DH and I have always liked to do something special for our wedding anniversary. Since we retired and moved out into the cow patties, that ‘something special’ has been traveling to one of the larger South Dakota cities; spending the night and engaging in the local fine dining. A few years ago he asked that I make and wear a dress for our special dinner. Of course, I happily agreed. I love that he is still proud of me and still wants to see me at my best. Since anniversary is coming up soon, it’s time to get started!
Admittedly, some of my dresses have been better than others For this year’s dress, I decided to use a pattern I purchased several years ago B5430…
..back when I was totally enamoured with Connie Crawford. Which was before I discovered her wonderful practice of revising her block to reflect the ever-increasing database of measurements from real women (she collected), meant that patterns published before the latest block-update, would not fit the same as whatever pattern I had last fit. I still think it is commendable for Connie to actively seek current information and adjust her block, and so I’ve accepted that every new-to-me Connie Crawford pattern must be prepared with test garments and failures. IOW, because Connie is constantly updating her block, I can’t simply transfer the changes from the last pattern sewn to the new one. I have to start at square one and find out what changes will be needed—every time.
I wanted to make this pattern with its very lovely neckline, so I pulled out my block pattern (Silhouette Patterns 600) and did a quick comparison. I opted to traced medium across the shoulders, large from underarm to waist; veering out to the XL by the time I reached the hip. I made a WAG (wild-a$$ guess) as to where the hem would be for blouse length and traced no further. Most of my fitting problems will be above bust. As long as I have enough ease below that, the muslin/garment will be wearable. I added a 5/8″ RBA but wasn’t sure where to make my 2nd most needed alteration, the shoulder slope. So I didn’t correct the shoulder slope in my tissue leaving it for fitting.
I am hoping to make B5430 into a TNT. It has a lovely neckline as drafted and enough seams in the right places for ease in fitting. Through Pinterest I’ve discovered the neckline can be modified with several details to keep it looking new and fresh. See my Pinterest Board: Pinterest here. That’s in addition to changes such as sleeves and hems. B5430 could be fairly versatile.
I am using a really pretty cotton voile purchase a few years ago, I think from Hancocks. Up close it feels and looks rather like gauze. But it’s not transparent at all. A bit heavy not like gauze, but loosely woven. I started to use this fabric earlier in the year and discovered it had snagged multiple times just sitting in the stash. I moved it to the muslin stack. When I pulled it out today, I discovered the best work around for all the snags was to pull that warp (snag) completely free the entire length of fabric (2-1/4 yards. Yes it broke easily and had to be removed usually in 3 pieces per ward.) Up close, there’s a bit of transparency where the missing warp is, but it doesn’t look wrong. I pressed my fabric, laid out with the pattern pieces on top and then thought to load the machines with thread before cutting. I am using water-soluble thread in the bobbin during the fitting.
Connie’s drafting is excellent so most of the pieces almost went together without my help. I struggled with both the front yokes and the back facings. I even stopped to read PR and found 2 reviews under 5430 one listed under B5430. As for my struggle, well it must just be me because none of those 3 sewists experienced any issues. I struggled. I read the directions over and over. Checked my tracings against the pattern for accuracy and to be sure I had copied all the notches, circles and all markings. Compared the cut pieces with the tissue. I mean, I struggled. BUT I finally got it basted together. Well, everything except the sleeve. The first try on I didn’t worry about the sleeves.
Let’s just say, it doesn’t fit well. I know the first inclination is to say I need more ease and a sway-back alteration. Truth is, I need more than the sway back. The entire back-waist length is 2″ too long for me both back and front. How do I know? Well I pinned a tuck as all around my torso, 2″ deep. The issues improved drastically:
I thought I took a picture of the back at this stage, but I guess not because it didn’t transfer from the camera. Oh well.
I asked myself if I should stitch in the tuck and make the BWL to the tissue. ButI am anxious to know where to make the shoulder alteration. I wonder too, how much the shoulder slope could effect the BWL. Instead of stitching the tuck, I quickly let out the seams so the garment would slip on/off easily. Then, I started picking at the top trying to figure out where the shoulder adjustment can be made. Since it is the back which develops the most drag lines, I took in the back seam where it joins the front yoke. It’s not on the front or top of the shoulder but on the back just below the shoulder:
You can’t even see that seam in this fabric this pic, so I traced over it with a yellow line. That’s were the back shoulder is seamed to the front yoke.
Dang that back facing. It just would not behave the entire time. I know that’s because I didn’t understitch and while I pressed, I didn’t use steam because, hello, water-soluble thread in the bobbin. It disintegrates when I steam-press.
The back still has issues, but I think it’s this fabric. Where I made the RBA in the tissue, translated into a big curve in the cut fabric. I even recut one side after spray starching the fabric twice more to be sure it was stable. I just didn’t realize how squirrelly this fabric would be.
Last fitting was a quick check of the sleeve. The sleeve in the pattern is short and flirty. I will be wearing my dress during the cold, snowy winter. I copied the sleeve. To length the sleeve, I placed the sleeve from my block on top top. Also added another 1/2″ ease. Kinda of like my woven sleeves to be roomy.
The sleeve is a little long but the armscye is also a little off my shoulder. I plan to trim the shoulder from Medium to Small (leaving bust at large, waist/hip Xlarge) which will remove about 1/2″. I think I’ll wait until that’s done before changing the length of the sleeve.
Question now, is do I finish and wear or toss it as an educational expense? I love the fabric both for its looks and feel but during the construction and 3 fittings, it has snagged twice. Is this worth taking apart; replacing all the basting and finishing all seams and hems?