Tag Archives: sewing

Stepping Into Summer with McCalls 6700

September in Tasmania can just as easily be snowing at 400metre altitude as it can be a pleasantly sunny 20degree C day, but I just couldn’t wait any longer.  I wanted a nice summer dress, and I wanted to be sewing something BRIGHT and happy.  I am basically starting my fashion wardrobe from scratch, and what it really needs is STAPLES in neutral colours, but I have decided that my SEWING needs are different to my WARDROBE needs.  I’m going to intersperse the sensible projects with the frivolous projects, little lollies for my sewing soul.  Enter McCalls 6700 maxi dress in a pink printed polyester knit.

McCalls6700withhat

I was interested to see if this style would suit me, being of a more athletic build (from this point on, athletic means no boobs).  It definitely looks great on voluptuous women, but I thought the V-neckline could make this pattern unflattering for me.  I’m pretty happy with it, though.

OK, first off, the fabric- this is a polyester knit.  Yuck.  It was horrible to sew, and being the sewing snob that I am becoming, I really don’t like that this is a synthetic fabric.  But I bought it because I really wanted a fabric with a large, irregular print, and this was the best my local fabric shop had to offer.  I would have loved to have made something like this version from Sew Wil.  I love the size of the printed flowers on her fabric.  Or Kim’s from KimSewSilly., with the print running assymetrically on the dress.

This fabric is 2 way stretch (also called 4 way for you northern hemisphere folks), so the most stretch ran with the stripes going vertically, but I decided to cut the skirt with the lines going horizontally because I thought it worked better on my slendericious frame. (I am trying to coin a term for people with slimmer physiques  which has the same positive feel as bootylicious.  Something for people with no junk in their trunks.  Any suggestions? ).

I made an effort to match the stripes at the seams.  Some of the stripes curve, and I didn’t have enough fabric to match the curves, so I just matched as much as I could.

side seams

matching at the side seams

the fabric isn't stable enough for the lines along the neckline to sit properly.

the fabric isn’t stable enough for the lines along the neckline to sit properly.


I cut the bodice with the stripes going vertically; I thought the greater stretch might be wise for the tighter bodice.   I also thought the vertical lines could frame the V neckline.  They do, but the knit kind of rolls so that it isn’t very noticeable.

PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED

  1. TIGHT ARMSCYES- No one who reviewed McCalls 6700 mentioned this, but the armscyes (armholes) were AWFULLY HIGH for me.  I am guessing this has to do with how developed my lats are (the muscle along the side of the ribs which gives men their V-shape), and this was a good lesson that I must sew for my shape, not my size.  I like freedom of movement, and I don’t think polyester and armpits makes for a good combo, so I CUT those babies down.  Basically, I unpicked the seamline until the fit was comfortable, then I folded the new seam allowances back to make V shaped armholes.
Check out those armscyes!

Check out those armscyes.  Much more comfortable.

2. ‘Raised waistline’ (as per the pattern description) always gives me cause for concern.  I understand empire lines, and I get dropped waistlines, but a raised waistline is a mystery to me.  Maybe it suits women with long torsos?  To me, raised waistlines always feel like I’m playing dress-ups in something sizes too small.  OR, even worse, it can look like an empire line for someone with very droopy boobs.  Maybe it suits women with HIGHER WAISTS?? Hmm…

Anyway, I went along with the style, and I can safely be telling y’all that I will never be wearing this dress without a belt.   But seeing as the pattern includes directions for a fabric belt, I guess it isn’t meant to be worn without one anyway. And come to think of it, kimonos are worn with the obi quite high, so maybe that is the style inspiration.

I went with  Mimi G‘s styling and skipped the fabric belt for a store-bought belt.   (Mimi G rocks.  Other sewing folk with a similar body type copy her style with great results.  She is one of my sewing inspirations, and If I had a similar body, I’d be copying every outfit she creates.).

