Hello everyone! I guess this is my introduction to sewing blog world. My name is Elle, and I live in Chicago. This year, I decided that I wasn’t going to buy any more RTW clothes, and instead I would either buy secondhand or make everything myself. (I made an exception for underwear and shoes.)
I’m a total novice, but luckily my mother is a retired Home Ec. teacher who knows my sewing machine model (a rock-solid White 1099 that is older than I am, in case you’re wondering) like the back of her hand. With a little motherly moral support and a whole lot of enthusiasm, I’m confident I can make it through.
With that being said, here’s my first proper make of 2014.
McCall’s 6355 is a Palmer/Pletsch pattern and let me tell you, those ladies know what they’re doing. I’ve already made one version of this dress before, and the pattern effectively walked me through my first ever FBA with amazing results. I kept the sizing exactly the same for this version, cutting a size 10 and adding a 3.5″ FBA, and sewing up the optional fisheye darts. I kept the fitting through the waist a little on the looser side so that I can pull it on and off over my head. This is good, because I have yet to successfully insert a zipper that doesn’t look like a ripply disaster. I bought Sunni’s free Craftsy course on zipper insertion forever ago, and Lauren just put up a pretty killer tutorial, so one of these days I’ll tackle the process. But for right now, this works. Some sewists are major perfectionists, but I’m definitely a “good enough!” sewist.
The fabric is a really dark navy linen/rayon blend from my mom’s stash. She gave this to me the last time I was home, claiming she would never do anything with it. It was already pre-washed and serged. Does it get better than that?! It’s really nice quality and sews up like a dream.
I used a packaged black bias binding for the neck and sleeves that doesn’t 100% match, but I kind of like how the colors look together. What I don’t like, though, is how the neckline gapes. I deviated from the Palmer/Pletsch instructions because I got cocky and bound the neckline with the bias by just encasing the raw edge. I like that the neckline has a slightly more boatneck look as a result, but I could do without the gaping. The sleeves are also a little long when finished this way. I might redo-them later by simply turning the edges under twice and stitching them down, as the instructions recommend.
I also had a difficult time with easing in the sleeves. Up until now, all my sleeve insertion has been done in the flat on knit garments, which is a total breeze. Setting in woven sleeves has been something I’ve struggled with. The sleeves on the first iteration of this dress are tight in the shoulders, which I put down to user error. I have a hard time maneuvering the fabric in such a tight area and evening out the ease. I was extra careful with this dress, since I’d already made this pattern once before and had an idea what I was in for. However, the shoulders are tight in this dress, as well. Not unwearable, but something I have to make an effort to improve on in the future.
I’m also stuck on the length of this garment. I really wanted to make something classic that I could layer up in winter or wear on its own in the summer, so I struggled to get the hemline right. Usually I like my dresses to be quite short, but I wanted this one to be long enough to cover my slip in the cold and to wear with bare legs in the summer. I always feel like you can get away with shorter skirts if you’re wearing tights underneath, but often if I wear the same hemline with bare legs I feel sort of scandalous. I measured carefully to get the exact hemline I wanted, but I’m not thrilled with it. I feel like the combination of the dark color and slightly longer hem makes me look kind of dowdy. Also in the picture above, I feel like my legs look two inches long, and I’m even wearing heels! Thoughts?
All nitpicking aside, I love this dress. I like that it’s a classic shape, versatile color and a good-quality material. It’s not perfect, but I was able to practice my skills and see exactly how much faster a dress goes together once you’ve made it before. Once I perfect the sleeve insertion, tackle zipper insertion and maybe nip it in at the waist, I think this could be a TNT pattern for me. My goal is to have an arsenal of patterns that fit me like a dream and are perfectly fitted to my style. I think McCall’s 6355 might be my first step on the way to that goal.