Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Floral Crinkle Rayon Dress

Here's a sweet, versatile dress design for finicky fabrics! This is an a-line shift dress that converts to a fit-and-flare with a removable elastic belt, with additional options for tying the neckline closed or leaving it open.


For this dress, I used 2 yards of this crinkle rayon from Joann's with a sweet yellow and pink floral print. It was my first time working with crinkle rayon, and I learned a lot from the experience! I shared a video with tips for working with this fabric below.

This fabric is a bit sheer, so I lined the dress with some lightweight pink [polyester?] charmeuse that I've had in my stash for years.


For this project, the fabric greatly influenced the design. I wanted a dress with bishop sleeves, a blousy top, and a cinched waist. A few tests with interfacing on scraps confirmed that this crinkle rayon fabric does not adhere to interfacing, so that nixed any button plackets, collars, and other stiff details. The characteristics of the crinkle rayon informed the details: elastic at the sleeve cuffs, and a separate fabric-covered elastic belt to cinch in the waist. 

The removable elastic belt saved me from having to wrestle with this shifty fabric to sew a waistline casing. It also allows me to turn this dress into a shift dress! 

I used McCalls 7800 for the dress - this is a great shift dress pattern with a few interesting sleeve variations. I used the bishop sleeves from McCalls 7973 View C/D (which, although it seems fussy from the pattern envelope, turns into a lovely dress - I'm already working on my second one from this pattern).

I used McCalls 7800 for the dress and lining

And McCalls 7973 for the sleeves, View C/D

McCalls 7800 is an unlined dress, but I made the dress lined by:
  • omitting the neckline facing 
  • cutting and sewing a lining using the front and back dress pattern pieces, making it an inch shorter than the outer dress
  • sewing the lining to the outer fabric along the neckline
  • understitching the lining along the neckline
I also made rouleau loops from the floral rayon, which I sandwiched between the outer fabric and lining at the neckline. I love having the extra option of tying or untying the neckline ties for changing up the look of this dress! Making rouleau loops from this loosely woven fabric was...challenging. The fabric tore/frayed in several places along the seamline, so I reinforced the seam with hand stitches along the length of the rouleau.

The outer dress, lining, and sleeves were each sewn with French seams.

The ruffle on the outer dress helps break up this print into thirds and provides some much-needed hem swish. As I had only 2 yards of this fabric (the bolts at my local Joann's are always so skimpy!) the ruffle is a scant 1.25x the circumference of the bottom of the dress, but the crinkle texture of the fabric helps it seem like a properly full ruffle.

Final Thoughts

I adore how this dress turned out and I've already worn it a dozen times (for working in the office, working from home, and going out). This dress is very comfy and washes well.

This particular crinkle rayon fabric feels "dense", so combined with the polyester lining, it's not a dress for hot days. It is a fall/spring wardrobe staple for me, and I now have a satisfying blueprint for other such dresses!

You can see more details about this dress in the video below!

Friday, May 6, 2022

Shirtdress w/ Smocked Bodice | McCalls 6503

While going through my fabric bins recently, I found an unfinished project that I had started 10 years ago! 

*Note that in the photos here, my dress is lacking buttons along the placket - I'm waiting on a covered button kit to arrive so that I can make some matching fabric buttons.


This was one of my first sewing projects, and it shows... The fabric is fairly lightweight poly cotton blend in purple. Nice color, but a bit thin for a dress -- I'll have to wear a slip underneath. Realizing the sheerness of the fabric was one of the reasons why I chucked this dress into the "ignore" bin!

The side seams are bound with bias tape made from a (way too thick!) vintage brown floral print cotton. This dress was made with good intentions, and unsuitable materials 😅

Pattern Review

For this dress, I made View D of McCalls 6503. The cover art of this pattern isn't inspiring, but the line art is great. This pattern has configurable options for a cute shirtdress with a vintage vibe. This pattern includes two skirt variations (pleated and gathered), two bodice variations (front button placket and wrap front w/ self faced collar), and fastens with a side zipper.

This is one of the few patterns where I don't need to remove several inches in length from the hem (although in a future iteration I may try shortening the bodice a bit above the bust gathers).

Pattern Adjustments

I found the bust gathers sat way too low for my body shape - they created an unflattering "pooching" of fabric below my small bust. To resolve this, I changed the bust gathers to a few rows of honeycomb smocking. I think this adds a unique touch to an otherwise forgettable dress!

Final Thoughts

I think I will make this pattern again, especially View D - I have a navy blue cotton sateen in my stash that seems suitable. 

I think this pattern has a lot of options for a classic/vintage-y design. The pleated skirt in particular is really flattering on my proportions and I've already used the skirt pattern pieces to make a few other garments.

You can see more details about this dress in the video below!

Friday, March 25, 2022

Satin Bias Cut Slip Dress | Folkwear 219

Here's another wearable mockup! I've been wanting to make the bias cut slip from Folkwear 219 Intimacies for years, but I've been too scared to cut into my nice silk charmeuse that I saved up for. I discovered this bright blue crepe back satin (from Joanns' Casa Collection, in color Indigo) in my stash, and decided it would be great for experimenting with this pattern.

I made this slip dress in about 3 days and learned quite a bit from the process!

I really liked how this pattern has you top stitch the bust pieces to the body piece. Pinning the satin pieces right sides together is a nightmare, because it slips around so much, but this technique seemed to mitigate that.

While I cut all my pieces on the bias, I don't think I cut them all in the same direction, so there's some weird shading on the fabric - oops!

The front and back of the slip (which are identical pieces) are sewn together with French seams. The finished slip was a bit long on me, so I cut off 2 inches from the hem before hand-sewing a 1/4 inch wide hem. 

The most difficult part of this project was the neckline facing. The satin fabric squirmed and twisted, and I think the natural "bounciness" of the fabric prevents this facing from laying flat, even after pressing. Next time, I think I'll use some rayon seam binding for a light weight facing. I also want to try finishing off the top edge with lace, which would negate the need for a facing altogether.

The instructions called for topstitching along the neckline after the facing was attached, but I found it tricky to press this fabric, so instead I understitched the facing to the slip neckline seam allowance where possible.

I ended up shortening the straps by about 4 inches - after trying on the finished slip, I think I shortened them too much, oh well. I'm petite, so I'm used to shortening the straps and shoulder areas on garments. 

I also found that after finishing this slip, there was a bit of excess fabric under my arm - in a future iteration, I'll add a dart there to adjust the fullness. The bias cut of this slip does make it lay nicely on my body, although not snugly - it looks best when belted at the waist.

Folkwear 219 is an easy-to-follow and versatile pattern. I think I'll be making a few more variations of this slip and the tap pants, as I prefer wearing these under dresses than modern bike shorts.