Tag Archives: peru

Completed: McCall’s 6952, Peru-Style!

14 Jul

I’m so happy that I finally got to use this fabric!

McCall's 6952

This piece of lovely came aaaall the way from Peru, when I was there for 2 weeks last year. Coming into the country with only a backpack meant I had to be really careful about what I bought and brought home (I did end up buying a small bag to carry some stuff back. And I wore my new alpaca blanket like a cape for the flight home. NO REGRETS), including fabric. Not that there were a lot of places to buy fabric in Peru, at least not what I came across. Gamarra is a big garment district that did come up in my searches, but everyone I spoke to said it would be really dangerous for me to go. Our host in Lima took me to a small strip of fabric stores during our last few days there – sorry, I’m not sure where it was exactly or what the stores were called! Anyway, I knew I could really only justify buying one piece, and this one definitely jumped out at me.

Even just buying the fabric was an adventure. The store we went into didn’t have any people working who spoke English, and my Spanish is mostly limited to being able to say hello and ask where the bathroom is 🙂 (and our host didn’t speak English either! She was seriously a trooper and treated us to such a nice time, even with the language barrier) I eventually was able to ask for, find, and buy 1.5m of this fabric. It’s a double georgette, some sort of silk blend (definitely with some acrylic, based on my burn test). I thought the print was really pretty and certainly have never seen anything like it at the stores here in America! Plus, it reminds me of all the beautiful tiles I saw while walking around Iquitos. It’s a lovely piece of fabric and a perfect reminder of my time in Peru. With all that at stake, though, it did take me over a year to figure out what to sew it into 🙂 Especially since I had such a small piece!

McCall's 6952

McCall's 6952

I have enjoyed wearing my green silk version of McCall’s 6952, so I decided to use that pattern again for this dress! This time, I made the version with the plain neckline and back cutout, to mimic the geometric pattern on the fabric. I used blue silk crepe from my stash to do the back contrast (the same fabric I used to make this dress, actually); it’s not a perfect match but it’s close enough!

McCall's 6952

Cutting the pattern pieces was a BEAST. After I’d already had my heart set on using *this* pattern with *this* fabric, and after I’d already cut a couple of pieces… I realized there was a very strong line in the print that would need to be matched. Since the pattern has Princess seams – both front and back – that meant a lot of pattern Tetris to get everything to line up. I ended up cutting everything on the single layer, which is a really good way to squeeze out every last drop of your yardage. Even with that, I still couldn’t get all the lines to match up across every seam – specifically, when it came to the side seams, decisions had to be made. I figured the princess seams were more important than the side seams, so I let those go a little haywire. Honestly, I doubt anyone would even notice that the print doesn’t match across the side seams – but I wanted to do it right, even if I’m the only person who sees it. That’s why I sew. I like the challenge, even if it makes my eyes cross and gives me a reason to drink at the end of the night 🙂

McCall's 6952

McCall's 6952

Speaking of challenges, the construction of this dress had it’s fair share of those, too! Since I already went the extra mile with the cutting and print-matching, I continued that trend and gave the inside of the dress the respect it deserved. Lots of French seams all over the inside of this garment, which are both strong and beautiful. Since the fabric had a fairly high synthetic content, it was a little difficult to press – I just used high heat (my iron has a silicone shoe, which acts as a press cloth and prevents scorching on stuff liek this) and then held everything down with my clapper while it cooled, which gave me a nice sharp press. Instead of using the facing pieces to finish the arm holes and neckline, I used bias facing that I made with the silk crepe, which I just find to be a more refined finish (plus, I wasn’t sure how to finish that facing edge without there being a lump across my chest – the fabric frays too much to use pinking shears, and a serged or turned under edge would be too bulky for this lightweight fabric).

