Sunday, August 29, 2010

McCalls 6028. The not so perfect sheath.

This dress took me a good 6 months to make. Basically it's been one problem after another and then I left it for ages in an unfinished state. However, back in January, when I saw the black and white dress I loved it and thought it would be a simple enough to make given my long sewing hiatus.

I made a combination of views A and B. I used 2 sateens from Gardams fabrics. However, I found the wording confusing and ended up buying the wrong amount of fabric for the middle panel. In my mind, this was the 'contrast' fabric, and the outside was the main dress. But it's the other way around. Handy! Luckily I wanted the back panel to be black so it ended up being ok, otherwise I would not have had enough fabric if I'd followed the pattern completely.

Next up, I cut the size 12, which was the closest to my measurements on the back of the envelope. It was massive when I sewed it together and I ended up making major adjustments. I did do some tissue fitting to my dress form to begin with and it seemed ok, but I have now learnt to fit the pattern to me in first instance.

One of the things I liked about this dress was the detailing on the princess seams. I decided to try piping for the first time using the contrast fabric. To make the piping I used this tutorial by Tea Rose and then the sewing technique described by Claire Shaeffer.

In fact, the piping is probably the one thing that turned out well on this dress!

After constructing the dress and finding it much too big, one place I altered it was the shoulder seams. I took the dress up about 2cm. This made princess seams on the top front sit higher, which was better. However, this adjustment led to major gaping in the front. There was no easy way to recify this, and I eventually had to unpick the front top section with the piping and shift the seams in.

Something weird also happened to the back. I had far too much fabric across my shoulder blades. I ended up having to take it in about 5cm on either side of the zip at the top, and then taper it in.

Originally I sewed the facing as per the instructions, but it combined with the high neck made the dress far too hot for Queensland. The facings had to go. I also sewed the cap sleeves in to begin with with, but again, it made the dress too hot and they looked odd, so they also had to go.

I lowered the neckline by about 5cm at the back and 2 cm at the front. I think this looks better on me, and it certainly feels much better. I then finished the armscyes and neckline with  piping and made my own kind of mini facing/binding which I stitched into place on seams to stop it showing.

After all the problems I had with this dress I don't know if I even like it anymore. I'm still not convinced that it looks 'right', especially at the back. Maybe a belt would help?

It's not quite warm enough to wear just yet without a jacket or cardi, but I may debut it in the next couple of weeks. There is a lot of black and white coming into the shops for spring, so I feel like I should take advantage and wear the dress at least once given the effort I've gone to. And I still love the floral pattern in the centre panel.

Maybe I'll turn it into a top next!


  1. I think the piping really makes this dress sing! I know you had challenges getting it to fit but it really is a beautiful dress!

  2. That piping looks fabulous, and your dress looks really great from the front! Doesn't look too bad from the back, but it's hard too tell from the photo. Maybe accept a tiny bit of imperfection so you can show off the brilliant aspects? I had a sewing teacher who would say that there will probably always be something you will be unhappy with in each of your projects. And I realized if this is the case, it has to be the same with RTW as well.

  3. The princess seams and the piping really stand out. Thanks for showing that... I think I'll look thru my patterns. That is so frustrating when a pattern turns out way bigger than the measurement say. That happens to me all the time, and then I spend 3 times as much time fixing the fit as it would have taken to sew. Why do they size them so big? So then the next item, I cut one size smaller and they trick me... Grrrr. You ended up with a lovely dress.

  4. Soooo beautiful:)))