Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Brown Dress

McCalls 5576 is done. And not a moment too soon. I'm not sure yet just what I think about it. I originally chose this pattern because I thought it might work for my curvy figure. It's a cute and trendy shift dress from the front, but it has darts in the back and some subtle waist shaping, so I thought it just might work for me without looking like a shapeless, unflattering sack.

I actually made this dress for the first time a few months ago- without success. I thought that since it is loose-fitting, I could get away with fitting my shoulders and starting with a size 14. My first muslin was a straight 14. It was entirely too tight across the bust and the hip area needed a little more ease as well. So I did a second muslin trying to add room across the bust, and yet a third trying to take out some of the extra room which I somehow put in the wrong place. Eventually I gave up. But one thing I did realize from these muslins was that this dress just won't work, at least not for me, in a woven cotton fabric. It was just too stiff.

I wondered if I would have better luck with a drapier fabric- and a bigger size. So during the last 99 cent sale at Hancock Fabrics, I picked up another copy of this pattern, this time in a size 16. I had this embroidered gauze in my stash which I thought would be just about right for trying this again. I'm not sure what the fiber content is, but it must have some poly in it because when I was pressing up the raw edge to hem it, I melted a hole in it. Oops!

I started Round 2 with a new muslin- a straight size 16. It looked pretty good. The dress is roomy, so there was plenty of width through the bust, but I got diagonal drag lines from the bust points down to the waist. There didn't seem to be enough length in the front. So I made an adjustment to the front pattern piece to add length over the bust. I think the problem with my first couple of muslins, is that I tried to make my adjustments to the yoke piece and that didn't work. This time, I only altered the dress below the yoke.

To add one extra inch of length, I slashed the pattern front through the bust point from the center front foldline to the side seamline, leaving a hinge at the side seam. I also made a vertical slash from the yoke seam to the bust point leaving a hinge at the bust point. I spread the tissue so that there was one inch of extra length across the front between the bust point and the center front. I had to spread the seamline above the bust just slightly so that I could make my cut edges parallel to each other across the front. This added approximately 1/8 of an inch to the yoke seamline, but I figured this could easily be eased into the yoke and it was. You can just see my adjustments in the photo above.
The finished dress turned out okay. I was very happy with it up until I sewed the sleeves in. In all the excitement of making the FBA, I forgot to check the fit of the sleeves and they turned out a bit snug. I wish I had added about 1/2 an inch to the sleeve width. It's alright, though. They're not so tight that they're unwearable, but if I were to make this again (and I probably won't- just because after four muslins and one finished dress I'm just a little bit tired of this one) I would definately add to the sleeve width. And the sleeves were kind of irritating, too. I had to really stare at the pattern instructions for a minute to make sure I did them right. It took two nights to get both sleeves assembled and sewn into the dress. The good thing, though, was that the sleeves are finished and then set into the dress. So once the sleeves were in, they were done- no hemming left to do! I really liked that.

I may have to wear this one a couple of times before I make up my mind completely on whether I like it on me or not. I need to get some different shoes, though. Maybe some strappy brown sandals.


joyce said...

when i read your entire review...i thought 'whew'! girl, you did a great job. interested in your alterations. the dress looks good!

Anonymous said...

I think it looks great on you! wow! I don't know if I would try 4 times to get one right! I commend you for that! You have inspired me to sew more for myself.

Adrienne said...

It's a very cute dress! Great review!

Anonymous said...

I have had this pattern in my stash since spring. I love your dress. You have me motivated

MyAwesomeOliveShoots said...

You write like an expert. I am always impressed, this time with your determination. I would have given up. I think I need to try muslins before even attempting to make a skirt. I want to make one for the Military Ball in December. If you lived nearby, I'd certainly enlist your help. Nice work!

L said...

That dress looks fantastic on you. This isn't a pattern I have in my stash but I am going to head out and pick it up. With all you great instructions I think I will give it a try! Thanks for the info

Shannon said...

Thanks for the kind comments, y'all. Definately give this one a try. I wore it to work today and it was comfortable and made me feel dressed up and happy all day!

Shannon F