THE POSITIVES

  1. The skirt allows for complete ease of movement; no need for geisha steps in this dress (although I suppose the geisha steps could go with the raised waistline…).
  2. The pattern only has 4 pieces if you skip the necktie (which I and many others did.  The dress stays put fine without it).  This is a great quick-fix project.
  3. The fabulous Goodbye Valentino made her McCalls 6700 with a woven fabric.  When I figure out the armscye issue, I will use this pattern for WOVEN fabrics as well as knits, just like Goodbye Valentino.  That makes the pattern twice as valuable, in my opinion.

CONCLUSION

McCalls 6700 is a great quick-fix, and you get a lot of bang for your buck for the time investment.  I think it works for a range of body types, and it is very comfortable to wear.  I’ve decided that I love maxi dresses and want them to be a summer wardrobe staple.  Hurray!  My ‘lolly’ project has turned into a ‘meat & 3 veg’.

from behind

Archer Shirt, though no archery for me yet.

My first ever button-up shirt!  A relatively pain-free experience with Grainline’s wonderful Archer Button Up Shirt.

Archer Button Up Shirt in cream viscose.

Archer Button Up Shirt in cream viscose.

Bit stupid of me to photograph a white shirt against a white background.  Sorry about that.

I wanted to sew something that would go with my grey Thurlow trousers, and I thought the Archer Button Up Shirt would be perfect.  My plan is to sew a wardrobe of clothes which make mix and matching possible if not easy, so I knew I needed a dress shirt.  Would you believe I don’t actually own one?  At all?  Obviously, this needed to be rectified.

I once tried to sew a button up shirt (which doesn’t count as being my first time since I never completed it) which was some kind of stiff cotton. Don’t-ask-me-to-bend-my-arms stiff.  I decided to be extra cautious and make a drapey Archer, so I decided to try viscose.  Viscose is also supposed to be less wrinkly, though I don’t think anyone has told my Archer shirt.  Still wrinkly.

Archer with French Seams and Hand-Stitched Collar

Archer w/ French Seams & Hand-Stitched Collar

There were a lot of firsts with this project, too, and I took my time with it.  I decided to sew French seams, both to learn the technique and because I thought the visose might be a little transparent.  It isn’t, and the seams aren’t visible through the shirt, but I’m glad I sewed the French seams.  The places I shop don’t have clothes with French seams.

I cut a size 2, since my measurements are EXACTLY the size 2 measurements.  Sadly, the shirt is too tight for me across my upper back.  No archery for me in this top.  It’s wearable, but I like to be able to move in the clothes I wear, which is why I like knits so much, and while I don’t expect to feel as free in woven fabrics, this shirt is definitely in the going-to-need-to-sew-another-one-to-replace-this-one camp.  I already have the viscose purchased.

Andrea’s Archer shirt hangs off her shoulders a bit (I love dropped shoulders), so I thought mine would, but you can see they certainly don’t on me.  Must be my manly shoulders.  I actually spent a couple of hours SEARCHING for a dress shirt pattern with dropped shoulders, but I could only find some 80s monstrosity.  And lots of websites telling me how hideous dropped shoulders are. And I thought they were sexy >sigh<.  Kind of casual I’m-wearing-my-man’s-shirt-with-nothing-else-but-undies vibe.  But style sites tell me I am wrong.  I am sure these anti-dropped-shoulder posts were written by women with sloping shoulders.

definitely not a dropped shoulder

definitely not a dropped shoulder

The length of the shirt is a bit short for my liking.  When I raise my arms, I like my shirt to stay tucked in.  Of course, I could remedy this by sewing high-waisted pants to wear with this Archer, but I fear this:

mom jeans

I’d rather just wear longer shirts.  Too late, I notice that Andrea added 3 inches to the length.  I will definitely be doing that on my next Archer.

I like my collars a bit larger than the one in this pattern, so next time, I will try to replace the collar piece with something from another pattern.  Also, I used a very drapey interfacing on the collar, and it really needed more structure.

