Monday, April 13, 2015

Pattern Review: McCall's 7047 Diva Cowl Silver Lamé Knit Dress

A photo posted by ashley (@akastrophe) on
Every year I go to a formal event hosted by the same college G&S group I talked about in my Modern Major Milliner post. It's part formal, part alumni reunion, and it's a great chance to catch up with friends and drunkenly regale current student attendees about your glory days. Did I mention there's an open wine bar? And cheese and chocolate mousse galore?

And dancing and after-parties with greasy Chinese food, so it's basically one of the best evenings of the year. Plus I never moved away from the city where I went to college, so it's also not prohibitively expensive for me to go every year: I just jump on the bus or two subway lines.

Because of the food and the movement and everything, it's really important for me to be comfortable. Scratch that, it's important for me to be comfortable all the time. I have terrible feet and walk about 5 miles every day and have generally well-managed acid reflux and can't wear really tight clothes, so it's actually about health. OK, consuming an obscene quantity of wine and dairy is probably not the healthiest thing, but at least it doesn't make your feet hurt.

With these things in mind, I planned my ensemble for this year. I have roughly intermediate level garment sewing skills but have done a fair amount of easy tailoring (like hems), quilting, accessory-making, etc. I learned how to sew at a fairly young age, but I haven't really been proficient in pattern-reading and fitting until the last year or so. I wanted something that was fabulous, not the most difficult, but still a challenge. I picked the McCall's 7047 pattern because:
  1. OMG the cowl. Isn't it perfect?!?!
  3. It's a knit! I hadn't sewn many knits before, but they're comfy, though kind of challenging.
I spent an absurd amount of time evaluating my sewing-with-a-sequin-knit plan, tried to find something locally that I liked, and looked at variou$ $equin fabric$ online that just seemed like a lot of money to spend on a dress I wasn't sure would be a ringing success. I wound up buying this lovely silver knit lamé-ish fabric from Vogue Fabrics. I really liked it; it was neither the hardest nor the easiest fabric to sew with. Of course, a week into sewing the dress, I found some sequin fabric locally that I liked.

The main sewing challenge involved my choice of lining fabric. It was considerably more stretchy than the main fabric, so it did create some problems, albeit entirely fixable ones. I don't think you can see such problems when you look at it, so I think it turned out ok, or at least I figured out eventually how and where best to hide problem matching areas.

While I generally found that the pattern made sense, I wasn't fond of the instructions for the skirt lining (again, the lining!). For the long skirt variations, you're supposed to cut out the short skirt pattern pieces for the lining. I kept worrying that the lining wasn't laying flat, even though I tacked it to the outer skirt. If I did it again, I'd either line it all the way down or skip it altogether. The fabric I had was a bit sheer so it did need to be lined, though.

The other thing about the lining that I wasn't crazy about had to do with the skirt length alteration. I am quite short and have proportionally short legs compared to my torso and height. When I altered the lining piece, I altered it the same amount as the outer skirt. I think that may have been the problem with the lining. My butt is not insubstantial, and I think it moved the shortened skirt lining up even more. Looking at photos, I don't think it was actually a problem, but it did annoy me.

I really loved wearing this dress, loved how comfy it was, loved how it caught the light, loved the drama of the back. For now I can't see a reason to sew from this pattern again. I'm not a peplum person and I'm not sure I'll be sewing a long formal gown or a dress with a dramatic dive cowl pattern for some time. But I would recommend it to others.

I didn't get a great photo of just the dress at the event, but my friend Amanda volunteered to take some photos yesterday at her fancy apartment. Many of the backgrounds make it look like I'm in some übermodern art complex.

Here's a nice shot of the back with the cowl draping:

And lastly, here's a picture from in front of some random curtain of silver beads in the lobby of Amanda's apartment. I feel like I'm in some publicity still from some Regietheater opera production.

Look not on me.

Many thanks to Amanda; I just wanted a few pictures to show how pretty the dress was, and she wound up directing a glamorous photoshoot.

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