Off-the-Shoulder Dress | M6558

May 20, 2016

I don't know how the weather has been in your part of the country/world, but here in Central Virginia it seems like we have had more cloudy/rainy days than sunny and I could count on one hand the number of days the temperature has gotten above 75, which is completely atypical for this area. It's basically felt like March for 3 months now and I CAN.NOT.WAIT. to be complaining about how hot and humid it is. Seriously! Consequently, this dress that I finished at the beginning of April hasn't been worn except to snap these photos :( It looks so sad hanging in my closet being all but ignored as I try to find sweaters and jackets that I'm not sick of wearing since October. My hope is that by blogging about it, some warm, sunny weather will be encouraged to head this way and stay for a while. Summer will come. It has to, right? I really hope so.

M6558 DIY Off-the-Shoulder Dress by Hey it's SJ

As you can see, I have punched my ticket for the off-the-should-trend bandwagon and I am not even slightly sorry! I used McCall's 6558 View B a modified it a little to get the look I was going for in my head.

M6558 DIY Off-the-Shoulder Dress by Hey it's SJ

I made a quick muslin of the size 10 and decided not to make any alterations for fit, so even with the muslin step this was a really quick sew. I only made a couple of design changes, specifically shortening the length to mid-thigh (using my Southport dress as a guide) and also shortening the shoulder ruffle by about 1 inch. If/when I make another version, I might give the skirt more of an a-line shape to add a little fullness.

M6558 DIY Off-the-Shoulder Dress by Hey it's SJ
M6558 DIY Off-the-Shoulder Dress by Hey it's SJ

I picked up this fabric on my very last trip to Hancock Fabrics (R.I.P). I am super bummed to see them go as the only places in Richmond to buy apparel fabrics are Joann or Hancock and I have never been impressed with Joann's selection/pricing/quality of apparel fabrics. I guess that means a lot more online fabric shopping for me! I picked up a few different wovens on this trip, this one being a cotton/linen blend that was super soft even before washing it. It sort of has a mid-weight hand to it but because of the content I'm sure it will be nice and light and comfortable to wear if the weather ever decides to warm up.

M6558 DIY Off-the-Shoulder Dress by Hey it's SJ

Construction on this dress was really straight forward. The hardest part for me was feeding the elastic through the casings as it was a veryyy tight squeeze. The armholes are finished with bias binding leftover from my Easter dress (yet to be blogged). I serged the side seams, and the hems on the ruffle and skirt are double folded and topstitched. My favorite sewing hack as of late is using doubled sided tape (like this) for hems. I used the 1/4" wide version for the hem on the ruffle. Just place it along the raw edge of the fabric, pull off the paper, fold up the fabric the width of the tape, fold up again, and stitch in place. The result is neat and even and there is no measuring involved! Love it.

M6558 DIY Off-the-Shoulder Dress by Hey it's SJ

While I was cutting and sewing this dress, the thought of adding pockets came to mind more than once but was rejected each time out of sheer laziness. Of course, the first thing I said to myself when I put it on to go take these pictures was "Man, I wish I had some pockets." I guess I could do some unpicking and throw in some inseam pockets, or maybe patch pockets on the front would be easier? I don't know, the lazy voice in my head is telling me it's not that big of a deal. Perhaps I will wait until I can really get some wear out of the dress before I make a final decision.

M6558 DIY Off-the-Shoulder Dress by Hey it's SJ

Oh! I almost forgot to tell you about my favorite part, the tag! This is one of those garments where it is impossible to tell the front from the back, so I knew I needed to add something to help me differentiate between the two. I went a little computer nerd and designed this guy in Inkscape then converted it to a digital embroidery file. I used one of the embroidery machines at work to embroider him onto a piece of scrap fabric which I made into a tag and sewed into the dress. And then all of the heart-eye cat face emojis. I love him, I really do! I realize that when I'm wearing the dress, no one will know it is there (except for you guys if you see me wearing it, haha) but there is just something about it that makes me happy. Maybe thats weird, but I don't care.

M6558 DIY Off-the-Shoulder Dress by Hey it's SJ

Anywaysss, I think that's all I have to say about this pretty straight-forward make. I'm going to go savor these last little bits of sunshine before it rains all weekend (again).

