mad for plaid

i definitely struggled with this dress more than i thought i would, but it all worked out in the end. i chose mccalls 5927 because of the simple lines in the bodice and plain but not too plain skirt. let’s face it—i’m a sucker for pleats and pockets. i mentioned before that i’m trying to work out a fitted bodice pattern or sloper that i can have on hand. after a few adjustments i think i’ve come pretty close with this one. the pattern came with several different bodice pieces based on bust size. i thought this would be super helpful in getting to my target shape a little faster. unfortunately, they treat both A and B cup sizes as one. not so helpful. past experience has shown me that i need a 1 1/2″ dart intake. this bodice has a 2 1/2″ intake so i was able to immediately spot and adjust this.

i had just read through the palmer/pletch “fit for real people” and one very good point of advice they give is to pick your bodice size based on your upper bust measurement, then adjust as necessary to fit your waist. in retrospect, i should have been able to figure this out myself. i quite often stared and stared at those bodice cutting lines because my bust lands me a much smaller size than my waist. then, even though i’m 5’8″, i usually need to do a petite adjustment (taken out above the bust) then add the removed length back in under the bust. then for your lower half you should pick a size based on your hip measurement and adjust the waist to fit. totally obvious, but still a lightbulb moment for me.

i love my plaid fabric, and a darted bodice is really nice for not disrupting the pattern as much as a princess seamed bodice would. however, if you’re working with a stripe or plaid, the waist dart can make the lines go all jagged in a soul-crushing sort of way. OCD much? guilty. but not to despair… there is a super easy way to fix this.

draw a line through the middle of your dart. then, pivot the dart as necessary to make the center line run parallel to CF. now when you stitch your dart, the plaid/checks/stripes will match up and chevron at the dart seam. genius, i know. now, if your skirt has a match point that is supposed to line up with the dart (pleats or front darts), keep in mind you’ll have to adjust that as well.

on the left: original dart placement
on the right: dart pivoted so the center is parallel to CF

because i was using this squishy, comfy, cozy flannel, i chose to leave the bodice unlined. which is ironic because i usually end up adding linings to dresses and then griping about the fact that the pattern doesn’t include lining instructions. if you’ve never lined a dress before and/or fear the very idea of lining a dress, rest assuraed. this pattern has directions for a FULL lining. even the sleeves. which seems kinda weird, but there you have it. this flannel has a sort of natural stretch and it’s quite thick. all in all, it feels really nice against my skin and has enough movement to be super comfortable. the only reason why i lined the skirt was so i could wear tights. this is obviously a winter dress and tights are a must. i used a bemberg rayon and it’s perfectly slidable. no crazy ride ups!

since i didn’t line the bodice i drafted a facing. i know some people avoid facings like the plague but i happen think they’re great for a clean neckline finish. since this fabric has a tendency to stretch funny and get all bent out of shape (it has a twill weave) it also helps to stabilize the neckline and keep it in check.

the only place that really gave me nightmares was the zipper install. an invisible zip was not an option given the thickness of the fabric so i got a standard zip and had intended to do a standard zip install. so you’re supposed to baste the opening closed, topstitch around the zipper, then remove the basting. so i basted, pinned the zip in then went to topstitch. but… see that high, narrow neckline? nope. can’t get it through a sewing machine when everything is closed up. i tried to go in from the skirt side, but that was so awful and wonky i quit after a couple inches. as usual, i made this far more complicated than necessary, and ended up going for a lapped zip.

i had only done a lapped zip once before and it seemed really hard and didn’t work out. i think i did the zip three times only to eventually rip it out and hand pick it months later. so i never tried it again. but for this dress, a lapped zip was the only remaining option. i ripped out all the stitching i had attempted, un-basted the seam, added some fusible to stabilize the edges, and lapped that zip. and it went in perfect with my first try. go figure.

i don’t often do a narrow skirt but thought it would be a nice departure from my more pouffy gathered dresses. the skirt is slightly off in fit, i could use another inch of ease in the backside. but who’s counting? i already let out the side and back seams as much as i possibly could. rookie mistake… i didn’t check the pattern’s finished hip measurement. oops. i think i’ve determined though, that my hips aren’t that wide, just le booty. things you don’t learn from making gathered skirts, huh.

i think i need to raise the back neckline
and/or add a back neck dart to fix the gaping.
that would be my “not impressed” face

so there’s my long-winded final analysis of this dress. my only real gripe is that for this large scale plaid i should have gone with a pattern without a waist seam; unless i’m wearing a belt it just looks funny. that and i could totally stand narrowing the sleeves a touch, they’re slightly boxy but… next time, right?

—lisa g.

18 thoughts on “mad for plaid

  1. Suzanne says:

    I think I need to borrow that (and by borrow that, I mean COPY IT down to every last detail. Love. And the waist seam: you just gave yourself a reason to buy a new belt. Boom. Awesome.

  2. Gail says:

    I'm just in awe of your plaid-matching skillz! Really love this!And I think for this more casual fabric, the wider sleeves work, but I can see why you'd want to make them a little more fitted next time.

  3. lisa g. says:

    thank you! it helps to cut the fabric in a single layer (i traced off an extra copy of each pattern piece) so you can make sure your layout works before cutting anything. it requires a lot of attention and a little extra fabric, but to have everything match up in the end is just so satisfying!

  4. dixie says:

    that's some excellent plaid matching! and i love the whole outfit, espec the mustard tights. great look for fall!btw, i've heard that tip on using your high bust measurement for sizing but i don't totally get it, do you use your high bust rather than your full bust for the pattern's bust measurement? 'cause i don't know any pattern that list high bust measurements on the pattern.

  5. lisa g. says:

    thanks! it's nice to have so many people appreciate the (not so) small details like plaid matching–something the average person i would come across IRL would never notice!yes: use the high bust measurement in place of your actual bust measurement. i don't claim to totally understand, but, since patterns are drafted for a B cup, the upper bust measurement is more indicative of your frame. then you should do a SBA or FBA as needed. for example: if you have a larger than B bust and you pick a bodice based on your actual bust measurement, you might be mis-fitting your shoulders, back, and neckline and need to do a bunch of adjustments there. if you pick based on the upper bust measurement, you should get a better fit throughout these areas; just SBA/FBA as needed to accommodate chest size.i haven't tested this out thoroughly (and it wouldn't really work for colette patterns, sewaholic, etc. since they are drafted to different proportions than the big 4) but i will definitely be trying it out. based on pattern adjustments i've made in the past, i suspect it's pretty right on.i need to do more thinking and research to totally understand it, but whatever i figure out will definitely be on the blog!

  6. liza jane says:

    Well, it looks fantastic! A lapped zipper is one of those things I've yet to try. I put in invisible zips whenever I can or I handpick. Your plaid matching is great. Clever to straighten the dart. Love it with the mustard tights.

  7. lisa g. says:

    i think i'll go with lapped or hand picked from now on. i have issues with the invisible zips getting stuck over waistbands, etc. haven't had one break yet, but it's only a matter of time!

  8. Andrea B says:

    My heart fluttered when I saw your first photo because I love that fabric. Then I realized it's the exact same flannel print (from JoAnn, right?) that I used to make a dress for my niece like two weeks ago. Not that it's childish fabric, because it's awesome and I totally wanted to make something for myself with it instead. Your dress is wonderful.

  9. lisa g. says:

    yup, from joanns! they've been running it on sale lately and it's all i can do to restrain myself from buying a ton more. get some for yourself, it's super cozy!

  10. Elisabé says:

    Hello. I found this post after googling McCall’s 5927. Lovely dress ! Thanks for all your (not so) little details ! 😉

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