Skater Dress | McCalls 7079

I recently picked up McCalls 7079 to make my oldest daughter (12 yrs) a casual dress. I love that this pattern has several different style options, from plain to a little more girly. This will be a very versatile pattern to have around!

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I let her pick out the combination she wanted, and she opted for short sleeves and a flared skirt. I was going to do the triangle back cutout, but decided to go with the plain back to check the fit first. Without the cutout she can easily pair this with leggings and cardigans for Fall.

The fabric I used is from Cali Fabrics. It’s a cotton/lycra and is perfect for this style. This was the first time I ordered from them, and I was pleased with the quick shipping and overall quality of the fabrics; I’ll definitely order from them in the future since they have such a large selection of knits. My only quibble with this fabric is that the black ink bled in places onto the white. I usually use a color catcher when washing fabrics like this, but I totally spaced. Overall, it’s not really noticeable, but something to note if you have this one in your stash.

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She generally wears a 12/14 in girls sizes, but her measurements put her all over the place for this pattern. I decided to sew a straight size 12 since I didn’t need to be overly fussed about fitting. This seems to have worked out just fine—it fits well through the shoulders, and still has some ease through the waist. Now, she’s not really into letting me closely examine her to check the more fine points of fitting (and this print is really busy, obscuring any fit issues from the casual observer) but I think she could use a little extra length in the bodice front.

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The sleeves have quite a bit of extra ease in the sleeve cap—more so than a knit tee requires—so I lowered the cap by about 3/8″ to remove some of it. Also, the sleeves have a 1″ hem allowance, which seems unusually deep, so I cut off 1/2″ and did my preferred 1/2″ hem.

The only other change I made was to the neckline. The instructions suggest that you double turn the neckline and top stitch in place (a 5/8″ hem allowance). I just really, really hate that type of finish, and looking at the few examples I found online, the neckline looks too wide to me. Changing nothing to the pattern, I simply added a 1/2″ neckband, sewn with a 1/4″ SA. With the neckband it looks more like a regular t-shirt neckline, and that’s really what we wanted anyway.

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Sleeve cap and neckline preferences aside, this is a great pattern, and I’m sure I’ll be using it frequently. My girls love this style of dress, and it’s so fast to sew up. Most importantly, she immediately declared it her “favorite dress ever!” so. That’s a win.

—lisa g.


TL;DR

PATTERN: McCalls 7079
FABRIC: cotton/lycra from califabrics.com (available here)
SIZE: 12 (measurements for reference: 5’0″/32″/24.5″/31.5″)
MODS: added neckband
ALTERATIONS: lowered sleeve cap
NEXT TIME: add length to front bodice

Woven Tank Love | McCalls 7411

Before I get into the pattern, on my last post I made vague references to having a really sucky year… I don’t like to bother about personal issues here (sewing is my refuge from life and stress!), but it was very heartwarming to read all your well-wishes. Without going into all the nitty gritty (gawd… I could write a book on it) my husband had been laid off from his job (single income family… yay *sarcasm*) and it took a bit longer than anticipated to get back on our feet. We’re on the up and up now and he landed a fantastic job. It feels like the stars aligned for us in the best possible way, and this, after feeling like every single thing had gone wrong over the past… well, decade, has just felt amazing. There’s still a mountain to climb before we’re back to good, but we’re feeling optimistic for the first time in a very, very long time.

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But on to the important stuff! I’ve made Grainline Studio’s Tiny Pocket Tank at least six times by now, and despite my best efforts it just never fit right. They’re still perfectly wearable—and I wear them constantly during the summer—but I’ve tired of tinkering with that pattern and decided to start from scratch with a new pattern. I picked up McCalls 7411 and decided to sew up a muslin in some cotton lawn to check the fit. Even though I’ll probably always use a rayon challis or some other drape-y fabric, I find it easier to diagnose fit issues in something more stable.

Side note: I’m going to start adding a TL;DR section at the bottom of my posts if you just want to scroll through pics and get the basic deets in the fewest words possible.