Pattern: M6558, View B by McCall Pattern Companym6558dressthumbnail
Fabric: Striped Cotton/Linen Blend from Hancock Fabrics
Body Measurements: Bust 36.5/Waist 27/Hip 37.5 (in inches)
Size: 10
Adjustments/Alterations: shortened skirt to mid-thigh length, shortened shoulder ruffle 1 inch

Geometric Southport Dress

September 25, 2015

Wednesday was officially the first day of fall, so of course I am posting about a summer dress today! My timing might not be the best but I actually think this Southport Dress will be a good fall transition piece when layered with a cardigan/tights/boots (but it was in the upper 80s when these pics were taken so you won't see any of those things today).
Southport Dress by Hey it's SJ - front 1
I have a "dress" that I bought years ago from Forever21 that I love (I think it is supposed to be a dress but it is completely inappropriate without leggings, so I wear it as a tunic). It is a tank with a front button placket and elasticized waist. It is one of those items of clothing that I seem to wear whenever it is clean, so when Kelli of True Bias released the Southport Dress pattern that is so similar to my well-loved "dress" I knew I wanted to make one.
Southport Dress by Hey it's SJ - back
I found this rayon challis at Hancock Fabrics. Black & white geometric print in my favorite textile ever? Yes, please! I can't remember exactly how much I paid for it but I know they were having a really good sale that weekend. It was probably about or just under $10 for the 1.5 yards I needed and that's not a bad deal for a dress at all. I am pretty impressed with the quality, too; it is definitely one of the softer rayon challises that I have come across.
Southport Dress by Hey it's SJ - close up
I don't really have a whole lot to say about this pattern except it is awesome and I love it. The instructions were great and for me the fit right out of the envelope was awesome. I opted to leave off the front bodice button placket for this version. It's a pretty busy print and I felt like the buttons would just get lost anyway so I saved myself some time by cutting the front bodice on the fold at the center front. I also decided to use elastic in the waist instead of the drawstring that comes with the pattern. This required a little modification to the construction, but not much. I lengthened the casing so that it would be the entire width of the dress, then instead of sewing the casing into the waist seam so that it folds to the outside of the dress, I simply sewed it so that it would fold to the inside of the dress. I stitched all around the bottom of the casing like in the pattern instructions, left a hole to feed the elastic through, fed the elastic through, and then sewed up the hole. And voilá, no drawstrings to fiddle with.
Southport Dress by Hey it's SJ - inside
I finished the neckline and armholes with some vintage lavender bias tape that was gifted to me by my boss's mom (seriously, I may never need to buy bias or hem tape ever again). I'm still working on getting necklines to lay flat when finishing them this way, as you can see from the photos. Surprisingly, the pokey-outey-ness bothers me way more in these photos than it does IRL, so that's good, I guess. I used french seams throughout the dress, even on the side seam pockets which was interesting (I used this tutorial). The point where the pocket and the side seam intersect was a little funky but overall I'm happy with how they turned out, and from the outside they look just like any other side seam pocket.
Southport Dress by Hey it's SJ - front 2
I had a lot of fun during the whole process of sewing this dress but I think my favorite part was the fact that I did not have to make any fit adjustments! I had read a few other posts mentioning that the bodice runs a little big and the skirt a little narrow so I wanted to play it safe and sewed up a muslin. My body measurements are exactly a size 8 on the size chart, but based on the finished measurements I decided to size down to a 6 and the fit is pretty spot on. Don't you just love it when that happens?
Southport Dress by Hey it's SJ - front close
I absolutely have plans for more Southports, though they might be put on hold until the spring to make way for some more seasonally appropriate sewing. But I think it would be super cute to add a shirttail hem detail to the skirt. I don't own any maxi dresses (gasp!, I know) but I am definitely interested in giving the maxi version a go, too.

Do you have any favorite patterns that fit right out of the envelope? Do you like making fit adjustments to patterns? Sometimes I find the whole fitting process fun (I love a good challenge/puzzle) but being able to skip it is such a time saver.

