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Posts Tagged ‘summer’

  1. Stash Slasher: McCall’s 6433

    January 23, 2014 by rosie


    McCall's 6433

    Well, I’m well and truly back at  (my actual) work, and consequently the sewing has slowed down.

    Those of you in Melbourne, especially, will also know that we’ve been experiencing some pretty extreme heatwave action last week. Consecutive days of temperature well into the 40’s means that even sewing is too much – everything, along with my brain, was fried in the heat – staying cool was pretty much the only priority for everyone.

    (On a side note, this is my first summer with short hair – what an amazing difference it makes! It’s so much cooler and less hassle, AND I can still wear a hat! )

    Anyway, this weekend there was a bit of turbo (read, sloppy) sewing action. I had cut out this dress before the heatwave, but I didn’t really get a red hot go at it until a week or go later. I decided that I just needed to get it out of my system, so there was more rushing than I would have liked, which has resulted in a few questionable finishing techniques and end results, but I’ll get to that later.

    I was instantly attracted to McCall’s 6433. I love those front pleats in the skirt and the shoulder tucks on the bodice – just enough detail to make it interesting, and yet still quite a sensible and smart dress for the office.  I think those pleats and tucks also hint at a bygone era, but it’s still quite modern. I also like how it’s not skin tight – there’s a bit of a breezy looseness to it that makes it look comfortable and cool.

    Line Art

    Recently, I purchased some new shoes in the post-Christmas sales – one pair was multi-coloured (a little 1980’s ) in bright pinks, reds, blues and greens. I fell in love with them instantly, purchased them, and promptly realised that I hardly have any plain garments with which to wear them. The piece of fabric I had in mind for this project was the perfect blue, so I figured it was a sign that I should make something from it.

    new shoes

    The purchasing of these new multi-coloured shoes forced me to use this fabric

     The fabric is a blue silk crepe that I’m pretty sure I purchased from the Fabric Store on Brunswick Street a few years ago. I loved the bright rich blue, but when I got it home, I was too scared to use it. Too scared, because it felt like ‘good’ fabric, and I didn’t want to muck it up, and also because of the “drapey” properties, which I thought would be slippery and tricky to work with.

    I was right on that front. Cutting this out was tricky, and getting those tailor’s tacks in the right spot for the pleat markings was extremely difficult. The fabric has a way of sliding around and stretching, and when I was sewing the darts, it kept moving so that it was impossible to stitch where I wanted to. This meant that there was a lot of hand basting – pretty much every dart, tuck and pleat, which was very time consuming. On the other hand, the crepe is pretty amazing. I’ve never worked with it before, but it’s quite springy and malleable, and feels like it has quite a bit of natural give in it. The feel and drape of it is  pretty heavenly. I was surprised how well the pleats ironed. However, it also frays like nothing else.I have some left over from the dress that I’ll save for another project. I might even try and research how to properly deal with it next time.


    McCall's 6433

    The slippery nature of the silk crepe meant that marking the pleat lines accurately with tailor’s tacks was very difficult

    I lined the bodice with a lightweight silk/cotton blend voile that I had leftover in my stash. The bottom half, the skirt lining, is a silk that I quickly purchased from the Fabric Store.  The pattern doesn’t call for a skirt lining, but the crepe is a bit see-through and I knew that the whole thing would sit better with a lining. For the lining, I just used the skirt pattern, the back piece exactly as is, and just placing the non-pleated side of the skirt front on the fold. I wish they’d drafted a separate bodice lining without the shoulder pleats – I think this would have acted as a stay for the outer fabric, and would have helped with making sure that the under side didn’t peek out. As it is, I think because of the difficulty in cutting out the fashion fabric, I ended up having to hand baste small tucks in the lining at the very end as there was excess fabric and the lining was showing from the outside. Not a very nice finishing touch on the inside!  I’m sure many of you are horrified!


    McCall's 6433

    Front Shoulder Pleats

    McCall's 6433

    The final result…I probably should have made it a little smaller at the waist and hips, but I still wanted a blouse-y feel to it.

