Rising from the ashes of one failed dress attempt… is another. And as McCalls 4993 was such a fabric hog, there was plenty of ashes to go around!
The only problem with sewing up a summer dress when the temperature has plummeted and day-light hours are short is getting photos of it in action. Thanks to lousy efforts at getting correct settings on my camera and not checking mid-way though, I have a stack of blurry photos. Maybe I’ve just spent too much time daydreaming and listening to James Vincent Morrow, but I kinda like this dress shown in this way. I won’t be making it a regular feature, but you are just going to have to deal with it this time around.
Princess seams lend themselves so wonderfully to getting a flattering silhouette, even with all the added work that comes from cutting out so many extra pieces. I cut the size 10 for my toile, but ended up grading the seams back so much I probably could’ve gone for somewhere between a 6 and an 8. As with all Colette patterns that are fitted, I needed to do a flat butt adjustment… I’m not in possession of a rear end to fill their designs out! Thankfully due to those handy princess seams, I could grade it in where necessary.
Whilst I was trying on and fitting my toile, I started thinking about rigilene. Now, I know rigilene doesn’t have the best reputation as boning in comparison to it’s more accomplished sibling – spiral steel – but for this day-dress the softness of rigilene lends itself beautifully. As the four seams I sewed channels into are not curved, the negatives of rigilene (the combination of exposure to body heat and time means it can end up setting in the shape you were trying to prevent in the first place) don’t come into play as much.
Boning is most effective the closer it is to the outer layer of fabric, so I sewed my channels by sewing down my seam allowance to the inner layer of underlining, which was silk organza.
For such a little dress, there is a ridiculous amount of fabric hiding away in there. Not including pockets and straps, there’s 14 panels – each of which has four layers of fabric! The oatmeal cream and duck-egg blue eyelet cotton is a Marc Jacobs fabric I bought from Kat after she decided she wasn’t too keen on it, which is underlined in a silk crepe matching the blue tones of the eyelet, from The Fabric Store. Then underneath that is a silk organza underlining, which gives the two really rather lightweight fabrics above a bit of structure and support. Then under that is a silk charmeuse lining (also from The Fabric Store) to match the earthier tones of the eyelet.
Now, there’s silk charmeuse and then there’s silk charmeuse – this is unfortunately the latter. I bought it because I was seduced by the minimal price tag… but on bringing it home and placing it up against other charmeuse’s that cost 3 times as much – well, the difference is stark (big differences between the drape, the hand and the degree of opacity of the inexpensive charmeuse). But it’s still beautiful and feels delightful to wear.
In other pattern adjustments, I elongated the straps a bit, and changed their position outwards a little. The blue ‘trim’ at the hem wasn’t exactly a choice – due to the length of the M4993 skirt. It was also a lovely way of enclosing the hem with a sort-of-facing. I chose to leave the waist seam of this dress slightly above my natural waist (by about 3cm)… purists may baulk, but I like the original proportions of this dress as they are.
My beautiful fabric covered belt was always going to be the centre feature, so I decided not to go with the pocket flaps to tone down the busy-ness. However… those pocket openings are not on grain – they’d stretch horridly if I left them to their own devices. The pocket flaps are cut on grain though, so this would have done the stabilising job – instead, I used some silk organza selvedge scraps sewn in the seam:
I really do love this dress… it’s comfortable and a lot more flattering than I thought it would be. Shame it’ll have to wait a few more months, but I was hardly going to let McCalls 4993 get the better of me. Take that, vintage pattern. Now… it’s time to start sewing something a little more seasonally appropriate!!
00:50 Pattern Preparation
06:35 Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
04:55 Fabric Preparation (cutting/interfacing)
Fabric Utilisation = 1.5m (from the addition of lining only)
Stash total remains = 86.3m (Goal = 50m)