Sunday, December 31, 2017

FO: The Mayberry Dress

I'm interrupting my year end round ups and jumping my blog posting queue to show you my cute new dress :)
A few months ago, Jennifer Lauren of Jennifer Lauren Handmade (or Jennifer Lauren Vintage as it was called) put out a call for reviewers on her patterns. She offered the opportunity to receive a specific pattern and make it up within a certain timeline to review on social media. She has done this with a few patterns already, but she announced that the next would be the Mayberry Dress and that you could have 2 months (instead of the previous 1 month) to review it on your blog if chosen. Feeling that I could certainly make this happen over the course of 2 months, I signed up and was chosen as a reviewer :) I was thrilled and honored. I printed my pattern and got things ready, but then I had to make the 60s dress followed by lots of Christmas gift sewing. Before I knew it, it was the week of Christmas and I had yet to even assemble my pattern. The review had to be up by December 31st - yikes! Thankfully I finished all my gifts in time for Christmas, so immediately after I started work on this pattern. I put it together the 26th, made a muslin the 28th, cut out my fabric and began sewing the 29th, and finished sewing the 30th with just enough time for me to get blog photos and post this today, on the 31st. Phew! Talk about procrastination! I feel terrible that I let the project wait this long, but I'm still glad I was at least able to keep the deadline - and now I have a cute new dress :) Lesson learned - never take on any personal projects with deadlines around Christmas. You'd think I would know this by now. Anyway, Let's look at this cute dress.
The Mayberry dress is a shirtwaist dress with a vintage twist. It has an off center button placket that ends at the waist. There are 3 sleeve length options (short, 3/4/, and long). The neat twist with this design is the drawstring waist that allows you to gather it up as much as you would like at the waist. After deciding to make my dress with 3/4 sleeves, I assembled the pattern, traced off a size 18 C at the bust and arms grading to a 20 at the waist and hip (according to my measurements on the chart), and set to making a muslin. I made my muslin from a vintage poly cotton sheet and decided to add 2: to the length of the bodice as well as the skirt (normal alterations for me), but I made no other changes. The fit was very nice off the bat as this is a looser design - since the darts were in the right place I called it good and proceeded with my fashion fabric.
I feel like this dress is even flattering from the back, which is not usually the case with me. This pattern is very versatile with choice of fabric. The instructions list that you can use most any woven fabric "with some drape", giving examples of linen, lawn, voile or poplin for more structure or rayon, silk, or sheer fabric for a more summer dress. Seeing that I live in Florida and I wanted something I could wear most of the year, I went with this lovely floral rayon challis from my stash. I bought 4 yards of it at a Sewing Studio sale back in 2012 when I first started sewing clothes only to have no idea what I would make with it, so it's sat ever since. I thought it was just the thing for a design like this - slightly vintage pattern in a cooler color palette with a nice drape. The fabric was light enough for summer yet also opaque enough to not need a lining. It even has just the slightest mechanical stretch, which was nice when sewing around curved areas. It's bouncy and flowy and lovely. I'm glad that former me bought this even though I had no idea it was such nice fabric at the time, lol. I'm glad it's a dress at long last.
Construction wise, every thing went wonderfully smooth. The instructions are great, even adding in extra tips for beginners if you need that. I appreciated that the facing pattern pieces said "Cut in 1 interfacing with glue side up" as this acted as a good reminder without me having to check the pattern again before cutting. There are lots of thoughtful things like that. You construct the bodice first, even adding the button holes which was much easier without the added bulk of the skirt fabric to contend with. Next you add the sleeves and the 3/4 length has a cuff to finish it off. This part was a little fiddly, but the instructions were very thorough so it went together well. Next you make the skirt, though I had made buttonholes for the drawstring back when I made them on the bodice since the machine was already set up. This dress even has pockets! Love it. Next you sew the bodice and skirt together, creating the casing for the drawstring waist at the same time. I appreciate that this was all one step with no extra pieces - no skinny casing pieces to deal with and turn edges under - this was all accomplished with just the bodice and skirt pieces. Very clever. After a hem and button sewing, this baby was done :)
