Tuesday, August 23, 2016

McCall's 6559 Maxi Dress

I hope ya'll like lots of pictures, cuz I made two dresses from this pattern, and I love them both, and I love to take lots of detail shots and fun crazy poses.  So, enjoy them all, or scroll through quickly, your choice.  :)

I have been wanting to make maxi dresses for what feels like 3 years now.  This is one of 3 or 4 maxi dress patterns that I have, and it is the quickest and simplest, and I finally got around to it.
 I made both these dresses from view C and D, one short, one long.  I normally go for a racerback, but I don't have a great criss-cross/racerback bra at the moment, so I'm going the boring route with good ol' straight bra coverage.  As a side note, I do really love the colourblocked/striped versions E and F, and I will be happy to use up small pieces of my knit stash someday to make a funky patchwork maxi dress.  But that's for another day.
I made the first dress out of a 1-metre cut of this funky green/black/yellow/white ITY knit that I've had for a handful of years.  I originally envisioned testing a Jalie crossover top with it, but this was calling my name, so I went for it.  I'm glad I did.
Since I had a limited amount of fabric, I had to shorten the hem by 2".  It's a wee bit too short for me to wear in public, but it will make an excellent "wear around the house on a hot day" dress or a beach cover-up.
Since I have been lurking this pattern for the last couple years, I knew that the neckline was low.  I originally added 2" to the height of the neckline, but once I got it on to check for fit, I decided 1" was sufficient.
This is what my neckline alteration looks like.
I was a little leery of the armholes, since most armholes in most patterns are way too high on me and I have to lower them by 1/2" to 1".  So I kept a close eye on this one, and I was pleased to see that once I stitched them down 5/8", they were perfect.  I was also cautious about a tiny bit of a fold/gap at the lower front armhole near the bust, but once I stitched everything down and put it on for a few minutes, it all but disappeared.  So, armholes are good.
The centre back of this pattern is meant to be placed on the fold, meaning it is a straight line.  Since you can easily get this dress on one length of fabric, it needs a centre back seam.  I added seam allowance to the straight line, sewed it up, and tried it on.  I was hoping to avoid a swayback adjustment as that would tilt the pattern slightly, and I would like to preserve the grainline to make it easier to lay on the fabric.  So, instead, I drafted a curve at the waist at centre back, taking it in by about 1 1/2" total, or 3/4" on each piece.
Here is what that adjustment looks like.  Worked like a charm.  The dress hugs my curves on the back, but still hangs nicely from the front.
My only other alteration was to grade out from an 18 at the bust to a 20 at the waist and hips.  This is very strange for me, because my bust and hips are equal, which usually means that I would either take the hips in slightly or leave them as is for ease.  This is a very slim-fitting dress.  For reference, I have negative 3 1/2" ease at the bust, and about 2 1/2" ease at the hips.  I have never made a top in a size 20, even though it's closer to my measurements.  I made a wise choice and went with the 18, which fits nice and snug, and as you can see above, fits nicely at the armholes and neckline.  A 20 would have been too big.
Here you can see that the skirt hangs nicely.  I'm happy with the amount of ease I chose.
I love the way it hugs my curves at the back.
I am especially proud of myself that I am learning to fully embrace the coverstitch option on my serger. In one of my last knit tops, I learned that if you pin the pesky curves, they are much easier to stitch down.  
