Pattern: McCall's Misses'/Women's Dresses M5659, revised
Fabric: floral cotton
Update: Featured on BurdaStyle!
When I first bought this pattern, I shopped around for some geometric, bold fabric like the one on the cover of the envelope. It was too expensive, fall was coming, and I was working on another dress at the time. But now that spring is here again, I've been wanting a subtle, floral dress. Nothing like the bright, geometric dresses in my closet, but rather one that fits the delicate nature of spring, with ruffles, pleating, and, of course, some pockets. When I found a great lightweight cotton floral fabric at the store down the street, I knew my wish had been granted.
Unless you are actually pregnant, however, the McCall's pattern needs some alterations to become a little less tent-like. I replaced the single pleat in the middle with ten 1/4" pleats that extend down to the waist. Below the waist I traced the pleats from the Macaron Dress (pictured at left), two of which have a pocket hidden in the fold. I then cinched the waist with elastic thread in a process called shirring. Overall, these steps gave the dress more shape and the look of a better-tailored garment.
After making this dress, I must admit that I fell in love with cotton. It was easy to cut, easy to pin and sew, and the floral pattern hides all the flaws. Even washing it was a cinch as this one didn't wrinkle or fray. I've always loved the wide array of cotton prints at the fabric store, but have generally worked with lycra blends, whose stretchiness allows you to make a whole plethora of easy pieces. But by shirring the waist, I got the benefit of stretch (meaning no buttons or zippers) and the ease of cotton.
That said, the shirring was a bit of work. While many websites report that sewing with elastic thread is easy peasy, for some reason I just couldn't get the fabric to scrunch up. While next time I may try to increase the tension on the bobbin, this time I settled for using super long stitches with a very loose tension up top and pulling the elastic tight underneath after sewing each row. For step by step instructions on shirring, check out this website. Shirring can also be used to make my Fabric Store Dress, if you don't have any pre-shirred fabric available.
For a fun, easy shirring pattern check out this Kuky Ideas blog.
Plus, check out my review of this pattern at PatternReview.com.
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