Monday, December 10, 2012

McCall's M4548: Pattern concept

I usually work 4/10 shifts (four days, ten hours each) and get Fridays off.  Three days weekends are absolutely worth two more hours a day, at least for me.

This three-day weekend was, for once, well-spent sewing.  I have to deduct time spent at my friend Teresa's Christmas party on Sunday afternoon, and time spent fighting Mispickel off of my sewing, but even taking that into account I think I got a lot done.  I'm usually a very dawdly seamstress.

These posts are going to get long so I'm going to break them up into stages.

To refresh your memory, this is the original pattern:


Here is the line drawing:

Okay, not bad.  Not great, but I've definitely seen worse.

Actually, this pattern has two rather important things going for it: It doesn't have a zipper, and it doesn't have bust darts.  It has a lot of other problems, but the fact that you don't have to get rid of bust darts pretty much sends it to the head of the class where costume-quality pioneer dresses are concerned (replacing a zipper with buttons is less problematic, although it's still a pain).

The advertising photo for this is a spectacular disaster of garish color and terrible fit.  And that might be the worst bonnet I've ever seen.


The photo looks even worse than the drawing, which gave me pause.  However, I'm stubborn and not always very sensible so I didn't let it stop me.

Here is the dress again at the Jengerbread Creations blog, and Such Treasures made at least as many alterations as I did for her Mormon trek costume.  CatnipKitty's versions one and two, made for a play, are done well but show the same fitting and basic shape problems that the McCall's photo does.  The most obvious are that the bodice is too big and the skirt is too narrow, especially for the mid-19th century look that I need.  It's less "off" for, say, the 1880's, but even then it wouldn't be great, and I don't do many events that are that late in the 19th century.

I don't have time to finish the Past Patterns 803 Round Dress right now but I did learn a lot from it, and I'm using this to tweak M4548 into a dress that, while still not period-correct, is at least much less conspicuously inaccurate and more pointedly mid-19th century in style.

We're going for something more like this:

Much better, no?  Much more 1860 than the one above it.

We're going for a look more similar to that of this beautiful wool dress at Diary of a Seamstress.  So, how do we get there?  The list of changes is long but only a few of them are problematic:

1. Eliminate collar. (Super easy.  Easier, really, than making the dress with the collar.)
2. Close up neckline (if needed).  (Easy.)
3. Lower shoulder seams and corresponding sleeve caps.  (Mildly problematic.)
4. Interline bodice.  (Easy.)
5. Rotate shoulder seams back.  (Easy.)
6. Reposition back princess seams.  (Potentially problematic.)
7. Merge reduced side-back pieces with front pieces.  (Easy in theory, but I could foresee this getting a little hairy.)
8. More buttons.  (Easy, except for the fact that I have to make more %#@!! buttonholes.)
9. Fuller skirt.  (Easy, except for gathering the sucker into the waistband.)
10. Skirt hem facing.  (Easy.)
11. Piping at neckline and armscyes.  (Fiddly because of the fabric bulk, but not actually difficult, especially if you've done it before.)
12. Reduce sleeve fullness (probably a step back in accuracy but necessary since I'm going to wear this to dulcimer plays.  I don't like huge sleeves, anyway.)  (Easy.)

I'll probably have to leave out the skirt tucks to save fabric, but that's fine.

I'm doing a few more for reasons of aesthetics and person fit quirks:
1. Lengthen sleeves slightly and make deeper cuffs.  (Easy.)
2. Add side-seam pockets.  (Easy.) 
3. Create a sweetheart yoke cut on the bias.  (Not so easy, but what the Hell.)
4. Added 1 1/2 inches length to the bodice.  (Easy.)

Things I should be doing that I'm not, including but not limited to:
1. An offset skirt closure.  Sorry, not gonna happen this time around.  Seen here at Koshka the Cat.
2. Gauging the skirt.  Again . . . not gonna happen this time.  I've also heard too many horror stories about the stitches getting ripped out.  Seen here on a remarkable little doll dress.

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