So I painstakingly pinned everything, spacing them about 1 1/2" apart.  I also pinned and coverstitched one armhole/neckline at a time, so as not to get the pins all tangled and accidentally pulled out of place. 
I also coverstitched with a lot more patience than I have employed before, and I am pleased as punch with the results.
My serger still has a tendency to get caught up on every seam and bump, so I have to coax and pull gently to make it behave, and it's usually always a little bit crooked near the seam, but I've long since learned to live with this.  I may look into getting a smoother presser foot for my serger and see if that solves the problem.  I can't complain, because I have a Babylock serger/coverstitch machine, and I am very thankful.  It has been my pride and joy and right hand man for many years.
 Look at that!  Doesn't that look professional?  I love it.
Now, hold onto your hats, because this green stuff is positively boring compared to this!  I bought 4 metres of this from Fabricland a couple three years ago, and I had forgotten how dynamic the print was!
 I started this dress the day after I finished the green one.  I also traced myself a paper pattern with all my adjustments.  In addition, I added 4" of length to the bottom, which is just about right, because I am 5'10", and patterns are designed for 5'6".  (I'm also having fun playing with different camera angles, and I love this shot, as it shows off a totally different angle of my sewing room than what you normally see.)
 The only slight difference is that I hemmed this at 1", and the pattern calls for 5/8".  But I imagine that different fabrics will hang differently, and I hope that the deeper hem will give me enough to work with for most knits.
 I did the coverstitching exactly the same way as the green dress, and it all turned out beautifully, except for one little bit.
Right at the back corner of the neckline, I missed a little bit, but I won't bother fixing it, because I have another top with this same problem, and it doesn't really do anything.
I'm absolutly chuffed with how good this looks from the inside!
And here is my 1" hem.
And one more from the outside, because it's just so pretty!
Did you know that if you forget to turn the timer off on your selfie (which is how I take all my full-length shots), that you don't have to worry about touching the button to get your photo?  I'm gonna use this trick again!
 Here is the boring side angle from this side of the room.
 And the boring front angle.  (Well, it's not that boring.  Look at that dress!)
And just to show you how slim this dress is, here's an action pose.  I hope I never have to run in this dress!  My only consolation is that it's not a pencil skirt.  And it hardly uses any yardage at all.
 I put my phone on the shelf and got some shots from this side, at different heights, and I had a lot of fun with it.
 Now that's a better full-length shot, wouldn't you say?
 And since I'm so thrilled with finally having my dream maxi dress made, I had to ham it up a bit more. :D
 I love the white socks peeking out.  Speaking of feet, I have absolutely no idea what kind of shoes to wear with this dress.  I'm not much of a shoe person.  I really like deck shoes, so I might get a new pair of those.
 And one final shot of the back, to show the centre back seam.  I've never been one to pattern match anything, except plaids or stripes.  And I like that this almost matches!  It really is a cool print.
I'm going to have so much fun wearing this dress, as well as the green one around the house.  I have a very cool black and white camouflage knit slated for this pattern, so that should be fun.

