Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lovely But Not What Was Planned

Didn't my sheath dress come out beautifully? Amazing, considering the hot mess it was just a week before completion.

After being worn all day

Because I am into keeping things real, this is how it looked after wearing it for 11 hours. I think the wrinkles/creases are much more pronounced in photos than in real life.  Isn't that always the way?

Here's the story behind this dress. I'm really enjoying having trouser and skirt TNT patterns. So, I decided that I should add a basic bodice block to my TNT catalog for sewing tops and dresses, when married with my pencil skirt block. I love a good sheath dress and have far too few.

I've had McCalls M7279, a Palmer/Pletsch sheath fitting pattern, in my stash for some time. It seemed like a good place to start. The pattern has lots of alteration lines on it and the instructions guide you thru their method of tissue fitting. I started with a size 12 based on my high bust and went from there, doing an FBA, adding length to the bodice and width to the sleeve.  

A few muslins later, I felt like I had the bodice fit worked out well enough. However, the sleeve was still not great. I really think that my body's arm/armscye simply must not be normal.  I worked a bit more on the sleeve but was running out of steam. And since I planned a sleeveless sheath, I decided to go ahead and sew it, leaving further sleeve muslins for another day.

So off I went. I wanted a less conservative neckline than the pattern shows so I traced a copy of my pattern but then lined up and traced off the neckline of M6699, an OOP pattern from a few years ago. I used my TNT sheath for the skirt portion. I picked out a pretty black and white fabric that I bought at Paron fabrics (RIP) and cut away.  This is where things went off the rails.

After multiple muslins, I should have been able to pretty much sew and just tweak the fit here and there. However, the fabric, which was a cotton blend woven with some lycra, turned out to be MUCH more stretchy than anticipated. It may as well have been a knit. My machine kept complaining and making snarled up bobbin nests until I switched to a stretch needle. In the end, I used all stretch/knit fabric techniques and tools for this dress - the seams were finished with my serger and I used a stretch twin needle for the hem.

It was so perfect and then I had to rip it out and redo

My first pass at sewing the dress came out enormous; the dang thing just grew and stretched. And since I had actually sewn the darts, zipper and waist, I had some unpicking to do. The dress was huge everywhere. I even had to undo the finished zipper so I could take one inch out of the waist between the top and bottom halves, like a swayback adjustment. Many hours of fitting ensued, including taking in 2 inches at the waist - 4 inches total circumference. I always find that this much post-cutting manipulating leaves its mark.  My darts are imperfect and refuse to smoothly disappear, although this could also be because of the fabric.

All that aside, when it came to doing the neckline, I had a moment of inspiration. The fabric has two pretty sides which are negatives of each other.  I decided to bind the neck and armscyes with the opposite side of the fabric for a little contrast. I really like the effect even if next time I would trim the armscyes back a little.

I should have stretched the binding a little more when I sewed it for a more snug fit. 

In the end, I do love this dress and I do like the fit, although as a test run for a TNT pattern it is incredibly useless. I learned nothing. I actually may go back and draft a bodice sloper instead of using a commercial pattern. For all the muslins and work, I think it may have been easier to start from my measurements. We shall see.

And here are a few more pictures so you can see how I actually styled and wore it to work the day we did this photo shoot. Bonus: Taco the photo-bomber.

I feel professional, yet chic in this outfit. Ann Taylor would approve, don't you think? LOL  And I did get compliments from my colleagues on the outfit.  Best of all, it is super comfy since it is basically like wearing a knit.

He really is the best accessory

Anyway, I am thinking that I will draft a bodice block instead of altering a pattern. It would at least help me start out closer to the end goal.  Have you drafted a bodice? Do you have a preferred method or set of instructions? 

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