I’m currently in the midst of a sewing frenzy; with less than two weeks to go before we head off on our summer holidays, I’m frantically trying to sew enough things to pack! Given the lack of time, I was looking for patterns that met certain criteria;
- they need to be relatively quick to sew;
- a flattering shape but not restrictive in any way;
- can preferably be made up in lightweight breathable fabrics and
- are easy care once made – i.e. can be washed, dried and put back on again in next to no time – ideally without having to meet an iron.
I was able to choose two McCalls patterns as a prize from the lovely Kate at The Foldline for my M6696 Shirtdress a little while back and thinking of my summer wardrobe, I snatched up M7116 and M7119 – both looked relatively simple and needed lightweight wovens.
I decided to sew View A of M7116 first – the spaghetti strap version – it’s essentially a semi-fitted pullover dress with a side seam zip. I chose a lovely floral viscose print. Let me say that again in case you weren’t paying attention… a floral print! A print that is floral! Flowers on fabric. As unradical a choice that may sound to you, let me make it clear that it was something of a departure for me. Purging my wardrobe earlier in the year has allowed me to rethink and I find myself choosing things I’d previously been wary of; whether this is a sign of increased confidence or simply Middle Aged Madnesss I’m not sure. I’m pretty sure I don’t care either way!
So back to the fabric…it’s a gorgeously soft viscose; the first with purple flowers on a dark navy background and the second with bright pink ones (see here). Both are opaque enough to not need lining. The flowers themselves are just the right size, not big enough to be screaming in your face nor small enough to fall into the chintz category. I set about tracing out the pattern. I wasn’t going to bother making a toile – time’s short and quite frankly I’m all toiled out – I’d rather stick pins in my eyeballs at the moment. I cut out based on the finished measurements (i.e sized down) and took in the underarm seams by a further 0.25″ each as well as raising the armscye by 0.5″, which I’ve found I had to do on previous McCalls patterns. It worked out great. I then graded down at the hip (a standard alteration for me).
The bodice of this dress is essentially a gathered bra-let type affair with the remaining dress being cut on the bias and semi-fitted. As a precaution, I cut out on the single fold and edgestitched all my pieces straight away to stop seams stretching out during construction and handling. Apart from that, it’s a super quick sew.
The armholes are finished with a bias cut strip of fabric which, since it’s simply pressed in half and sewn with raw edges aligned, makes for a quick, clean finish.
The neckline is finished with a simple fold-over elastic casing. The instructions ask you to cut out two specific lengths of elastic and insert those. Don’t do that. Mark the required length on a longer piece and feed that through, pinning at the marked end points. Then adjust to fit. I ended up taking out about 1.5″ from the back piece to get it to fit flush with my back. Since I knew I’d be wearing these dresses with a regular bra, I used the width of the straps of that as my guide.
The instructions then say to adjust your strap lengths, which are already sewn in at the back, and sew them in to meet the front neckline. I waited until I’d sewn the skirt on as this gave me a much better idea of how it sat.
The way McCalls have you insert the side zip is also fantastically easy. You could, of course, insert an invisible zip here but I wanted to try this method out. Simply place your zip face down on a basted together seam and sew in. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. It produces a much neater enclosed finish than I was expecting. Bonus.
I was so pleased with the finished dress, which I pretty much put together in one sitting. The bias skirt is gorgeous, it adds a lovely touch to such a simple dress; the fabric skims the body beautifully without being clingy. In fact, I liked it so much I immediately sewed another, its pink twin.
I want to sew another in yellow. Yes, yellow. I’ve never worn yellow in my life – unless it was something knitted by my Mum was I was young enough not to object. But yellow I want!! I also want to do View D when I get back from holiday…I can see that transitioning nicely into Autumn.
Hope you’ve all got a great summer planned! Me? I’m cutting out M7119!
Until next time sewing friends,