Long Distance McCall’s 6559

View C of McCall’s 6559 is an extended vest basically; the sort of dress that’s cheaper to buy than make.  But I’ve become enamoured with the more interesting version E of this pattern and have convinced myself that I should make it for my friend Nataša who – and herein lies the problem  –  lives in another country.  I hardly ever see her 🙁  This slightly baggy production serves therefore as our muslin and, since I sent the dress to her in the post, these photos are in place of a fitting.

I started with some soft, thick stretch cotton in invigorating blues from Fabric House (£3.50 a metre) and cut the pattern to the bust, waist and hip measurements that my friend emailed.  Funnily enough, we‘re the same height and weight but differently distributed with me a base-down triangle and Nataša the inverse.  Once the dress was finished, it appeared to hold her shape and looked like the dresses she wears on the beach and boat.  But I realise now that instead of sizing it 12-10-10, I could have gone 12-8-8. 

A couple more notes on the pattern: the armhole and neckline seam allowances of 1.5cm are meant to be folded under twice and stitched which I thought would make this simple dress look even more cheap basic so I invested a bit of effort in making binding.  If you do so too, remember to trim off 1.5cm from armholes and the neckline.

Also, I’d caution against the advice in the instructions to stretch the fabric slightly as you sew.  This might work for sergers but I conducted a little experiment on strips of fabric, sewing alongside the ribbing as well as across the ribbing with both a straight and a zigzag stitch.  With both, the fabric kept its shape better when it wasn’t being stretched during sewing.  See the puckering and tunnelling in the ‘stretched’ examples? 

Of course, the moral of my story isn’t do as I say.  It’s conduct your own experiment

Ever sewn long distance? 

 

Planes!

When we heard there was going to be a seaside airshow coinciding with our son’s very important birthday, DH and I decided we all go!  We didn’t dare tell… Airshows are weather-reliant and prone to cancellation 😯 so we led our new teenager to believe the excitement was in seeing the sea, fish ‘n’ chips on the beach and a new shirt with a cool print of planes for him to wear.

Made out of Liberty Tana Lawn.   Like he’d care about Liberty Tana Lawn.  But you might!  This was bought last year from Fabric World (49c Goldhawk Road) and though it’s not the latest release, the print is still available online and in other colours too. 

McCall’s M6044

I used a man’s shirt pattern McCall’s 6044 which, as it stands, is way too big for a young teen.  This is where a photocopier with a “reduce function” proves valuable.  I shrunk Size Small to 80%, which is easy enough and much quicker than enlarging a pattern (as I did to make Two Peas in a Pod). 

If you want to try it, take an  actual garment measurement and your desired garment measurement then use a calculator to divide the latter by the former: this works out the  percentage by which you have to reduce your copy.    

For example:

Actual finished shirt length: 30in

Desired shirt length: 25in

Reduction percentage: 25 / 30 = 83%

Beware that your Seam Allowances will shrink too so reduce them from 1.5cm to 1cm or similar.

M6044 is an easy pattern to make and my View A was especially quick.  The only difficulty was stitching the thick parts of the undercollar: the corners where the collar has been inserted and the interfaced, folded seam allowances are very thick.  Does this part of shirt-making drive you mad?  Do you have any tips for success?  After five failed attempts at making the top buttonhole, my machine was in danger of being taken out and beaten in the style of Basil Fawlty thrashing his car.  Which is when I knew it made sense to just leave the top button off.  I don’t think it matters:

As for the airshow on the birthday, the sun did come out!  As did the Red Arrows, a fearsome F-16 MLU, some Wingwalkers on Boeing Stearmans and many others.  And I marvelled at the planes’ design perfection and at the skill and bravery of the pilots while feeling very grateful for it all.  Especially for the son!

Location: Eastbourne

Junk Stitching

You might hear runners talk disparagingly, or concernedly, about “junk miles”.  These are runs during which one does absolutely nothing to try and improve.  No bursts of speed, no hills, no attempts at furthering the distance: just putting one foot in front of the other and staying safely within one’s comfort zone.

junk miles 🙂

I also sometimes like the sewing equivalent and this dress is it.  Junk stitching is the best sewing I can do while the kids are on holiday and pulling themselves up by my hair for amusement!  This is a TNT (tried ‘n’ tested) pattern from prehistoric times that’s given me one highly wearable dress after another.  I have waxed lyrical about the New Look 6459 before but it’s now only available from Ebay, through theft or borrowing!

View D, The Halter Neck

I’d decided that if this summer was truly going to last (what brilliant luck, eh, UK?), then I needed a halter dress, like, already.  Why everyone else isn’t wearing one, I don’t know.  Maybe because these require a special bra adjustment, but it’s worth the hassle as they’re so flattering and tend to accentuate the one area of a body –  the collarbones and shoulders – that looks pretty good on most of us.  Sewing halters from woven fabrics can be tricky  though.  As the back is held up by nothing other than the wearer’s ribcage, if the fit isn’t tight enough, the whole thing can sag towards the butt!

The Fabric

I had 1 metre of some rather unusual perforated and dyed cotton left over from the first Laurel which was lying around almost unused!  For the sake of decency, I underlined it with a lightweight and very bright green acetate.  The layered dark and light effect worked out brilliantly.  When the light hits it right, this dress reminds me of the intricate, exotic patterns on Moroccan lanterns.   

Do you have a favourite junk stitching pattern?

 Location: Crystal Palace Park