For my most recent dress for the Fabricville Bloggers Project, I chose this very sweet McCalls 7834, Laura Ashley design. I had my eye on View B (the blue one in the middle) as the most likely to suit me.
I had also seen this amazing fabric in the Fabricville online store — it’s purple, it is polka dotted, and there is text in those dots! It’s everything I love! Plus it’s a nice weight of quilting cotton, with a tiny bit of stretch to it; I really like using quilting cotton for clothing, despite any reservations about it in the garment sewing world… you just have to select the right pattern for it.
I really love how it turned out. The fabric has a nice weight to it, not too heavy but not too thin either. It holds the shape of the skirt really well, with the gathers at the waist and in the lower ruffle. I did alter the skirt quite a bit with the properties of the fabric in mind: I reduced the width of the top ruffle by about an inch on each end of both front and back panels to reduce excess gathers. And the bottom ruffle was supposed to be made of *three* panels — I immediately chose to reduce that to two panels, with two inches added on to each end. That way the amount of gathering would be more balanced, and more wearable in this stiffer fabric. In a challis or chiffon, the gathering indicated in the pattern would work well.
I had to increase the bicep in the sleeve by about an inch as well, and decided after I tried it on to leave the sleeves at a longer length, as I like the effect. And the collar was straightforward, with a nice shape.
I also decided to make my own covered buttons for this dress. I didn’t want to waste any of this fabulous fabric! Plus I didn’t have any buttons that seemed to work well with this dress, so when I remembered that I’d picked up a covered button set at the thrift store, and they were the right size, it was my immediate choice to use them. I read somewhere that to make really nice covered buttons you should add some padding between the fabric & the button form, so I put a layer of felt in between and it gives them a nice roundness.
This is rated as an “easy” pattern, and it really is pretty easy! It slips on over the head — there is an elastic casing in the back waist to gather it up a little but still allow for expansion. Thus the waist is not fully fitted, so if you prefer a very close fitting waist this is probably not the pattern for you. But it’s a comfortable fit, and I think the shape is nice enough as it is.
I, of course, added pockets — why would you have a gathered skirt without them? I used my standard side seam pocket pattern and sewed it in with the top of the pocket even with the top of the skirt. When you do this, just remember to gather the skirt first, leaving the pocket free, and then pin the pocket down over the gathers prior to attaching to the waist seam, or you’ll have some weirdly uneven gathers in a front skirt! And I was very pleased with the blind hem on this dress – I finally figured out how to use my blind hem foot properly and it looks so nice – in fact you can hardly see the hem stitches 🙂
This was a really fun dress to make, pretty straightforward, with good instructions, and lots of variations available in the pattern. I found that everything went together well, even the collar, and the proportions are nicely balanced. The only thing missing is pockets 😉
And I just love this fabric! Perfect to wear in the library. Another text based dress for my collection!