Thursday, December 10, 2015

McCall's Shirt Dress Gets the Silk Treatment

I've already talked about the mojo issues and the photo shoot challenges around these parts. But, I recently had a breakthrough and am feeling back on track and full of ideas that excite me, at least in the mojo department. This silk dress was the breakthrough moment.

It took more than three wearings to actually photograph, which is an unheard-of amount of time for me. And the photos were taken with my iphone, at night, and after all day of wearing the dress. That is to say that both me and the dress look slightly bedraggled and wrinkly. My photographer did an awesome job, especially with the whole leg-lengthening camera angle.


The breakthru moment: I had been craving sheath dresses and could think of nothing else for about two months. However, once I identified that what I was really craving was clothing that made me feel put together and stylish without too much fuss, I was back on track. Anyway, this shirt dress fits both what I was craving and the practical realities of my life right now. And it will most likely still fit a few inches from now once I stop nursing.

This dress is a bit of a departure for me in a number of ways. First, I'm not sure I've ever worn a shirtdress; it's been one of those trends that I've been admiring on other women, but somehow didn't think of for myself. I haven't quite settled on the right belt, yet. Also, I sewed the dress a good 2-3" shorter than my normal hemline. Since I plan on wearing it with tights and boots throughout the winter, this is fine with me and ok for work.

Last, I almost never sew button holes. My first sewing machine wasn't particularly good at the job, but these came out well.  And now...well... the fact that front unbuttons is a big plus for my working-pumping-nursing-a-wee-one lifestyle. (Truth: I'm still pretty uncomfortable with the "mom" moniker. And I think a lot of my mojo issues are that inside I am still Clio and want my style to be mine and not be subsumed by the label "mom." I'm still working through this.)

Buttons and top stitching.
The pattern is M6885, a shirt dress with a few variations. I wouldn't blame you for overlooking this pattern; the one view on the envelope that has a model instead of fashion sketches is in a busy floral fabric with a matching hat. But the pattern has good bones.

M6885 - Easy to overlook, I think. 

It is an "Easy" McCall's pattern, and it actually does deliver on the "Easy." I sewed view A with the sleeves from view D. The pattern has some very nice details like the sleeve tabs and pretty front placket with pleat.

The only problem I ran into with the pattern is that I went up a size - to a 12 instead of my usual 10 - in order to accommodate my larger bust. Shame on me. I should have stuck with a 10 with an FBA or even graded down to an 8 in the back and shoulders. I had to tinker with the sleeves and armscye quite a bit to make it work. It isn't perfect, but it's comfortable and looks pretty good unless you get nit-picky.

See, it's a little large at the shoulder/underarm

I used a silk panel print for the main portion of the dress. It wasn't long enough to cut the full dress, so I supplemented. In the end, I like the effect of the black fabric for the sleeves, placket and collar, and lower part of the dress. I think it keeps the print from really dominating. The black fabric was sold to me as rayon challis, but it has a firmer hand and is thicker than any challis I've ever felt. That said, it did pair well with the silk print.

The only thing to note about the fabric and construction is that the silk was very ravelly. I ended up using an odd melange of french seams and my serger to finish the insides of this dress.

At Taco's first birthday party! The color in this pic is more accurate than the others.  

Anyway, I'll be happy to wear this dress throughout the winter with boots and tights, and into the spring. Silk and rayon are terrific fabrics for multi-seasonal clothing. They are warm when its cold, but breathe. I never get clammy in either. I think this dress will get lots of wear.

Hooray for mojo! 

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