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Gretchen Hirsch 6556 in Scuba

About the Fabric

When I was asked whether would like to blog for Minerva Crafts I immediately jumped at the opportunity to try out this Scuba Fabric. I've never sewn with it and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. The fabric I chose is ivory colored with a bold gold repeated print on it. My boyfriend said (when I wraped the fabric around me, because let's face it, we all do) that I look like the Pope. My stepdauther mentioned something about the Queen and I just barked at them that they just had "no vision" (you know what I mean).

One panel (I don't know if this is the correct word in English; in German it would be called rapport) measures 65cm until the print starts repeating itself. Since 65cm is enough to make a decent length skirt without any repeats I knew I wanted to make a border print dress. The fabric does not curl while cutting, it's easy to wash and you can even iron it on a low temparature (not that you need to apart from the sewing bit). I got a full 3 metres but ended up using 2.3m. 

About the Pattern - B6556

When I hear border prints my mind goes straight to Gretchen Hirsch and her patterns which is why I finally had a good enough reason to by her Ultimate Dress Book. Somehow I feel drawn do square necklines therefore I wanted to alter one of the her bodices in the book to a square neckline with a simple facing. About the same time my lovely sister brought me my requested Buttrick patterns that I had ordered "from her" a while back (because of the shipping costs to Switzerland we ask each other what we need respectively to bulk order). And then it hit me. In there was the new Gertie pattern B6556 with a perfect square neckline and a borderprint skirt all ready for me.

On a side note: How distracted can you be that you forget which patterns you ordered a while back???! It tends to happen to me more frequently the last few months...

Switching from Wovens to Knits

Now the B6556 is designed for woven fabrics and I had a stretchy one to work with. This means that apart from making the usual adjustments (FBA and swayback) I had to take the stretch of the fabric into account when chosing the right size. I recently discovered a new method of finding the perfect fit, no matter the type of fabric I use. I do not want to go into great details here because it's all about the fabric. But generally knit garments that fit close to the body are designed with negative ease so the measurements of the finished garment are actually less that your measurements. How much in the negative is up to designer (or your preferences), however, because this fabric has a print on it I did not want it to stretch out too much or it might distort the pattern. Also, bear in mind that the Big Four pattern companies tend to add a lot of wearing ease. For this pattern - even though it is supposed to be close-fitting - the wearing ease is about 8cm! What, you say? Yes that was my reaction as well!

So, based on my high bust measurements (add the standard 2" B cupsize) I would be a size 16 finished bust with a full bust of 104cm which is 3cm smaller than my actual full bust. Side note: If I went with my full bust measurements the pattern would indicate for me to make a size 20 (can you imagine how the shoulder straps would constantly fall of!).

I added an FBA for the full amount of those 3cm (in hindsight I would not have needed to do this and just go with the negative ease of 3cm). This widened the waistline to 2cm (see picture) wich meant I now had a finished waist of 86cm which is just a few centimeters less than my actual waist (even here I adjusted for the zero ease measurements which again was not necessary).

I noticed on a few of my garments that sit at the waist that I have to do a swayback adjustment of about 2cm. On this pattern (I measured the pattern pieces after the FBA) I noticed that I needed to add these 2cm to the front that came out just a little short this time. I guess my upper body is just strangely curved, haha.

Also the pattern calls for a lining which - because it was aready a heavy scuba - I did not want. For that reasen I took the interfacing pieces and used the as facings for the neckline.

Lastly when making a woven pattern with a knit try to guess (measure) if you really need a zip. For this one you don't need it (yayyy!).

Construction of the B6556

The cutting process was very easy. Cutting scuba is amazing let me tell you: Nothing moves around, nothing curls - fantastic.

To check the fit I sewed the whole bodice up in a simple straight stitch and my walking foot on my Bernina (2.2 length). Straight stiches on a knit, are you insane? No, it actually worked fine. I think this is due to my scuba beeing a heavy double knit fabric so there are actually two pieces of fabric "interlocked" together. You can press it down by hand and while stretching it, the polythread presses down the layers of fabric also, which makes the seam slightly stretchy. No don't go stretching it like a crazy person ok? It's just for fitting purposes.

While fitting I noticed that the adjustments I made to the bust and waist area were not necessary and I had to widen the dart and take in the side seams. But you know what? I don't mind taking it in as long as the back and front necklines and the shoulders are on point. This 'fit as you go' approach is amazing. Anyway, I with these minor adjustments I was able to achieve a perfectly fitted bodice.

I made the skirt as instructed by the pattern (first I basted the pleats of course) and even added pockets. But alas, I only noticed that I attached it the wrong way around (you don't need a zipper remember) when the bodice was already attached to the skirt - so the pockets are facing backwards. As of now I have not turned it around because I do not plan on using the pockets, but you never know!

The facings are partly stitched down by the armseams and partly handsewn to the main fabric. I used to hate handsewing things but lately I noticed that I actually enjoy the finished result and it sort of became meditative.

The armholes I just turned under. Now I wish I had researched methods to do this differently or chosen a narrower hem because it slightly destroys the neat look I got from the dress overall.

I left the hem of the dress unfinished and neatened the edges. Usually I don't go for this unfinished look but the dress looked so lightweight with the unfinished seam I decided to leave it like this and I just love the look of it. You really don't notice it at all (but you would certainly notice a slightly bulky seam).

The scuba fabric holds the shape of the pleats very well, the look is EXACTELY as I imagined it. Because this is a heavy scuba the weight of the skirt part slightly stretches the bodices, so make sure your waistline is on point to start with or else it will be too low!

So, what do you think? There's really nothing papal about it :-D (even the boyfriend said it lookes beautiful, ha!)

Happy Sewing.

Nadine @ heartpleat

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