After the success of my last version of my Nautical Shirtdress, I knew that I would be making another version of M6696 before long. I bought this gorgeous Robert Kaufman Chambray from the Village Haberdashery in October planning to make a shirt, but when it arrived, I knew it would have to be a special dress. Finally I decided to start it 2 weeks ago, and have it finished ready in time for birthday drinks last Saturday!
This dress seemed to take forever to finish! Around 15 – 16 hours in total, in several stints across a week!
I wanted to match the pattern across the front, but due to limited fabric, I accepted that I probably wouldn’t be able to do this across all the seams. However, when it came to cutting out, I found I needed to shorten the skirt an extra inch from last time (4″ in total) to fit the pattern onto the fabric. This meant that I could match the skirt side seams! YAY! Check this out:
I stupidly also didn’t think about matching the skirt / button band – when I was sewing it I realised that it was only about half an inch out. I could have remedied this by chopping some out of the button band but it doesn’t bother me tooo much!
I really love the sleeved version (B), but I decided that this one had to be sleeveless (A). The fit is pretty spot on, so I only made a few alterations to the armhole, as usually sleeveless bodice blocks are drafted slightly differently to those with sleeves (naughty McCalls!) I used Jen from Grainline’s tutorial to help me with this, but it’s actually a really simple alteration:
-I removed 3/4″ from the top of the shoulder seams (front and back), blending down into the bottom of the armhole (and yoke)
-I didn’t initially remove a horizontal wedge from between the yoke/ back, but when I tried on the bodice, it was gaping a bit, so I removed 5/8″ in a little dart between the yoke and back – it’s not a perfect solution, but it worked pretty well.
-I finished the armholes with bias binding, inserting it flat, then sewing the side seams. This bias binding came from my Grandma’s stash, I’ve used it in a couple of projects, but this was the last of it. I really like having it in this dress 🙂
Sewing the rest of the dress was fairly straightforward, just time consuming. Every seam I decided to match took about 4 or 5 times longer than it would usually:
-I pinned everything really carefully into place, matching stripes
-Basted it on the machine (4mm stitch)
-Checked it matched, re-did any bits that were out of line
-Sewed it up again with normal stitch length.
I top-stitched rather than slip-stitching everything. This was hugely helped by the snazzy new foot my Grandma got me for my birthday – it’s a quilters 1/4″ foot – but essentially perfect for topstitching! 🙂
I used snap fasteners rather than buttons – I really like the effect but was definitely a bit nervous about putting them in! My friend Leire lent me her pliers for the purpose. (Thanks Leire!!) They’re certainly easier than I expected, but I would recommend making sure you’re paying full attention before attempting to put them in! Ask me how I know that…
I finished the hem using my blind hem foot – this is so quick, and much better than my hand sewing! I had to draw a line of gathering to accommodate the curve of the hem – this is also a useful guide for pressing up the hem evenly! It helps to snip through this after you’ve sewn the hem to avoid puckering. I left the hem pretty deep – it’s around 3″ – I might let it down a little at some point if I no longer want to wear it short!
The only other alteration was that I made the pocket deeper – the pockets in my first version are just a little too shallow to be really useful. I did this by just extending the pocket in width and depth. Finished pockets:
Pattern: free (costed in my previous version)2m Jacquard Chambray: £36
All in all, I’m delighted with this dress – though I think next time I make this pattern, I will give myself a longer time to do it! Squeezing that much sewing into a week was lovely, but I did put quite a lot of pressure on myself to finish it on time for my birthday drinks!What’s on your sewing table at the moment?