Friday, September 13, 2013

McCall's 5818

When I discovered OOP McCall's 5818 (through reviews on of course), I wanted it!  The simple dress is exactly the type of garment I like to sew and wear.  I like the other pieces (except for the crazy large lapels on the jacket), but honestly, I doubt I'll ever sew them.  I bought this one for the dress.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, even though I used crazy fabric (see more below)

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Instructions are very detailed and have lots of information on fitting using the Palmer/Pletsch methods, however I don't like their construction process for this dress. I prefer an all machine clean finish. Nicegirl/Slapdash has an excellent tutorial on her blog. This dress is quite narrow at the shoulders, so I needed the long handle of a plastic cooking spoon to help push the fabric through.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Talk about bang for your buck, this pattern has it all! I mostly bought it for the dress though since that's what I like to wear when I'm not working.

The lining for this dress includes the neckline pleats which seams odd to me because this could create unnecessary bulk.  Since this was my first time making it, I decided to go with the pattern.  I think for future versions (and given my satisfaction with the finished project, there likely will be more!) I will convert the neckline pleats to bust darts for the lining. 

McCall's 5818 line drawing

Fabric Used:

Not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed... It's a cotton/poly shower curtain (seems like a mid-weight twill) that I bought from Marshall's for $15, and I lined it with some lightweight white cotton from old sheets. I sew with lots of vintage silk saris, which doesn't embarrass me at all, but using a shower curtain is a departure from my normal projects.  I just loved the print though!  I wore this to my husband's cousin's afternoon wedding and hoped none of the guests had this shower curtain hanging in their bathroom, or it would have been a bit embarrassing.. HAHA

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I used a very large border print and spent HOURS agonized over the layout.  I copied the pattern so that I was working with full pieces, that were not folded.  This helped me more accurately determine the layout.  Since the print is so bold, I was concerned about inappropriate placement, and about transitions at the side seams, which I thought would be a bit jarring and detract from the design.  The best option I came up with was to invert the pieces for the back, so that I could semi-match the one side seam.  I hope the inversion is less obvious than having a drastic color change at both sides.  Since the blue flower was a bit more eye-catching, I chose to match it rather than the grey.  The center back seam is contoured, so only part of it could be matched.  I decided the very large flower on my bum was taking priority!

I thought the back neckline pleats were a nice design detail but they created quite a problem.  If you read the Palmer/Pletsch book, they do talk a good bit about how forward shoulders and high round back are becoming more common in younger people due to our computer work, and I think they've built this into the dress design.  While I technically have both, mine aren't severe, so I rarely adjust for it.  The pleats were too much in my heavier fabric and created a giant *pouf* over the shoulder blades that made me look like the hunchback of Notre Dame.

 My quick fix for this, since I didn't make a muslin, was to change the back pleat to a dart and create a seam joining it with the back waistline dart to eliminate the extra fabric over the shoulder blades.  This also revealed that the back neckline was a bit too large, so I then deepened the neckline pleat to remove the excess.  I also didn't like how high the back was (since this makes it difficult for me to zip) so I lowered it 1.5 inches.  I also prefer back necklines slightly lower in case I wear a necklace.  In future versions, I would probably attempt to redraft the upper back and neckline to eliminate the back neckline dart completely and avoid the extra bulk over the shoulder blades.  Mahogany Stylist mentioned that she normally makes a prominent shoulder blade adjustment, but didn't find it necessary in this dress, which confirms my findings.

lowered back neckline

after lowering neckline, increased pleat and merged with dart

I made a straight 10 and only hemmed it 1/4 inch more than the pattern suggested!  I was really excited to have something fit so well with no other adjustments necessary.  That never happens for me unless the skirt is full, because I normally must size the waist down to a 9 and the hips down to an 8 or a 6.  Consider this cautionary if you're pear shaped and measure carefully before cutting.

Since the shoulders are so narrow, I also added lingerie carriers to prevent bra straps from crawling out.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Such a great basic but a bit more interesting than a plain sheath. I love simple dresses, usually because I like difficult fabrics haha. 


It's literally 2 pieces (front and back) plus a lining!  A simple sheath dress is a great staple and this one can be made with only 1 1/4 yards of 45" inch fabric (made in size 10 and not including your lining of course).  Once you work out any fit issues, this one can be a great canvas for indulging in expensive fabric.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My first Burda. Burda Magazine 12-2008-103 Daphne Dress

This is my first Burda and the instructions are sparse. I didn't use them anyway due to a few changes.  Plus, there's the weird Burda sizing to deal with.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love the one shoulder design and how the back portion of the strap extends to the front and the nice pleating detail.

Fabric Used:
This is an inside out dress haha. The fashion fabric is a linen cotton blend and its lined with leftover sari silk. The silk looks pretty, but the grain is so uneven that it isn't really suitable for many applications. Unfortunately I made a dress with it before this one and I'm not quite happy with the results due to the grain issues.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I made 1" wide interfacing pieces (that I fused to the lining) for all neckline and armholes to stabilize the fabric and prevent stretching. I like this approach better than their method which doesn't stabilize the armsyces.

I didn't pay close enough attention when I traced this pattern, so I didn't notice that the front bodice lining isn't a full lining piece, but a partial with a neckline facing. I figured this out when sewing the lining in, and everything wasn't matching up! I just ended up cutting the facing and sewing it to the lining rather than cutting a whole new one piece bodice lining.

I swapped the skirt for a variation on my TNT. I was concerned the pleats on the original would result in too much poofiness over the tummy. My TNT skirt actually has a CB seam, but I wanted to eliminate this since the back bodice is princess seamed. It's pretty close to the original TNT but with slightly less shaping.

This skirt is different than what's typically provided with patterns, as it is slightly bell/tulip shaped and has very small and shallow front darts. Often the conventional skirts make me look like a barrel because they have too much tummy and hip ease. If I don't define the hip curve, my waistline disappears.

When lining up my TNT with the bodice to match the pleats/seams, I noticed the bodice waist measurement was a little large, so I was able to adjust this before cutting.

I had to add a couple of small darts to the front bodice into the waist seem and deepen the skirt darts slightly because it was just a bit sloppy at the waist. I also took the back neckline a touch, but it still gapes unless the bodice is sitting at a very precise angle. It looks like the back neckline is stretched out, but it was stabilized with interfacing so I think it just needs to be adjusted. This dress is also slightly long in the bodice for me, but I didn't care enough to take it apart.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Meh. Maybe. Maybe not. It's ok, but I don't love it. If I make it again, I'll have to make a few additional changes to the pattern.

I wanted to sew this in a really vibrant duipioni for my husband's cousin's wedding, but wasn't sure if the one shoulder design would work with my body. I wanted to make a more casual version first to test the look since diagonal lines typically increase you in both height and width. I'm only 5'5" (ok 5'4 1/4" but I'm an optimist) so heigth is good, but with one shoulder, I'm drawing that diagonal line at my absolute widest part (my massive shoulders and ribs) so you can see why I was concerned with the width issue. By taking it in a bit at the waist and narrowing the bottom of the skirt, this helps to define the curve of my lower body and makes the dress much more flattering for me. Still not sure the one shoulder design is the best for my broad shoulders though.