Friday, August 29, 2014

McCall's 6891 Shirt Dress in Silk Noil

Sewing by the numbers, checking off my "needs, wants and requirements" list:
  • Solid color
  • Pockets
  • Collar
  • Stash fabric
  • Appropriate for summer to fall transitional wear

Making up a new-to-me pattern is always more exciting than embarking on a proven winner, and I loved the collar shape of McCall's 6891. Although you wouldn't know it from the envelope of this Palmer/Pletsch pattern, the instructions note that this dress is based on a 1947 Dior design.

From the fitting perspective, I found the dress very straightforward. I compared another well-fitting darted bodice to the tissue and found the necessary changes to be fairly minimal and easy to execute. This is a size 8 in the shoulders and neck, tapering to about a size 12 at the waist and through the skirt. I shortened the bodice one inch and took a generous swayback tuck in the back.

A more significant change was reducing the flare of the skirt to fit within my three yards of 45" wide silk noil fabric. I used another pattern as a guide, which helped me to adjust the curve of the waist to match the flare of the skirt. Do you always remember that the wider the skirt, the more extreme the curve of the waist? I don't. At any rate, the skirt is much less full than as drafted--maybe as much as 25" to 30" less circumference at the hem. But I used up nearly every scrap of the fabric even so. I had to piece the inseam pockets, using a strip of the garment fabric as a facing at the edges, but switching to lining material for most of the pocket bag.

The biggest challenge of all was deciding what to do about buttons. Nothing at Hancock Fabrics was exciting me, self-covered buttons seemed too boring and I was having a terrible time picking out a button online. I wanted to try out a mixture of different vintage buttons, but I wasn't sure how to handle making different-sized buttonholes for varying sizes of buttons. Some of the ones I most wanted to use were really too big for a dress anyway. The solution was snaps sewn invisibly under the edges, with the vintage buttons applied on the outside. Wow, that was a lot of hand stitching--eight snaps on the right, eight snaps on the left, eight vintage buttons on top--at least to my mind.

I'm not positive how I feel about the buttons, but the good thing is I can change them out, since there are no buttonholes. It would be hard to make myself cut off all that hand sewing, but it wouldn't hurt the dress at all.

The only review for this pattern I found online is over at Cotton Creek Sewing--love her blog and her finished dress is gorgeous!--but she was, oh, shall we say, not a fan of the instructions for sewing the collar and facing. I consulted Claire Shaeffer's Book of Sewing Shortcuts (my enthusiasm for which I have mentioned before), which had some good points on this method of sewing collars. I took a few construction photos, but I just don't have the strength (or really the thorough knowledge) for a full tutorial. I am including the pictures, and the encouragement that I found the collar construction achievable. Just a different point of view from someone who is a booster for the convertible collar style and who would hate to see this pattern passed over entirely.

Under collar applied to bodice

Upper collar applied to facing

Inside corner detail, upper collar applied to facing, trimmed and pressed
This is actually my second version of this dress--I will show you the first just as soon as I get it hemmed and photographed.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kwik Sew 2935 Birthday Shirts

My sweet stepfather turned 75 a few days ago, and I decided to repeat a popular past gift: a short sleeved camp shirt. How lovely that he wore his first Virginia-made shirt (from 2010, according to my note on the pattern), to his party today.

Version One of Kwik Sew 2935 in crinkle rayon

Holding up the card I stitched for him
These photos of this year's shirt don't do it justice. I took some other shots this morning while wrapping it, and then just a few minutes later my phone was, well, I don't know what it was. Hijacked? By porn vendors? My husband declared that only a complete reset would do, so the photos were lost. Here is the shirt after it had been passed around the party, and then hastily flung onto the pool table as my son was trying to drag me out the door.

The fabric is a dreamy cotton shirting from the late, great Waechter's. It was so cooperative. The main challenge of the project was matching the plaids. I think that turned out pretty well.

And here are the pictures of me wearing Butterick 5925, as promised. These photos, too, are not quite what I would like them to be, but my camera remote seems to have given up the ghost, so my husband kindly took some shots. His composition is good, but the light was so flat and gray that it's difficult to see much detail in the lace in the wide shots.

Being silly, but you can see how the back side panels wrap around to the front in this shot.

Wearing a lace camisole from Coldwater Creek underneath

And here I am just showing off one of my big pumpkins, along with my shorter haircut.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lacy Butterick 5925 Tunic

From the black hole which has been my summer emerges a lacy white tunic top! As bloggers say, I've been sewing but not photographing and consequently not blogging. I plan to wear this top to my stepfather's 75th birthday celebration on Sunday, and I hope to have some photos of the top on me from that day. But I decided to strike while the iron was hot and go ahead and show this top now, modeled photos be damned!

I have made this Butterick 5925 Katherine Tilton top once before, that time in a limp black rayon jersey which didn't survive long. The top was very comfortable and served its purpose as a muslin and short-lived pullover. 

This one is a combination of views A and C: the back and sides from view A, minus pockets, with the front of view C, but cut on the fold rather than with a center front seam. 

Side view, showing curved points and raised front hem
The pointy lower edges were rounded off after the top was assembled, allowing me to attach a ruffled strip continuously around the lower edge. I cut this strip on the lengthwise grain (it had a better edge for rolled hemming on the lengthwise rather than the crosswise grain, and both were quite stretchy), finished the edge with a serger rolled hem, gathered it slightly and attached it to the bottom of the top.

Back view, showing curved pieced back panels
I reduced the length of the sleeves by six inches and finished them with the same ruffled strip as the bottom.

The neck edge is finished with a strip of the fabric selvedge, which offered a convenient fold line. It was attached to the right side of the stabilized (stay-stitched) neck edge, then folded to the wrong side of the neckline and stitched into place in the ditch.

Other than the modifications described above, this was made as size XS with no alterations for fit. It's still very roomy. To my mind, the design needs either a fluid fabric or, as in this case, a sheer one. Otherwise it risks drowning a short figure. The way the side back panels curve around to the lower front is very cool, but it does cause the top to stick out in front, which could easily be frumpy in a more substantial fabric.

Speaking of fabric, this came from the yard sale of a very cool friend, a wandering musician and belly dancer. It is either nylon or polyester and it soaked in OxyClean a very long time before giving up its mustiness and stains. But I do think it is so pretty, and it cost all of one dollar.

Can't wait to wear this frothy new top. I'm very much in love with ruffles right now.