I traced off view A in a size S, then slashed and spread it at the side seam and added about 3/4″ (3″ in total) at the hip. After my muslin, I pinched out a tiny bit at the shoulder seam/neckline to do a square shoulder adjustment, did a SBA, then pinched out some width under the arms, blending to nothing at the waist. For once the bust dart was in the right spot (warning to those who often lower bust darts! I usually hike it up a good 1/2″!). I also eliminated the CB seam and cut it out on the fold.

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I sewed up my adjusted pattern in a rayon challis from JoAnn’s and I love how it came out! The only thing I’ll change next time will be raising the armholes. I checked the armholes on my muslin, but they seemed okay. It’s possible the fabric stretched out a bit during construction, though it’s pretty common for me to raise armholes.

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As a nod to the TPT, I added a tiny pocket to this pattern. I keep a few pocket templates around my sewing room, so I just used one I had on hand. I’m very happy with how this tank came out, and it will be my go-to woven tank pattern from now on. There was always something off about the Grainline version and, since Jen retired that pattern and came out with the Willow as a replacement, I kinda felt like it was time for me to move on as well.

lisa g.


TL;DR

PATTERN: McCalls 7411, view A
FABRIC: rayon challis from JoAnn, discontinued
SIZE: S, with alterations (measurements for reference: 5’8″/34″/27.5″/39″)
MODS: eliminated CB seam
ALTERATIONS: square shoulder, SBA, narrowed underarm, added width to hip
NEXT TIME: reduce armhole depth

a very floral McCalls 7242

Summer really lingered in my neck of the woods, so for all of September I had a hard time starting projects. I just wasn’t inspired to sew much! It was hot, so I wanted to make summer stuff, but I knew it was only a matter of time before cold temps showed up. Finally, the weather turned the corner and I’m feeling like I know what I want to sew again. When McCalls made their Fall release, I fell in love with, and immediately picked up M7242.

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I go particularly weak in the knees for a floral print on a dark background, so this felt like a perfect pattern/fabric match. In the beginning, I had grand plans for making the dramatic long-sleeved maxi version, but this is a very bold print, so my gut told me to pick either the sleeves or the maxi  length. I was close to ditching the sleeves, but in the end I loved them too much to leave them off, especially since this fabric has a very Fall look to it.

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I cut down the skirt length, but flared it out to have more volume than the shorter version provides (this is longer than the shorter version of the pattern, btw). I actually didn’t do this pattern alteration correctly, so the skirt doesn’t fall like I had wanted; I may go back in and take some of the fullness out later, since it mostly hangs at the sides. In retrospect, I really wish I would have just done view B and added the ruffle to the bottom. Totally forgot about that option when I was cutting! Maybe I’ll just have to make this dress again… 🙂

CONSTRUCTION

I was very pleased with the construction of this dress. Sometimes you end up with really odd finishing techniques in Big 4 patterns, but not so here. The elastic casing at the waist is particularly genius, in my opinion. Instead of joining the bodice and waist, finishing the edges together, then topstitching (as with the Saltspring, if you’re familiar with that) you are able to conceal all the raw edges very neatly and bulk-free. Here you sew the bodice and skirt together with a 1″ SA, then trim down the SA on the bodice side. Then on the skirt SA you turn and press the edge in 1/4″, press it all up to the bodice, then edge stitch it in place (here’s photo on IG to show the inside finish). So neat! I’ll be stealing this method for future elastic waist finishes.

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The neckline is finished with a facing, then the rounded collar is added. I love this little collar stand since it sits nice and flat. It’s actually tempting to take the bodice and alter it to a blouse… it would be very easy to do.

There is a tiny bit of hand sewing necessary. The pattern instructs you to hand sew the inner yoke, whereas I prefer the burrito method, as in traditional button up shirts. Then the neckline facing is hand sewn to the yoke seam. The inner collar piece is also hand sewn down. I could have top stitched the collar piece, but my fabric is a rayon twill and things get real shifty and uncooperative real fast; sometimes a bit of hand sewing is less aggravating in the end, so I went with it.

