Friday, October 2, 2015

Experiments in Sewing - The Paper Gown

Shortly after wearing my daughter's dress to last year's Charity Ball, I began the hunt for a gown that I could sew for the 2015 event.  I found this treasure: Burdastyle Hourglass Lace Gown (11/2014 #121).  I'm not sure what I was thinking when I picked it out in February. It has long sleeves?  It's fitted? Maybe it was on sale.
Does it seem a little too "bombshell" for me?

I finally got the nerve to print out the PDF (64 pages!), but my tracing paper was nearly gone.  While looking for an online source, I came across Swedish Tracing Paper, and I was apparently taken in by the clever marketing: 
  • "Drapably soft, yet strong enough to sew on!" 
  • "Sew the paper pattern and try it on before cutting out your expensive fabric."  
I would have made a toile, anyway, but my muslin stash was also out of stock.  Hmmm, this kills two birds, with one stone.

Well, not really.  You must trace your pattern twice, and the paper is not at all drapable.  It is really a stiff interfacing.  Although it is technically sewable, it tears easily, especially when ripping out stitches.  Admittedly, it is easy to fix a tear by ironing on fusible interfacing.

Adding to my distaste of the tracing paper, the instructions for this pattern were terrible.  I still haven't figured out how the author intended to have the bust cups inserted with lining (I planned to line it by hand, anyway).  I inserted the yokes backwards, and sewed the front pieces incorrectly.  I found the naming conventions difficult to reconcile (what is the difference between "front center" and front middle")? 

After putting the paper gown together, complete with an invisible zipper, I asked my husband's help in zipping it up.  
"It won't zip up all the way." He seemed to struggle with it.
"It zipped up for me just fine.  Is it caught in the paper?  Don't tear the paper!"
More struggling, then he pulled so hard the zipper pull flew right off the top of the zipper.  "I didn't know a zipper could do that." He answered, dumbfounded.  
No photos of me wearing it.

So after unpicking the zipper and sewing in a second, we tried it again. It may be the fact that it is made with paper, instead of a nicely draping fabric (or even a poorly draping fabric), but I couldn't get it off quickly enough after seeing it in the mirror.

I'm not sure why I hated it.  Was it because the yokes were so wide set that I knew the shoulders and sleeves would slip off and annoy me?  Maybe because I could see right through the paper and hated what I saw underneath?  Maybe I expected it to look as good on 5'5" me as it did on a 6' model? Or perhaps I felt as though I had draped myself in Austrian blinds.
Maybe because I felt like I was wearing this.

It is still on the dress form in the dining room, because I hate to give up on it just yet. I could easily extend or shift the yokes toward the center, but I am not sure I want to, so I am searching for an alternative.  I have such a hard time sewing for myself.  I am not sure why!

The good news is that a Joann Fabrics is opening close to home today, so I am off to buy some muslin and see what sort of inspiration I can find.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

McCall's 6884, A Faux Wrap Dress

Continuing my series of "the clothes with no one inside," I present McCall's 6884.  My daughter is wearing it for an in-service today, but I have no pictures of it on her. She told me this morning that it does fit and is "very comfortable." I thought it looked great on the dress form.
McCall's 6884 Front
This is another piece to add to Stephanie's "business" travel wardrobe.  We bought the pattern at least a year ago, and the fabric was from my stash.  It is a viscose crepe jersey originally purchased for a prom dress.  It's a vibrant red, and very cozy.
McCall's 6884 Back
It was quick to cut and sew after minimal pattern work: a nip for swayback, about 2.5" in additional hem length and what I would call a "lazy man's" FBA, which I think I saw on Marcy Tilton's blog some time ago.  I added 1 1/4" to the front length in the vicinity of the bust points, and eased the surplus into the side seam.  I admit that it was a lot of fabric to ease in a small amount of space, but the fabric was very stretchy, so it worked.  On a more stable knit, I may have to do things differently. 
McCall's 6884 Neckline Band

I recall seeing some reviews complaining the neckline was too low cut, so I added a little height when I expanded the bust.  When I draped it on the dress form after sewing the fronts to the backs, I still worried that it was too low, so instead of the narrow hem as in the pattern instructions, I added a neckline band (cut on the cross-grain).  It was stretched while sewn, so it should also help keep the neckline from drooping or gaping. 
McCall's 6884 sleeve band
Another change included adding a band at the sleeve.  After cutting the 3/4-length sleeve, it just seemed too short.  It was also baggy, even though I cut the smallest size sleeve.  Since Stephanie wasn't around to fit, I added 2" in length with a band cut on the cross-grain.  It should be just tight enough to push up or down her forearm.  You can see in the shots above and below that the sleeve was eased quite a bit when sewn to the band.
McCall's 6884
The sleeve and neckline bands add some sporty touches to it, so I hope it doesn't look too casual for Stephanie's purposes.
It is truly flattering on anyone!
I look forward to making this one again.