The month of #SewcialistsTNT patterns is in full swing! I actually had to think about what patterns are “tried and true” to me. Usually I make something once and move on to my next project. I always mean to come back to a successful make and reimagine it anew, but struggle with all the new patterns I have at my disposal.
And then I remembered my wedding reception dress! AND HOW MUCH I LOVE A FULL, TWIRLY SKIRT!
Back in September of last year, I still hadn’t gotten the hang of different fabric types and decided that McCall’s 6754 was the perfect party dress—in satin. M6754 is made for knits, which means that the fit is a bit tighter because of something called “negative ease.” Because knits stretch, the final product can be a bit smaller than your measurements as the fabric will stretch to accommodate. Think of leggings, and how they seem small but will stretch to fit. Same premise.
|Here I am still hand finishing the final details on the dress
just hours before the ceremony!
Satin, on the other hand, does NOT stretch. Most woven fabrics don’t, unless they are either cut on the bias (a 45 degree angle to the finished edge) or have a spandex-like product mixed into the fibers. In order to adapt to the lack of stretch, you need to alter the pattern to be bigger all the way around. I did not do this. Oops.
I had found a ridiculously great deal on fabric in the DTLA fashion district. I was able to procure a beautiful dark silver satin, a matching three-dimensional fabric with satin roses covering the entirety, and a lavender taffeta to use as lining. All of that cost less than $30. I was so excited!
(Our wedding colors were purple and mixed metallics, so the dress worked perfectly—plus I had wanted a silver wedding dress and couldn’t find one, so this was the second best option.)
I had to travel to Chicago the weekend before the wedding, and still had to make bow ties for the three young boys in our party, but hey, what’s a little pressure?
At this point in time, I had only been sewing for 3 months, so it should have been absolutely no surprise that the dress did not fit properly, especially since I neglected to add in ease. But I still wore it. In public. To my own wedding reception.
AND I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.
Never mind that I stepped out of 12 pounds of breathtakingly gorgeous floor-length Oleg Cassini ruffles to don this party dress. As much as I adored my wedding dress, this short flirty reception dress made me so happy. Who cares that the straps are 2 inches too long and it kept slipping off? I didn’t! And did I mention I added pockets?! And cut 3 inches off the length? It was perfect.
That was actually the second time I used the pattern. The first was for a mash-up between the top of Simplicity 1158 and the skirt from M6754. I made this up for my 20th (!!!) high school reunion the month before my wedding. Still not knowing much about fabric, I picked up a very stable (read: heavy) black double knit in the performance knits section at Joann. The lady asked me what I was making and when I told her it was a dress, she warned it might be too heavy. I smiled at her knowingly, mentally told her to fuck off, and went about my way with my new score.
This was also before I learned that I’m short waisted, so there are once again issues with this bodice. But it has a cool crossover feature in the back, and the skirt attached perfectly despite the two pieces being from different pattern companies. I added pockets to that too, because there is no point in making my own clothes if they aren’t functional, dammit!
I did need to add hanging ribbons (is that what they’re called?) to the inside of the dress in order to help distribute the weight of it on the hanger. That woman at the store was right after all. Sorry for mentally cussing at you, lady.
The third time I used this skirt was also a mash-up. This time I took the bodice from McCall’s 7465 and attached that to the skirt. I had tried to make M7465 once but realized the skirt did not suit my body type. The cap sleeve bodice on a full skirt, though…
I had to be in Oakland on yet another business trip the month after the wedding (it’s a miracle we had time to honeymoon!), and snuck over to Stonemountain & Daughter. There I encountered some really pretty dark green ponte for the first time ever. I’d heard of ponte, and how magically easy it was to sew, so I snatched up 3 yards.
That became the perfect fabric for my Xmas dress! Once I looked at the photos from that day I realized it could use an FBA, but because the bodice is shorter on M7465 it actually fits much better than the other two dresses.
So there you go. A twirly skirt that can be made to fit a number of different bodices for innumerable different looks!
Note: I sewed up both these knit dresses without the benefit of either a walking foot OR a twin needle. I don’t know how I managed that first year…oh, how much I have learned since then!