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The last thing I thought I’d mention—the pattern has the button holes positioned horizontally instead of vertically. Since this dress gives off a definite shirt dress vibe (back yoke with pleat, collar, etc), I did mine vertically. It just made more sense to me, though it would probably be fine either way.

FIT

I went down one full size from my measurements, grading from a 10 at the shoulder/bust to a 12 at the waist. Since I didn’t muslin first, I pulled out my trusty Archer to get an idea whether or not I would need to make alterations. I frequently have to shorten armhole depth and raise necklines, but not this time! The shoulder line falls slightly off my shoulder, but it also does so on the model on the envelope, so I’m thinking it’s just part of the design.

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The sleeves are very bell shaped, so I cut a size 10 sleeve but graded down to a 6 at the wrist to eliminate some fullness but still keep the general silhouette. I typically need to add at least 1″ to sleeves but kept these as drafted so they wouldn’t be too billowy.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m pretty in love with this dress, and am particularly enamored with the 70’s vibe happening. I left the length longer than I usually would for dresses and skirts, but it seemed the right thing to do for the silhouette. If I made this pattern again, I may narrow and top stitch the facings down. It’s not that they want to pop out, but they do catch on my bra and I end up needing to adjust them every once in a while. This isn’t a major annoyance, just something I noticed. Overall, I found the pattern to be well-drafted and genuinely fun to sew! Seriously. I’m trying to stop myself from ditching the Halloween sewing for the kiddos and immediately start making this pattern again!

—lisa g.

a campy blouse | McCalls 6512

I wanted to make a breezy summer top with a cotton voile I picked up at Joann’s. I went pattern diving in my stash and pulled out one I’ve had for years, but never sewed up—McCalls 6512. I love all the details on this pattern and the unique style lines, I don’t know why I waited so long to sew it! I was hesitant to use a voile because I thought it might end up too boxy and shapeless, but I think it worked out great.

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In fact, the cotton made all the fiddly details a breeze to construct. This top has pleated pockets, pocket flaps, an inset front panel, sleeve tabs, collar band, button band… the works. It’s hard to see all the details in this print, so here’s the line drawing.

Based on the finished measurements, I sewed a size 10 grading out to a 12 for the waist/hip. That comes out to be one size down in the bust, and two sizes down at the hip. The fit is a little roomy on top, but nothing terrible. I could probably have done an 8 on top, but I’m happy with the fit from the waist down. I’m beginning to think that I have square-ish shoulders, which is leading to some front and back neckline gaping (not just here, but patterns in general), so that’s another thing I’ll start to watch out for. I did lengthen the back hem by 1″ because I like a longer back hemline, just not as extreme as view B shows.

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As far as construction goes, I pretty much followed the directions (GASP). I did add extra top stitching at the button band and collar. The pockets called for two rows of stitching, so I figured top stitching the button band and collar wasn’t totally out of line. Also, the pattern suggested some pretty extensive interfacing, which I felt would be too much for this fabric. I opted to use my lightest fusible for the pocket flaps, sleeve tabs, and button placket, and only interfaced one side to keep it flexible. I went with a slightly heavier fusible for the collar so it would retain its shape.

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This shirt in voile definitely has a campy/safari vibe, so I decided to embrace it and pair it with the khaki Moss Skirt I made a couple years back. I would like to eventually make this blouse in rayon, which I think would give it a completely different look. This was such a fun pattern to make, but I think it may be out of print. Snatch it up if you ever find it, it’s a real gem!

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—lisa g.

floral neoprene dress | M6754

I snagged this digital print neoprene from a local fabric shop for a few dollars a yard. I had no idea what I was going to do with it at the time—impulse buy if there ever was one. Not long after I was digging through my pattern stash and pulled out McCalls 6754. A quick consult on IG as to whether or not it was too loud (haha nobody ever says “no!”) and I was off and running.

