I had to take two inches out at both sides.
When I traced out the finished shape of this dress to make a pattern for next time, the outline almost exactly matched the Extra Small size, with the waist actually being a little smaller. Next time I’ll start with a Small, grade the waist down to an Extra Small, and work from there – I’m reluctant to exactly copy the shape of this dress because of how stretchy the fabric is, and it’s easier to fix something that’s too big than too small.
I was a bit of an idiot when I was hemming. The dress ended up being around midi length on me, but I wanted an above-the-knee dress, so I sliced around 5 inches off the bottom using my rotary cutter and a straight ruler. The problem, and I only realised this right at the end, is that the original pattern has a curved hem. As you can see in the photos, the hem bends slightly upwards in the middle, so the curve must be there to prevent this problem. Next time I’ll be more careful when hemming!
Hemming the bottom and the sleeves was the first time I’d ever used a twin needle, and it was so much fun to use! I did get a couple of skipped stitches, but after reading a few blogs I think this may be down to me using a ballpoint twin needle rather than a stretch twin needle (I didn’t even know there was a difference!) so next time I’ll see if the stretch needle makes a difference. It still looks rather professional, if I do say so myself.
As you may recall from my Astoria post, I struggled to insert the neckband and ended up having to insert a dart at the centre back to accommodate the excess fabric I was left with. I’m happy to say I had no such issues this time, thanks to Annika Victoria’s tutorial on YouTube (at around 4:29 in this video) – if you aren’t already addicted to her videos, you need to go and check her out now! Actually, even if you are already addicted you should probably go and watch her videos again anyways, I never get tired of them.
I really like this dress, despite the bendy hem and the pig it turned out to be when fitting. The print is pretty vibrant but it’s surprisingly wearable, and the dress looks lovely with black tights, ankle boots and a black jacket. I also really enjoyed making it, and I’m genuinely proud of myself for conquering the basics of sewing with knits! I’ll absolutely be making more Mesas, firstly with the other fabric I bought on eBay, and then perhaps with some velvet? I have a bit of a velvet fixation at the moment!
Have you made a Seamwork Mesa? Make sure to leave a link below if you have!
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Until next time,
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