Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Finished Project & Pattern Review: Outside Darts, McCall's 5845.

    So pleased with where the flowers ended up on the bodice.

Um, so I did not know that I have this awesome blank wall in my sewing room! 
So great for photographing my dresses. 

The sewing room has been great to work in, flooded with natural sunlight during the afternoon and warm enough for me to walk around with half my clothes off when I'm stabbing my body with pins at fitting stage. It is fricken hard when you live alone. 

Any tips for a sewist with no house mates? How do you guys get pinned up?
I gotta look at training the boyfriend up on seam allowances and pinning.

As you know, I had some time off work last week so I had plenty of time and no excuse not to sew something. My deadline was Friday 11th as I needed something to wear to my friends' wedding the next afternoon. 

I wanted to challenge myself so I moved away from my usual full skirts and so the measuring of butts began!

Scribbled my body measurements on the back of a takeaway pizza receipt.

I believe what I've written on the above paper are my body measurements in cm and inches, the sizes I chose and the finished measurements on the pattern piece for the size.

The pattern is my favorite pattern of all time - the McCall's 5845. I've made this dress heaps of times, mostly with full skirts, always with back modifications, but NEVER with the darts on the outside as per pattern instructions!

When you search '5845' in PatternReview.com the results page is flooded with reviews from me and Cindy of Cation Designs. We both love this pattern to bits and have modified the heck out of it. Pattern hacking, yay.

Main reason I was never a fan of darts-on-the-outside was because my stitching is sometimes wonky, and my backstitching looks horrible (I blame my machine). 

Well, here are my darts-on-the-outside, what do you think?

Outside darts ftw!

No bad huh?? I love the look of them, they give the dress texture and enough character that a belt is not needed. 

The modification that I always do to the M5845 is the front and back neck. I lower the front neck line about 5cms, and the back neck I usually raise a few inches - just enough so my bra strap is not exposed. 

This time I left the back low and made it into a scoop instead. Bra, schma!

The only modification I made to the pattern - scooped back.

I cut a size 4 bodice, graded it to a 10 waist.

I usually cut an 8 waist, which just "fits" but occassionally rides up, which probably means it's not a great fit! 

I swallowed my pride and cut a 10 on this version to make room for the champagne and wedding cake.

The skirt piece started as a 10 at the waist, graded to an 8 around the butt. 

I ended up taking the side seams of the skirt in around the hips, so I probably could have graded to 8 at the hips. I don't know. I'm still new to this wiggle skirt business. 

I winged most of the adjustments to the skirt. I did something which I think was a 2cm sway back adjustment, you can probably see the stitching in the photo below. Dunno if it was the right adjustment to make, but it certainly took away some bagginess around my lower back. 

My swayback faux-justment messed up my skirts back centre seam. Things went slightly off-grain when I inserted the zip. This resulted with a slight crinkle at the back of the skirt. It pissed me off at first but then it started to look like "butt-gathering" and didn't look too bad so I got over it.

I will never enjoy working with sunsilky, that shit frays like cray but once it's on the dress everything is beautiful again. I love fully lined dresses!

I hate looking at the inside fraying edges and stitching everywhere!
Thank goodness for lining.
I love the floral print so much!
Invisible zipper.
Machine-finished-zipper-sandwiched-between-shell-and-lining (tutorial here).
Fully lined with black sunsilky lining.
Hand stitched the hem (4cm hem) and machine stitched the hem on the lining.

Hand stitched hem looks way better than the disastrous machine hem on my Butterick 6582.
I turned the hem up 4cm on the shell and 8cm on the lining (4cm then up 4cm again to seal in the fraying edges).
Very proud of my straight machine stitching :)
Look at the lining!

Pattern Review: McCalls 5845 (view B, no belt), outside darts.

Size: 4 bust, 10 waist, 8 butt 
Fabric1.5m cotton sateen (Darn Cheap), 0.7m sunsilky lining (Spotlight). I had purchased 1.5m of fabric however the wiggle skirt does not need much fabric. I reckon I only used about 1m of fabric. Plenty leftover for a self-fabric belt!
Notions: Gutermann thread (000), Invisible zipper 10" (black) - I should have used a longer zipper but I had this in my stash.
Time: 3-4 hrs each day, over 5 days
Cost: Fabric $20, Lining from stash (but generally it's $10/m), Zipper from stash
Pattern Modification/Adjustments:
  • Scooped back
  • Lowered front neckline by 5cm
  • Sway back adjustment
  • Size 4 bust graded to 10 waist graded 10 hips, graded to 8 at the butt however ended up taking in the skirt at the hips anyway, so probably could have gotten away with 8 at the hips too, despite my hip measurements being for a 10. Massive sigh.
Techniques Used:
  • Darts (on the outside this time as per pattern)
  • Machine-finished-zipper-sandwiched-between-shell-and-lining. No idea what the technique is called (clearly) but my attempt at tutorial here.
The skirt fits like a dream!!
These was a little wrinkle but I know it's cos I rushed the zip and it's a little off grain.
The scooped back and shoulders fit well, no gaping, yay!
It took me 4 attempts to get the zipper in straight and with waist seam matching perfectly.

What I like about the pattern is how simple it is to prep and sew. An experienced sewist could easily finish this in a day. 
There's 4 pieces to cut out - front bodice, back bodice, front skirt, back skirt. 
There's a total of 8 darts on the bodice and 6 on the skirt. Of course if you fully line the dress, it's x's 2 all the above.

