Thursday, October 27, 2022

McCalls 7650 and McCalls 8055

I consider this my special occasion contingency outfit. A little dressy, but comfy enough for casual wear. After looking everywhere for a mauve python print knit fabric like the one I saw a Craftsy instructor display, I settled and ordered a similar fabric from JoAnn. Hers was a scuba knit, this one is a jersey that is 90% viscose, 10% spandex and 57" wide. I got 2 yards from for $13.58. Using the long a-line skirt view from McCalls 8055, I replaced the pattern's simple elasticized waistband with my successful fold-over waistband mod, using a ribbed gray rayon/poly/lycra knit from Fabric Mart. Although the slanted pockets I designed with that waistband worked well on the slim skirts, simple side-seam pockets were enough in this A-line skirt. Note to self: the pockets sit a little low; raise them if you repeat this make.

For the top, there was 4 yards of Matte Black 100% cotton Tissue Jersey Knit 44" wide, also from Fabric Mart for a total of $12. Since this top, cut from McCall's 7650, used less than half of that, fabric cost is only $6. That's good, because this fabric was badly biased and would not pull straight. I am not sure I can cut from it again. It is heavier than what I would consider tissue weight fabric, with a rough texture prior to washing. However, after a couple of wears and washes, it feels smooth. If this style stays in fashion, repeating this make would be a good thing. In fact, another shirt from the rest of this fabric would be a good thing. Perhaps washing the remaining fabric would shrink and straighten it.
The dress pattern was modified to make the top, adding the sleeve ruffle I used when I first made the dress and shortening the bodice by a couple of inches before adding a hem ruffle. The neckline is a bit too wide and does not stay in place well. A neckband would be a nice addition to this pattern.

ETA: I have merged here a post about another skirt in this pattern, one of the shorter flared versions. This one was sewn in May, 2021 after I had finished a bleached denim dress from the New Look 6458 pattern. Since the fabric was exceptionally heavy and comfortable (a rayon blend) for a jersey knit fabric, I bought a skirt pattern for it on Hobby Lobby's $2 pattern sale, McCalls 8055. There was enough fabric left over for the slim skirt but I had my heart set on the flared one. There was just enough for the shortest version of the flared skirt, barely, a 19" length, in a size 18, reversing the nap for the back. There is a little shading in this knit, but the variation in the print hides it.

Apparently, I cut the wrong length for the front, the 23" length, and then cut the correct length in the back. The next morning, although the difference in lengths was obvious, I decided to re-cut the pieces to allow a longer length. With a yoke across the top of the back, trimming the size 18 down to a 10, and piecing the waistband, it became a wearable skirt in spite of the error. The pattern itself is simple and the visible hem on my S3 looks great.  Otherwise, I used a knit stitch for the seams and a knit zig zag for the edgings.  I used the edge stitch that comes after the standard over edge stitch for top stitching the yoke seam in the back. Not perfect for that purpose, but ok. This is where a serger or coverstitch machine would come in handy, but if I cut patterns correctly, I won't need one for this pattern. I just need a nice medium weight knit, 1 1/2 yards of 60" would be more than enough.
This is the front

This is the back, with yoke
There are just small scraps left of this fabric, so I am allotting the rest of the purchase price to the skirt, $6. I have actually worn this skirt quite often during the summer.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Drafting Simple Sewing Patterns

How to: Watch a couple of online classes on pattern drafting, select cute, inexpensive fabrics and keep it simple. If the pattern is complicated, you will better balance reward and effort by finding a commercial pattern that has the elements you want.

The first pattern I drafted was based on the Craftsy class on making a custom A-line skirt. A pocket is on the right side. The zipper is on the left. Two darts each for front and back were copied from the slim skirt pattern, Simplicity 8192. A second pair of darts in the back is an option. If I make both the front and back larger (see comment in next paragraph about front), I can use both darts. Bias binding was used to finish the waist on the inside. The back and front are sewn together with 5/8" seam allowances. Since the skirt was a little too small, I reduced the right side seam allowance to 3/8". Still, there was not quite enough room.

Once I sewed bias binding on an inch into the waist to make it a little bigger, the fit was good. (Since the side seams taper outward, lowering the waist made it larger. The next one will need extra fabric at the front, using this one to alter the pattern. The bias binding was wide enough to put 1/4" elastic through it. That made a better fit for the waist and a more comfortable skirt. The hem was 2 1/2" deep, so the next one could be shorter if there is not enough fabric.

It is very cute, and the fit is good after the extra adjustments. After washing and wearing, it has stretched out and is comfortable, but baggy in the back. A more form-fitting one in the back might be more flattering, but it might not work well for sitting. This is, after all, an a-line skirt, not meant to fit below the hip curve.

The fabric is quilting cotton from JoAnn, 42" wide, 2 yards, $10, purchased for the circle skirt pattern but not enough. (The pattern envelope for the circle skirt lists 2 yards of 45" fabric as required for View A, the shortest option. However, what with the width being 3" narrower and the fact that the shortest option is very short, getting that pattern out of this length of fabric did not seem possible.) Although the print is very cute, the quality of this fabric is not great. The finish is soft without the sheen of the quilting cotton I bought at Taos Quilting. There's only so much one can judge from online photos. Another version would require either 2 yards of a narrow cotton or less of wider fabric.

The second self-drafted pattern was simpler to design but more difficult to sew. Cut, sew, gather eternally. That is my memory of the maxi skirt I threw together from thrifted fabric. The cutting was quick and easy, just measure and cut without a pattern. The sewing was simple, the tiers are stitched together at the sides to make loops of fabric and the top tier gets a folded-over band for elastic. The gathering, which required sewing the long bottom loops three times each, twice for gathering and once for seaming, exhausted my patience.

A second version would need a little change to the pieces if I want to add pockets. I found good consistent instructions across several websites -- it is reassuring when you see the same thing more than once. The first tier should be 1.5 times the waist measurement, the second 2 times the waist and the third 2.7 times the waist. But the length of each tier was less consistent. I went with what I considered most flattering, the first tier ending at my low hip, the second just above my knee and the third at my ankle. It looks ok, but the first tier is too short for side seam pockets.

This is a "boho" look skirt. As such, it suits me better than most of my makes, reviving those hippie days. The fabric is embroidered, tuck stitched and tie dyed a bright turquoise and indigo. I paid $10 for the entire piece and there is a little left. I made both these skirts last summer and have worn them frequently.