Tuesday, May 1, 2012

McCalls 6163 - Milly Silk Jersey

 McCalls 6163

I am officially awarding this dress with the prestigious title of 'most-frustrating-sewing project-ever'. I went into this project with high hopes and good spirits. Both the hopes and the spirits died early on and it took every ounce of willpower and determination to drag myself out. 

I was initially drawn to this pattern as it is a faux wrap. I haven't had a lot of success in the past with RTW wraps staying in the right place, so I thought this was a good feature. Secondly, it had a little gathering down one sideseam which I thought would be a flattering feature of a knit dress. Add to that the most gorgeous piece of silk jersey by Milly and you'd think I'd have a winner. Yes? No!

I've done so many alterations, both planned and bodgy, that I hardly know where to begin. I'm not really sure I can even remember what they all were. I didn't actually record them, as I have no intention of using this pattern again.

Possibly the most obvious, was my decision to omit the collar and draft a v-neckline instead. Also, I removed a large wedge from either side of the neckline just above the bust to ensure I did not have any gaping. Everything from that point was just made up along the way.

As mentioned earlier, the fabric is a silk jersey. It's suprisingly heavy, very drapey and not particular stable. All of which contributed to the 6 week nightmare. 

I initially lined the dress in a viscose, thinking that would make help hide lumps, bumps and panty-lines, but the weight of the two fabrics combined caused all sorts of disasters. The armholes were hanging down just above my waist. In the end, I took my scissors and cut it out. 

The front of this dress is made of two pieces. As you can see, the top piece extends from the top, crosses under the bust, attaches at the opposite sideseam. This piece extends to the hemline. The under piece, starts at the top and cross under the first piece, attaching at the opposite side seam. This piece stops at the waist in length. My biggest problem is the stress that the crossover of both pieces places on the sideseams. If they're pulled tort enough to provide coverage and support, they drag the sideseams forward at the point they are attached. As you can see below, in my attempt to find the balance between a supportive front and a nice looking seam, I've ended up with a bagging of fabric where it attaches. This in turn, make the front a bit saggy. If I pull it further, it drags the back of the garment forward....and so the problem continues. Believe it or not, but I have played around with this for around seven hours. So frustrating!

Anyway, I think what I'll have to do, is add a band of fabric about 15cm in width, across the back, under the dress, at the point where the crossovers attach to each sideseam. Does that make sense? This should pull those points backwards, thus keeping the neckline against the body. I've heard this technique used before in wedding dresses yet I've never seen it nor given it a go. I can imagine, however, that it would solve the problem.

I wore this dress to a meeting this afternoon and got lots of nice compliments. I was however, quite conscious of the extra fabric at the sideseam and kept folding it and hiding it under the tie. I'll definitely have to fix it before I wear it again.


  1. My first thought was wow - what a great dress. All those adjustments must have been incredibly frustrating, but the end result looks good. I like your idea for fixing the pulling, I haven't heard about it before so I'm keen to see it in action.

    BTW you always find great fabric!

  2. My first thought was the same as Robyn's! I think it looks great. Stunning fabric and a flattering style. Maybe once you've worn it a few times it won't bother you as much and the construction nightmares will fade into the distance...

  3. Well golly yes it looks beautiful so you should be assured your efforts have not been in vain! However I can understand the pulling problem - you explained it well - and it's such a pain to wear something that just doesn't sit right or you have to keep adjusting. The solution you mention sounds promising. Good luck. I think it's worth continuing with!

  4. I was admiring the colours, shapely cut and nicely sitting neckline and wondering jealously where you get your awesome fabric, but am in full sympathy mode now. How disappointing. How frustrating. The foldy thing at the side seams would annoy me too, not that any RTW dependent would notice such a thing. I hope your altering plan works out, it sounds like a good plan.

  5. The dress really does look lovely. The colours are gorgeous and the weight of the fabric makes it hang nicely. I really think it deserves better than flats! I'm trying to remember...do you have bright yellow wedges? Perhaps you need some new green heels. Come on, the dress is fantastic...dress it up and enjoy the compliments that will be flying your way.

  6. What a bummer. The stuff that is bothering you isn't apparent in the pictures at all. I just notice the stunning print. What beautiful jersey! I hope you can fix the extra fabric at the side seam so that you can enjoy the dress!

  7. It does look amazing and effortless too - so I'm gratified to read you had to work hard to get it to look so good... (in a kind of sewing envy fit).

    It sounds like the fabric has 4 way stretch - I usually only sew with crosswise stretch on dresses because of the weight issues you mention.

    The dress looks lovely and I'm sure you'll find a way to resolve the side seams.

  8. It is such gorgeous dress - well worth the pain. The Vogue DKNY faux wrap dress I've sewn a few times has a band that goes around the waist and then ties in the front. It kind of holds it all together. Where did you get the fabric from? It is so nice.

  9. Thank you for all the lovely comments about my dress. For those wondering, the fabric was purchased online from Emma One Sock.

    Thanks for the tip Mary Nanna. I'll have to keep that in mind next time. I haven't sewn much with knits yet.

  10. Ohhh, it actually looks quite fabulous, so I was sad for you to read that you were not happy with it. I'm not surprised that you received lots of compliments!
    I think an internal waist stay (I think that is what you are describing) is a very good plan, it would be a good idea to have it encircling your waist entirely, rather than just across the back, to stabilise the waist and to have the dress sitting just how you like it. It is like a "belt" on the inside, that is separate from the the dress and usually joined to the lining, and tacked on to the dress itself in a few key areas, in the case of this dress; the side seams. What does your sewing teacher think?
    Good luck!

  11. Lets start a ban the wrap dress campaign. They are so hard to sew if you have a bust! Nonetheless the results of your labours have paid off. Its vibrant and well..fabulous!

  12. Once again I love the fabric that you have paired with that pattern - they work great together. I hope the waist stay works for you.