Saturday, May 21, 2016

McCall's 6959 A Summer Wrap Dress in Black and White

This little wrap dress came out of my sewing room last weekend.

This is McCall's 6959 View C:
 When I bought this pattern, it was for the dramatic View A with the full, swingy skirt and the contrast binding.  I still plan to make that one when I find the right fabric.  But View C immediately intrigued me and every time I've picked this pattern up while going through my stash, my mind has gone to that one.  Last weekend I was scrounging around through my patterns, looking for something to make up a glorious flamingo novelty print and I pulled out this pattern.  My eyes then went to the black and white stretch twill folded up on a nearby shelf, and I remembered I had some black cotton linen blend left from another recent project, and on impulse I decided to make this dress.

And here it is.  View C, a wrap dress with fitted bodice, inside ties, collar, and semi fitted skirt.  I briefly considered adding one of the sleeve variations, but decided I like the sleeveless view.  I can always add a cardigan at work for warmth.

The fabric is a stretch twill from Hancock's, one of my last purchases before they announced they were going out of business.  I originally bought it thinking I would make some slim pants, but once I mentally paired it with this pattern I decided I can always get something else for pants.  The collar is a linen/cotton blend from stash.

I cut a 14 through the shoulders and a 16 from bust to hip, grading out to an 18 at the hip point.  I added 1" of length to the bodice right above the waist at the marked adjustment line and I shaved 1/4" off of the back bodice at the waist between the darts, tapering to nothing at the sides- a small sway back adjustment.  I love that McCall's added a matching adjustment line to the front facing piece so I was able to adjust that easily without distorting it.  I cut the front bodice pieces using the center front line as my grain line to keep the print running straight up and down like the skirt.

I like the finished dress, but it still needs a few tweaks to make it wearable:

I added a plastic snap to keep the front closed.  The snap is next to useless.  No, it is useless.  I had to use a safety pin for the photos.  I will replace that snap with a metal snap ASAP.

I need to go back and hand stitch the entire facing down- the skirt and the neckline.  It wants to flap around even though I topstitched it under the collar and hand tacked it to the shoulder seam allowances.

The front gapes.  I tried adding a snap there, but it didn't work.  The facing just wanted to roll out.  I think hand stitching it down will help and I might try the snap again after that.  The front is pinned in the photos.  I may just have to wear it that way.  No big deal- I have several other dresses that I have to pin for security!

I also need to add a snap to the skirt.  A small gust of wind blew the skirt open right before the photos were taken.  Lucky for me I always wear a slip!

I also want a narrower belt, more like the one in the pattern illustration.  I think the proportion will look better.  I could try experimenting with a color, too.  Maybe red?

Overall, I'm pleased, and I think once I make my tweaks I will get a lot of wear out of this dress.  I love the straight, simple shape and the wide, solid collar.  This is a super easy dress to make (it says so on the pattern envelope!) and only took me a day including the muslin.  I'll wear it like this during the heat of the summer, and I'll dress it up with a colored cardigan for the office.

I still want to make View A in a bold cotton print with the contrast binding.  And View B looks nice too.  I could see making it up in a pretty challis to get extra swish from the skirt.  Since the bodice is already fitted, it will be no big deal to make another view.  I'll be putting this pattern in my TNT box!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Burda Style 04-2016-119 A Summer Sheath in Fuchsia

 Last weekend I completed this Burda Style sheath dress and it feels like I've been reunited with an old and dear friend.  I haven't made a Burda project in a little while and I was really missing it.  Making this dress was a reconnection for me, and hopefully the start of higher productivity.

This is the Asymmetric Shift Dress from the April issue.  I'd say it's more of a sheath than a shift since it's a more fitted dress, especially through the waist and hips, but that's a minor quibble.  I fell in love with it at first sight, but then I'm usually a sucker for the projects with unusual seaming.

My version of the dress looks very similar to the model version, even though I'm twice her age, twice her weight, and half her height, because I used a similar color.  My fabric is a fuchsia ponte knit purchased last year from  I don't know if they have this particular fabric any more, but they do have an extensive color selection and always seem to have something exciting to offer.

This pattern is offered in sizes 34 to 42.  I traced and cut a 42.  I was too lazy to actually grade all the pieces up to a 44, and I knew I'd need little extra room at the hip, so I added 3/4" seam allowances to all of the pieces at the side seams and saved the side seams for last during construction so I could fit the dress to me.  It worked.  I ended up using 3/8" of those seam allowances at the hips so I added about 1.5" to the circumference- approximately a size 44.  I also added 1" of length to the bodice pieces right above the waist seam, a standard adjustment for my long waist.

The dress was very easy to construct.  There are a few pieces to trace and you have to cut some on single thickness, but the pattern is extremely well drafted and goes together perfectly.  In the ponte knit, the curved seams went together like a charm.  I didn't really use the instructions other than to read through them before starting.  I used their suggestion to interface the curved edges to prevent stretching, but other than that the construction is very intuitive.  One change I made was to assemble the front and the back and then attach at the shoulders and then use the "edge to edge" method of attaching the facings so that I got a nice neat finish at the neckline and armholes with no hand sewing.

Speaking of facings, I like that this dress has one piece front and back facings with armholes and neckline included.  Everything lays nice and smooth inside and having it all one piece prevents it from wanting to flip out to the outside of the dress.  

I don't know how I did it, but I forgot to make my standard petite adjustment above the bust.  When I tried the dress on the low point of the neckline revealed a flash of bra so I took the shoulders up 3/8".  Perfect.  I will make that adjustment to the pattern for the future.

All my seams are serged inside for neatness except the center back seam which I left unserged so I could press it open.

I was worried about bulk where the darts come together at CB, but pressing the seam open helped everything to lay flat.  I was also worried about the darts themselves because I have problems sewing darts in knits sometimes, but these turned out nearly perfect.  I'm quite proud of them.

I really like the finished dress.  I might make it again- I love the striped version with it's optical illusion effect.
It would be so cute for summer.  I just need to find the right striped fabric...

I'm very happy with this project.  The dress turned out great and has already been road tested and passed.  I can see a tiny bit of rippling at the high hip on the sides- I think I need to shave a bit off of the curve there.  The asymmetrical neckline is one of the key features of this dress and it is certainly not as daring as some Burda necklines I've encountered, but be careful- the low point on the left just barely covers my favorite bra.  It does, however, cover the cleavage completely so I feel comfortable anyway.  I did wear a black cardigan over it for work both to increase the modesty and to cover my arms and prevent freezing in my meat locker office.  The photos were taken after work, hence the boring office pumps.  When I wear this out somewhere other than work I plan to wear strappy sandals.

Overall this is a fabulous dress and a surprisingly easy project.  Don't let the extra seams fool you.  An adventurous beginner could make this with great results.  I love it and I plan to get a ton of wear out of it this summer.  I may be sharing an update with a striped version later...

I'm off to my sewing room.   I already have a project from the May Burda cut out and ready to assemble.  What's on your sewing table?