I met Emma of Ernest Flagg through sewing blogs. Her blog hit my radar when she won the Tessuti Jaywalk competition earlier this year, and since then I’ve had the good fortune to meet her in person. Emma noticed that she and I often use the same fabrics in our garments, and suggested that maybe the two of us could do a little seasonal sewing challenge, using fabrics purchased from Darn Cheap Fabrics. So the DCF Challenge began! Now, Emma lives in Sydney, and I live in Melbourne, not all that far from one of the DCF branches. So I was put in charge of fabric selection. How is that for trust! And this is what I came up with.
Not one fabric, but two! Both are polyester, which I usually try to avoid, but I absolutely couldn’t resist the colours. The woven on the left is almost a crepe weave, and feels surprisingly nice. The knit on the right is a lightweight “sweater” type knit. Both were the ends of the bolt, so we ended up with less than two metres of each fabric for each of us. There were no rules about which fabric should be used, or what to make other than it being seasonally appropriate. So, what did I make?
I made McCalls 6739 from the woven, in view B. I have been eyeing off this pattern ever since I saw a sample made up at The Cloth Shop in Ivanhoe. The pattern description is as follows: MISSES’ DRESSES: Loose-fitting, pullover dresses have neckline/side front pocket variations, princess seams and topstitching. A: ruffles. B: seam detail. A, B and C: semi-fitted through bust. Ruffles A and sleeves D: narrow hem. Designed for light weight woven fabrics. SUGGESTED FABRICS: Linen, Denim, Jacquard, Poplin.
I haven’t seen many of these made up, but the first one that appeared in my search was this gorgeous sleeved version by Anne. I’m definitely going to make a sleeved version of this dress at some stage.
As those of you who follow me on Instagram know, when I first assembled this dress and put it on Ada I was VERY concerned about the shape and depth of the armholes at the front. And yes, there is a little bit of side boob exposed, but it’s not indecent. I will probably wear this dress with a strapless bra though – there is just way too much potential for strap exposure, even with bra strap holders (that I hadn’t added anyway). And I’m too old to be exposing my very utilitarian bra straps.
The neckline is higher than I generally prefer, but think that it balances out the rest of the silhouette at this level, and because it is squared off it is a bit more interesting. In terms of alterations, I sewed size 14 but petite-ed the entire pattern at the “shorten here” lines, and I’m glad that I did. It really helped with the overall proportions. Actually, there was one piece that I forgot to petite at the time – the pocket lining piece – and had to go back and take a big tuck out of it to make everything line up. I like the pockets – they are fun and add a terrific design element. I am not generally that excited by pockets in dresses or skirts and tend to leave them out unless they are part of the overall silhouette and design, as I don’t ever put anything in them. But these ones are fun.
I also angled the centre front and back pattern pieces about half an inch off the fold of the fabric at the neckline to reduce the gaping potential and encourage the neckline to sit closer to the body. And yes, I did remember to do the same thing with the facing pieces. This has worked pretty well and is something that I often do, especially with the back of garments. Remember when patterns used to have darts at the back neckline? That is why – to contour them more closely to the body.
The sewing machine got a fair workout during construction. I used the overlocker on some seams and for edge finishing. Because the dress is topstitched in a number of places I decided to twin needle the hem as well rather than hand sewing or blind hemming.
And of course, I couldn’t leave the knit fabric languishing. In my eyes, the two fabrics “match” one another (although they definitely don’t match one another in my husband’s or younger daughter’s opinions). I had the Mouse House Creations Julia cardigan pattern, and there was just enough fabric for the short banded sleeve version.
I cut a Large, based on my measurements. It was so hard to decide which side of the fabric was right and which was wrong that I decided to use one side for the body and the reverse side for the bands. This was constructed entirely on the overlocker, and I think it took less than an hour. I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the neck/body band double, which would have been my preference, so just used the overlocker to roll hem the edge.
This cardi could do with being photographed again over a plain garment! The jury is still out with me regarding this pattern. There are elements of it that I really like, but I don’t think that the angle of the side seams at the bottom of the band sits well. I like it from the waist up, from the waist down not so much! There have been many of them popping up on blogs, and it’s definitely easy to sew, but I’m not convinced on the fit.
So there you go – my first DCF Challenge garments. I can’t wait to see what Emma has made – it should be up on her blog this evening! I think she has used the knit…..