Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Made by Me Files: Vogue 8915 (Neon Tropical Print Shift Dress) and McCall's 6875 (Enchanted Tea Party Dress).

First up will be the Vogue 8915 Neon Tropical Print Shift Dress, followed by the McCall's 6875 Enchanted Tea Party Dress.

After a few fairly intense sewing projects, I wanted a dress or skirt or top that I could easily sew up for myself, made from a summer friendly fabric.  I ended up deciding on this dress made from Vogue's 8915, which is for a simple shift dress with no facings, and no set-in sleeves.

But because I am me, I made this project take at least three times as long as it should, because I can't ever just be satisfied.  ;-)

What you see above should have taken a day *tops* to create, but with me fussing over every detail, it took me around three days of pattern alterations, choosing pattern layouts on the fabric, sewing the underlining to the main fabric, basting the pieces together for fitting, adding an invisible zipper, finishing the sewing, facing the neckline with a rayon binding instead of just turning and stitching, hemming the armholes and hem, and finally finishing off all the seams with a zigzag stitch.

Having said all that, I wouldn't do it any differently, since I quite like the end product. There are tiny things I would change in retrospect, but I think the extra time was worth it.

Side view.  Do not think for a moment this dress is meant to be anything other than a very easy dress that has little in the way of shaping.  For summer, I don't mind a fitted dress, but sometimes owning a dress that sits away from the body in a breathable fabric is even better.

The length is great, I am happy with where it fell on my body.  I think they had a pretty generous hem allowance, but at 5'8", I knew that making a 3/4" inch hem would be fine (I turned the hem up 3/8" and then again an additional 3/8" so that the linen would be fully enclosed and wouldn't ravel).

Originally my plan was to have those black leaves be at the hemline as a cool border print effect (bonus, the selvedge edge runs below it which would have meant that I could have had a touch longer hemline since I don't have to turn it up as much since the selvedge edge doesn't unravel).

I was sent this piece of fabric from Fabric Mart in one of their "craft bundles," which means the biggest piece you will receive in any bundle will be around 1.5 yards.  This one came at 1.25 yards, which would have fit round my body and been long enough to place the pattern pieces from selvedge edge to selvedge edge (or the straight of grain arrow perpendicular to the selvedge), but because of the kimono style sleeves, the pattern pieces were just a bit too wide to place them that way.  Sad!

So I placed the pieces the traditional manner, with the straight of grain arrow placed how it should be, parallel to the selvedge grain, and noticed that even that way, I still didn't have enough fabric to place both pieces on the fold.  Sigh.  So I cut out the back pattern pieces as two separate pieces with a 5/8" seam at the center back so I could insert a zip.  Don't cry for me, though, since the zip is genius and makes getting in and out of this dress SO easy.  :-)  I don't know that I will ever place this pattern's back on the fold again since the zip is perfection.  (Well, okay, if it's a knit I will since a zip in a stretchy knit is overkill.)

The print looks kind of odd on the back, but it does look intentional and kind of arty, so I'll take it.

Sizing is important here, I went with a small through the shoulders, bust, and waist, but tapered out (using my hip curve ruler) to a size medium.  That still felt a touch too tight at 5/8", so I went ahead and made all my side seams below the waist at 3/8".  I was worried that I chose the wrong pattern size for my skirt, but the medium's ease was more than generous for my pear shape.  Next time I may cut an extra small in the neckline, it felt a bit big there, especially through the back neck.

Belting helps with the shape, but raises the hemline.  Since I was going to Mother's Day mass in this, I wanted to have a bit more coverage.  Will definitely belt this the next time I wear it to give it a different look.  Not going to belt it every time, because it is so comfortable without!

The pockets are fab and placed in a perfect position.  I found myself using them to place my hands all evening.  They are deep enough for a phone and keys and change if that is what you use pockets for, but I carry a bag with me at all times, so I rarely ever use my pockets for that purpose.

You can find the Tropical Riviera Linen Print fabric here--last few yards, though--and since I wasn't super sure that it wouldn't be see-through when wearing it, I underlined it with a Kaufman handkerchief linen I found at fabric.com (you can see it here).  Both fabrics are a cotton/linen blend, so they worked very nicely together.

There was a little bit of wrinkling in the skirt, but minimal compared to what I have seen in linens in the past.  The print helps disguise some of it, too.