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This pattern was fairly popular a while back, so I had a handful of reviews to check out. Most people gave it the usual “too big” review, and many complained of the straps being too wide set. Usually McCalls has finished measurements on the tissue, but not this one. I didn’t want the bodice to end up too tight (neoprene is stretchy, but not crazy stretchy) so I aimed for about zero ease. My measurements put me in a Medium in the bust, and a Large at the waist/hip.

McCalls 6754

After measuring the pattern pieces, I went with a Small , but added about a half inch to each side seam, and cut a Medium in the skirt. The bodice has a fairly large waist dart, so I reduced the dart, then removed the same amount from the side seam. I should have just done a standard SBA, but I guess I was feeling lazy. To fix the wide strap issue I simply nudged the strap in by a 1/4″, blending into the original neckline and armhole. I also raised the back neckline by 1″, and the front by 1.5″. One inch in the front probably would have been sufficient, but I wanted to keep it at a comfortable height. The back bodice is drafted with a CB seam, but since there was no back shaping I cut it on the fold (same with the skirt). Lastly, I raised the armhole by 3/8″ and blended into the original seam line.

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I’m not big on the “turn and stitch” method for knit necklines, so I trimmed the seam allowances down to 1/4″, and used strips of knit fabric to do a bias facing type finish. Then, I topstitched all the bindings on my coverstitch.

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I constructed the bodice on my sewing machine and serged the seams after. Since there is only width-wise stretch, there was no point in using the serger for vertical seams. Plus, I wanted to be able to adjust the side seams if necessary. I did use the serger to attach the skirt; there is no zipper in this dress, so I needed to keep the waistline stretchy.

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I did a simple rolled hem on the serger to finish the hemline. I didn’t see any point in fighting with the fabric and trying to press and top stitch a hem—this stuff can’t hold a crease. (Okay, I say it can’t hold a crease, but after cutting I noticed there were some wrinkles in the fabric I couldn’t press out. Probably why I found it in my discount fabric shop to begin with!) While cutting, I added an extra inch to the length just to be on the safe side. Coupled with my lack of hem, the skirt is basically lengthened by 1 5/8″.

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I am completely in love with how the dress came out. It’s so bright, and spring-like, and fun! Initially I was worried that the skirt would end up too sticky-outtie in the neoprene, but it ended up with just the perfect amount of body. This pattern is definitely made for heavier knits like ponte, doubleknit, and neoprene. I wouldn’t bother with any fabric lighter than those.

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obligatory.

As far as the sizing, my alterations did the trick and I’m happy with the fit. I still have maybe 1″ of ease at the waist, but I’m okay with that. One thing that would have saved me some trouble would have been doing a petite adjustment above the bust. I haven’t quite figured out how much I need to remove (somewhere around 3/8-1/2″) but I think it’s time to add that to my standard list of adjustments. That will save me some of the neckline, bust dart, and armhole raising I’m always doing. And I’ll probably go back and do a real SBA instead of my cheater one. I can definitely see myself coming back to this pattern—it’s super quick to make and I like using the heavier fabrics since it’s less clingy over the lumpy bits. 🙂

—lisa g.

McCalls 6948

Making tiny dresses for my girls has a way of becoming very addictive. Not many fit issues to worry about, small yardage, and quick to make. I bought this blue rose fabric last fall-ish, rescued from the clearance table at Joanns. It’s one of those rare sightings of rayon challis—wish they’d stock more of this instead of all the nasty poly prints they have in so much abundance. I really planned to use this fabric for myself, but the scale of the print seemed either too big or too small… just right for a pint size dress though. 🙂

I took these photos just over a week ago… that white stuff was our last little pile of snow!

