Friday, January 28, 2022

McCalls 8064, View B

View B of McCalls 8064 is the midi-length v-neck dress with long sleeves. This version was inspired by a dress I bought at Gap that is showing signs of wear from heavy use. Making the dress used 2 3/4 yards of 60" wide rayon/polyester/lycra blend gray brushed sweater knit from Fabric Mart for a cost of $12.25. The fabric is more a brushed jersey than a sweater knit as the actual fabric is just a single knit jersey with no texture. At more than 5 ounces/square yard, or 175 gsm, it is quite warm, while soft and very drapey.

The smallest size in the pattern I have is a large. Although I was sure that would be big enough, I cut the L and cut the waist at XL, adding additional (probably a little too much) figure-forgiving volume. Once I set to sewing, I realized I had repeated the mistake I made last spring when I attempted to cut out a skirt from a pattern that had several different lengths on each piece. I actually cut different lengths for the front and back. In this case, the front pattern piece had two lengths marked and the back had three lengths marked. Since I cut out the back first, I correctly cut the second to the longest length. Cutting the second length on the front meant I cut the shortest length--there were only two lines. If I had double checked myself, I would have had enough fabric to cut the correct length for the front, but I was distracted by concern that there was not enough fabric for the neckband. I was really determined, however, that this dress be longer than the Gap dress. (I have always thought that one too short for winter wear.) Even though my mistake was in the front, I pieced the front so that it is long enough. The brushed knit and heathered fabric almost hide the seam. Still, I am so upset by this mistake, mad at the pattern company for drafting two inconsistent pattern pieces and mad at myself for not catching my mistake. The cut lines are correctly marked. I just did not register the fact that one was B and one was A.

My other (desirable) modifications, reducing the depth of the v-neckline and adding side seam pockets, worked well. Having learned from my last experience sewing knits, I began the side seam by basting it first, checking the fit and then sewing it with the knit stitch. After sewing I trimmed the side seam. I avoided the extra step of trimming on the pockets by sewing both basting and final knit stitching of the pocket seam closer to the edge so that no trimming was needed. I removed the basting from side seam but not from pocket seam, reasoning that the pocket does not need to stretch and might be reinforced by the basting.

Setting in the first sleeve and a quick try on showed the shoulders to be too wide, and possibly, the sleeve cap too short. Also, after gathering the sleeve and basting it in place, the fit was way too tight. The instructions do not call for easing the sleeve into the armhole, even though the sleeve is larger than the armsyce. Since the sleeve was just basted, it was easy to rip out. After recutting the shoulder and setting in the sleeve by stretching the armhole to fit, the shoulders are a good fit--no sleeve cap adjustment was needed.
Now that it has worn and washed it is obvious that this dress is a small success. The brushed fabric did not pill after washing and the seam at the bottom front is less noticeable after washing since the brushing is more fluffy now. The cut is not flattering, however. The next one needs to be smaller overall with more waist definition--in another sweater knit if possible.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Butterick 6525, a dress featuring dolman sleeve with pockets

The fabric recommendations for this pattern include French Terry, Sweatshirt Fleece, Interlock, Ponte, and Jersey. The french terry in my fabric stash was purchased from Fabric Mart, 2 yards of an apple cider/off white tie dye style print on a polyester/rayon/lycra french terry, 61" wide. It is lightweight for a french terry and has more stretch than needed for this pattern--the pattern recommends a "moderate" stretch of 35%. 

It was cut as it came, no washing, since it will be washed on cold and hung to dry. Although the length was a little over two yards, there was not much left over. For the large size, which is the smallest option in pattern I purchased, the longer sleeve version of the dress requires 2 1/8 yards. A large white splotch in the fabric complicated the cutting, but I managed to cut around it, mostly. All pieces were cut to a size L, except for the sleeves, which were cut longer--to the XL length, but shortened by 3" before hemming.  A neckband from another pattern (New Look 6458) was cut out, since other sewists have objected to the turned hem at the neck. 

The sewing was tricky.  As noted (thankfully) by others who have used this pattern, some of the notches do not match. The sewing is further complicated by a lot of top stitching that, although it could be omitted, does highlight the diagonal seams in the front and back. Since the sewing is complex, basting the seams first is advisable. The pattern is marked to denote the beginning and ending of the pocket opening, but there are other marks along the same seam line that confuse that denotation. Since I was using the lightning stitch to allow for some stretching along the seams, ripping out when I used the wrong mark was quite tedious.  The lightning stitch, with the width shortened and the stitches lengthened, works for top stitching, while the "knit" stitch, with the width shortened slightly, works well for seaming if the seam does not need to the pressed open. However, the knit stitch, which looks like _/_/_/,  really would be difficult, if not impossible, to rip out. After sewing the side seams with a 5/8" seam, there is a little extra ease on each side, more than I need for a drapey knit. The only problem with the side seams is making sure the top stitch seams around the inserts and pockets line up in the side seams. Oh, for a serger--and something that marks french terry easily. Regular chalk markers just do not work on the rough wrong side. 

--later--Now that I have purchased a walking foot, sewing this fabric is much easier. A felt tip fabric marker works well for the marking.  The top stitching went well, using the lightning stitch on a .5 width and a 5 length. The only problem was that the double row of top stitching around one of the pockets did not intersect with the top stitching in the side insert. That was a miscalculation that I need to avoid when I make this pattern again. It could be avoided by starting the top stitching at the insert rather than the bottom of the pocket. This fabric is too soft and drapey for this pattern, not surprising due to the rayon content. It was somewhat sheer, but a cool wash and slightly warm dry in the machines tightened it up a bit. Now it is just soft, not great for this pattern, probably good for a top. Although it is stretchy enough for leggings, it will not stay in place and slips into wrinkles at the slightest touch--not a good look for leggings.  It is disappointing that the fabric and the pattern are not a good match.  The first knit tie-dye fabric I purchased was a rayon and poly blend that is the heaviest knit I have found, outside of the jacquard. Assuming that all rayon blend knits would be heavier knits was a mistake. This one is less than 200 gsm. Most true french terrys, especially the ones with cotton in them, are closer to 400 gsm. It all goes to prove that not all french terrys are the same. Lesson learned. 

The neckline in this pattern is simply turned under, without a band. Using the instructions New Look 6458, I added a neck band. It looks good, especially since the top stitching echoes the original design. It definitely adds structure.  Next time, I would cut the front neck a bit deeper, or the back neck a bit higher when I make this again.  The front neckline sits too high on my neck. The fit of the L size is good. The shape is flattering, tapering to a narrow skirt. This would be nice in a heavier fabric, perhaps with a closer fit.

In a more stable fabric, the shape and seaming would be highlighted.  In the meantime, this one can be shortened to a top and worn with the corduroy pinafore I made last summer--once I get the nerve to cut it off.
I really like those pockets, they are worth the extra trouble.  If you think using the wrong french terry was a big mistake, wait till you read about my next make.  I sometimes wonder if I will ever sew a knit I can wear out of the house. However, as limited as my outings are now, that is a question that can wait to be answered.