Tuesday, 28 June 2016

McCalls 6696: An Epic Tale

Hello again lovely people! Today I come bearing a pretty dress, a tale of happiness and wild despair and then returning happiness. This dress has been... a saga, to say the least. And just as a heads up, this is a picture heavy post. And... it's long. Very long. You've been warned!

Let's get the particulars out of the way first though, shall we? This is McCalls 6696, a gorgeous button down shirtdress everyone and their cat has already made. Yeah, yeah, once again I'm late to the party. But I am glad I waited this time. This is View B, with sleeves and gathered skirt, in a size 14. It fits perfectly. And I adore it.

It started off so well. I had 4 yards of this lovely Kaufman Essex Linen Blend fabric in a lovely light blue (they call it Water) from fabric.com which I had originally intended to make a Victorian style dress from Black Sails. However, after not finding a pattern that already worked, and fully realising that I wouldn't wear the dress, or have the skills needed to make it, I decided to instead use the fabric for my first M6696. After all, I would have spare fabric in case I should make a mistake.

(Max, in Black Sails. Super awesome right?
Just not practical, unfortunately.)

I cut the dress before the Sewaway in Port at the beginning of the month, and started sewing it during that weekend. I got about halfway (judging by the number of steps anyway), having assembled the bodice and sleeves, and having the skirt pieces pleated and ready to go into the dress. Thanks again, ladies, for the help you gave me over the course of that weekend! I came home in high spirits.

(This was where I was up to after the weekend - 
one day, I might use this pattern to make a jacket!)

This was my first time with buttonholes and a collar, but they went in perfectly over the next two weeks. I was so happy and over the moon, to have an amazing dress that fit so well! The only adjustment I made was to move some of the buttons around to avoid gaping at the bust. After a few sore fingers, it was finished, so I put the whole dress through the wash to remove the fabric marks from my water soluble pen. That's when the trouble started.

(Pre buttons - it turned out so well for my first effort!)

The dress came out of the wash looking exactly the same. It was then I Googled my pen (a Chako dual end with both air and water soluble inks)... and realised that by ironing it, I had apparently ironed the marks in permanently. Sigh. I then tried washing the dress on a hot cycle, which is when it started really falling apart. This is what happened:

(My actual buttons on the left - and on the right, the one that 
looked nicest after the hot wash...)

My gorgeous vintage market buttons were ruined. And the marks were still there. That was the part where I scrunched up the dress, threw it on the floor, and maybe had a small tantrum. Then I tried a few more things to remove the marks. Stain remover? Nope. Bleach? Nope. What other options did I have? Change the entire dress colour!

(A saucepan of purple!)

One vat of dye on a Friday evening, some replacement stitching (because I used poly thread, but natural dye), a little bit of cheating (I may have used purple Sharpie on some of the visible stitching...) and a new set of wooden buttons later: I have a dress that is finally finished. AND I LOVE IT. More will be made - once I get over the trauma, and the button sewing. And I already have more of those gorgeous floral buttons and plans to buy more of the same fabric so that I can have the dress I imagined. I also have some pretty Liberty which I have grand plans for - the day after our wedding we are organising a get together barbeque which I think it would make a perfect M6696 for!

(The photos for this dress were taken at the newly refurbished Meadowbank Wharf)

Special thanks goes to the Boyfriend, for consoling me when I was upset, and helping me troubleshoot and dye the dress. I would have thrown it in the bin without you.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Aaand I'm back!

Hello lovelies! I am back - and this time, I'm not even going to bother trying to explain myself. It's been a while, but now I'm back, and I've had a big kick up the sewjo this last weekend!

Having had a really busy week writing reports for work, I finally snuck them in early on Friday, knocked off work as soon as possible, and drove north. Coincidentally, I was also driving towards one of the worst storms eastern NSW has seen in recent times, but I only had to spend a very short time outside in it, luckily.

I drove from Sydney up to the (normally) lovely town of Port Macquarie, where I simply found my accommodation and settled in for the night. My accommodation was awesome, and extremely central for the restaurants and the Glasshouse, our sewing venue.

(Arriving, sewing machines in tow)

(Our sewing tables - in the front was a huge cutting table as well!)

What followed was 2 days of disgusting weather, but fantastic food, awesome sewing, and great new friends. There was a surprising spread of people there - from Melbourne, all the way up to Brisbane. The Glasshouse was a great venue, with plenty of space, tables and power for all. And I finally got started on the project I'd been putting off for AGES... McCalls 6696! It seems like by now everyone and their cat has made this pattern, but all the new-to-me elements (button band, buttonholes, collar, yoke) were putting me off. This was the kick start I needed! I got as far as having bodice mostly done, and skirt panels pleated and ready for pockets. But the best part was the inspiration. I really enjoyed being surrounded by other likeminded ladies who could talk sewing (or not sewing), and we were offering each other advice and suggestions along the way. Because of that, I now have plans to one day make a M6696 coat!

 (My M6696 in progress - it looks just like a jacket!)

Being a sometimes nervous person, I was a little worried about travelling alone, and going to an event where I didn't know anyone (in person, anyway), but it was such a fantastic experience. I'm hoping that there is something else on soon! Super big thanks to Lizzy for organising, Jen (who I believe is blogless) for helping me score a Vogue vintage reprint pattern at half price, and Maria for being super supportive and a new Sydney sewing friend. Also thanks to the other lovely ladies who attended - Ruth, Jenny, Victoria, Pam, Wendy, Christine, Jenny, Anna, Alison, and Emma! If by some crazy chance you read my blog and haven't seen any of theirs, check them out.

Anyway, I'm planning to have a relatively early night tonight, then tomorrow after work, a quick trip to Spotlight for more interfacing (preferably not double sided this time - oops!), then more sewing! Hoping to have this dress completed soon. And I shall leave you with a photo I snuck on the Saturday - from the lift at the Glasshouse, which is where Lizzy takes almost all her selfies! Be back soon!