I hand-hemmed the armhole hem.  The stitching here is attached to the underlining so it doesn't show on the main fabric.  You can see the original stitching line where I attached the underlining fabric to the main fabric.  It ended up being a great hem marking (roughly 3/8") for the armhole.

Detail of fabric and invisible zip.  You can see where the neckline looks a bit generous.  I mentioned sizing down to an extra small in the neckline next time, but I may also end up deciding to keep the small but adding darts to the upper back, which I have found help me with fit in other patterns, and also look quite posh.

You cans see the rayon seam binding I used as a "facing/support" in the neckline.  I hate wavy necklines, and I felt like if I just turned and stitched the neckline as instructed in the directions, I would have ended up with a wavy, gaping neckline, and since I find most necklines are too big on me anyway, I didn't want to exasperate this issue by not properly finishing the neckline.  Plus the orange rayon binding (vintage like these from an etsy dealer) looks really pretty with the fabric.

You can see how the zip's seam is from the selvedge, so bonus there, no need to finish those seams!

All in all, I can highly recommend this pattern, but bear in mind that if you do it my way it goes from being Very Easy Vogue to somewhere a bit less easy.

This is the dress I made for CW for Easter.  I had chosen the fabric back in December (Riley Blake's Enchanted Tea Party in Lime, here at fabric.com) specifically for Easter since it features a darling little bunny having tea with Little Red Riding Hood.  I didn't know which pattern I would use, I just knew I would make her a dress from this fabric.

After all was said and done the dress ended up being even more perfect for CW since the dress was used again for her school's Manners Tea, where her class read the play "Red Riding Hood."  Umm, hello?  Red Riding Hood was at the tea table with the bunny on her dress.  LOL.  Serendipity, people, serendipity.

The pattern I ended up using was McCall's 6875, which features two styles of  "traditional" girls dresses.  I went with the plainer version, and even after making it up made it even more plain by leaving off the hem band (would have been made from the same fabric as you see in the waistband) and by not adding a long extended tie back to the waistband.

This pattern also has a pattern for a doll dress (same size as all her American girls), but I have yet to make it.  I do have enough fabric, though.

I made this dress in a size 7 (like to size up for a bit more wear, this will fit her until she is 7 at least).  I ended up making the skirt with the size 7 length but the size 5 width since the pattern piece for the size 7 was too wide to fit on the quilting cotton's width of 44 inches.  Whatever.  The skirt was to be gathered and full, so ultimately the size matters very little, unless you really really want to gather that extra two or three inches of extra width.  I frankly am not the biggest fan of gathering, since it takes. SO. LONG, but I love the results, so I am always willing to do it.  Anyhow, you can tell the skirt is still plenty full and very gathered at the slimmer width, so I suggest you do that, too, especially if you are using a fabric whose width is under 50 inches.

The waistband is meant to sort of be a bit more free (you aren't supposed to topstitch it down to the bodice--I only topstitched it to the main fabric, not the lining, fwiw).  I think the deal is you would use the tie end to get the waistband to fit nice and snug, but since I wanted no tie end, I needed the waistband to fit properly from the get-go.  Figuring out how to make that work when the instructions where telling me something else was a bit of a mind-bender, but not totally out of my skill set, either.

I think it is really important to make sure the back waistband lines up properly if you choose to do what I did, since it would be really obvious if the pieces didn't line up.  I managed that, and in my first attempt with a plaid, I even managed to get the plaid's pattern to sort of line up at the seam junction.  (Not intentional, really, pure luck.  LOL.  I'll take it, though.)

Close up of the gathers, waistband, and the adorable print.

I was asked by McCall's at my Pattern Review review of this dress if I would be okay with them publishing this version of the pattern at their Facebook page, and of course I was all, "umm, yeah, of course!"  I can't believe that they noticed my version.  I am pretty excited! UPDATE: It made it on the facebook page. Yay!

BTW, if you want to try the girls pattern, I suggest going over to As Reasonable As Can Be Expected.  She has a lot of versions of this dress, and I found her work to be very helpful to me in the early stages of sewing this up.

Okay, that's it for now.  Anyone else give these patterns a go?  

My reviews of these two patterns at Pattern Review can be found here for the Vogue dress, and here for the McCall's dress.