Tuesday, April 5, 2016

McCall's 4394 Spring Sewing Has Begun

My sewing productivity has declined in recent months.  Wintertime, with its cold, dark, short days, makes me want to hibernate, not sew.  And in the last year, my sewing stuff has been pushed around the house into corners, cabinets, and out of the way places making everything disorganized and cluttered, which also leads to a loss of mojo.  Needless to say, I haven't made much in a while.

But two things have happened lately which are making the sewing forecast look pretty good right now:  Spring has arrived with warm weather and the time change, and I now have my own dedicated sewing room to work in!

The first finished project for me (technically the first completed project was a pair of skinny jeans for the Princess, but it's hard to get her to model these days) is this sheath dress:

Say hello to McCall's 4394, a very OOP Palmer/Pletsch wardrobe pattern that has been marinating in my stash for years.

I remember buying the pattern for the dress and jacket.  At the time I wanted an outfit like the one in the center of the envelope.  Actually, I still do.

Anyway,  this is a very simple princess seamed sheath dress that can also be made in a shorter length as a top.  The jacket is also a very simple princess seamed style with two piece sleeves and a stand up collar.  A pair of pants with front and back darts is also included.

So far I've made just the sheath.  I love the Palmer/Pletsch patterns which come with lots of extra fitting information and adjustment lines marked on the pattern.  I don't particularly like their method of tissue fitting, which is hard to do by myself, so I opted for a muslin to check fit.

I cut a size 14 through the shoulders and a 16 from bust to hem.  The only adjustments I made were to add 1.25" of length at the waist, and I folded out the pre-printed swayback adjustment on the back pieces.   I was looking for a relaxed fit, and I think I almost got it.

My fabric is a large scale floral stretch twill from Hancock's.  I so wish I had bought the coordinating solid red for the coat.  I could kick myself for not getting it.  I just heard that Hancock's is going out of business and the clearance sales have begun.  I'm sure by the time I can get back to the store, that luscious red twill will be gone.  (And of course even more sad is the fact that Hancock's will soon be gone.  I will miss it greatly.)

Check out my pattern matching at center back!  That happened purely by accident.  I centered the center front panel, but just squeezed the rest of the pieces onto the 2 yards that I bought.  They just fit.  But I couldn't have done better on the back if I'd tried.

I love the print.   It's so bright and cheerful and ready for spring and summer.  It does, however, wrinkle like mad.  these pics were taken after work and I have creases across my lap from sitting at my desk most of the day.  Perhaps a lining will help on the next version.

The instructions for this dress are insanely easy.  It's very simple and intuitive to put together.  The pattern would have you sew all the vertical seams including the sides and then sew the facings to the front and back and then sew the shoulder seams, causing you to fiddle with sewing a narrow strip together in a small area and then wrestling with finishing the seams on the facings.  Instead, I sewed my shoulders, but left the sides and center back unseen.  I sewed the facings together at the shoulders and then attached them to the dress at the neckline and the armholes.  The final step was sewing the side seams from facing to hem, giving me a smooth, edge to edge finish.

I finished the facing edge with bias tape adding a little pop of color to the inside.  The back is finished with an invisible zipper and a hook and eye.  There is a slit at the back for walking ease.

All my seams are serged on the inside for neatness.  The pattern has a generous 2.25" hem which I am quite happy with.  Maybe it's because this pattern is a few years old, but I love the length on this dress which hits me right at the knee.

I'm pleased with the finished dress, but I think it turned out a tiny bit too big.  I'm not sure why since I made a muslin.  This fabric has a tiny bit of stretch to it, which could be a factor, but I'm thinking I might take in the side seams about 1/4" and see if that improves the fit.  It's also a little big around the armholes (which you can kind of see in the photo above) and the neckline is a tad too wide, leading to some gaping.  I probably missed that because I didn't finish the edges of the muslin.  Live and learn.

For my next version I will raise the armholes about 1/2" and I'll narrow the neckline.  I may even need to go down a size across the shoulders.  But there will be another version.  I plan to tweak this pattern until I have a TNT sheath dress.

In the meantime, I have sewing plans.  These are just a few of the fabrics in my queue right now.  On the left is a blue and white floral jacquard which will probably be version 2 of M4394.  Next to that is a black and white geometric knit which will be a shift of some sort.  The red fabric is the floral twill before I cut it out.  Next to that are three stretch denims which will be more skinny jeans for the Princess.  The blue has already been cut out and started on.

What's in your spring sewing queue?