I have an extensive fabric stash. Much of the fabric in it could maybe be described as vintage – it dates back to the 1980s. And no, I haven’t been hoarding it since then – lots has been given to me by people destashing (especially friends’ mothers when downsizing their living arrangements). This piece of permanently pleated knit has been in my stash for a very long time, and I think it probably does date back to the 1980s. Who else remembers tube skirts and jackets made from this stuff?
When I came across the Style Arc Maxine maxi dress I knew that I finally had found the right pattern for the length of fabric. From their website: Simplest of dresses that can be made in an afternoon this Maxi dress with its extended shoulders and a gorgeous “V” neck is a must have.Note this pattern is made for a crinkle pleated fabric which stretches out by 30%. If making it in a normal jersey we suggest you go up a size. Fabric suggestion: Knit jersey, pleated crinkle.
I actually sewed this dress up last year, so the pattern may be a year or so old by now. And yes, it’s about as simple as it gets. One pattern piece for the front, one for the back, raw edges on the neckline and armholes. Shouldn’t that be a super fast and simple garment to sew?
Well yes, it should. But in this fabric? NO IT WASN’T. I have no idea what the composition of this (ancient) fabric was but it was a complete bastard to sew. No matter what needle I used the stitches skipped and missed and overall it was completely unenjoyable. I ended up having to sew each seam with a straight stitch on the machine three times each to make sure that it was secure enough given how much stitch skipping had taken place. Good grief.
I left the side seams open from about the knee down, and did end up turning the seam allowances to the inside and using a zig-zag stitch to secure them. Don’t look too closely at the quality of that stitching either. I left the hem raw. No way was I mucking around with stitching across those tiny permanent pleats.
The neckline and armhole edges were left raw as well, thank goodness for that. The fabric doesn’t ravel at all, and the neckline shape is a really lovely V. So, my verdict on the final garment?
I actually really, really like it! It’s SO easy to wear. The (heinous) fabric just skims over all my bulges, and I think that the colour is very stylish. It actually washes very easily, then is just hung to dry on a hanger. Definitely no ironing required. I imagine that today’s technology has provided permanently pleated/crinkled fabric that is much more pleasant to sew than this was. If you have something like it in your stash, I definitely suggest giving this simple pattern a go! It does what simple should do – be exceptionally well drafted. There is nowhere to hide when you are working with simple shapes and minimal pattern pieces, and I think that Style Arc are masters of drafting these well.