Sunday, 17 January 2016

Love at First Stitch, Megan Dress

I got a new job 15 months ago, and with that I found I ate much less on a day to day basis. That, teamed with my post break-up work out regime after John and I parted ways last January has left me a totally different shape to how I was a year and a half ago. I was sad to find my first Megan Dress from Tilly Walnes' book Love At First Stitch is no longer as flattering on me as it used to be.

With this in mind, and a lot more sewing experience under my belt, I decided that if I spotted some dishy fabric while I was out and about, there would be nothing wrong with making a 2016 Megan Dress, made to measure. And would you believe, I fell head over heels for some red and black, almost tribal in design, jersey fabric I found at Huddersfield market. With a new overlocker for Christmas and an ever increasing love for stretch fabrics I knew this was the material to make the cut for Megan 2016.

First things first, I re-traced the pattern a size smaller (perhaps should have done two sizes smaller? Who knows!), and found I had JUST enough fabric left over from my first black skater dress to make a bodice and sleeves. Bearing in mind the stretch of the fabric and my borderline measurements, I used a 2.5 cm seam allowance on the bodice side seams.
Shoulder seams were stitched at 1.5 cm and the facing looked dead neat (don't shoot me sew-ers, but I didn't use an interfacing, just a layer of jersey and I think that is fine!), understitching was very neat and the neckline looked very tidy.

Next up, while my Huddersfield fabric was drying, I decided to tack in the sleeves. I had flashbacks of just how POOFY the sleeves in the pattern are and decided not to machine them until I could see them in the context of the rest of the dress.
Skirt fabric dry, I put in my darts, only to find the stretch in the fabric meant they didn't quite line up with the bodice darts. Agh! So, with it in mind the dress wasn't going to be too small, I took a little more fabric in each dart at the top so they would line up. This was probably cheating! A true profesh would have taken them both out and moved them in a few millimeters. But hey, my way worked and if I hadn't told you, you'd never have known. Darts re-aligned, I stitched the skirt pieces to the bodice- Leaving skirt side seams. I know this isn't the best way to do things, and was aware it could be a right pain to then sew up the side seams later and potentially have lumpy bits where all the seams met... But I did have a plan! Before sewing these seams I stitched up the centre back.... No zip! Cheating AGAIN!! Well what's the point if you're using stretchy fabric? I used quite a generous seam allowance on the centre back, but made sure to match that skirt pattern at the back.

I know right? What seam?

So the plan was, was that I could alter the fit much more effectively at this point by messing with my un-sewn side seams than I could have if I'd left the centre back seam until last. I learnt this when I made my (not quite) A-line skirts back in autumn. And I still stand by it. Though I know you're probably just thinking Angela, if you'd just make a toile for once in your life you could have done all this fitting business already. But who has the time?

Side seams sewn and pattern matched best I could, I'm finally trying the dress on in one complete piece and I'm thinking my lower back looks a bit.... Baggy. this seems quite a common occurrence so I wanted to tackle baggy-back head on. I pinched the dress back in the dart area at my thinnest point and pinned. Dress off, and I took in equal amounts in the back dart area. Tired on again and it was a million times better. I'm gonna admit it felt like a bit of a fluke. I'm hoping I can map this change on to my paper pattern effectively so I don't have to rely on guess work next time. One thing still to change though, and that was taking in the bottom of the back bodice dart to match. This was all a bit fiddly and obviously had to unpick the joining seam between skirt and bodice. But it was so worth it!

Happy with the fit, I knew I had to tackle the poofy sleeves. I took one out and squinted in the mirror, trying to decide if I preferred with sleeve or without. The answer was yes to sleeves, but no to them being quite so... voluminous. I also found that sleeves were super handy for avoiding any gaping at the back neckline.
Unsure how to de-poof the sleeves, I took them both out and compared the shape of the sleeve paper pattern to that of the sleeves of my skater dress. I found that with a few snips I could make a much more subtle sleeve that still incorporated the gathering stitches where it met the shoulder. So note to self- Use the skater dress sleeve pattern next time!!

Quickly hemmed the bottom of the dress- quite wide as I remembered liking this feature on Megan 2014. Almost finished! My finishing touch was making my first cover buttons. I absolutely love the process of covering buttons! I had to be careful using patterned fabric to make the patterning central to the button, and to make the pair match. Oh and it took a few attempts to get them sewn on perfectly symmetrically, but once I did I was finished!

Sew happy! Mwah!


Currently listening to: White Riot, The Clash
Location: Broomhill Car Park, Sheffield