Pattern: Southport Dress by True Bias Patternssouthport dress thumbnail
Fabric: Rayon Challis from Hancock Fabrics
Body Measurements: Bust 36/Waist 29/Hip 38 (in inches)
Size: 6
Adjustments/Alterations: no adjustments for fit; cut front bodice on fold and removed front button placket; removed drawstring and added elasticized waist

Mandy Boat Tee | Version 2

September 8, 2015

I know ya'll have probably been on the edge of your seat waiting for this post that I promised a month ago... okay, probably not, but I am super happy to be catching up on my blogging back log. So let's get straight down to business, my second version of the Mandy Boat Tee by Tessuti Fabrics. I talked a lot about the pattern and adjustments I made in this post about my first version, so this time I'm going to focus on the additional changes I made the second time around.
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - side
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - front
I have a slight (and sorta random) obsession with high-low split hems right now. I can't really explain why, I just love them, and I thought the Mandy Boat Tee pattern would be a great pattern to add a split-hem detail to. When I was doing research on techniques on how to sew a split hem for a shirt I realized that most of them involve adding two different length bands of fabric to the bottom of a shirt. For mine I really wanted the front and back to be continuous pieces of fabric, so I was just going to "wing it" until I found a men's shirt at Urban Outfitters that had the exact hem I wanted. I used this shirt as a guide for how long to make the front and back and also copied the technique used to construct the hem. Here is a brief synopsis of the steps I took:

1. Add 1 inch of length to front and 2 inches of length to back
2. Serge side seams, stopping 1/2 inch from where split will start (mine was about 4.5 inches from bottom of back piece)
3. Sew short line of straight stitching along side seam starting 1/2 inch above where serging stops and continuing to point where split will start
4. Finish/hem bottom of shirt on front and back
5. Fold under unfinished sides of hem twice and straight stitch in place
6. Stitch perpendicular to side seam just above spilt for reinforcement

Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - side close
I might put together a full tutorial for this technique (with pictures and all that jazz) at some point but in the meantime I hope that makes some sort of sense. Here's what the inside looks like:
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey It's SJ - inside
I'm not super proud of my craftsmanship (it's a little sloppy) but I gave myself a break since it's my first time using the technique. And as you can see, I used neon yellow serger thread as a fun detail. You can kinda see it through the fabric but it doesn't bother me--I kinda have this thing for neon accents (see here, here, and here).
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - front close
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - back
I made the same fit adjustments to this version as I did in my first version (remove width from side seams, lower font neckline), and in addition I removed 1 inch from the center front and center back (inspired by Kelli's version here). This version sits much better on my shoulders thanks to that adjustment, so if you have made this pattern before and were having similar issues, then I definitely recommend trying it. I also added clear elastic to stabilize the shoulder seams since the fabric was pretty stretchy and I think this also helps keep the shirt from stretching out as I wear it and therefore stays on my shoulders better.
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - front 2
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - back 2
The fabric I used is a lightweight sweater knit from Hancock Fabrics. I found it in their value fabrics section and I can't remember the exact fiber content. It's probably some blend of cotton/polyester and maybe a little bit of Spandex. The recovery is pretty awful (especially in the arms, which you can see in some of the photos). I was nervous about the split hem, having never sewn one before and not having a tutorial to go by, so I didn't want to mess up nice fabric. Now that I have made this shirt twice, I think I'm ready to sew it up in some better quality knits. I do love the color of this version, though, and I'm looking forward to wearing it more once the weather cools down a bit. I love the way it looks with leggings or skinny jeans and boots!

The weather here hasn't really started to cool off much yet, but I've been thinking through some ideas for fall/winter sewing. I LOVE this Beatrix Top by Erin over at Sewbon and I'm pretty sure at least one version will make it into my wardrobe very soon. Have you started making your fall sewing plans? Are there any patterns you are just dying to sew up? I would love to hear about them in the comments!

Pattern: Mandy Boat Tee by Tessuti Fabricsmandy boat tee v2 thumbnail
Fabric: Mystery Blend Lightweight Sweater Knit from Hancock Fabrics
Body Measurements: Bust 36/Waist 29/Hip 38 (in inches)
Size: N/A, one size
Adjustments/Alterations: 4 inches from front and back side seams graded to nothing at shoulder seam, lowered front neckline 2 inches, removed 1 inch from both front and back center seams, lengthened front 1 inch and back 2 inches, added split hem detail