McCall's 6952

I wasn’t sure how the back cutout was gonna work – I didn’t do a muslin (unless you count that green silk version – but it had a plain back, so it was only a half-assed muslin ya know), so things were pretty up in the air as far as whether this would work out or if it would be a gaping mess in the back. (My tip is to always have a Plan B should things not work out – in my case, uhhh, this would make a fabulous skirt! haha!) It actually turned out pretty nice, though, so I’m happy about that! The back piece is interfaced to give it some strength and smoothness, and also faced so the inside is clean and pretty. I think random cutouts are starting to not be trendy anymore, but I don’t care. I think it’s fun. LOOK AT MY BACK U GUYS.

McCall's 6952

McCall's 6952

The other change I made was the elastic at the waist. The pattern calls for 1/4″ elastic, applied in a casing. I like the 1/4″ elastic ok, but it doesn’t allow for a belt to sit very well over it (and I am not a huge fan of how narrow elastic waists look, at least on me). I used a 3/4″ elastic on this dress instead, which meant I had to widen the casing that it goes in (not a problem; it’s just bias strips. Which, again, I made myself – out of that blue silk crepe), but that’s about it. I also topstitched right through the middle of the elastic, which keeps it from twisting around and also just looks cool. I am thinking the waistline could be a hair lower, but this is good enough. I ain’t ripping that shit out!

McCall's 6952

McCall's 6952

McCall's 6952

Anyway, that’s all for this little dress! It’s pretty casual, which I love, and the pattern is simple enough that all the focus is really on that awesome fabric (until you see the back cutout and then it’s extra awesome!). I try not to hoard my special fabrics any longer than it takes to decide on a project for them, simply because them sitting on the shelf doesn’t exactly give me a lot of joy. There is, however, joy in wearing said fabric. Every time I wear this dress, I think about those awesome 2 weeks I had in Peru.

McCall's 6952

Completed: Vogue 1395, Modified!

3 Jun

I reckon I have time for one last post before I leave! 😛

Plaid Silk V1395

May this dress be forever known as one of the bitchiest I’ve ever sewn. Sewing silk crepe is a challenge enough of it’s own – but throwing plaid into the mix? I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought this fabric (probably something like, “Ooh! Plaid silk crepe! My favorites! lololol”), but the fact that I not only sewed it up but actually finished the dang project is something of a miracle for me. It certainly didn’t give me an easy time.

Plaid Silk V1395

The pattern I used is Vogue 1395, which is a Rebecca Taylor design from last summer. I’ve made the pattern before in cherry printed silk crepe, and it’s one of my favorite summer dresses. It’s SUPER comfy, but still pretty cute! I knew I wanted to make a second one, but I wanted to try to figure out a way to make it without the back overlay. I love the back overlay, but it can shift over the course of the day and kind of make the arm holes hang weird. Plus, I wanted to improve on my first version (namely, the low arm holes that had to be emergency-raised and thus the seams are pretty wonky).

Plaid Silk V1395

Plaid Silk V1395

First, my pattern modifications. Remembering those awful armholes, I shortened the depth by a good 1.5″ or so. I actually wanted to shorten them more, but I was afraid I’d really fuck up the pattern, so I erred on the side of less. This gives the arm holes a much better depth (much more suited to my petite proportions), although you can still see a tiny bit of bra if I move a certain way. Ah, c’est la vie.

I kept the front bodice the same (other than the arm holes). I re-traced the back bodice and copied the shoulder width from the overlay to the shoulder area of my new back bodice (the OG back bodice in the pattern has narrow shoulders, and the overlay matches the front piece. This probably doesn’t make sense if you haven’t seen the pattern pieces). I redrew the bottom armscye to have a little curve, similar to the front (the overlay also doesn’t have that – it just goes straight, since it’s supposed to pull across to the front). Aaaaand that’s about it! Pretty easy modifications.

Plaid Silk V1395

Sewing up the actual pattern – again, with modifications, since I was omitting the overlay, as well as the skirt lining – was simple. Sewed the front and back together at the shoulders and side seams, added the bias binding for the necklines and arm holes, and then sewed the front closed. I sewed the skirt side seams, attached the skirt to the bodice, and then folded up the seam allowance and topstitched it down to create a casing for the elastic waist. The skirt has a simple rolled hem, and all the interior seams are french seams. Because of the bias binding, there’s quite a bit of topstitching on this dress, which I really like.

