I was supposed to be doing buttons and hemming for my husband, so instead I made a dress for myself. Yes, that’s as selfish as it sounded. Anyway, I made McCall 7092, another Palmer/Pletsch knit pattern. This one has options from tunic to maxi dress length, and varying sleeve lengths making it pretty versatile.
I bought two yards of this rayon jersey print back in March. I probably won’t remember this lesson, but 1) I dislike using rayon jersey for dresses and 2) prints are pretty on the bolt, but not really my preference for clothing. When I am window shopping for clothes, I am not drawn to prints, so why buy something that is suboptimal, preference-wise? Also, I should have known better, but this fabric is ill-suited to use as a dress.
To start with, I made View C, which calls for 2 yards of fabric plus another yard for the two contrast panels. I chose to make the contrast panels from the same fabric as the rest of the dress, but it added a layer of cutting difficulty as I was already tight on material. Then I realized I needed to have the pattern vaguely matching going down my body and the right and left bodice pieces mirroring each other. I didn’t even try to make the sleeves match the body of the dress, just each other, and I just barely managed to make it work. This is why I hate non-random prints.
Once everything was cut out, I had to play guessing games on how the pattern would look once on a person. I don’t really put tons of effort into avoiding a bullseye effect on bodices, but I did with this one because once I got to assembly stage I was so suspicious of pitfalls that I even took pictures to double-check the print placement, and I’m glad I did as one of the layouts was really bad. It’s probably lost in the busyness of the print, but the front top is a vee that goes to an underbust seam with overlapping panels behind it for modesty.
That leads to seven layers of fabric sewn together through the pleats as both the bodice and panel pieces are folded in half eliminating the need for neck edge finishing in the front. Not so the back, which I disliked as I thought it was messy though the shoulder seam.
The above picture is that same bodice seam once neatly serged together. Makes quite the difference. With the pleats and the panels, I basted everything first for the bodice, which ruined the whole speed through a knit project to get a wearable garment in three hours feel. However, it truly helped speed everything along once I got the serger because I was not worried about pieces slipping out of alignment when wrangling that many layers. I think I got most of the basting thread out but there was a lot by the end.
Let’s talk about fitting. I mean, that’s the selling point to the Palmer/Pletsch patterns, right? For me, the book Fit for Real People was life changing in my sewing. I knew that I didn’t exactly match the drafted body for patterns, but it was the book that started me down the path to personalizing patterns so they fit me. I’ve given a copy to my mom, and recommended it to friends. I even like that the fitting lines are printed right on the pattern sheets, and the extra page of instructions is really well done. But I do not get the knit patterns to work out as well as I would like and I don’t know why. I mean, I have made plenty of knits and yet, these just don’t end up as successful as I would like.
I don’t know if it’s my expectations or what. Honestly, tissue fitting and knits just don’t really go together. So much is going to depend on the fabric used and wearing preferences. For example, I like no ease through the bodice and one to two inches of ease below my ribcage. I did the size 10 with no full bust adjustment swinging out to a 14 through the waist and hips. The finished measurements should have given me no ease in the bust. I ended up taking in half an inch on each side and there is still wearing ease to be found here.
The back is too wide for my frame and the armscye seam is past the tip of my shoulder, but I failed in doing the narrow shoulder adjustment, so it’s to be expected. I took half an inch in length out of the upper bodice and sleeves, did the indicated swayback tuck. I don’t always alter for a swayback, but I do generally have the problem of too much back length in patterns in the back waist, and I should remember to do it more often. The diagonal wrinkle coming from the right hip is new to me, and I’m a bit perplexed as there is plenty of room in that part of the dress for my body.
The bodice seam I think is meant to be a straight line and it is not on me. But I don’t really need more length through there, if anything less, as the center of the seam is where it is supposed to be, but it just droops off to the side. At the same time, the hemline is more or less even with the floor, so maybe that’s how it’s supposed to look but I don’t love it. I did finally try to accommodate my forward shoulders and pivoted the seam forward by 3/8″. I didn’t change where the top of the sleeve was against the advice of the instructions, but I don’t have issues with sleeves, just seam placement. I can’t see a difference in this dress, but it wasn’t hard to do, so I’ll mess with it again in the future and see if it’s worthwhile to add to my repertoire of usual alterations.
All that said, I’m not in love with the finished product. It’s well constructed and it fits alright, but the skirt is too thin for a long sleeve dress, and a more robust fabric would be too thick though the bust with all of the layers. Rayon jersey gets really heavy in a dress application, and I wonder if I wouldn’t like this more chopped to a tunic length. I’m going to see if it gets any wear with the weather getting colder and decide then.