Continuing my challenge to expand my wardrobe stylistically, I can now tick “maxi dress” off my list. Yes that’s right in a decade of sewing I have never made a maxi dress for myself. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a shop bought one either!!
Meet New Look 6692; a dress from last summer that I finally got round to. It’s a stunner of a square neckline dress pattern with midi length finish, and optional puff sleeves and skirt ruffle length variations. There are POCKETS and a simple tie at the upper back to stop the shoulders falling off.
The centre back bodice is supposed to be sewn with channels that you feed flat elastic through. But given the panel wasn’t too big I decided to sew rows of shirring elastic to cinch the back. I folded the back panel WST and sewed my rows. Then I encased the panel between the outer and lining side back pieces for a neat finish on the inside.
I skipped the side seam zipper as the shirring made it easy to get on over my head. And as you can see it’s maxi length BUT I didn’t need to alter anything for that… as I’m a diddly 5ft4 the length hits me at the ankle rather than a midi.
This luscious lemon fabric is from Abakhan Mostyn. I’ve written many times about how I love finding treasure in the Abakhan remnant baskets. The baskets make up a good 50% of the dressmaking section in Mostyn and I found this lemon cotton sateen quite quickly. There was 3m and it’s quite lightweight, so it was perfect for this dress!
If I make this pattern again (highly likely) I will tinker with the bust fit a bit more. Its completely wearable but a little looser than I’d like on reflection. I might also shorten it to midi length as I’m still not convinced about maxi dresses! They just swamp me even though I think this looks cute.
Straight princess seams like this generally suit my figure and I like how you don’t see all the seam lines in this print. It’s pretty easy to fit, I’d just lose another half a cm for comfort. The skirt is a perfect fit though! I made the size 12 bodice with a size 18 skirt gathered into the waist. Next time I’d go down to a size 10 in the upper chest and bust for a lovely close fit.
Happy Weekend everyone! It’s sunny here in Yorkshire and my mood is instantly boosted like a terrible British cliche. BUT I DON’T CARE… I’ve missed sunshine too much. Now onto sewing. I finally photographed three makes this week now my awful ear issues are finally gone.
This is Butterick 6676 which has three styles of dress, but the envelope only shows two. There are two styles of skirt plus different waist finishes to choose from. I went rogue and made view B without any side tabs. So a clean simple dress to really let the fabric shine. See all the line art at sewdirect.com.
My copy of the pattern is from Love Sewing 104 which has all sizes in one envelope (6-22) plus it has a second pattern for £9.99. And you can get 20% off your first order through craftstash – BARGAIN. Plus you’ll get to read my monthly column if you pick up the issue which I hope you like!
My fabric is the absolute star of the show. It’s a Lady McElroy called Wild Goose Chase and is a beautiful cotton lawn. I received this as payment for a previous collaboration with Lady McElroy. I LOVED the name as much as the colour and print of the fabric by the way. God I love puns and witty names and this tickled me. There are other colourways available too by the way. I decided a simple silhouette would be best and wanted to make sure the insides of the dress were lovely too.
I made a petite bodice adjustment using the lengthen shorten line. Then cut a 6 in the upper bodice grading out to a 14 in the waist and a 16 in the hips. I have extremely narrow shoulders FYI. Because I bought the Love Sewing magazine that had this pattern with all sizes in one envelope I could get up to a size 16. The standard pattern lower size pack stops at 14.
I started by deciding to omit the centre back zipper and seam on B6676. I cut the pieces on the fold and moved the zipper to the side seam. This meant I needed to create some method of getting the dress over my head. I loved the centre front keyhole/slit of view B but decided to add it as a keyhole to the back neckline and add a button loop so redrafted the back facing pattern piece to have the keyhole extension.
The pattern isn’t lined but as cotton lawn is prone to wrinkling I wanted to add a lining to minimise this. I realised I’d have to create a underlining/lining hybrid. The skirt was easy. Then I created a lining version of the bodice and placed it WST with the bodice and basted around the neckline and armholes. Then I installed the neckline facing and armhole binding on top. But at the waist and zipper opening I then treated this as a true lining, enclosing the zipper tape and waist seam, then slip-stitching in place.
Because I had some fabric left over I made the belt. I’ve made belts before and it’s quite a fun process. My favourites are when I’ve found vintage belt kits which have the proper belting material and the special glue to cover the buckle in coordinating fabric. This time I had to make do with a buckle from my stash but it’s pretty cute. It ended up a little longer than I planned so I need to make a belt loop for the belt (as opposed to ones sewn on the dress).
I use the stiffest interfacing I can find and make a four fold strip – meaning the seam allowances are as wide as the belt for the thickest most stable finish. I have a big tin of eyelets in lots of colours and different metals, and chose silver to match the buckle. You make a small cut and then use pliers to install an eyelet in under 5 seconds. For the other end you create a buttonhole around 3-3″ from the end and feed the buckle prong into it, then fold back the fabric on itself and sew together to secure.
It’s a really sweet dress and I enjoy a bit of hand sewing every now and then. Think this one was finished while watching Cheer season 2 on Netflix. I’m going to wear it out soon as I feel great in it. It’s got that lovely, floaty style of A-line skirt that skims over your stomach area and a busy fabric that stops you noticing a full tummy. The bust fits great and I’m going to wear it with cardigans with it until summer comes around!
Happy 2022 everyone! I’m kicking off the year by sharing a dress I actually finished last August. It’s a little ridiculous how long things wait before I photograph them properly. When I shared a sneak peek on Instagram it was very popular so hopefully you still like it now it’s finished. I’m pretty taken with it, except for one thing which I’ll cover in a moment.
