I was super excited to make, and then blog about this dress. But when all was said and done, my vision of how it would look on me was far from what I saw in the mirror. So in the closet it went. Maybe to never be worn and/or blogged about. But I’ve had a change of heart. I thought a lot lately about what blogging is all about. What I want my blog to be. Is it just to show off a perfectly crafted project? Or is it to share a story and maybe some imperfect truths. I think the later is far more interesting. So here is my Fresh Make #28, a drapey, rayon maxi dress.
The pattern I used is McCalls 6074, purchased on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.40. I bought it several months ago thinking it would be a great pattern to add to my summer dress stash. I was attracted to the gathering under the bust which adds a bit of fullness to the body of the dress. I thought this would lessen the possibility of showing bumps and lumps under a stretchy jersey knit.
I love to dye fabric as much as I love to sew. For this dress, I began with a beautiful, white rayon jersey from Dharma Trading Co. I have used this fabric for other projects and actually had several yards left in my stash. This fabric is a nice weight, drapes beautifully and looks like new after every washing. I lay it flat to dry, and the wrinkles disappear while it dries! I dyed it twice with procion dyes, again from Dharma Trading Co. I won’t go into the dyeing techniques on this post. But if you’re interested, just ask!
I finished the neckline, sleeves caps, armholes, and hem with a double needle. I sewed the dress with 100% cotton thread so it would dye also. You can see the polyester thread in my serger does not take the dye.
I first dyed the fabric “Tangerine” while it was tied with marbles and rubber bands. Then I dyed it in “Deep Yellow.”
LET’S BE HONEST:
1. This pattern is labeled Easy, which it is if you are experienced with sewing on knits. There is no differentiated instructions for sewing with knits in this pattern. Generally, there never is with big 4 patterns. You, as a sewist, would just need to know what techniques would be appropriate for the knit you choose.
2. I cut a size 14. The only change I made was adding 5/8″ around the neckline. I did this on a hunch that it might be too low for me, and I’m glad I did.
3. I choose to make version with the sleeve cap just for a little variety. But I not sure I’m a big fan of the actual result. At least on me. I would like them to lay flatter on my arm. This fabric is extremely stretchy, and it stretched at the edge when I hemmed it with the double needle. I steamed it back to shape as best I could, but there is still some extra fullness.
4. The sewing of the elastic casing and attaching the elastic on the design feature under the bust is not my proudest sewing moment. Sewing a little stretchy casing on an equally stretchy larger piece is not easy. Even though I wasn’t satisfied with how the stitching looked, I didn’t want to take it out for fear I would poke holes in the fabric.
5. So here’s why I don’t like this dress, it shows all of my curves, good and BAD. The dress is not too small. The problem is the fabric is very stretchy and smooth, and with the weight that is created by the maxi length, it clings to every curve and bump of my body, and every ridge or line, no matter how small, of the undergarments I’m wearing. Previously, I have used this fabric for loose fitting tops, and it is perfect. The finished garment is lightweight enough, that it floats freely around my body. I would like to make this dress again. I will give up the elegance, and use a cotton knit with less stretch. I still think this would make a great, versatile, summer dress.
I offered this dress to my young adult daughter who has no “bad” curves. She responded very politely that she was not the maxi dress type. Oh, I don’t know. I still might wear it somewhere at night where the lights are low. How about you? Have you made something that seems to be the right size, but the fabric choice makes it unflattering?
Oh boy, I know exactly what you mean; I’ve had the same problem so many times. Do you think it would help to wear it over a slip? It’s such a great color and pretty style.
No. I’m a big slip advocate in general, but this dress show every seam and edge of the slip. I have tried!
I’m not sure that it’s a total loss… What if you took length off (to minimise the weight dragging it down and showing off those undergarments) and cinched in your waist with a gorgeous belt? Otherwise, I like this one you 🙂
Those are two good suggestions from “fresh eyes” that I would have never thought of!
I don’t think it’s as bad as you say, it’s a lovely colour, but I do know what you mean about wrong fabric choice. I’m just finishing a blog post on the exact subject, dress/fabric mismatch I’d call it. And agree blogs are more interesting if they’re not only about perfection.
The dye job is so good. I would make one of those tops you describe as being perfect for this fabric out of it.
That is an idea. The panels might be large enough to cut some else from them.
No advice from me, I’m a complete novice but I was drawn in by the colours and pattern you made 😀
I was also going to suggest shortening it a bit. Would adding more dyed elements around those curvy areas help? You would end with a different color and perhaps busier print than you envisioned.
I think I’m leaning towards shortening. More dyeing could be a possibility as a last resort. I didn’t really want to get into deep, muddy colors, but we’ll see. Good suggestion.
Lori, I get what you’re saying, but I don’t see it. It looks fabulous, but I know if you don’t feel awesome in it, why should you wear it. I like the idea of taking off some of the length to maybe fix some of that. I say keep it; maybe wear it poolside as a cover-up, cut a long slit up the side.
Thank you, Audrey! I think I will shorten based on the feedback.
I think that the fabric is too beautiful to be shut in a closet. I vote with those who suggest you use the fabric for something else. I thought lining this sort of fabric with a tricot was supposed to help (I’ve never done it, but I have a huge length of lovely jersey knit that I’m not touching until I know how to use it in such a way that it doesn’t reveal every bump and lump).
Thank you! I do love the color. A full tricot lining sewn into the dress could very well help this type of fabric. That would be the only way to have a second layer. It looked worse with a slip than without. I’ll be waiting to see your jersey knit project (after you have figured it out!)
If you want to save the dress, I agree with all the previous suggestions to shorten it. It seems that the weight of it is pulling on the neckline and negating the swish factor of the skirt. But if you want to take full advantage of the beautifully dyed pattern, I’d vote for repurposing the fabric into a totally different garment. You would lose a lot of that circle pattern if you cut the dress shorter.
Your point is well taken! I would like to incorporate the patterned part into something as I know the effort it took. Everyone’s suggestions have encouraged and committed me to do something with it!
So glad you blogged this…because you look amazing! That was literally my first thought, before reading anything. If anything, the dress looks a little big at the upper side seams — not small. Drapey rayon is definitely more revealing than other fabrics, and that can cause perception issues wrt fit.
Anyway, you look great and thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much!
Poolside would be great. Also consider for a fun house dress / night gown. If you do go short or slit it would be a great way to wear leggings.
Great suggestions! A mental shift in it’s purpose, in a way, can be a solution.
Absolutely. Rescue this gorgeous fabric. Shorten to encourage the drape you prefer. And, do blog about the not so wonderful. It is a true part of the sewing. I have a fabric problem too. The Silks recommended for a class in the first time garment category are more stable, but stiff. I would prefer a softer drape, but the cutting and sewing could be a disaster for me.
I would say compromising the drape you like for a more positive sewing experience is a good idea!
It is good advice to sew in easiest fabric for lessons. Focus on the single step without side issues. If garment is wearable, I can place it in the donation box.
I love this color! How awesome that you dyed it yourself. This looks like the perfect comfy and yet chic summer dress.
I absolutely love the way you dyed that fabric. At first glance I thought, “Where on earth did she get that border print?” Nicely done. I feel your pain with the bumps and curves. I had a clingy maxi stuffed in a closet I thought never to be worn, but after a surgery years ago, it was the perfect garment for the doctor’s orders of nothing tight fitting and yet easy to get on/off and to take care of business (if you know what I mean). I wore it for about a week straight – with in between washings of course. Thanks for blogging about an imperfect make (in your opinion). I agree that a blog should be about the journey, not making the blogger out to be a supermodel. I’ll leave the perfect life-look to Pintrest!