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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Shirt Dressing - Peaches and Cream (Progress, Pattern Work)

UPDATE - For the finished version, click on this link. I'm so pleased with this dress!
The peaches I've been enjoying this summer inspired me to name
my first version of the shirt dress pattern I began altering back in late July.
I interspersed work on my Midnight Skies black denim skirt and Bramble Blouse, with altering the McCalls  3623* shirt dress pattern to fit my figure. I plan to talk about what was involved in altering this pattern, in my September Enchanted by Sewing podcast.

M3623 in muslin (before I added the sleeves)
It took a bit of work to get there, but I'm quite happy with 
 the fit on me now.

At the beginning of this week, I began work on my first version of this dress. I like thinking of my first version of patterns I alter as a test garment. Test in the sense that I'll be observing what I like about the garment, and also what aspects I want to change. 

I'm making my test dress from a peach'y-pink linen type fabric. My dress's name came about from this color, and because I've been enjoying a lot of peaches this summer, though I admit that I haven't had any with cream. Non fat milk is more my style :-)  

I say 'linen type' because I don't know what the fabric content is. I got it free from a donation table at school over a year ago. I know that it's all natural fibers, because I did a burn test (in my kitchen sink). If it were all or part polyester,  the fabric would have melted. It burned, however, quite merrily. In fact you could make excellent fire starters from it! It could be 100% linen, but I'm suspicious that it's a linen-rayon mix, because I've bought and sewn those in the past, and the look and feel of the fabric reminds me of those. 

This weekend I've been working on the part of this project I like the least :-) Those including cutting and interfacing the front facings and collar, then attaching them to the front and topstitching with a decorative blanket stitch. I left the back off until I'd gotten those pieces applied and the embellishment done. I don't much like these structuring and finishing projects because they always take a lot longer than I expect! Also they don't seem to make the garment look much more like a real dress. In addition, it's the point in a project where I run into aspects of sewing that I don't know how to do as well as I'd like to. I try to make this an opportunity to learn more, but that's never easy.

This test dress helps me to realize that I want to read up and practice skills involving collar points. Once I added the front facings, and trimmed around the points on the seam lines, I thought my collar points would be nice and crisp, but even though I used a point turner, I'm not totally happy with the pointy-ness of those points! So that's one for the sewing book to work on before the next version of this dress. Are they OK for this go-round? Yes. I'll still wear and enjoy this dress. And I don't plan to point out to anyone who compliments me that the collar points could be sharper!

Here's the stage I'm at now. Not too exciting!
I haven't added the sleeves yet, and I'm halfway through the french seam that attaches the back to the back of the yoke.
The collar is attached on one side and needs to be pinned  down on the inside,
to make a clean finish.
What's left?
- Finish fixing the back pleat, boy am I ever having a hard time getting it to be centered and lay right! I've taken it out 3 times already (I thought I had it right and made the first seam in the french seam process, then realized it's not centered - grr!) Auntie Seama Rippah has been busy.

- Go back and finish that french seam on the back. That involves being busy with iron and steam as well as sewing.

- Add the sleeves using french seams as well

- Sew the side seams. I think I'll use a pink-and-sew seam finish there because I need to do a lot of clipping on the underarm part to get a nice curved line (I tested that on the muslin) and it seems like french seams would be too thick to get that.

- Pin and hand sew the inside bottom collar seam, so it covers various seams nicely

- Buttons and buttonholes! Draw my buttonholes on a piece of stabilizer and pin it down to make sure they end up in the right places. That method works well for me. I do much better at getting the buttonholes to line up straight.

Do a couple of sample buttonholes to test my skills and make sure I've got the size right for the buttons I plan to use - recycled mother-of-pearl. The pattern says use 11 buttons, but I'm suspicious I'll use less. I'm safe though, I have enough.

Cut buttonholes and sew on buttons

- Check to see if I need to make thread belt loops to be sure the belt placing is consistent. Does the dress fit and hang differently if I move the belt around? I'll use some safety pins to test out where I want the lower part of the waistline and belt.

- Pin and press hem. Check for levelness in the mirror carefully with the wide black elastic belt I'll be using with the dress. 

- Sew the hem. Hand or machine? Probably machine, since the thread more or less matches the dress and there's decorative stitching on it already. I might baste down the hem first and double check the whole level hem thing before I do the official stitching.

Planning and executing my Peaches and Cream shirtdress from scratch, based on carefully thought through pattern alterations is the kind of project that keeps me,
Enchanted by Sewing!

* Though out of print, M3623 is available from several vendors on the web. Shirt dresses are such a classic, modern pattern style, they always seem to be available from the big four pattern companies
~ ~ ~
Web Resources

M3623 Shirt dress Pattern Alteration, Inspired by Amy Adams http://www.meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2014/08/inspired-by-amy-adams-creating-perfect.html

Avoiding Auntie Seama Rippah http://www.meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2012/11/avoiding-auntie-seama-rippah-for.html

What's a blanket stitch? http://handembroidery.ning.com/page/blanket-stitch

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