Well well, I feel like the last person on the planet to jump onto the love train for M7969 but now it’s all aboard and full steam ahead! TOOT TOOT! Months after it was released, this pattern couldn’t escape my attention any longer. It has a lovely surplice neckline and swishy skirt. And although I don’t wear oversized sleeves like the pattern views, I had seen the lovely Kathy of Sew Dainty make a puff sleeve variation that I could pull off.
Looking at the finished bust measurements on the tissue I decided on size M. That’s a 39.5″ at the finished bust so roomy without being too baggy. I did my favourite tape measure trick to check where you make a loop the same size as the finished measurement and dance around in it to see how the finished dress would feel. Then I made a toile because I wanted to see how much gathering was included at the sleeve head and whether I’d need to add more coverage to the centre front V neckline. I didn’t bother adding the skirt to the toile as I knew how that would fit. I also like to use a longer stitch length on my toiles to speed up the sewing and incase I need to rip out any seams quickly.
Everything was good to move ahead so I chose one of my most prized fabrics. Not because it was too expensive but because I love the mix of pink and red, and it sold out so quickly I have no chance of getting more. It’s a stretch polyester crepe, and has good body plus drape and is totally opaque – everything I look for in a fabric! It’s such a beginner friendly pattern without any fastening and forgiving on fit. They just need to master the art of gathering, because there’s lots to try. Plus the binding at the neckline is a nice technique for beginners. As I’m not a beginner I flew through this in an evening. I was home alone, had a delicious dinner and sewed all evening while watching tv in the background… heaven.
Chain sewing the pieces made it even quicker. This is where you batch prepare your pieces and you pin every seam or dart etc that can be pinned at that stage. For this dress that meant side seams, sleeve seams and skirt side seams. Then I overlocked everything and pressed open before moving onto the next set of seams. If a seam relies on a previous seam being sewn you obviously can’t include it in the same batch but it does speed things up AND save thread because you sew each prepared piece, backstitching at the start and end as normal BUT you don’t lift the foot and clip the threads. You just move your piece out from under the foot and move a new piece in place. The thread tails between each piece are much shorter saving thread. Plus by not stopping to clip threads until the end you save time.
For the puffed sleeves I cut piece 5 at the shorten/lengthen line and hemmed with a 1.5cm hem. Then I sewed a line of stitching with elastic in my bobbin 2cm up from the hem edge. This gathered the sleeve into a pleasing puff shape. You wind the elastic on the bobbin by hand so you can maintain a gentle tension, but still keeping the thread close to the bobbin core. I could have added two rows of stitching but one felt enough. My top tip for bobbin elastic is to hover your iron over the stitching line and press to release steam. This gathers the elastic up a little tighter, perfect if you’re doing rows of shirring.
This dress makes me so happy. I can’t wait to wear it out and about soon. I think it’ll go really nicely with tights in Autumn and winter, and the colour will keep me smiling all year round! I made a video of tips for this dress you can see on the Simplicity McCall’s UK Instagram as well as a video round up of some amazing versions from the sewing community! There are a whopping 3k shared using the hashtag at time of writing. Now I know why…