Thanks for reading and putting up with 35 photos!  :)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Simplicity 2690 - Version 2

Having lots of projects (pattern and fabric pairings) picked out does not necessarily mean that it's easy to decide what to do next.  So, I figured I would follow my attention and simply pick the one that seemed to stand out from the rest.

I decided to make another top from Simplicity 2690.  I had this one figured out as soon as I finished the pink version.  And of course, I was super excited about this pattern since I fell back in love with my pink version last weekend.
I chose the leftover fabric in this funky geometric, variegated knit.  I think it's an ITY (I still don't know what that means, lol, but I know it's not cotton.)  I have a maxi dress frankenpattern already cut out from the rest of it.  It will be pretty epic.  The variegated colours run from purple at the very top, to dark blue at the waist, and then sort of what you see here from the neck down, but with more of a flow of colour down the skirt until the full border print on the bottom.  I'll get to that one soon, it's pretty awesome.
My original plan in my head was to have the variegated colours flow smoothly from the top down, but I had a limited amount of fabric, and I ended up having to flip the lower back piece upside down to get it to fit.  And I had to add a seam at the centre back.
So, I have the border print on the front, and not on the back, but in squeezing the two pieces as close together as I could, even though they were upside down, I managed to get the print kind of matched!
So, aside from there being a tiny bit of a difference between the blue on the bodice, and the lighter turquoise of the bottom, it's pretty darn good!  And no one will ever notice.
Once I had the main pieces together, of course, I had to try it on.  I was pleased with how comfy it was just hanging loose, without the elastic at the midriff.  But while I was trying it on, I tested out the modesty panel that sits in the V.  This was my original choice.  As you can see, it totally blends in, and the shape of the V disappears.
So I cut one out of white, and it looks much better!
I lowered it a smidge, and I was ready to sew it down.
Note to self, only sew it down at the waistline intersection.  Wait until the elastic is in before pinning the upper portion in place.  The elastic changes the dynamic of the fit.  If you look closely, you can see that the right edge kinda leans to the right.  And in wearing it, it gaped a bit, and I ended up unpicking it and moving it over by about 5/8".  When I stitched it in place, I simply followed the outer line of my coverstitching.
Look how my border print is *almost* centred!  I didn't plan this, and I am lucky that it got so close.  I just cut it out on the fold, and it worked itself out!
Near the beginning of construction, I had to do all my coverstitching, because the neckline has to be done before the waist seam is sewn.  So, I sewed the seams of the skirt, the little bit of the armholes, and the shoulder seams, and then I coverstitched the neckline, the armholes, and the bottom hem.  It's kinda nice to get that out of the way near the beginning, because as soon as the elastic is in the waist and the modesty panel is sewn down, it's finished!  I was very pleased with how my back neckline turned out this time.  Last time I missed the tightest part of the curves, and it was threatening to do it again this time, but I pinned it, and it worked!
Can you tell by the smiles on my face that I am much more thrilled with this project than my last zebra print dress?  I am super thrilled, and feeling flattered.
I have more curves on my front and back than I do on the sides, so I like when patterns show off my curves.
See?  I'm literally a rectangle.  I see no difference between this view and the one above with no elastic.  But the curves show up when I stand sideways.
This time, I added an inch to the bottom of the front bodice, all the way across.  The result is that the side drops down a little toward the back, and I think this is how the pattern was designed anyways.  I like the angle.  And I love the armholes.  I always wear a little cami sports bra over my bra, so I don't have to worry about showing my bra on the sides.
This design is cool and breezy, and I love having lots of air at my armpits.  LOL.  I did an extra little bit of coverstitching across the bottom of the armhole, and I'm very happy with how it turned out.  Kinda finishes it off, and it helps add some stability to the slashed seam.  I'm also pleased as punch with how the orange thread just absolutely fits right in.  I didn't have to change thread colours when I started this, and we all know how nice that is!  
Who else picks projects based on the current thread colours in the sewing machine and serger?  I do!  And I love how on the two far sides of this photo, you can see my orange serger thread on the left, and my orange sewing machine thread on the right.  Tee hee!
I love this shot.  It's a cute pose, but I look like I'm staring at the floor.  All my other photos have the happiest expressions on them, and then there's this one.  LOL.  I love them all.
I am one happy camper!
See my shamrock necklace?  I bought that for myself a couple years ago, because my birthday is on St. Patrick's day, and the shamrock IS MY JAM.
The other night, my friend, Kristi, and I went on an historical walking tour of our downtown, and it was so much fun!  We learned about what old buildings were on what corners, and learned about some of the founding members of the city.  So much fun!  So, after the tour, I asked her to be my photographer.  
I love these shots!  I finally feel like a fancy sewing blogger with real posed photos with lovely outdoor backgrounds.
And I took one more photo the next morning when I unpicked and tightened up the modesty panel by 5/8" on the right side.  Much better!  It's the little things...
And now I am starting to work on the third instalment of this trifecta of Simplicity 2690.  This was my original plan, but I'm super happy with how the sleeveless knit ones turned out, and I'm sure I'll make more.  I can't wait to dig into this one.  It will be fully lined, because it's sheer, except for the sleeves.  So excited to finally get to this one!  I've had it planned out for at least 5 years.
Thanks for reading!