    I had a few issues inserting the back zip and getting the centre back skirt seams to line up. I unpicked it twice and still couldn’t get them to meet. I gave up due to the delicate fabric, but it REALLY gets to me. Even though I’ll wear a belt (a cheap, hot pink belt to match with the shoes was an emergency purchase over the weekend), I still hate it. I’m contemplating undoing all the hand stitching around the zip and unpicking the back waistline seam and lining and trying to get it to match up. At the moment it just looks really sloppy. I’m quite embarrassed by it.

    I lengthened the bodice by 1 centimeter. I probably could have even added in another 1/2 centimeter to this – I think it still sits a little high. I added more to the side seams at the hip, based on the body measurements on the packet, but I ended up having to take this, and probably more, in. The front V neckline gapes a little bit (no surprises there), so if I made this again, I would probably take some small tucks out in the pattern to make it a little more taut – I’d probably also try and do the fancy stay tape down the seam that many of the sewing books suggest (and which I knew I should have done, even as I was sewing it).


    McCall's 6433

    Will I ever be able to iron all those pleats back in?

    All in all, it’s a really lovely pattern, but not my best sewing work. I’m disappointed in myself, and also because I know that I’ll probably put this pattern away now and move on to something else, and it deserves a better outcome than the one I’ve given! I am a little worried how I’ll go ironing back all those pleats once it’s been washed, especially now that the tailor’s tacks have been removed!



  2. Summertime Playsuit!

    January 8, 2013 by rosie

    Watermelon Playsuit

    The final product!

    I’ve secretly been attracted to the notion of the “playsuit” for a while now – so frivolous and carefree, and a little bit silly! To me, they just scream fun and summer and ice-creams and sunshine.

    I decided I was overdue for one, and what better time than during New Year’s  summer celebrations?  It was meant to be when this this cotton watermelon fabric that I had been eyeing off for a while came on sale at Spotlight. At just over $3 per meter, how could I resist?

    Of course, I didn’t actually have a pattern, but I did have a vision. The resulting garment is a hybrid, using the bottom half of a “sportsuit” from a 1956 Australian Home Journal for the shorts (and yes, I feel there is a slight difference between a play suit and a sports suit) and the Sweetheart Sundress bodice from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing.

    "Sport Suit"  pattern, Australian Home Journal, 1956

    “Sport Suit” pattern, Australian Home Journal, 1956

    All along I knew I wanted shirring in the back – added comfort with lots of ease combined with a snug fit to maximise the ‘play’ factor. Serendipitously, Gertie’s bodice even had instructions on how to adapt her back bodice for this very purpose. Moving the zip to the side for both the shorts and the bodice was the only major change.

    Full of virtuous intentions fuelled by the extremely new year, I was diligent and prepared a calico toile  for the bodice.  A few minor adjustments were required, mainly in the bust area to compensate for my lack of bustiness. This was simply a bit of pinching in the side seams and centre front seam. I had made the shorts before, so I knew that the side seams would need taking in, as the pattern isn’t my size. As the fabric isn’t of high quality, I lined the front of the bodice with a plain white cotton to give it a bit more body and structure.

    I was worried that this bodice style wouldn’t suit me. I am not very busty, and this bodice sort of calls for it. I was concerned that it would all look a little pathetic. However, I think the gathered detail on the front creates the illusion of more, and I was pleasantly surprised!

    This should have been a relatively simple and quick project, but for some reason I just made lots of stupid mistakes which required a lot of unpicking. Probably the fact that I was combining two different patterns didn’t help the situation – I sewed the shorts on three times before I felt the fit was OK. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the back bodice piece might be upside down. I’m not going to undo all that shirring to find out though! I gave the whole thing a bit of a lift by using some old white bias binding I had lying around as contrast around the bodice band, shorts hem and shoulder straps. These were all finished by hand, so that was also quite time consuming.  It was a super hot day when I made this –  over 40 degrees –  sweaty hands do not make for easy hand stitching!

    Overall, I’m pretty happy with the final product.  I’m not sure how many playsuits I actually need, but if I did make it again, I would make the crotch a little longer (I had to do a very narrow seam to try and get a bit more length), but it’s OK.  I would definitely recommend this bodice pattern – I think I’ll be using it down the track for a dress or two!

    Holidays are over and I’m now back at work, so I’m not entirely sure when/where I’ll have the opportunity to wear it, but hopefully there will be some nice weekend weather before summer ends. The only problem is, I’m so fair, that I don’t usually expose this much skin, as I tend to burn to a crisp!