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McCalls 6948 was just the ticket. Seriously cute pattern if you have girls to sew for! It’s kind of like a mini Sewaholic Saltspring, complete with several variations. My girls are all asking me for maxi skirts or dresses, so I decided to make the variation that has a faux-wrap skirt. It’s nice and long in the back, but shorter in the front so it’s runaround friendly. I’m always worried about them tripping in longer skirts otherwise. (True confession… I totally spaced on cutting the front skirt pieces on the correct grain. The CF should be on the straight of grain, but I lined up the side seam on the straight by mistake. Oops!)

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I fully lined the dress instead of doing a bias facing on the neckline and sleeves. The fabric probably would have been okay without a lining, but it was just right on the line for opacity. To line the skirt, I omitted the wrap and simply marked 2″ above where the front panels overlap, and cut it on the fold. I kept the back skirt lining short as well, since there was no need to make the lining as long as the dress.

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For sizing, I cut a 4, then slashed and lengthened to the size 6, and cut a straight size 6 skirt. The neckline is borderline too low for what I’d expect in a kid’s pattern, so that’s something to watch out for. Overall, it came out a little bigger than I was anticipating, but it should fit her for quite a while.

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This pattern gets a huge thumbs up from me, and an even bigger thumbs up from my girl. I think she’s worn it three times already, and is always swan-ing around and letting the skirt flap around dramatically. I’m sure I’ll be using this pattern many more times!

—lisa g.

Mccalls 6172 | finished!!!

Man, I feel like this blazer took me an eternity to make! There’s that point in blazer and coat-making where you feel like you’ll never finish and you just can’t bear to complete one. more. step. It’s been a while since I’ve made any tailored outerwear, so I was a little rusty in terms of construction order. In the past I had followed the RTW jacket sew-a-long on Pattern~Scissors~Cloth but I thought I would do more hand-sewing this time around (this comes to play once you start attaching the lining). In the end, I ended up going back to the machine and scrapping most of my hand sewing plans.

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Since I’ve already detailed my fitting and construction in previous posts (here and here) I won’t rehash all that. In short—I found the fit to be very good, so long as you go down one size from the size chart. The “size down” thing is pretty standard (unfortunately) with Big 4 patterns, so always make sure you check the finished garment measurements first.

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About the only thing left to talk about is the lining. I picked up a poly charmeuse from joanns, mostly because I was really excited about having a print instead of a solid color. I love the print, but I don’t think I’ll be using this type of fabric for a lining again. It was extremely difficult to sew, it frayed like MAD, and it does end up feeling a little plastic-y. However—PAISLEY! So that basically makes it all good in my book. The shell fabric (wool) has a good weight to it, so this will be a blazer to wear when it’s cold. The poly lining actually lends extra warmth, for better or worse. I do prefer the feel of a rayon bemberg lining, but the stuff I can typically find around here is too thin for blazer or coat lining.

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As I already mentioned, I decided to ignore most of the pattern’s directions and instead followed the construction order of the RTW Jacket sew-a-long. I did the sleeve shell/lining join, and started the hem bagging by machine. It is so much cleaner to finish the facing/lining/hem join by machine rather than trying to hand stitch all that. What I did was sew the facing hem all the way to the dart seam by machine. Then from there, I catch-stitched the remaining hem turn up, and then fell stitched the lining in place. I do think that this gives a nice crisp hem line, superior to simply tacking the hem facing at the SA’s. Plus, that small bit of hand sewing doesn’t take that much extra time.

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One thing I wish I had done differently would be to draft a better lining. Except for the back piece (which at least has a deep pleat for wearing ease) the rest of the lining is just a duplicate of the shell. I was all set to draft this, but I was feeling a little burnt out at that point and just didn’t want to deal. In the future, I will take the extra step! (Jen at Grainline Studio has an excellent tutorial on how to do this.)

Random note: I typically need to lengthen sleeves by 1″ on patterns, but I didn’t make any changes here. So, if you suffer from an average to short arm length… you may need to alter the sleeves.

