Making dresses. I’m really trying to dust off my rusty apparel sewing skills. I’m finding a few challenges as is typical. First of all my body is a completely different size and shape than it used to be when I did a lot of sewing for myself. I have boobs and hips and a tummy now that I never had in the 80s. I’m also trying to find the right styles that flatter my figure the best. I like V or scoop necks, crew necks make my face look fatter than usual. Some kind of waist definition is important so I don’t look 6 months pregnant 14 years after the fact. Gathered skirts can be an issue, adding pounds right where I need them least.
I made the red print dress last week as an experiment. I found the fabric (polyester “silky print”) at Joann’s on the clearance table. I loved the print but wasn’t in love with the fabric, if it was a poly-knit I would’ve been very happy. C’est la vie. But the price was right, $2/yard so I bought it. I also found this New Look (6349) while looking for something else. I love simple wrap dresses for summer. They are cool and comfortable and I figured if this pattern fit I could make it in many fabrics for many occasions. This version was going to be my “muslin” if it didn’t work/fit no problem, it cost me almost nothing.
The pattern is fast and simple. The only fitting issue I had was the neck-line “gaposis”. I have this issue a lot. I’ve now discovered that what I need to do is a “full bust adjustment”. Hearing this made me laugh because I’ve spent my entire post-puberty (minus those breastfeeding years) life bemoaning my small boobs. Come to find out they aren’t as small as I thought! On this version I just added a dart along the neckline. The busy print hides it really well. Next time I make this pattern I will shift the dart to the side dart or to the waist area and just add more width in the skirt fronts. It’s hard to describe and when I actually redraft the pattern pieces I’ll take pictures and post a mini-tutorial. The other adjustment I’ll need to make is to add some width to the sleeves. In this fabric they are a bit too tight. The pattern calls for woven fabric but I think it could be made in a fairly sturdy knit or a stretch woven like a lycra/poplin blend would be perfect.
We are planning a week this summer at a rental house in northern Michigan on the lake and a trip to Hawaii in the fall. I think this pattern will get pulled out to make a mini-wardrobe of easy wrap dresses for those trips. I can see it shortened and sleeveless for a beach cover up, in a bright tropical print for beachside dining, cool linen for a day of touristy shopping.
This knit dress is from McCall’s 5974. It is called the Perfect Knit Dress and was voted one of the Top 10 Patterns of 2010 on Sewing Pattern Review. I have to say that I agree. I’ve had this pattern and fabric since early fall and just never got around to making it. I intended to make the wrap version but when I went to lay out the pieces I couldn’t make it fit. My fabric was 58” wide versus the 60” called for and those two inches made a difference. I made the 18W size and still had to take in the side seams and as you can see it still looks a little saggy. The knit I used is very soft and stretchy which makes it extremely comfortable but I’m afraid it won’t hold its shape very well. I also had a little issue with the neckline. The pattern says to just turn and hem the edges. I put on a narrow binding and encased some clear elastic in the seam to help prevent gapping and sagging. I didn’t get a perfect finish but it’s okay. Next time I will probably draft facing pieces and add interfaced facings and then top stitch the edge. I still want to make the wrap version of this dress because that will add to the waist definition. If I make this version again I will probably shorten the bodice piece a little so that the waist band fits up nice and snug under the girls. As it is now it makes them look a little sad and low.
One thing I’ve been learning now that I’m sewing for myself again is that I need to learn to take better, more accurate measurements of myself. I’m also going to start using some of my RTW clothes in my closet as fitting guides. I have some knit shirts that I love they way they fit and will use them to measure pattern pieces so I stop getting these big saggy finished objects.