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!
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…
I know it’s very very rainy in England right now but cast your mind back… This dress, Simplicity 9327 caught my eye from the new collection on a very hot day. And it instantly made me think of cool breezy nights on a Mediterranean holiday break. Small problem for me, the UK release was slightly delayed by Covid… Good news for you it’s available to buy now!
So I set about making my own interpretation. I chose a beautiful coral and white striped seersucker from SewSewSew. One of my favourite dresses came from their fabric and Katie gets unique beautiful fabrics that you don’t see elsewhere.
I started with New Look 6587, one of my all time favourites that is now out of print. BUT the near identical Butterick 6674 dress has been released!!
I cut rectangles for the skirt front and back on the fold and gathered them up. But I kept the button placket on the bodice. It’s a loose fit design already but I let out the seams a little so the dress would definitely fit over my head unbuttoned.
Then I cut out my frills and managed to snip into one. That would have been fine if I had more fabric to play with but I ended up having to use the fabric saved for my skirt hem ruffle to cut 2 new frills on the crossgrain. The frill was taken from the Cocowawa Raspberry jumpsuit. It’s gathered to match the armhole and secured with a bias binding tape facing.
I normally avoid tiny stripes as they cause moiré when photographed at a distance. This is a visual effect where the pattern is so fine it becomes distorted to the eye in the final image, almost like its hazy or swirling. I managed to get some shots that weren’t too bad thank goodness.
The dress is unlined and overlocked at the seams. The neckline and armholes are finished with bias binding and the sweet pearlised buttons are from my stash.
Seersucker is great for summer. I think of it as linens superior sister because it’s just as cool in hot weather, it also has an interesting texture AND better than linen you don’t look like a wrinkled mess after wearing it all day.
I took these photos up near Cow and Calf in Ilkley, famous for a rock formation of a big rock (the cow) with a smaller rock nearby (her calf) but also famous for the Tour de Yorkshire race that tackled this steep and winding road. FYI this is a trip advisor photo. My photography skills aren’t this good.
It’s finally the #sewrecreatethelook challenge reveal day! The goal is to recreate a look that you admire from RTW, the catwalk, Pinterest, a magazine, etc and share your progress. I’ve technically had my dress finished a couple of weeks but managed to hold off on revealing it. I’ve just been enjoying wearing it in the hot hot heat! Let’s start with a reminder of my inspiration…
This is the Gal Meets Glam Chassity dress. An American influencer I follow started her own line of clothing and ultimately it got too big for her to sustain, had some production issues and she closed the brand. There were some stunning dresses in her line so planning other recreations in the future.
I decided not to use shirting and find a viscose that was similar. This ebay find was close enough. It could have been more blue but the weight and drape were gorgeous. And I quickly settled on adapting McCall’s 8090 Marina as my dress base which came with Love Sewing 95.
I used size S. First up was adjusting 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.
Switching to raglan sleeves was one thing but these were gathered ruffled raglan sleeves. First I experimented with a sleeveless bodice with a rectangular ruffle sewn on top to give the illusion of a sleeve. I also tried shirring the gathered rows. Ultimately it wasn’t right. The rectangle created a stiff ruffle and the shirring was too unforgiving on top. But I was getting excited…
Second attempt I did things properly. I drafted a proper raglan sleeve for the bodice that would be sewn into the neckband, and then slashed and spread that piece to create excess for gathering. I pinned it into place again on top of my existing toile to save cutting it up / sewing a new one. It was much better but now not long enough for my liking. See below.
Third time was the charm. I added length to my slashed and spread tissue piece then traced onto fresh paper. Then I decided I wanted more gathering so slashed and spread again. Here’s the sleeve before I finally cut it out sat alongside the version 2 tissue.
Then I could commit to the new bodice armholes. You can see below how I marked the seamline and the cutting line on the bodice and then traced a fresh version. I’m also showing you the back for reference. Raglan sleeves are super fun to sew, if you’ve never made them before. FYI I also added notches for the raglan seam points on my neckband so I knew how much to gather the sleeve in to fit!
Construction went pretty fast once I’d assembled the band and collar. All the side seams were French seamed but the gathered skirt band seams were just overlocked to avoid bulk. I did a baby hem on my sleeve pieces before attaching them.
I’m super pleased with the dress. The finished neckline is lovely and feels really polished. For that all important sleeve finish, I kept my gathering stitches in place and stitched on top of them for the appearance of thicker topstitching thread. And I love the varying directions of stripes at play!
Inside I used self fabric bias to finish the armholes, like a facing and a binding at the same time and topstitched it in place from the right side. I slipstitched the bands in place for a clean look. I do like the topstitched neckline of my toile version so might do that on a future version.
The finished dress is breezy and stylish. I have to wear a slip underneath but I’m definitely pro-slips and already had the perfect white one. I love that you can’t tell the lower band is cut in three pieces. The seams are hidden in the stripes and this let’s you get a great gather with the extra width.
Improvements for my next version will be curving the cropped waist seam up as it goes towards the hips as the straight line causes the seam to droop a touch at the sides. And to raise the underarm point as its a touch low, revealing my bra on occasion. But I already have fabric for a new version!! Thanks for reading this long if you stayed to the end.
Do you hoard fabric for years because you get scared to cut it? Or talk yourself out of using it because your idea won’t do it justice? Well then, how about impulsively cutting it after years because you’re mad how long it’s been in your stash and mad at yourself for past indecision?
This brings me to today’s dress. In hot weather I want to waft around in viscose dresses. Preferably loose fit with wide armholes. After finishing a version of McCall’s 8090 (to be shared very soon) I decided the skirt was perfection. And I could add a different bodice to create an equally lovely dress.
I rooted about my stash and found Kwik Sew 4111. I liked that it was a blousey bodice that they had gathered in to the waist. I decided to use it without the gathers.
I also shortened the bodice by 7cm, drew a v neckline and swapped the zip for a keyhole back. I’m sharing my altered pattern pieces for reference. The tie belt is a simple pair of long rectangles sewn all around with a turning gap. I added belt loops at the side seams to stop it wiggling around!
The keyhole is mostly for show because I can get the dress on over my head in one swift motion. Let’s dive onto the construction so you can make your own keyhole back dress.
Sew the shoulder seams of your bodice, then the shoulder seams of your all in one facings. Place everything right sides together and sew around the necklines and armholes. Clip, notch and trim the seam allowance.
Turn everything out to the rs through the shoulders. That’s the fun bit right?
NB: Start here if you only have a neckline facing! Fold over the centre back facing over again so it’s RST with your fabric. A thin piece of binding acts as a rouleau loop and is sandwiched between the layers facing inwards. Sew the seam down the centre back stopping at the end of the facing.
Clip the corners to reduce bulk. You then finish by making the centre back seam and stop sewing about 20cm from the top. Then continue as normal with your pattern instructions.