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I did feel like I had a hard time getting a good crisp press at the lapel and collar edge. Part of this is due to my failing iron (the water chamber leaks, so I have to use a spray bottle with water to get any steam) and the thickness of the wool. In the end, I decided to topstitch the collar and lapel to get the crisp edge I needed. I’m completely happy with this decision given that I wanted a casual look and I had already topstitched the patch pockets in place. The extra topstitching at the collar fits right in and ends up being a nice detail.

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All in all, I am very pleased with the fit I achieved, the fabric is killer, and I know I’ll be wearing this a lot. I can already imagine sewing up both the short and long length options in a variety of fabrics. Basically this pattern is very versatile, and if you’re looking for a classic blazer pattern—this is a good one. Sheesh… now that’s it’s winter here, maybe I should start a winter coat. Ya know, so I can wear it sometime by March.

—lisa g.

mccalls 6172 progress

I managed to make solid progress on my blazer last week (Mccalls 6172), and I’m pretty thrilled with how it is turning out! There is very little in the pattern I’ve felt the need to change or improve upon, so if you’re in the market for a blazer pattern, this one is a winner. I especially love that it will work in a variety of fabrics (structured or not) and there are options for different lengths (cropped to hip length). Also, it has a lot of built in lines for pattern alterations and instructions for many common adjustments. Very handy! As per usual, there are only directions for FBAs and not SBAs… but whatever. 😛

I spent what felt like an eternity fusing the jacket pieces. I used weft interfacing on the entire front, collar, facing, then partially fused the back pieces and the sleeves. I also added fusible horsehair on the lapel, upper chest, and the stand area of the undercollar. I had such a hard time with the fusible, and encountered near disaster. First off, the fusing leeched through and stuck to my press cloth so badly that I ended up using parchment paper under my iron. I don’t have an organza press cloth, I was just using muslin, so I don’t know if that would have made a difference.

Then, after fusing, I went to transfer my pattern markings only to find that my pieces had shrunk quite significantly (vertically). I had a mini panic attack and contemplated my options. my longest pieces had shrunk by a solid 3/8″ vertically. Now, I had pre-shrunk my wool, twice actually. I sent it through the dryer on high with a wet towel, then I took our garment steamer to it. I spent quite a bit of time doing this, so I was perplexed as to what had happened. Turns out, it was the fusible that shrunk. Yeah, thanks Pellon. Next time I’ll be ordering from Fashion Sewing Supply. Should I have block fused? Maybe… but to be honest I’m not sure that’s 100% the way to go either. Plus it’s really hard to do well with my current ironing board setup.

Anyways, I had two options: (1.) Sew as if nothing happened. (2.) Go back to my pattern pieces and reduce all the SA’s and re-cut my fabric.

I thought about it for a while and decided that from shoulder to hem, 3/8″ isn’t all that much for a loosely fitted blazer. I had considered shortening the armhole depth, but in the end didn’t, so if I lost 1/8″ there, no big deal. Also, my waist sits high, so a little more length lost there, no big deal. All the fused pieces that had shrunk were going to be sewn to other shrunk fused pieces, so most everything would match up as is.

Okay, freak out over, I started sewing and everything has worked out just fine. Big sigh of relief! As it stands I have the entire shell and facing complete. I should note that I did add a back neck facing piece. It always bugs me when patterns don’t have them, and it’s no work at all to draft.

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I’m very happy with the fit alterations I made from my muslin, everything seems to be working out as expected. I cut a 10 at the shoulder/bust, grading out to a 12 at the hip (for reference, my measurements are: bust 34″, waist 29″, hip 39″). From there I made the following fit adjustments:

  • 1″ SBA (small bust)
  • 1/4″ FSA (forward shoulder)
  • added 1/2″ to the lower part of the back of the armhole (you can check out my pattern alteration in my last post)
  • narrowed the sleeves by 3/8″
  • decreased my SA by 1/8″ from waist to hemline on all the back pieces and the side seams, giving me an extra 1 1/4″ for le booty.

