Tuesday, 8 October 2013

(Vintage) McCalls 6798 - Tried and tested

One of the things I like about sewing with vintage patterns is that I know that if I like the style it’s because I intrinsically like it, rather than being swayed by what is trendy at any given time.  This argument is flawed, I know, but hey-ho.
I bought this pattern from Etsy a few years back.  I was instantly drawn to the smart casual vibe of the dress – pretty yet easy to wear and practical to boot.  The fabric was bought online so long ago that I can’t remember where I got it from, but I know it was put in the basket on a whim and that it was cheap.  When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by the soft hand and sheen to the fabric.  It then took me AGES to use this cheap whim of a purchase – for fear of wrecking it.  How silly I can be at times.

The skirt is essentially two big rectangles, gathered and joined to the bodice.  The bodice itself is a simple style, with just the right amount of ease on me to basically be a sloper.  The front of the bodice is jazzed up a little (and becomes more casual in the process) through a band that frames the face nicely.   A bound buttonhole and self-fabric button completes it – functional, but not used due to the lapped zip in the side of the dress.  The sleeves hit just below the elbow, with cuffs that ended up being too tight on me, so I unstitched the seam, hand sewed each edge closed (separately) and now have little vented cuffs.  The entire dress is lined with soft, white cotton.  Only in Edinburgh would a fully lined dress still be too cool to wear by itself in summer sometimes....
(No idea why I am pulling this face folks...)
The vibrant colours in this dress make me happy every time I wear it, especially with that big flouncy skirt.  Funnily enough, this must be reflected in my face because people are always so friendly when I wear this.  Doors get opened and all.  Someone even offered me their seat on the Glasgow-Edinburgh commuter train.  Result.

This also works in the cooler months with black tights, patent accessories and a bright red lip.  I definitely have to wear make-up when wearing this dress.  But I’m OK with that.
A few little tips:
  • Sew the rectangles together and hem them before attaching them to the bodice – it’s physically easier to hem the skirt that way, and it’s also easier to determine the length that you’d like the dress to be
  • Use elastic to gather the skirt – this helps with attaching it to the bodice, but also gives a little bit of ease to the skirt
  • Sew the bodice and lining together after the darts & side seams have been sewn, but before the facings, sleeves and zip are sewn in.  That way, any handstitching required can be tethered to the lining without fear of the stitches showing on the outer layer
  • Sew the sleeve lining slightly shorter, but attach the cuffs at the same point (as if both sleeves were the same length) – this gives the outer sleeve a nice little flounce (if you like that)
  • Sew a waist stay over the seam that joins the skirt to the bodice – this takes some/most of the weight from the dress and helps it to hang nicely. 
  • Finish the waist stay with a button or a hook and eye, not a dome – the waist stay comes under some stress (even if a little loose), so a dome will just pop open at times of stress (such as hailing a taxi/giving a friend a hug/dancing)

    The Good:
The fit, the shape, the style.  Love this dress.  It’s so easy to put on, and yet people always think I’ve made an effort.  Ha ha!  Outfoxed!
The Bad:
Nothing.  If I’m quibbling, I’d say that I need to add 5-10 cm to the skirt.  My hem isn’t as deep as I would prefer it to be (in an ideal world) but it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of this dress at all.  Oh, and I’d also put another button (or two) into the front band to stop it gaping (I have tacked it closed now).  When it gapes, the shoulders get pushed apart, which in turn makes my shoulders look broader than they are.
The Ugly:
Cuffs are too tight (on me) as drafted – next time I would either make the sleeve 1 cm longer or enclose a loop in one side and a button in the other.

Sometimes it just pays to go with something tried and tested.