Sunday, April 17, 2016

Miss Irene is for the Birds: McCall's 7351

Idle Fancy - McCalls 7351 - Bird Print Shirtdress-1-2

Good evening, kittens! After too many weekends on the road, Sam and I are spending this one firmly ensconced at home. The NBA Finals are on TV, both dogs are napping by the back door, and an impressive line of thunderstorms is moving in. We couldn't ask for a lazier, more peaceful Saturday off. Dog snores and all.

At some point, I have a book to finish writing and this month's Knipmode project to trace out, but we're not going to dwell on that right now. Instead, let's dive into my comfort zone.

Oh look, I made another shirtdress!

Idle Fancy - McCalls 7351 - Bird Print Shirtdress-1-5 

After the rousing success of my first McCall's 7351 shirtdress, I began work on another variation. The slim style and shirt-tail hem of View A piqued my interest. It's a more casual, modern silhouette than the full skirts overflowing my closet. We could blame personal style for that oversight,'s a complicated issue. Slimmer skirts easily verge into sexy secretary territory on me, thanks to the ratios of my curves. The A-line of this skirt had potential, though, and I was willing to experiment.

Even better, I had the perfect fabric in my stash. This navy blue cotton twill from Mood has a good deal of stretch and is covered in realistic bird illustrations. Y'all, I'm trying really hard not to make obvious Portlandia jokes right now. It might be a losing battle. Anyhow, I'm a sucker for novelty prints and stretch cottons. The heft of this twill is a true medium weight, with a super crisp drape, making it ideal for the tailored details of a shirtdress. It washed and pressed like a dream.

Sewing with it was another matter. It turns out the stretch threads in this fabric are delicate, prone to snagging and running. They caught on my scissors, my rotary cutter, and even my sewing table. This cotton needed babying like you wouldn't believe. The birds are worth it, but I was glad to have the project finished without incident. Visions of massive, dress-ruining runs danced in my mind. 

The actual pattern came together without incident. Once again, I sewed almost everything by machine. Top-stitching, how I love you. The yoke and armscye bindings are finished with the same fabric, while every other seam was serged with white thread. Once the seams were finished, I didn't have any further trouble with the fabric. It was only the raw edges that made it so finicky. 

As you might notice, this dress is not pattern matched. The scale on this cotton was large and I didn't have enough fabric to pull it off. Instead, I paid close attention to the layout, while cutting things out. All the birds are situated right side up and there aren't any terrible twining repeats. Let's call that a win, shall we?

My alterations were the standard stuff, only slightly different from my last version. The one inch FBA remained, along with the lengthened darts, but I narrowed the shoulder further and raised the armscye by almost an inch. The bodice fit is exactly where I want it now. Everything is spot on, from the collar size (still awesome!) to the bodice ease. Hooray! That means I need to make six more of these dresses, to revel in the fit a bit more. 

As for the slim skirt, I'm actually torn. I blended from the size 20 bodice to a size 22 at the skirt, to accommodate my hips properly. This gave me enough ease and resulted in a dress identical to that on the pattern envelope. Objectively, I know it looks good. The fit is nice, it's a chic silhouette, and all is as imagined. Only...

I like a fuller skirt. Surprise!

This dress looks great, I'm simply not as comfortable in it.  Perhaps with more wear that will change? It doesn't have me reaching for Spanx, but I'm also more conscious of what I'm wearing than I normally would be. This, my dears, is why I never make wiggle dresses anymore. They sit in my closet, admired, but unloved. If this skirt were a true pencil shape, it would be doomed. 

Luckily, the A-line is easy enough to wear. I still like the silhouette quite a bit, as well. It would look sensational made up in a light blue chambray for summer. I will probably tinker with the skirt a little bit, adding more ease, while keeping the simplified shape. We shall see...

In the meantime, I'm digging both the birds and this pattern. You can tell it's a winner, because collars and buttons are all I want to sew right now. Every length of fabric in my stash seems ideal for a shirtdress. I should take advantage of this mojo, before summer comes and my obsession with light, breezy knits returns. Today, I fantasized about a red polka dot Myrtle dress, so that time may be all too soon!

Note: The fabric for this project was provided by Mood Fabrics, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network. It was chosen by me, however, and all opinions are my own. 

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