So, I decided to give dressmaking a go.
I selected the pattern above from McCalls “easy” range – M6530. My plan was to make it for a special occasion that I had coming up, so it had to be fairly easy to put together.
Problem number one – the sizes didn’t seem to *work* – according to the measurements on the pattern, I was a size UK20….which I am not! After some frantic Googling, I found that a few people were perplexed in this way too. The general advice was to go ahead with the size you normally wear – for me, a UK12.
I gathered my dressmaking materials – I selected a hand loomed navy blue silk dupion, which I bought through Silk Home UK
Feeling very nervous, I cut out the pattern, pinned it to the beautiful fabric, and made my first cut!
For the next few days, this dress became my life. I read articles and blogs online, and quickly learned some important points.
I bought a new iron. This iron was to replace my very old beaten up iron, and I vowed to press every single seam to perfection with it. Time to start sewing!
Pretty soon, things were starting to take shape. I started to construct the bodice with my tools – a 1904 Singer handed down from my great grandfather, and a 1920’s dressmakers dummy picked up at Winchester Vintage and Retro market.
I started to learn about techniques such as basting:
The bodice was finally taking shape!
I learned all about interfacing, and how it works to hold the shape of the fabric. For this pattern, interfacing is used on the neckline and waistline. I used woven medium weight fusible interfacing, after advice from the lovely Claire of ontrendfabrics.
Here is the interfaced waistband on the bodice! I had to learn about gathering around the bust too. I got very excited about the next step, and had to see vaguely what it was going to look like…
I pinned the skirt, in it’s pinned, pre-pressed state onto the dummy so I could vaguely see what it was going to look like.
Once the skirt was pressed and basted, it looked a little better! I was so close, and so excited by this point, I stayed up rather late to get the skirt in place. After quick insertion of a zip, it was nearly ready to go! As a finishing touch (in the guest room before the event I’d been making it for) I added some buttons to the front.
Overall, I was very pleased with the result. I decided not to add sleeves, as I’m not a huge fan of sleeves! I love how the skirt holds itself out, but doesn’t feel like it’s about to blow up and expose you to the world. Next time, I’m planning on giving an extra inch to the waist for dancing room – it fits snugly at the moment, but I think if I ever had a serious dancing moment, it may be a little restrictive. I’d also make it a little longer next time, so then I could wear it into work without having to worry about it riding up when I sit down.
I’m very glad it was so quick to put together, and glad that I managed to make it in time for this event to celebrate my wonderful grandparents.