I just finished up a knit maxi dress using McCall’s 6747.

Striped Maxi Dress
Gown or nightgown?

Now, I’m not entirely certain if it is a maxi dress or a nightgown. I’m going with dress because I don’t wear nightgowns.

It needs a belt which I don’t have so no finished pics until I hit the stores. But I wanted to talk a little bit about actually sewing the thing.

Placket on a knit dress

My fabric has quite a lot of horizontal stretch but is very stable vertically, which is pretty much what you’d want–until you get to the buttonhole part because being a buttonhole SNOB who always makes them horizontal it could get wonky at best and drunken at worst. Also, if you decide to make seven instead of the four the pattern calls for.

But before we get to your buttonholes, there is plenty of plain old straight stitching to do. And I mean straight.

Before I got my more modern sewing machine last fall, I had been sewing exclusively on my beautiful Sphinx Singer machine which does one thing and does it well; namely straight stitching in a forward direction. I made several perfectly successful knit garments on it by lengthening and loosening the stitch a little bit.

Then I looked up some rules. There was a lot of talk about using a slight zig zag on stretch knits so I went with it. Never again.

more placket

This fabric is pretty loose and with the zig zag it was impossible to rip out stitches without ripping little holes in the cloth. So from now on, it’s straight stitches with the Sphinx machinge.

Except–and there are always a few–for buttonholes. Normally I like to make horizontal buttonholes. Less gape that way. But the placket on this dress is pretty narrow and the buttons are pretty close together so I decide on vertical buttonholes. While there is less stretch on the vertical, and I had interfaced the placket, there was still some give and potential for wonkiness.

Sulky to the rescue!

Sulky tear away stabilizer

It’s a tear away stabilizer which I had never used before. It’s good stuff. I cut a strip and pinned it to the back of the placket. Once the buttonholes were done, I tore it away. Like you do.

It’s a little sad since this is such a casual dress (I mean, it really borders on a nightgown) but I think these are the best buttonholes I’ve ever made. I’ll give the machine itself some credit and the way the stripes on the placket ended up made placing very easy too.

Another exception to the straight stitch rule is the hems of this frock. I decided to try using my twin needle for the hems. Everyone on the internet is doing so why shouldn’t I? Because my twin needle makes a big ugly mess is why!

Twin needle mess

I gave up that idea pretty quick and started fiddling with the dials to get a decent zig zag. I figured that since the horizontal is so stretchy, a pronounced zig zag would keep it from stretching out of shape and be a nice decorative touch.

The moral of this wee tale is; if you are going to find sewing rules, be prepared to break them.