Summer Dress #3: McCall 7591

No, I’m not that fast when it comes to sewing.  Generally, the only time I can  work on the machine is after the little one goes to bed.  Amazingly, I can do handwork during daytime (non-work) hours. So I was able to work on the Marfy top and this dress concurrently.

But this dress didn’t work out so well, and I think it will go to the charity pile.  I love the fabric, and in principle, I thought the dress would work for me.  But it looks frumpy on – and adds pounds. In fact, I looked 6 months pregnant rather than just no longer having a flat tummy.  (I have seen this dress on others and it was very flattering – I’m a bit of a pear, so perhaps it doesn’t work well with that figure).

From McCall’s website.

The pattern: A 2017 release from McCall’s (7591).  From the envelope: Misses dresses and sash.  Fitted pullover dresses have lined bodice, front and back bodice variations, elastic waistlines and length variations.  I made view c, adding the sash from view a. I bought the XS-S-M; a medium corresponds with a size 12/14, which is what I made.

The fabric:  A very lovely silk jersey I bought from Emma One Sock in 2015. It reminded me of Pucci, and I was considering it for one of my Pucci patterns, but didn’t buy enough fabric.  I love the fabric, though the print  and colors are out of my comfort zone. Jersey is only one of the options listed, but you definitely want something drapey here.

Construction notes/changes I made:  I cut a size medium (12/14) and added 1.5 inches at the torso lengthen/shorten line – my normal alteration – but I could have gone with 2 inches here. The recommended lining is tricot, which I didn’t have on hand, so I used self lining. I added bra carriers to keep the bra from showing. Otherwise, I went by the instructions.  They were okay, but I’m thinking I could have done better had I not.

What worked/didn’t work:  For me, the overall look didn’t work.  What drew me to it was the neckline opening – and that was easy to do well.   Anyway, what didn’t work- the slit is shorter than it appears on the envelope drawings, and won’t hang properly.  The armholes are topstitched, but that (and the hem treatment) seemed to cheapen the dress.  I can never get elastic distributed evenly – here there is better gathering in the back than the front.  And those shoulders.  I did them three times, finally by hand.  This is something I cannot seem to master.  The approach is to sew the neck and arm seams, fold back the lining on the shoulder seam line, stitch the shoulder seam and then slipstitch lining opening closed.  It always looks homemade to me.  I definitely got better results when I inserted the lining by hand with the previous two summer dresses.  The sash could be wider.

You win some you lose some.  I’ll set this aside for a couple of weeks and then try it on again and decide what to do with it.

 

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Finished! Marfy 1913

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My first Marfy pattern – and there really is no excuse for not finishing this a long time ago.  Despite the silk chiffon, this is one easy and well-designed pattern. One UFO done! (And I’m already looking at other chiffon and georgette in my stash for another version of this pattern.)

free sewing patterns

This pattern is a free trial from Marfy – though you have to register to get to the pattern and description.  From the Marfy website:

  • Fabric required: about mt. 0.80 wide 1.40.
  • Free sewing patterns to download available in sizes 42 to 58.
  • This soft top has a blousy hemline with drawstring and inset armholes, the ring collar holds a light gathering. Suggested fabric: Jersey, crêpe de chine, chiffon or satin.
  • It can be combined with the jacket 1756 and the skirt 0757.
  • Style Tips
    The top is a passepartout that is great for day and evening occasions, depending on fabric chosen. In the description we suggested jersey, crêpe de chine, satin or chiffon…this last one would fit perfectly with the tailleur, single color or in fantasy just like the jacket lining.
    The chiffon fabric has the ideal lightness and hand for this top, it falls great without “swelling” at gathering and, due to the fact that the pattern covers neck and decolleté, it’s nice and slightly sexy to have a transparency on them.

Some tips about Marfy:  they don’t have pictures, line drawings or directions with the download.  I recommend printing one or two of the views from the website for reference.  Marfy patterns don’t come with seam allowances, facings, etc, so plan for that.  Marfy basically allows you to use your knowledge of sewing to come up with your own sewing plan.  That having been said, the pattern is well marked, and if you read the pattern well, everything is there to put this together successfully.

So what did I do?  I used a vintage-y looking dusty black floral silk chiffon from Emma One Sock in 2015. I first talked about it here in January 2016.  I cut a size 44 (I wear a 12 usually in Vogue).  And because this was silk chiffon, I was terrified.  After all, silk chiffon has a notorious reputation.  At the time, I felt that I had to stitch this thing BY HAND to control the fabric.  I did the back slit opening, shoulders and collar this way before setting this aside.  When I came back to it this week, I finished with the machine (though not completely).

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Silk Chiffon?  Not so scary.  Three issues:

  1. The grain is shifty. I found this mostly to be a problem with laying out and cutting, and less so during construction.  The grain shifted some in my collar, so I’ll have to do better next time.  Sewing by machine on the straight grain (with the narrow hole presser foot) was a breeze.
  2. It snags easily – a very delicate fabric.  This version won’t last long, and I’ve snagged it in many places.  It’s not easy to see, but I know it’s there.  New pins, new needles (size 8 sharp for the machine needle) and watch those finger nails and scissors.
  3. It frays to look at it.  No really, it does.  I didn’t try fray block or anything else, but would entertain other sewers suggestions here.

