Pop Quiz: Fix this dress #2 pt.2

Continuing from part one, we had a wide range of responses. Thank you.

Many of us (self included) guessed that the teal was a woven while the remainder was knit, contributing to the problem. The fiber description: “70%VISCOSE 25%POLYAMIDE 5%SPANDEX” and as it is fully lined, [sic] “LINING: 97%POLTESTER 3%SPANDEX” would seem to contradict a woven but this would not be the first time that product descriptions were inaccurate.

Since we don’t know, let’s play this two ways. Let’s run through a scenario that the teal is a woven and also a rundown as if it were a knit. Game?

1. Teal is woven.
A lot of people mentioned walking the pattern to compare seam lengths of the affected area. Several also mentioned an issue of material feeding whether by machine or operator. I’m also inclined to agree these two factors are the most likely culprits with one glaring absence -that of design.

Design is much more than a cute idea; it must be reproducible, cost effective to make, provide value to the customer, have reasonable wearing life, be relatively easy to care for and all that. An overlooked facet of design is making sure materials will work well together and compliment the product. You’re free to disagree but I would hesitate to use a woven panel joined to knit as it was in this dress. Summary, the seed of failure was germinating well before it got to fruition.

All that said, sewing a woven to knit isn’t going to create grave problems if the pattern and handling is done properly. I enter a closeup of the upper neckline into evidence. The teal and black is joined but the teal side of the seam is smooth.

2. Teal is knit.
Assuming the teal block is knit, difficulties could stem from a different hand. I remind you of something you all know; the hand of even the “same” fabrics can vary depending on color. Some knits are so firm they can act more like wovens. Another possibility is shrinkage. As we all know, black is notorious for shrinkage. It is possible (but I don’t think likely) that these were joined evenly and the black shrank in final pressing.

Whether the teal was knit or woven is of little consequence (in my opinion) because I think the problem was mismatched seam lengths in that the lower edge of the teal block was longer than the black it joined to. If you look closely at the lower black piecing, the center area seems to be bowing up slightly at the hem. Bowing is a consequence of stretching -the piece shortens vertically at the area of greatest horizontal stretch- that’s what knit does. I could see how a stitcher would pull the black a bit to have its seam length match the piece its joined to. At the same time, if the black was bowing up from stretch, this would explain the formation of a rather large “package” above that point. Comments?

One aside I feel compelled to mention with tender heart to my lovely friends, I think garment faults attributed to grainline problems is over used. You know, it’s something thrown in for general good measure, like the 13th roll in a baker’s dozen to cover your bases or a catch-all ailment in the event you forgot something else. That said, I did like Bente’s suggestion that bias cutting the teal/woven could reduced disparity of knit recovery (if that in fact was the problem).

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  1. Dara says:

    Has anyone actually bought this dress and looked at it in person? We can all agree that the top has bubbles, ripples, puckers…you name it. It isn’t sewn right. But it would be nice to have someone deconstruct it in person and report with actual photos. I see crap online like this all the time, but sometimes the photos don’t match reality for reasons you would never expect. Nordstrom seems especially guilty of this of late. Some of the ads are completely over the top. There’s one ad for a pair of skinny jeans that gives the poor girl cellulite induced ripple thighs all the way down. So depressing as one can only imagine it on a normal poor person. Perhaps I’m being too demanding.

  2. Kathleen says:

    Dara, the dress is $90 off, on sale for $49. Do you expect the same value from a dress that is almost 70% off as you do paying full retail? The dress is on sale because it has issues, should it go into the landfill instead?

    People wear all kinds of stuff that isn’t particularly well made (even me), should we get upset and do something about it? Where will the judge and jurying end and who is the boss of it? Heaven forbid.

  3. Quincunx says:

    If the black being stretched horizontally was part of the problem, did that problem occur when someone tried to walk or sit in the dress, therefore stressing the skirt portion? I’m still bothered by the rippling seams being less prominent above the waist, except for the right shoulder black/teal boundary, and adding in human motion would help explain the deeper ripples.

  4. bente says:

    By learning how to make our designs/garments better do we also try to get away from some stereotypes?? It is so easy to talk about how bad the garment is sewn, oh; this most be made in China-approach etc. If the finished garment is perfect it is a great design, if the garment has some defaults it is always blamed on the people on the factory floor..just a thought..

  5. Brina says:

    If look at the seam below the bust the ripples run across the seam–so I’d say that that those are ripples from fit, it could be more fitted and then they might disappear–or the bust might be a bit too small, but they aren’t really a problem in my eyes. Likewise about the ripple on her right shoulder–it’s the fit of the dress around her posture.

    on another note
    I don’t understand why many people have assumed that the different colored fabrics are different fabrics–when there’s almost no evidence of that in the hang or seaming of the dress.

    I agree with you Bente.

  6. bente says:

    Brina, I think the colors and details some people see on their screen might be a little different from others. There has been referring to so many different shades/colors through this pop quiz.
    This has nothing to do with this subject, but just think about how your web site pictures show on different screens…

  7. Brina says:


    I can’t image that different screen change texture that much–the greys look mottled to me, while the turquoise is a flat color–but wovens can be mottled, and knits can appear a flat color.

  8. Karen N. says:

    I’ve got a really small monitor. Does it seem that the one straight seam right above the bustline is not puckered, but the rest of them are?

  9. Brina says:


    FWIW, I agree with you–after all unless someone studied, took apart, what have you, the actual dress we’re all just talking out of our hats.

  10. Catherine McQ says:

    Why does the fiber content “seem to contradict a woven”? I am seeing a lot of stretch wovens with spandex in the 3 to 5 percent range.

  11. Marsha says:

    Thank you for the lesson!
    I’m getting into manufacturing (fresh-from-the-oven DE) so the puckering problem solver lesson is a great help. A few weeks ago I had a problem sampling a black skirt with vertical grosgrain trims, and while the problem stemmed from a rigid woven trim attached to a knit fabric (I measured), your input will stay in my head the next time I sample anything in black – which could be a lot of things in my shop!

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