Monday, 18 November 2013

Completed: McCalls 5974- "The Perfect Knit Dress"

Yes, they actually call it that- The Perfect Knit Dress, right there on the envelope of McCalls 5974. Is it? Well, I'd definitely give it a thumbs up!
I made it in a merino/nylon blend I found on sale. It's quite thin, so I'm wearing it with a half-slip. Mmm, a warm grey dress. I feel so grown up and classy or something!

This neckline is crying out for a cute necklace, which I do not own unfortunately!
I have to say, I have problems with the instructions. Straight away McCalls sets people up to fail by including four inches of ease at the waistline. WHAT?? That's plenty for a woven fabric, let alone a stretchy knit fabric. Very disappointed, McCall's.
After seeing that printed on the pattern tissue, I went down from my recommended size 14, to the smallest size, 8, to get zero ease. (which by the way, PHEW, I'm glad it was printed on there or I would have made it way too big). I graded out two sizes for the hips, which probably wasn't necessary for a flared skirt, but I figured my butt could use the extra room.
I then took it in slightly at the waist during a mid-construction fitting also.

God McCall's, so disappointing from a pattern that's supposed to be about great fit! They go into all this detail about how you should tissue fit the garment before making it. Umm, that seems pointless for a knit. I can see tissue-fitting working for woven garments, but tissue doesn't stretch like knits, so that doesn't make sense to me.
The pattern includes alteration lines for sway back, small/full bust, and other things, but they don't even have a lengthen/shorten line for the waist. Weird! I took an inch out of the waist length, just because I know I seem to need that for every pattern. It seemed to work, so that's good. The underbust seam would have been very low if I hadn't done that.
I didn't bother looking at the sway back because I felt there was no way to know how much I'd need before making it. It's not too bad, plus ties cover it up!


I'm really glad I went down sizes- it's not too small in the shoulders at all, it seems in good proportion. I did sew the underarms at a smaller seam allowance just to raise them a little.
I thought I'd be a smartie pants and pre-emptively shorten the skirt by 2". Well, after levelling the hem, there was about a 4cm difference between the front and back, so I had to chop a lot off the front, thanks to my butt! So I made a really small, dodgy hem. Next time I'll start a bit longer so I can have a better hem.

Oh yeah, and the neckline opening is just hemmed with a narrow hem, as the instructions said to. I did all this work researching better ways to do it as others had recommended, but then I just... did it plain. My knit is well-behaved so it didn't go all wavy or gape-y as I'd feared. :)

Super serious-looking fashion pose.
Now the other beef with this pattern. McCall's conspires to waste your time all over the place.
They have you make gathering stitches any time something needs easing in. GUYS, it's for KNITS, just pull the shorter one to fit as you sew, it's so easy and fast!
Also, for some reason they instruct to sew each seam with a double line of stitching. I ain't got time for that! I'm not sure what the logic is here- more strength to the seams? Anyway, I'll let you know if my dress falls apart because I just did one line of stitching.

I also opted to put the sleeves in flat- it's easier construction and makes the fit check easier too.

They have you interface the midriff- I omitted that as I didn't want to compromise the stretch. It doesn't seem to miss it.

So the tie on this dress is pretty long and I quite like it. I think it'd be great for people who want some camouflage for their tummy. However, I'm thinking of making a version without the ties, because it does hide the cute pleating details on the bodice and skirt, plus I like the simplicity of leaving it off.
It weirds me out a bit that the midriff band doesn't go all the way around the dress though!

Here I tied it with the ties around the back, and I quite like it. It shows off the bodice more and is less bulky on the waist.

Maybe it looks a little odd with the ties wrapping at the back? I don't mind it.
So, The Perfect Knit Dress? Probably not, but it's pretty darn good (if you change a bunch of stuff on it)! :)


What do you reckon for my next version, ties or no ties? I'm so torn!

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