It seems like every time I'm away from my machine for a while, all of a sudden I get this urgent need to sew. It happened again over the holidays, and so upon my return I immediately started working on McCall 5658. Normally, I'm a fairly conservative dresser, so one-shouldered dresses seem a bit flashy to me, but I've seen a few really great ones lately, and I like my shoulders, so I figured why not give one a try?
My original idea was to use some vintage yellow drapes from my stash to make the skirt, to fashion something like I talked about oh so long ago. I learned a lot while making this dress. Lesson 1: I am not currently capable of working with anything but woven cotton. Try as I might, this vintage fabric was far too fussy for me. By the time I realized this, I had already made the bodice in black cotton sateen, so I searched my fabric stash for something else that might work. I finally settled on a black print with tan and purple that I bought in Cameroon many years ago. Although I was never in love with this fabric, I bought 6 yards, since that is how fabric is sold there. It was among the most muted fabrics I could find, so at the time I figured it would be easier to work into my American wardrobe.
In Cameroon, people regularly wear the same boldly patterned fabric from head to toe--I find this a bit overwhelming on myself, but while making this dress I learned lesson 2: my somewhat bold African prints could totally work as the skirt to a dress with a solid colored bodice. I actually really like this look, and I especially like that the busy fabric is not near my face--I think you can get away with a lot more in a skirt.
I'm still struggling with fit issues--both in knitting and sewing. And I think the big culprit is ease. I picked my size based on my measurements, and trusted the pattern company and their idea of the appropriate amount of ease. I was a bit skeptical of 2 inches of ease on a bodice that really needed to be fitted, but I went with it anyway. Sure enough, the bodice is pretty huge on me, which almost works, but any wrong move could result in a wardrobe malfunction.
The tricky part is that the skirt seems to have the right amount of ease--I think I'm going to have to cut a different size in the bodice than the skirt next time.
Despite the fit issues, I'm actually very happy with this dress. I think it looks cute, is both a bit dressy and very unique, used up some of my stash fabric, and best of all--I think this was my best sewing yet! I am most proud of my zipper. Although it's not perfect (still a few puckers, and wonky stitching near the top) it is light years ahead of my last zipper. My secret? I used this wonderful tutorial at Sew Mama Sew that has you glue the zipper in place before top stitching. Genius!! And thank goodness, I found a washable glue stick in the house I'm subletting! This experience has been very encouraging--unlike many other previous failed sewing projects. I think I'm starting to make progress.
Next up, I'd like to make several dresses from one pattern in order to perfect a basic dress that fits me well. I've chosen New Look 6824. It has a great 1960s vibe, and many options that I really like.
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