The only difficulty I experienced while making this dress (apart from fitting) was the zipper. 
Oh my god, I almost threw in the towel. The whole zipper session I kept hearing this lyric in my head, not sure from which song, "hoping for the best, but expecting the worst" cos every time I finished sewing down the zipper, I'd zip it up hoping all is good.. and then the fkn seams wouldn't match. 
Finally after 4 attempts, everything matched up, no teeth were ruined (zipper teeth) and the dress fit. 

Saturday, wedding day! It was a gorgeous day, a little windy but super sunny. 
I woke up early to get my hair done. Got home, ate lunch, put on some Arbonne taffeta blush, dress on, quick pics for the blog then headed out to the beachy suburb of Brighton for the ceremony. 

The ceremony was lovely. The reception was even lovelier! It was at a restaurant over looking the bay. There was even a sunken submarine! Bride and groom had wedding pics on the jetty while the guests got into the champagne.

Food was yum! Ate the thickest rib eye ever!! 
Speeches from the Dads, Best Man, MoH, Groom - hilarious!! I was crying from laughter!

I only took a few pics as my iPhone would not do the bride and groom justice... I love the photo I got of the couple cutting the cake, look at how happy the groom is while looking at his wife! Adorable!! 

I'm so glad the bride encouraged me to make a dress to wear to her wedding, cos now that I've seen how great this dress turned out, I can't wait to make more. I hope you guys liked my outside darts and wiggle skirt as much as I did.

I don't think I've seen a version of this pattern with outside darts on the internet yet. If you have, please link me to it in the comments below! 

I have a work function this Friday but I don't have time to make anything. Sadface. 
See the dresses I made for last year's awards nights here and here.

I still have plenty of occasions this year to sew for: Halloween,, another work awards night, work Xmas party... so help me out with ideas guys! 


  1. Very Cute dress, perfect fabric and I love that pattern.

  2. exquisite, like, jaw dropping! i'd make THIS for turkey day.

    1. Hi Oona!! I'm definitely making this again! Have to work out how to do a proper sway back adjustment then I think it will be perfectly made.

  3. So, so, so cute. The shape of this dress looks great on you, and as always the inside of your dress is as beautiful as the outside!

    1. Thanks Sue! I'm so glad the wiggle skirt worked out!

  4. Love the dress!
    Gorgeous fabric, an well made.

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks Amanda! I love it too!!!! I'm gonna make millions of it! Seriously could wear this style forever!

  6. That looks fabulous! I like the outside darts! your right! just enought interest. I hear you on the fitting by yourself thing. I tried to get Mr. Sew Rachel to help me mark a hemline, just a hemline! And a quarter around he threw up his hands "I'm going to ruin your dress!" Umm, I was going to check it before I cut it... Anyway. I do a lot of trial and error. Pin, put on, see how it looks, maybe re-pin. And as for marking tricky hems? I take it to my gramma's.

    1. Hahahahhahaha, men!! But I guess that's how I would be if a guy asked me to saw a piece of wood or something lol!!!

  7. Super cute and good for you to persevere about the zipper seams matching. Little details like that make it special. I think the outside darts are great

    1. Hi Beth! I'm really anal about zipper seams matching hehehe

  8. Such a great dress!


  9. Beautiful dress! The darts on the outside look really cool, like partial pintucks. My only advice for fitting when living alone is a Judy. I have the same problem and have hemmed things wrong too many times. I'm now on lookout for a dressform Judy.

    1. I never of the outside darts being similar to pintucks!! If I had, I would definitely have made the outside darts sooner, cos I love the look of pintucks! :))))

  10. GAH woman you look Smoking!! Nice work on the tight fitting skirt ;) Also a great shape on you, not suprisingly :P

  11. You have mad sewing skills, the fit is perfect, I love the fabric and the outside pleats was sheer designer genius! There are no words to describe it other than perfect!

  12. gorgeous dress! I wish i could do neat lining, mine always goes wonky! I lived by myself for awhile and my boyfriend isn't very good with pins so i usually pin myself, take of the garment, check the pins and straighten them, then put the garment back on. it usually works and i poke myself A LOT with this method but its the best i have. fanstastic work!

    1. Lining is a bitch!! But the end result is worth all the pain :)

  13. Ooo Gorgeous! I love your fabric choice, and your pattern and everything really! Perfect!

  14. Wow, I can't believe you made this it looks so fantastic!! GReat job, I love your choice of fabric too

  15. This dress is super dreamy!!! And you've got one gorgeous bod to wear it on. I would have been mildly suspicious of external darts as well... but they work so well with this fabric! I actually acquired this pattern a few weeks back purely because of all your incarnations of it. Love your work, and the details are delicious.

    1. Hey Mel!! Lucky you got your hands on the pattern, I heard it just went OOP!! It's the best pattern I own, it's so versatile. Can't wait to see what you make!!!!!

  16. It's perfect!! You are perfect! Love this dress and all the details that make it a special dress, outdoor darts are gorgeous and the dress fits you beautifully ... I'm sure you was the center of attention at the wedding (after the bride, of course) Have a wonderful weekend, dear Lady .. I am eager to enjoy your next project!

  17. This is so hot! I love it! I want one just like it!

    1. You should make it!!!!! U look hot in wiggle skirts!

  18. Wow missy what a super stunning dress you look totally amazing!!! Love the print it looks GORGEOUS!!!! Totally inspired to get sewing again from this :) xx


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