I used the Marina Dress from McCall’s aka M8090 which is available in sizes 4-22 (46″ hip). This dress came with Love Sewing 95 where is how I recommend you buying it as it’s £9.99 for three sewing patterns. As per my previous version I adapted the bodice and skirt panel lengths. Marina is drop waist so I took 9cm off the bodice and added it to the top skirt panels. Next I removed the square yoke by folding out the gathering at the centre front and taping the yoke piece directly on top of the bodice piece. Here’s what that looked like.
On my previous version I also adapted the sleeve into a raglan but I decided to keep the standard rounded sleeve for this dress. As I made the dress in August, I went for a sleeveless finish but honestly regretted it. That’s the major thing I referred to at the start of this post. And there is a sleeveless view for the pattern but I think a smaller armhole would be more flattering on me if going sleeveless. I have enough fabric left over to cut some sleeves so will add a 3/4 sleeve with an elastic cuff.
Another thing that didn’t go quite to plan is the neckline where I decided to omit the collar stand. I wanted a nice flat open neckline which I got by drafting a neckline facing on the inside, instead. It’s not enough to support the placket opening even with an interfaced placket, so the fabric sags. Not unwearable but not as smart and neat as the original pattern. While I’m going to add sleeves, I’m not going to add a collar retrospectively.
Fit wise I didn’t change anything from my first version which was size S (8-10). The waistline droop I mentioned in my previous post turned out to be caused by my raglan sleeve alterations so I still need to curve the waist cutting line on those pattern pieces but not the regular sleeve version.
Let’s talk about this stunning fabric! It’s an ecovera viscose crepe from Rainbow Fabrics. It’s definitely a bubbly crepe weave but has the shine of a crepe de chine. It’s gorgeous with the perfect drape and opacity! It’s a deadstock fabric from the brand Nobody’s Child and they seem to get fabric from them quite regularly so I always keep my eyes peeled for more of this type.
For instance McCall’s 7974 would be perfect for this dress if I can get the Nobody’s Child lemon fabric!
Ho Ho Ho, a festive treat today. Remember the last dress I shared? Well I hacked it to make my perfect dress. It’s great for eating and drinking in, dancing in, and attending zoom meetings! Let’s take a look shall we? It’s M7948 view C with sleeves from view D with no frill on them.
As I said in my last post, I loved the Indigo from Tilly and The Buttons but the armholes never fit quite right, even after a lot of tweaking so M7948 is the perfect replacement dress. I just wanted a different neckline. So I traced my bodice pattern pieces then trimmed off the neckline into a boat neck. Changed the back bodice to be cut on the fold. Next I added a very thin U shaped keyhole to the front bodice. I could have gone a smidge higher in hindsight but oh well. Then I drafted a facing for the keyhole on extra tracing paper.
The keyhole facing and front keyhole are sewn RST, clipped and turned through. Plus I topped stitched to keep everything flat. Then I made coordinating bias binding to finish the neckline and extend into long neck ties. The finished front can be worn open or tied in a bow.
My fabric is absolutely perfect. I ordered it not entire sure what the composition would be. Turns out I should have just trusted the description… It’s a lovely Raspberry linen-look viscose/polyester mix fabric. It’s totally opaque but light and floaty which is my dream combo. The linen texture is a little rougher than real linen but actually make the black and white print pop. The polyester mix makes the handle a little springy but it still presses well. I knew it would look great for the tiered version of the skirt.
I ended up cutting the size 12 for the bodice as before, but cut a size 8 skirt so it’s a little less full. On the last version I talked about slimming the sleeves a little. I just took 1cm out of them and then added an elastic cuff hem by creating a thin channel and using 10mm elastic. The sleeves are now perfect to wear under cardigans!
Final thoughts are this is a great choice for Christmas day which at my house involves lots of food and drink, lounging around playing games and curling up on the sofa at the end of the day. And I like this last photo for showing off my grey hair as it generally still photographs quite brown a lot of the time. My marvellous hair bow is from Beaded by Laura.
A winter’s sewing storytale of sorts…
I needed more dresses like the Tilly Buttons Indigo for winter but wasn’t enjoying the sleeve and armhole issues which I tried resolving on multiple versions. I liked the loose fit, great canvas for prints, breezy style so I switched to try McCall’s 7948.
This lovely floaty style is very similar to the Indigo but has a more rounded neckline. It has different skirt options. Plus there are different sleeve lengths and cute sleeve cuff ruffles!
I actually used the pdf version of the pattern to make the dress as I was testing something out for work send needed to print one of our patterns. I thought why not make it one I want to sew!
I sewed a straight size 12 with a narrow shoulder adjustment. I chose the tiered skirt which is made from gathered rectangles. It’s marvellously swishy as you can see from my attempts to twirl on camera! It’s a great length and pleasingly roomy but I need to fix two elements.
The neckline is too high for me. I never wear round styles like this, always preferring boat neck. A new row of stitching on the front neckline, probably a further 1cm or 1.5cm in from the current seam will suffice. And I’ll ease off to meet the existing seam line at the back. That should also help me get it on without using the button loop.
I’m also going to slim the sleeves a little as they’re a touch boxy. But these are two teeny little things right!? I’ve already made another version with a front keyhole, neck ties and elasticated sleeve hems! It’s in a beautiful raspberry linen look fabric and I’ve worn it several times already. I can’t wait to show you. I see lots more m7948s in my future!!
A quick note to add I cannot for the life of me remember where I bought this polyester fabric! I feel like it was either Rainbow Fabrics or Simply Fabrics Brixton. But I’ve been hanging onto it for aaaaages. It’s good to sew older things from your stash. Justifies them being in there so long!!