One last thing I need to do is add pockets to the front. I’ve decided to go with patch pockets since, well, I like patch pockets on blazers. I also think I’ll be doing an interior welt pocket. I put one in the winter coat I made two years ago and it’s super handy for phone stashing.

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I finally picked up some lining the other day, so now I’ve got everything I need to finish this baby up. May not get there by the end of November, but it’ll be close!

—lisa g.

blazer | mccalls 6172

Life has been pretty hectic around these parts… unfortunately my sewing time, not to mention blogging time, has been virtually non-existent. So, so sad… I actually had decent Halloween costumes made up for the kiddos this year, but I never got around to getting good photos, so… oh well. They’re up on IG if you’re interested.

Instead of trying to post all the unblogged things, I’ll just jump ahead to what I’m working on now. Namely, a blazer! I’ve been wanting to make a blazer for a long time, so I jumped in when Gail and Shar teamed up on IG and were all like “Yeah! We’re sewing blazers! Wooooooo!” Andrea joined up as well, and we were all pretty gung-ho for a couple of days. So… that was the end of Septemeber, and we aimed to be done by the end of October-ish. Oh what, it’s mid-November now? Heh heh… oops.

I’m making view B, but will add patch pockets

I muslined the blazer (what seems like) ages ago but only this week did I transfer my alterations to my pattern and got cutting. I’m going for a relaxed fit, so I tried to keep my fitting low key. I stuck to my usual changes and did a 1″ SBA, a 1/4″ FSA (I didn’t mess with the sleeve cap, I figure it will be easier to just make some small adjustments when I set the sleeves), and took a small tuck out of the lapel. The only thing left troubling me was some restriction in arm movement. In the past I’ve shortened the depth of the armhole to gain more movement, but when i fiddled with the seam line on my muslin it left the back of the armhole looking kinda funny. Then by chance, I read Idle Fancy’s post with a ton of fitting links, including this one from A Fashionable Stitch. BINGO. That’s exactly what I needed. I don’t have broad shoulders, but I think perhaps my forward shoulder makes the standard armhole placement a little off? Or maybe it’s something else altogether… who knows!

The change was fairly straightforward. I simply straightened out the curve on the back of the jacket, and added a little extra in the same part on the sleeve. Things got a little dicey when I was altering the sleeve since this has a two-piece sleeve and the adjustment crossed between the two pattern pieces, but I think I’m in a good place. Basting will be my friend when I get to the sleeves.

I feel the need to apologize for the terribly lit iPhone photos… it’s a dark and dreary day!

The fabric I’m using is a very nice Pendelton wool that was gifted to me by one of my husband’s aunts. A few months ago she sent me a box of five cuts of wool (with receipt dated from 1992!) and the pink is just the right shade of bold without being obnoxious. Now that my fabric is cut, I need to get to fusing. The fabric has nice weight to it, so I’m using a weft fusible, reinforced with a little hair canvas fusible on the back collar, front lapel, and upper chest.

I’m pretty excited to get going now that my schedule has eased a bit and I have some momentum behind me. Who knows, I may finish it by the end of November… only a month late!

—lisa g.

P.S. If you’re really interested in seeing our slow progress, just search #bourbonandblazers on IG

mccalls 6833 | pattern review

our little excursion to NYC has come and gone already… what a whirlwind! capped by a long drive home, stuck in friday must get out of the city!!! east coast traffic. i had planned to give a mid-construction update on mccalls 6833, but the end of the school year busyness totally got in the way. anyways, here’s the deets!

