Sunday, October 13, 2013

McCalls 6032 -- The Problem Purple Dress

After seeing a solid purple dress on pinterest here (which actually seems to be for a sewing pattern, just not in my language), I got it in my mind that I wanted a purple dress, too.  I found some purple pique knit fabric at Joann's, which I used with the smooth side out.  I had a pattern (now out of print) that I thought might work:  McCalls 6032.  I was a little leery of those gathers underneath the bust, but I decided to give it a try.  I made view A, the one the model is wearing.

This pattern required A LOT of alteration to become wearable.  I cut a size 14 and added one inch to the side seams, which is my usual alteration.  However, it is so large in the neckline that I should have gone down a size.  The holes where the center loop goes through were too large, so I sewed them up smaller.  Also there is an inside lining piece that goes down to the waist.  The directions have you make a casing and run elastic through the bottom of the lining.  That added a lot of bulk to my ribcage and it caused the lining to crawl up and bunch, so.....after painstakingly inserting the elastic, I had to painstakingly remove the elastic:(  One thing I did not do that I should have done:  stabilize the neckline (which is a deep V front and back) with knit stay tape.  I didn't do it because it's a bit awkward to figure out HOW to do it on this type of neckline, but it would have helped the neckline lay closer to the body.  It's a low neckline and a little va-va-va-voom.

The skirt was very full -- a lot fuller than it looks on the model -- and I took out a lot of width on the side seams below the waist.  I can't remember how much, but at least 8 inches!  All these alterations were not enough to prevent the dress from the dreaded maternity look, which is fine if that's what you're going for, but I am trying to avoid that.  Ugh......I was really bummed because I loved the fabric.  I hung the dress in the magic closet, hoping that when I pulled it out again a month and a half later, my opinion might have changed.

Unlike this top, the dress did not improve with its time in the closet.  I thought about cutting it up and using the fabric for something else, but it had a center front and center back seam so there was no large piece of fabric.  I racked my brains trying to think of some way to salvage the dress.  Emboldened by the fact that I had nothing to lose, I took in the center seam by one inch from hem all the way to the lining, which helped get rid of some of the excess front fabric and it tightened the neck up a little, too.

Here's the much-altered dress:

A view of the back:
I can't say that I recommend this pattern -- it required almost a complete overhaul for me to get something wearable out of it.

The part I am most excited about are these bra-keepers I added to the inside of the shoulder seams:

These were super easy to add with just a small piece of ribbon, two snaps, and a little hand sewing, and they work great.  I am going back and adding these to some of my other problematic dresses and tops.  They keep your bra straps from showing and they keep the dress from sliding around and off your shoulders.  This is the one part of this dress that I truly recommend:)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Butterick 4789 -- Polka Dots and Zebra Stripes

I made this dress two or three years ago, pre-blog.  I had not started my own blog, but I had begun to read sewing blogs and I was soaking in quite a bit of information.  Michelle at Cheap and Picky also sews on a Singer 401, and she posted tips on how to sew knits with this machine.  I followed her suggestions and made this dress out of a slinky brown polka dot knit from Joann Fabrics. 

There are lots of things I would do differently now.  I sewed an 18, but now I would sew a 14 in the shoulders and add width to the body.  Also I would use knit stay tape on the neckline, but I didn't know about that yet, so I just turned the edges under twice and sewed them down.  All the same, I am very fond of this dress because it represents the first time of sewing with knits for me, and it was the first piece of clothing I had sewn for myself in many years.

It's not the fanciest of dresses, but I have worn it lots.  It takes up very little room in a suitcase, and it is comfortable during the hot summers we have.  The dress is a twist front design from Maggy London.  The pattern -- Butterick 4789 -- is now out of print, but people are still making it, mainly because it's fairly easy and it's also pretty flattering.

Anyway, after making the dress I decided to try my hand at the shirt, and I bought some pink zebra cotton knit fabric from Hobby Lobby.  However, I made a mistake while sewing the center front seam and ripped a hole in the fabric trying to unpick it.  I eventually went back to Hobby Lobby and bought some more fabric, but the top sat unmade in a pile -- for two years! -- while I worked on other projects.

I finally decided to make the top once and for all just to get it off of my sewing list and out of my sewing room.  This time I cut a 14 and added width to the side seams.  I also lengthened the pattern.  Everything went well with the sewing.  BUT.....even though the zebra fabric was knit, it had almost zero stretch, quite unlike the slinky brown polka dot fabric of the dress.

When I finished the top, I hated it.  I shoved it in the closet until such time as I got around to writing about how not everything I make ends up being wearable.  It stayed there for over a month.  To my surprise, when I finally put the top back on in preparation for blogging honesty, I didn't hate it any more.
I don't love it, but it's fine for a knock-around top to wear over capris, which I'm doing here.  And this is the kind of casual clothes that most of my everyday life requires.
So, my advice is this: when you finish sewing something and you don't like it, wait before you throw it out.  Let it marinate in the magic closet for awhile.  When you get it back out, you may like it better, or you may think of a way to salvage it.

Have you ever put something in the magic closet and have it grow more appealing while it's in there?