Sunday, September 26, 2010

McCalls 6123

I got sidelined on the sewing train lately; I got the foolish notion to strip the wall paper from my master bath and renovate the bathroom. The wall paper stripping nearly killed me - it was as awful as everyone had warned me about - and the exhaustion I experienced from a week of nightly wall paper stripping triggered an MS attack of biblical proportions. (I asked VickiW to shoot me, and she volunteered her husband as a excellent shot.) But I survived, and today I finally finished the McCalls 6123 dress with my Singapore Silk: How busty does this dress make me look? Big enough to where I am self-conscious about it!!! I really am only a B cup, but the gathers in this bodice make me look like Dolly Parton's sister. : ) The dress actually hangs straighter than this photo leads you to believe; the wind was blowing when this was taken. Here's the back:
Here's an inside shot which shows the colors a bit more true:

This dress was fun to make. I used the same fabric for the bodice as I did for the lower part of the dress, but I reversed the fabric near the hem to make it subtely different. I will say that this dress pattern is made with LOTS of ease. The smart thing to do with this pattern is to make a muslin, but do as I say and not as I do. I didn't make one. Fortunately, the finished garment measurements are printed on the envelope and pattern, and I went from that. This is how large this dress runs: I usually make a size 12; I made a size 6. Now admittedly, the 6 is a tad tight, which is what is making me look like I had breast augmentation. Next time, I'll make this in a size 8.
A couple of things about this pattern. The original instructions have you cut out the gold bands, press up one edge 3/8 of an inch and sew them to the dress pieces. I didn't have the patience for all that, so I just figured out what measurement the bands would finish at, doubled that, and added the seam allowance. Then I folded the band in half length-wise and pressed it. I figured doing it this way wouldn't add too much bulk, given that I was working with silk, and I was right. Unfortunately, my math was wrong. I should have cut out the gold bands at 2 1/4 inch for them to finish at 1/2 inch. Instead, I cut them out at 3 1/4 inch, so they finished at 1 inch. I think, though, I am happier with the gold bands being 1 inch than if they had been 1/2 inch.
Another thing: I believe the patterns for the middle front and back gold bands were wrong - I believe they should have been reversed. Pattern piece 25 should have been 26 and vice-versa. I didn't test this out, though, and I just made one long band and pinned it around the lower dress section, tucking the end into the folded edge of the opposite end. I did the same for the gold hem band.
Kay Whitt designed this pattern for McCalls and I discovered that Ms. Whitt has no interest in clothing that is "de-constructed". For example, every seam was edge stitched and then top stitched, as well. Here's a photo of the top gold band just under the bust:
And for every opening, such as the neckline and armhole, not only did you stitch the seam, but then the opening was understitched, edge stitched, and top stitched. At first I thought this was a bit of over-construction, but as I progressed, I found that all this stitching really helped hammer this silk into submission. I don't know if I would have done all this stitching had I been working with cotton, but with the silk, it was worth it.
While working on this pattern, I discovered that Kay Whitt has a book out with other patterns for skirts, dresses, and jackets, so I bought it:

I love the skirt on the cover and that is probably the first pattern from the book I'll make. (The book comes with full size tissue patterns of all the designs featured.) The patterns in the book are like the McCalls 6123 - the garments are made using different, but coordinating fabrics. This is perfect for the silks I was using, or the designer collections you find in your LQS. Every quilt store should sell this book - the clothes are way cute and are perfect for the coodinating fabrics on display. It got me thinking about those feedsack fabrics I still have - rather than trying to get one garment from one feedsack, I could take several feedsacks that coordinate and make a skirt or dress. Hmmm, more possibilities.

Also while I was working on this dress, I discovered a moth had eaten a hole in the sleeve of one of my favorite sweaters. I cut off the bottoms of both sleeves, making them three quarters length, and added half inch pink silk bands to the end of the sleeves, using Ms. Whitt's edge stitch and top stitch technique:
The colors match so well that I am thinking of cutting off the turtleneck of this sweater and making it a cardigan, trimming it in more of the silk colors I used in the dress. I could then wear the sweater with the dress, covering my voluminous bosom, and thus enabling me to wear this in public throughout the autumn. : ) We'll see.
Next up: a shirt for the Carpenter. I bought two patterns at McCalls 99 cent sale: an easy one and a harder one. I'll start with the easy one in a cheap homespun plaid I got for a song at Joanns and see where I go from there.
Parting Shot: About a month ago the Carpenter and I went to Appamattox Plantation where General Grant had his headquarters during the seige of Petersburg. The house was originally built in the 1700s and was owned by the Epps family for over 300 years. It was a beautiful day:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sinapore Swag!

Look what I got! The Carpenter's sister and brother-in-law went to Sinapore and brought me back four gorgeous silks they bought on Arab Street:

They are sumptuous. Here is a photo where the colors are more true:
Each piece is about 2 yards, and I spent last weekend laying out various patterns to eke a dress out of the blue/gold piece. But at 2 yards, I would have barely enough for a dress even with a TNT pattern (that's for you, Anne). Prudence would dictate that any pattern I used needed a muslin, rather than just jumping into cutting all that luscious silk. I was trying to show some restraint, but as VickiW and Anne pointed out, why start now? I then thought about making a skirt from the gold charmuse and blouses from the other three fabrics, thus guaranteeing me that I would have enough fabric but that wasn't thrilling me.

The Carpenter's sister and BIL aren't sewers but they did a marvelous job of picking silks that beautifully coordinate with each other: So I looked around the internet for a possible dress pattern to use these silks in the best possible way and found this pattern:
It's McCalls 6123, and I think it is what I need. I can use most, if not all, the fabrics and not worry about yardage. After seeing this on the web, I found out that Anne had already made a muslin of it, with hilarious results (ask VickiW about it!). This pattern runs big. Real big. Fortunately, the pattern envelope provides the finished garment measurements, so I already know I won't be making my usual size 12; I'll probably be using size 8 or even size 6. Given that I know the finished measurements, I'll again throw caution to the winds and not bother with the muslin. A great project for the Labor Day weekend!

Parting Shot: A long time friend sent me this photo taken in the summer of 1981, when I was 17 and living in Saudi Arabia. It is an absolute hoot. I'm on the far left drinking the soda:

We are clearly in the middle of the desert, but I have no idea where, what we were doing, or why we were trying to look so cool. The real interesting thing is that I only recognize 2 other people in the picture. I have absolutely no idea who everyone else is. No clue. But what I DO remember is what I am wearing. I remember those exact pair of jeans (Levi's, of course). I remember the blouse (white lace with blue ribbon) and I certainly remember those white sandles which I not only wore all summer in Saudi, but all through Europe on a trip with my mother - Italy, Germany, Sweden. My grandmother used to tell me that she could always date photos by what she was wearing - she remembered her clothing more than the events! I guess I'm the same. : )