(p.s. navy is really hard to photograph)

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after my initial muslin i took all the lady curves out of the bodice so it better resembled a rectangle, and ended up with a decent fit. my waist measurement puts me in a size 14-16 (whut??) while my bust is more like an 8. so i traced off a 10 bodice, but added 4″ all around to the waist. this pattern doesn’t seem to have as much ease as i’m used to in big 4 (could it be that they’ve heard our complaints?) so i paid close attention to the finished garment measurements. after a second muslin, i ended up going back and tracing off the upper bodice in a size 8 and doing another SBA, plus a forward shoulder adjustment and some lower armhole fiddling. i was reasonably confident that would work out so i was off to cut my fabric.

i did have to scrap some of my initial plans of making the bustier underneath the fuller coverage bodice. that was me high on ALL THE IDEAS!!! and low on the thinking it through part. no worries, i’m perfectly happy with what i ended up with. the only thing i changed from the pattern was to create a V shape in the back. the pattern has the back piece coming all the way up to the base of the neck, and that was feeling a little too covered up. plus, i’m all about the lower back necklines these days.

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i decided that even though this is a limited use dress, i would take the time to do some hand stitching. on the bodice, i hand-basted my underlining, catch stitched the bodice SA’s, etc. it was time well spent as i could work on the dress while thinking through how i wanted to construct certain things. i did leave my side and shoulder SA’s free in case i needed to make any adjustments once i was farther along. i ended up bringing up the shoulders a bit and taking in the waist by an inch, so thank goodness for that! nothing is worse than needing to rip out your hand stitching.

for the skirt, i cut the size 12 and adjusted the pleats to fit the bodice. i changed up the construction order by sewing the skirt front and back to the bodice separately so i could easier adjust the side seam. it’s pretty difficult to predict exactly how the bodice will sit before the weight of the skirt is there to pull it down.

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i fully lined the dress with rayon bemberg. that stuff is such a pain in the ass to cut and nearly impossible to keep on grain! it does tear from selvedge to selvedge, so i did that to true up the edges and then i taped it down to my table to give me the best chance of getting a good cut. unfortunately… i failed to triple check that my selvedges were completely lined up and had a little mishap with one of the skirt lining pieces. at that point there was no point in getting upset over it, so in a very zen fashion (a-typical of me, don’t be fooled) i cut a strip of lining, patched it on, and called it a day. the skirt lining now has a huge “scar” running down the back, but eh… that’s the charm of handmade, right?

i hand stitched the hem in place (did i mention i lengthened the skirt by 1″? cuz i did), and hemmed the lining with horsehair braid—a technique gertie had just posted about. i should mention that the lining is actually a separate pattern piece. it’s cut as a circle skirt, so if you aren’t keen on the pleats, you could use the lining for a different look. anyways, the pattern has you sew a wide length of gathered tulle part way up the lining to give the dress some oomph. i was short on time at this point and didn’t feel like messing with tulle, which is why i opted for the horsehair. i’m just so/so on the result. the horsehair is really too stiff for the bemberg and it flops awkwardly. if i have occasion to pull this dress out again, i may re-do this per the pattern directions.

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overall, i think this pattern is pretty great! there are a whole range of options for mixing and matching. however, getting a good fit for a small-busted gal like myself was more challenging that i had anticipated. the dart intake at the bust is in the ballpark of 2 1/2″, whereas i need closer to 1 1/2″. you almost have to drape it on yourself to figure out the shape for that piece… however that’s pretty hard to do on your body! i’ve since gone back and fiddled with the bust dart and upper bodice length because i’ve started working on the strap-y version with a gathered skirt for heather b’s #sewsundress sew-a-long! more on that later, since i have a few dresses planned…

as you can see above, i made a last minute clutch following a tutorial by skirt as top… who happened to post about it the day before the event i needed it for. it was super easy, and even though i’ve never made a zippered bag before, it only took about 45 minutes. win!

last thing, this pattern is rated EASY on the front. i whole-heartedly disagree. getting the front bodice pieces sewn accurately so everything lines up as it should was definitely challenging, and i can only imagine a newbie trying to work that out! and fitting… unless you tend to fit straight out of the envelope, it’s not for the faint of heart (or short on time).

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i have to say, it was fun to set aside the t-shirts and basics sewing to make this dress. and it actually does fill a hole in my wardrobe, since i didn’t have a special occasion dress prior to this! now let’s just hope a few more special occasions come up so i can wear it again. 😉

—lisa g.