Sewing – and cutting, for that matter – silk crepe actually isn’t that difficult. Of course, it’s marginally harder than sewing, say, quilting cotton, but it’s not this terrible beast that you have to wrangle and beg and plead with. The spongey texture of the crepe gives the silk something to grab onto, so it doesn’t really shift much while sewing. It can be a little floaty when you’re trying to cut it, but I just make sure my table has enough space to hold the whole yardage and that helps a lot. You’ll want to use a sharp, new needle for sewing, and silk pins for pinning.

Plaid Silk V1395

What gave me the most trouble with this damn dress was the fact that it’s a plaid fabric. Cutting was a NIGHTMARE – like I said, silk crepe is sorta shifty at best, but as long as you’re staying on grain and getting the pattern pieces straight, it’s not too bad. Throw in strong horizontal lines and some plaid that has to match, and then it becomes an epic journey. I gave up on trying to match the plaid perfectly, and instead just focused on getting the lines to match across the seamlines. This was something I also had to focus on while sewing – again, a little shifting and/or growing is ok when you’re sewing a solid color or a busy print, but for these strong lines, you have to pay attention to make sure everything matches up at the seams. I pinned the shit out of things and used a walking foot while sewing, but man, thank god there are only a handful of seams in this dress. Otherwise, I might have ended up flipping a table over out of sheer rage.

Overall, though, everything matches up pretty well! The center front seam is a bit unfortunate looking with how the plaids lined up – but whatever. The back bodice does not quite match the back skirt – the lines are unbroken, but they’re the wrong lines (whoops). The elastic waist really helps to hide that, though, and at least it’s not at the front! The shoulder seams don’t match at all, but that’s the nature of the beast this pattern. Ya gotta pick your battles.

Plaid Silk V1395

Plaid Silk V1395

When I finished the dress, I was a little underwhelmed with how it looked on me – I wasn’t a fan of how the bodice bloused over the elastic (the overlay ties over it and flattens things, but since I didn’t have the overlay, I had the blousiness). Belts are usually my solution for this, but those looked strange, too. So I made a little self-fabric tie, out of my remaining scraps. The dimensions are as much as I could get away with from the scraps. I just sewed a tube with bias ends and turned it right side out.

I also didn’t like the length, so I cut it REALLY short. Go ahead, judge me 😛

Close-up shots:

Plaid Silk V1395

Plaid Silk V1395

Plaid Silk V1395

Final thoughts of this dress – love it, was totally worth the effort. The plaid matching, while not perfect, is good enough for me. I really love this silk print and I’m glad I pushed through to finish, although I don’t think I’ll be picking up any more plaid silk crepe anytime soon. Sewing this pattern made me want another of the unmodified version, though, so I made one last night – and it turned out beeeeyoutiful! You can see the Instagram peek here. Stay tuned in a couple weeks for that blog post, I guess!

I took these pictures in the woods because the sun was SUPER bright, and it’s awesome how much coverage the trees give! This is right outside my door, too. Amelia was sitting at the screen, complaining at me. The woods surrounding our house are on a bit of an incline, hence the slight bobble-head vibe I’m throwing here. Also, in case you were wondering and/or freaking out – I’m not allergic to poison ivy 🙂 haha 🙂 I don’t think any shows in these photos, but it’s aaaalll over the place back there!

Plaid Silk V1395

With all that being said, I’m taking a blog sabbatical for the next couple of weeks! My trip to Peru leaves tomorrow afternoon, and we will be gone through 6/18. I am not sure if I will have internet access while I’m away – definitely will be off for at least a week while I’m in Iquitos, because there’s no reception where I’m staying – but I’m not bringing my computer, so I can’t really answer emails. Fair warning in advance if you try to email me or holler with a question, because it’ll probably go unanswered the whole time I’m gone! I’m looking forward to spending some time unplugged and exploring another continent with my bestie, though!

See y’all in a couple of weeks!