Wednesday, November 10, 2010
So named because this was one of the worst experiences I've had sewing something with the best result. I quite like it now that it is finished but I was cursing it (literally) while I was making it. I've had this McCalls 4769 pattern in my stash for a long time. In fact I believe it was one of the first patterns I bought when I started sewing. I thought the pattern looked pretty easy (it said 8 great looks one easy pattern on the envelope!) and that it was a classic shirtdress. I decided to use it as part of my quest to use different apparel fabrics. This time- Tencel.
Tencel is a brand name for lyocell, which is a fabric made from wood fibers. It's supposed to be environmentally friendly but I've read that only applies to the process of making the fabric. The process of dyeing Tencel on the other hand, not so much. It's comparable to rayon but a bit heavier. This is a peach skin type. It has a slightly suede-y looking finish. It was moderately easy to sew with. I had the most trouble cutting. It was a little slippery. I pinned a lot and noticed that my pinholes stayed. I've heard that Tencel will shrink like crazy so I washed the fabric twice on hot before cutting out my pattern pieces. I'll wash the finished dress in cold water and hang up to dry.
Now on to the worst pattern instructions ever- they weren't really that bad but the collar has me harboring a grudge. I've never seen a collar constructed this way so maybe that has something to do with it. The problem was just that there was no proper explanation of how to put it all together. The collar is a separate piece while the lapel part of the collar is actually part of the dress. It's all supposed to fit neatly between two little clips that you make on the front pieces and the facings. The best way I can explain it is that you end up having to sew together two acute angles backwards-- does that make sense? No, not to me either. The instructions basically just tell you to sew it together, like figure it out on your own. I was not able to match up those dots and clips with collar sandwiched between without some sketchy looking stitching, even after my six (yes, six) attempts on the right side. It may be easier with a crisper cotton fabric, but I still don't quite understand how it works.
I tried to make the sleeves from view E, kind of a faux cuff thingy going on. They looked terrible so I chopped them off and hemmed the sleeves. I'll probably always wear them rolled up anyway. Another thing I didn't like is that the facings stop at the shoulder seams leaving about four inches of collar that need to be clipped and slip stitched. It just looks a little messy. Why not make the facing go all the way around? It took me forever to make this dress, hours and hours, which makes me think they should get rid of the one easy pattern line. I've noticed, though, that the more I sew the longer it takes me to finish a project.
See the strange looking right side? I steamed the heck out of it until it was somewhat flat. I did a better job on the other side. I ended up stitching the collar/facing seam in two seams rather than one continuous. I stitched up to the clipped dot, backstitched and took it off the machine. Then I shifted all the fabric around and stitched the rest of the seam back from the shoulder seam to the dot. I still had to steam it to get it to lie flat.
The good points are that the fit is great- no adjustments. And there are pockets. That's always a plus. I didn't use the guide for button placement. I started at the bust and waist and then spaced the rest evenly. I think I used more buttons than the pattern called for but I like the way it looks. I left the length. It's a little longer than I would normally wear, but I like it with boots. My conclusion is that while I like the finished product, I will not be using this pattern again- unless someone can explain the collar construction. Thanks for reading!