Sewing choices I made:

  1. I used french seams for the shoulders (by hand) and side seams (by machine and very narrow).
  2. I decided against the drawstring/elastic casing at the waist, preferring a narrow, machine stitch hem.  A hand-rolled hem probably would look better.  I am considering the casing for a future version, as it is very chic (in the idealized drawing).
  3. I used the bound slit tutorial from Frabjous Couture for the neckline slit, and adapted it to bind the armholes. Both were done by hand. Unfortunately, she did not move her tutorials to her new blog – and she doesn’t seem to be blogging anymore.  I’m considering using silk charmeuse to bind the armholes, slit, and hem on a future version.
  4. I used small black snaps to close the collar, though on a firmer fabric (or more interfacing), a button/button hole combination would be nice.
  5. I interfaced the collar with black silk organza.  With the chiffon, perhaps two layers would be better.
  6. I used three rows of hand-done running stitches for the gathering (using silk thread).  I can never get gathers perfectly even.  These are better than my usual, but I still need more practice.
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I did a double bind with chiffon for the armholes (by hand).  Not perfect, but I’m mostly pleased.

Order of construction:

  1. The bound slit in the back.
  2. Attach front/back at shoulders.
  3. Gathers to the front.
  4. Construct the collar and attach to the neckline (be sure to leave the tabs on either side).
  5. Stitch front to back at side seams.
  6. Narrow hem.
  7. Bind the arm holes.
  8. Snaps on the neckline tabs.

Fit: I did a muslin for this (but can’t find it and it was 18 months ago), but fit issues always come up in the fashion fabric as well.  I had hoped to tuck this in, but it is a little short to do so.  I usually add length to the torso with the Big 4; I’ll do so in the next version.  The  armscye is a bit tight, and it’s a tad too fitted through the upper chest and back – I could go up a 1/2 size.  I have a small neck – anyone with a larger neck will want to take this into account.

Overall:  I like this pattern! The chiffon is very light and comfortable. Yes, it’s sheer, but with the dark fabric it’s not as obvious.  It’s relatively easy – a basic to be sure, dressed up or down by the print or fabric.

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Sheer!  And I  need a new dress form.

 

 

 

Summer Dress #2: Vogue 1089 (OOP)

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This dress took a while – not in terms of actual time sewing, but due to interruptions and distractions.  Even though I used mostly only couture techniques, this dress goes together quickly and well.  That having been said, I’ve incorporated a number of changes.

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The Pattern:  Vogue 1089, which was released 2009 and is now out of print.  It’s a basic fit and flare, with shaped midriff, and princess seams.

The Fabric: The pattern calls for cotton canvas, linen and lightweight denim… but I used a cotton sateen that I purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics in 2014 (for a different project).  I underlined it with silk organza and lined it with blue silk crepe de  chine.  I only interfaced the midriff, using carefully trimmed muslin.  The organza, CDC, and muslin are all from Gorgeous Fabrics as well.

The Instructions:  Well, since I didn’t use them, I can’t really tell you about it.  I used this pattern for Susan Khalje’s Couture Dress class on Craftsy (it’s very similar to the one she uses for the class).  In this case I followed her instructions to the letter.  It was very freeing to think about constructing a garment this way, from muslin to organza underlining to hand inserting the lining.  She’s a wonderful teacher and very easy to follow.  I learned quite a bit (some things are obvious, now that I’ve seen them).  However, if you don’t like hand-stitching, it’s not the class for you.  I like to hand-stitch, and find it very soothing.  I found every step of making this dress very enjoyable.

Changes I made:  I can’t recall every change I made as a result of the Craftsy class, but I’ll highlight the major ones.  I cut a size 12 in the bodice, tapering to a 14 through the midriff and waist.  If I lose weight, this dress will be too big, but oh well.  I also took up the shoulders 1/2 inch.   Finally, I needed to accommodate my longer torso: I added half an inch to the bottom of the bodice and half an inch to the bottom of the midriff.

In construction, I took a cue from Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics, who noted that the midriff doesn’t need to cut in half horizontally (unless you are going to add the jewels).  I also moved the zipper to the left side and hand inserted a lapped zipper (I’m losing flexibility and finding back zips a challenge). The lining is hand inserted, using the technique from the class.  That means I cut the lining from the pattern pieces, not the separate lining pieces.  It also means I eliminated the facings, and included a jump pleat for the hem.

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Showing off the jump pleated hem (and the gorgeous CDC)!
Thoughts:  I really like this dress and plan to make another one in a solid color for fall. It’s flattering, easy and fun.  Most of all, the class taught me to slow down and enjoy the process and the art of constructing a garment. For once, I paid attention to all details, including the finishing.

As always – apologies for the photos.  On top of my usual selfie with an iPhone photos, I sustained a serious knee injury last week (still can’t drive or walk properly).  Though I’m much improved, I really didn’t feel like make-up, hair, and heels to go outside and take pictures with the mosquitoes.

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Bathroom selfie with swollen knee and shaky shot.