Since I was using this slinky rayon, I did use spray starch on the bust darts, which worked wonderfully. I had my starch at the ready in case other areas needed the stabilization, but there was no need. The fabric behaved very well overall, even on the cuffs and hem. I think I stretched the sleeve a bit with handling since I did not stay stitch the edge, but it was no problem since you ease the sleeve cap in anyway. This fabric took sleeve setting like a champ, by the way. This might be the nicest sleeve insertion I've ever done - the stretch in the fabric and the drape meant I have no puckers whatsoever. Woo hoo. For finishing the seams inside, I have a few seams that are pinked but most of them are trimmed and overcast. This rayon likes to fray, so I'm hoping this will be enough to keep it from getting too bad. Hopefully I keep my goal of getting a serger going and I can go back over this later on.
I  tried out several button colors before settling on these plain navy ones. I looked at other finished versions of this dress, and I liked it better when the button stood out from the fabric. This can be easier said that done on a patterned fabric like this, so I wanted something contrasting. The navy buttons tie into the darker blue dots in the abstract floral but definitely still stand out. This also influences my choice of a navy poly satin ribbon at the waist. I happened to have this 3/8" wide roll on hand that was given to me from a friend's friend's grandmother's stash and it was the perfect size and color. I originally thought I'd use cotton cord, but I love that the ribbon is so flat that there is no added bulk at the waist plus I could just melt the edges of the ribbon slightly to avoid fraying. A win win :)
As far as the fit, I'm really happy with it. I think maybe I added a bit too much length to the bodice though. This rayon definitely hangs heavier than the poly cotton I used in my muslin, so what hit me at the waist in the cotton is decidedly low in the rayon. If this didn't have that drawstring waist it would look pretty silly being that long, but thankfully I can just tie the waist where I want it and it's fine. I like that it's a bit blousey on top, though the button placket makes it stick out a bit far just in that one spot. These are small issues though, and they are all from my alterations I made to the pattern. I would probably only add 1" next time I make this. The only thing I feel is a bit big that was drafted that way is the sleeve cuff - I wouldn't want it tight against my arm, but this is big enough that it doesn't even touch my arm at all. This would be a simple adjustment, but I didn't think of it at the time. It doesn't bother me enough to unpick it though, so maybe this is just a me thing. Now that I see these photos it looks like a complete non-issue. Otherwise, I love everything about how this fits. While the button placket is fully functional, I don't even have to open it up to get this dress on - one of the benefits of a smaller bust I guess. I just slip it on over my head and tie the waist and I'm good to go. It's super comfy due to the fit plus the soft and drapey fabric. And I love that if I'm having a "large day", I can just tie the waist looser and no one would be the wiser. Plus pockets!
I'm very happy with this new dress! It's been so long since I made a dress at all since they tend to be more restrictive on my body type, but this one does not have that issue at all. Since this even has pockets I might even wear this one to work - which is a huge deal as I never wear dresses at work since I hate fiddling with them. Wearing this I feel comfortable, cute, and somewhat modern even. My husband said I looked slightly hipster, lol. I don't care because it's just so comfy and I love this fabric. I've also just seen a version where the button front is changed to just a standard bodice, which gives me even more ideas since I love the fit of this so much. I'm glad I was able to review this pattern, and I would definitely recommend it if you want an effortless yet cute dress to add to your wardrobe :)

And with that I wish you all a very Happy New Year! I'll talk to you in 2018!

Fabric: 3 yards of floral print rayon challis, $12 (?) from The Sewing Studio
Pattern: Mayberry Dress by Jennifer Lauren Handmade
Notions: thread - $0.50, Pellon SF101 interfacing - $0.50, 5 navy blue buttons - $0.10, navy blue poly satin ribbon - $0.10
Time: 12 hours
Total Cost: $13.20

*I received the Mayberry Dress pattern at no charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own and not influenced in any way. I just really like this dress :)*

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for joining in the conversation!