Thursday, August 22, 2013

End of Summer Dress: Butterick 4788 Maggy London

Late summer in Asheville has involved lots of rain, a bored teenager and a good many sewing projects, not all successful.

Somehow I found myself working on three black garments, one after another! It was time for something more colorful, more photograph-able and more uplifting to close out my summer sewing. A comfortable knit dress to the rescue--Butterick 4788, an out of print Maggy London design.

I'm as influenced by all the cute striped projects I see on the blogs as the next person, but I don't seem to wear stripes as well as most. If there is too much contrast between the stripes, they overwhelm me. This low-contrast rayon knit stripe from FabricMart is a good compromise, especially since it features two of my favorite colors, coral pink and cocoa brown.

To play with the subtle stripe, I added a center front seam and cut the skirt panels on the bias for a chevron effect. The back skirt pattern piece features a center seam (conveniently and yet inexplicably), so I simply used it for all four skirt panels. I bound the neckline and sleeve edges with a band (rather than turning and topstitching as directed by the pattern), and I did not reduce the neck edge to compensate for this addition. I figured the band would raise the plunging neckline a tad. Also critical to a secure fit at the neckline was the length of the band. I measured the length of the neck edge (actually, neck edges--right and left, were measured and cut separately) and then cut the band to 80% of that length. If this fabric had lengthwise as well as widthwise stretch, I might have cut the stripes on the cross grain for the binding, but it did not so I did not!

Trying to select patterns with some back interest, since partner dancing puts one's back on view more than one's front.

Each bodice piece is cut separately, and each should be carefully marked to avoid confusion in sewing! Blue painter's tape works great for labeling. I followed the directions closely and all was well; if I had tried to go my own way with this, it would have been a frustrating experience.

Some sewers used clear elastic to create the ruching effect on the left side, but I followed Butterick's instructions for adding a casing using the side seam allowances and was pleased with the result. Clear elastic and I have not been working well together recently, and I liked the control I got by using a casing and regular 1/4" elastic.

Notes on sizing: the several wrap knit dresses I have made this summer have convinced me that this style requires a tight fit at the bodice to avoid gaping. Though my measurements would have suggested a larger size and adjustments, I cut the size 8 with no changes and I am happy with the fit. Everything feels very secure--no shifting, gaping or flashing, even with the openness of the back neckline. I like the width of this skirt, too. It's graceful but not too full.

Even though there are many darling knit wrap dress patterns that are new to the market, I just couldn't see purchasing another when I have several in my pattern cabinet already. If you have this one, I can't think why it's not every bit as good as the latest model.