I wanted a crisp collar peeking out the top of my jumper.  Someone give that collar some viagra, stat!

I wanted a crisp collar peeking out the top of my jumper. Someone give that collar some viagra, stat!

I used Jen’s Archer Sewalong Tutorial.  I expected to just be able to go by the sewalong instructions, but I actually found that I needed BOTH the pattern instructions AND the tutorial at times.

I love this pattern.  For my ABSOLUTE WARDROBE BASICS, I want a drapey white/cream top which FITS as well as a nice, crisp cotton shirting Archer.  And then I will look at the ‘extras’.  Gingham.  Plaid, maybe.   White collarless and sleeveless.  And so on.

I do still want a fitted dress shirt, but this is definitely going to be my TNT dress shirt pattern.  Yay, Archer!

Augst 2014_5731

 

My VERY FIRST POST!! Sewaholic’s Thurlow Trousers

Blythe_ThurlowPants_5317_1

Sewaholic’s amazingly fabulous Thurlow trousers pattern…what a truly wonderful pattern to start my very first blog post!

The Thurlows are described as being a pants pattern for women with curvier hips and fuller thighs, the classic pear-shaped figure.  I have to admit, I don’t think I fall into this category.    Measurements for the pear-shaped woman always show the hips being larger in proportion to the waist than mine, and the Thurlow pattern is no exception.  That said, this pattern received such glowing reviews from other people, and their finished-product photos were so exceptional (I was especially in awe of Lladybirds’s and Scruffy Badger Time’s), I decided I just HAD to give it a go.

Blythe_ThurlowPants_5324_1

First off, I just have to say that the drafting of this pattern is exceptional.  I think this is the first pattern I have ever sewn where EVERY SINGLE NOTCH LINED UP!  It was like a miracle.  “No way!  It’s lined up again!  Could it be…a pattern is ALWAYS supposed to do this??”  Now, it could be that I am often a little relaxed with my tracing and cutting, but many times I have had to assume that notches are more an indication of where to join my pattern pieces.  Taking them literally would be unwise, unless I like the fronts of my pants to be half and inch longer than the back, or the front of a shirt to extend half an inch further into the armpit than the back…you get the idea.  Anyway, this DID NOT HAPPEN with the Thurlows.  They were a delight to sew.

I sewed a size 0 based on the project’s final measurements, given on the pattern envelope.  The centre back of the pants has a big extension to make fitting to the waist easier, so I suspect that I was able to get around the not-really-pear-shaped issue by cutting for the hips and fitting the waist as needed.

This project was full of firsts for me- first time sewing woven pants, first time sewing double welt (or ANY kind of welt!) pockets, and the slash pocket technique was also new to me.  I will be ever, eternally grateful to Lauren from Lladybird for her Thurlow Sew-along; I found the Sewaholic instructions for the Thurlows a bit hard to follow, and this first of my adventures into quality-clothes-sewing may not have ended as well without the sew-along instructions and photos.

Blythe_ThurlowPants_5396

OH-MY-GOSH! LOOKIT-HER…double welt pockets.

These trousers are made with a grey gabardine.  I wanted them to be stylish as well as practical.  Having worked as a performer a lot of my adult life, I have trended towards flamboyant, brightly-coloured (garish?) outfits, and now I’m not sure I trust myself with colour.  I’m not sure what colours really SUIT me, as opposed to just being attention-drawing.  So, grey was a nice, safe, and hopefully elegant choice.  BUT…

No one needs to know about the INSIDE, do they?

My mother once told me red and orange do not go together, but I luuurve it!

My mother once told me pink and orange do not go together, but I luuurve it!

So, there you have it.  The best pants in my wardrobe.  And I MADE them.  Hurrah!!  AND…I won Sewing Pattern Review’s Pants Contest with these pants.  How exciting is THAT?!?

Tasia from Sewaholic, thank you so much.  You have made me excited to sew!

No money, but pretty lining!

No money, but pretty lining!