Sunday, 30 April 2017

McCalls 7542 as a Dress

I always saw the sleeves from this pattern on a dress. The top on the pattern is too short for my comfort level but those sleeve variations are what drew me to it and finally made me buy the pattern. Which is probably why it's one of the most bought and sewn patterns in the sewing community now!

I chose the sleeves from View B because I loved the drama of them. Also, I loved them on the top that Candice from Sew-My-Time made.

After purchasing and checking out the finished measurements on the pattern pieces, I knew that I would have to do extensive alterations to make it fit me. Honestly, if I was a fit master or enjoyed fitting puzzles, I would have started from scratch.

Materials ~
3 yards of embroidered cotton from Fabric Mart
3.5 yards of Bemberg Rayon from Elegance Fabric in NYC

Notions ~
22" invisible zipper 

Pattern Alterations ~
Since I knew I wanted a dress, I used my TNT dress pattern as the basis of my pattern sandwich to make the following alterations to the neckline, shoulder and sleeves.

They were:
1. On the front piece, I shortened the shoulder seam.

2. Even though this pattern has bust cup sized pattern fronts, the D cup size made my dart too low for my bustline. So I used the bust dart from my TNT dress pattern instead.

3. The shoulder seam on the back piece has a back dart so I widened the back dart so that the shoulder seam would match the dress front shoulder.

4. The changes to the sleeve are in the prior post, however, I did use the sleeve cap from my TNT pattern and NOT the higher sleeve cap on the pattern.

5. Otherwise the only other change was to lengthen the pattern pieces.

I've read several reviews by sewists I admire who have worked on the pattern. Sewists whose bodies don't fit the pattern right out of the envelope also so I would know some of the challenges that were in store for me. Even armed with that knowledge I ran into some setbacks.

Construction ~
First, I've gained back 10 lbs since the last time I made my TNT dress...*sigh* so of course it's a little tighter than I want it to be. I got it basted together and realized that I needed to do something about this cause it was tight in my abdomen area...and I hate the belly hug. I hung the dress up and walked away from it for a minute. After a few horrific train rides to work with loads of times to work out the fitting puzzle, I decided to add a side gusset to the dress.

I'm sure you're thinking ~ WHAT?  And why didn't she just make a muslin before she cut out her fashion fabric? My first response is you know me right? You know I hate making muslins. My second response is there is almost always a way to fix something, I just needed to come up with a solution...and my final response is I honestly didn't think about the extra 10 when I laid the pattern out.

Side Gussets for the Win:
To add the side gusset, I cut a strip of fabric 2" wide and 36" long. I inserted it into the dress' side seam using 1/2" seam allowance for the body of the dress and 7/8" seam allowances at the underarm seam.

A picture of the gusset in the dress ~

Unless you're looking for that gusset, you wouldn't even know it was there!

I'd always planned on lining my dress. One reason was because the fashion fabric is cotton and will cling to my Spanx. Yes, I wear Spanx in the summer because I need something on my thighs to keep them from rubbing together ~ "Fat Girl Problems." 

A lining will allow the dress to slide over my Spanx. I also hate facings and a lining let's me omit them. Finally, I'm hoping the lining will help the cotton fabric from creasing too much

I also added an invisible zipper because I hate those little button & loop closures. They never feel secure enough to me and since it's a dress, a zipper.

The Sleeves ~
This was the drawing point for me. I love the drama of that sleeve. However, the pattern calls for the wrong side of the fabric to show on the finished sleeve. Since I'm using an embroidered fabric where the wrong side is just not as pretty as the front, I decided to line my sleeves.  Can we say more challenges!
  • To accomplish adding the lining, I cut the sleeve pattern from the lining fabric and stitched it to the fashion fabric, turned and pressed.
  • Then basted the two pieces together near the cut out line for inserting them to the main sleeve. 
  • This cut edge was then serge finished and attached to the sleeve hem.
  • Of course the first one went in with no problems. I had to put the second one in three times before it was correct...and to get it in correctly, my daughter had to pin it in for me.
  • The seam between the lower sleeve and the short sleeve was pressed towards the sleeve and then topstitched down. This prevented the seam from showing when I raised my arms.
  • And a tip, make all changes and sew all seams while the sleeves aren't in the dress - cause it's a lot of dress & fabric to move through your sewing maching - ask me how I know! *LOL*

But it was worth it because the sleeves are everything I thought they would be!

A few pictures of the dress in action ~

Conclusion ~
I'm glad that I took this sewing journey because I love the resulting dress and "The Sleeve Swag". Although after attaching the first sleeve, I did wonder if it was too much of the embroidered blue fabric. Then the second sleeve was inserted and I saw how the light blue lining fabric added some dimension to the fashion fabric, so I was good.

As I stated before, I will never make the top because it's too short for me. I may revisit this as a tunic. However, expect to see several of the sleeve variations from the pattern on future garments, because I already have a few ideas percolating. 

One final thing, we photographed this dress like I will wear it to church even though I originally planned to wear it to work. Even with sneakers it's a little too fancy for work.

BTW, I have another dress on the cutting table because it's finally getting warmer outside and spring/summer means dresses! always more later!

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