Wednesday, August 8, 2012

McCalls 6559 - x 2

I started seeing versions of this McCalls 6559 all over the sewing blogs earlier in the summer.  I might have just passed right over this pattern if I had not seen so many awesome versions!  In fact, I like the pattern so much I've made two for myself!

One thing I have learned from this pattern is this: now that I have more experience, I tend to make things harder for myself than they need to be.  I guess it's my desire to be creative and make something a bit more unique, but to be honest it's really annoying sometimes.  Case and point: it is possible to make this dress with only 2 pieces; a front and a back.  ONLY TWO PIECES!  Sew up the shoulders and the sides, hem and your good to go for a cute maxi dress!  But what did I do instead?  I decided "no, I need to do the version with all the crazy stripes and not the 2 piece version that would probably take an hour."

You're probably thinking "but this is not a maxi," and you're right.  It's not.  It was supposed to be...but it's not.  And I've decided I'm ok with that and I do like the dress anyways.  So what went wrong, you ask?  My cutting went wrong.  Very very wrong.  I folded my fabric and then cut the back piece on the fold. Totally normal; nothing weird there.  BUT, the pieces for the front side were very oddly shaped, and I really should have created a fold on a third of the fabric and not folded the entire piece in half because unfortunately it was almost impossible to fit those weird pattern pieces into the sides around where I cut out the back.

Even with the awkward cutting, I DID get all of the pieces cut out.  So, you ask, why is it still not a maxi?  Well, this is where the rookie mistake comes in.  I am so used to cutting out fabric folded over, so you end up with two of the same piece and it doesn't really matter which one is facing which direction because you have both covered (do you see where I'm going with this?).  So to fit the odd shaped pieces on the fabric, sometimes I had to turn the pattern pieces over.  This is a problem when you're cutting on a single layer (DUH!!!) because some of your pieces will be backwards.  And that is exactly what I had: 2 backwards pieces and 2 correct pieces...and no more fabric...and this was the end of the bolt.  AHHHHHHH!!  And so a maxi became a mini, and live goes on.  I was definitely disappointed though.

Things I don't like: the pattern has you fold down the neckline and stitch as a way of finishing it.  That's fine, but I feel like it's a bit uneven and it would have been better with a facing of some kind.  Same for the armholes as well.  I'm also having some trouble with this fabric stretching out at the shoulders even though I used some twill tape as a stay (I guess it's pretty heavy). I also learned my lesson about not pre-washing fabric, because even though I don't use any hot and I hang it to dry, there is some buckling in places now from shrinking (it's 100% cotton knit...shoulda known better).

I was still determined to make a maxi dress, so I decided to make another version.  I found 1.5 yards of white lace in the remnant bin at Hancocks and so the idea was born to make a lace maxi dress since lace seems to be everywhere this summer.  Once again, I took a simple pattern and made it more difficult than necessary, but it was still easier than the first version.  I at least used the version with just 2 pieces this time.

The main issue I had with this dress was that the remnant was not cut straight, so I couldn't get the full length that I was hoping for (that was annoying).  The bottom is actually straight, by the way, I'm just standing weird.  I also decided to make my life easier by cutting out the underlining and the lace at the same time (I just put them together and folded them as one piece and then did my pinning and cutting).  I really don't have much advice about whether that was a good or bad decision.  I probably should have not been so lazy because the pieces didn't match up as well as they could have, but I really hate cutting out pieces.

I wasn't entirely happy with the neckline of the first dress, so this time I attached the lining to the front, flipped it to the inside, and under-stitched it down.  I like the polished look much better. I wanted to do that with the armholes too, but I would have had to turn the whole dress right-side out through those tiny little straps...wasn't gonna I just turned the edges under and stitched them.

I used the racer-back piece for the first dress, so I used the other one for this dress.  I had the same gaping problem with both dresses but I added a couple of shoulder darts to the first one and I haven't done that to this one yet.  I probably will though and if I make this dress again I'll try to remember to adjust the length of the back neckline as it's too long for me. I didn't hem the bottom of the dress because I didn't want to lose any length and these fabrics don't fray, but I will say that the polyester knit I used has major static cling issues!  That's why you can see a hint of blue peeking out at the bottom but it's usually not there.

I really like this pattern and I'm sure next summer I'll crank out some more because it's really a simple pattern.  I think next time I'll just buy some knit fabric, cut out the 2 pieces, and not try anything fancy!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Butterick 5744

I just finished another dress that I absolutely love!  And it was really easy to put together (and more importantly it is super comfortable!).  I started with an inspiration from Anthropologie:

I love the way the fabric hangs, the ruffled neckline, and that it's a mock wrap (I think).  I love the fabric too, but I wasn't married to it as the absolute only option.  When I saw Butterick 5744 I waited for a sale and I snapped it up because it's perfect (not so much the model, but the drawings).

I like that this is a mock wrap dress because the real thing requires an ungodly amount of fabric (and I am a remnant shopper about 90% of the time; more than 2 yards is like finding the needle in a haystack). I did find some fabric that I liked on sale for like $2.50 per yard (score!) so I was on my way.

I only put a ruffle on the front wrap piece because a) I didn't want too much bulk where the pieces come together and b) I cut the other ruffle out wrong and didn't have enough fabric to fix it (so, basically the first reason was born from the second reason...but I like it this way better so no biggie).  It's kind of hard to see the ruffle because the print is pretty busy, but it's more obvious in person.

Here's the dress without the belt.  The seam allowance between the bodice and the skirt is closed in to create a casing for the elastic.  The elastic makes this dress easy to get over my head (the neckline makes this possible too) and it creates some shape at the waist.  I really like this method for putting in elastic because closing in the seam allowance is very simple as long as you make it large enough in the first place.  I know I'm improving in my sewing skills when I actually thought about that ahead of time and made sure to leave enough room to add elastic!  Go me!  No rookie mistakes here!

Warning: the hemline on the skirt is already quite short!  I usually have to hack off a few inches to get this length, but it was basically already there!  I had to create a very shallow hem by folding about 1/4 inch. and then folding again about 3/8 in. for a total of about 5/8in.

The bodice is completely lined, which gave a nice, neat finish to the neckline and the armholes.  I used a lightweight muslin for the lining because it's very breathable and light.  I tried to understitch as best as I could, but since you sew the neck and armholes at the same time and then turn rightside out, it's impossible to reach some of the seams.  Oh well, I have come to terms with pressing and not hating my iron (which I used to avoid like the plague), so I can press the seams after washing.

Speaking of pressing, this fabric hated it, so I used quite a bit of starch to iron it into submission.  I'm almost positive that it's polyester of some kind so the rebelliousness is not surprising.  It's also quite sheer, so the lining was necessary.  I didn't line the skirt because I ran out of muslin, but I can just wear a slip under it so not a big deal.

I'm really happy with how this dress turned out, especially because it really didn't take much time and it didn't cause me any problems.  It is sooooooo comfortable and fits great, so I think it will get a lot of wear.  I also like the color because I don't have a whole lot of red in my closet, but bright colors look good on me in general because my skin is like a blank, pasty canvas.


I went to Hancocks today to get this:

...but I came home with this:

What can I say?  I'm a sucker for the remnant bin!  All of these are at least 1 1/2 yards (some over 2!) and I can do a lot with a little bit of fabric.  All of this (including the notions I actually needed) was only $50!  I call that a homerun.  I think I'm set for awhile...