It's a Family Affair
Posted on Monday the 30th January 2017 by Wrong Doll
Having written a couple of guest blog posts for the Minerva Crafts Blog last year, Christmas came early when Vicki asked me if I'd like to join their Blogger Network. Needless to say I was delighted to accept the invitation. Having faced my fear with knits, I was keen to return to a more stable footing for my first make and decided to indulge myself in denim. I've made three of Marcy Tilton's Sewing Patterns to date and am a huge fan of her stylings. So I was stoked when I found a section on Minerva's website dedicated to her sister Katherine's designs. Butterick 6138 jumped out at me straight away with its asymetrical hemline and billowing shapings (this pattern has sadly been discontinued since I chose the materials for this post).
For the material, I chose this Dress Fabric which is classed as black denim but is more of a dark grey/charcoal. It's descibed as relatively stiff which is a perfect match for the design, allowing the structural details and lines to sing. This pattern is classed as easy and in many ways I would agree with the description. However, I wouldn't say its a beginner's pattern as for me, it lacks the requisite hand-holding. And as sewing novice I'd imagine you'd be after more of a quick win and if you commit to this project, you're in it for the long haul.
As with the Marcy Tilton dresses I've sewn, cutting is on a single layer and I'd recommend labelling your pieces once you've detached the tissues or you can get into a bit of a head spin differentiating the puzzle pieces before you. The pattern lends itself to being sewn in sections and I can imainge it appealing to people who are time poor and responsibility rich - you can make significant progress in an hour or so with a defined starting and end point.
I was on the cusp of buying an edge foot for this project when it occurred to me I might already have one. After years of allegiance to a gifted vintage steed, I invested in a brand new spanking Janome and a pethora of attachments which I secreted away in a drawer. As luck would have it, one of these previously unidentifiable objects was just what I was looking for as topstitching each section is a feature of the pattern and the edge foot made easy work of those curves.
Construction was pretty straight forward – even the sculpted collar came together without drama. However, there's a paucity of detail regarding when to finish pieces which seems to be assumed. There's a raw edge on the straight edge of my pockets which I've just about moved on from and I'd have achieved a much cleaner finish on the curved section of the hem if I'd overlocked it before insertion.
I found the whole in seam pocket section to be unnecessarily complex and really struggled to follow the instructions in both word and picture. I was hankering for the relative simplicity of the Chardon Deer and Doe skirt pockets which I sailed through. However, I'm mindful my confusion is probably relfective of my inexperience and I have to admit the finish – even on my slightly bodged attempt – is rather beautiful. I was also less than enamoured with the finish on the inside facing, where I employed a dash of fray check but again – maybe something got lost in translation.
Having earned my Tilton stripes, I'm amazed the pivot point completely passed me by until I came to sew around it. Oh it's a right angle ... so I need to turn here ... damn it's a pivot point ... of course it is ... it's a Tilton. In retrospect I would have utilised a patch of interfacing and spent a bit more time perfecting this point – but that's the beauty of hindsight.
I also neglected to notice as the instructions danced between View A and B resulting in a seam pressed in the wrong direction and a neck facing ommission. I had intended to follow the steps for View B, as I was using a heavier fabric and that was the only difference I could discern. I'm assuming the facing was for support so we'll see if my collar can hold it's weight. If you mirror the stylings on the pattern envelope, the wrong side of the fabric shows on the collar, so you might want to invest in some reversible fabric. However, I'm not averse to the insides showing and am quite partial to the collar standing proud.
I love the clean finish around the arms although I created a bit of uncessary bulk the first time around basting within, instead of on the seam line and consequently trimming outside the basting line. I seemed to be on some sort of logic train at the time but the decision was erroneous, creating extra bulk on turning through. Second time around, I trimmed to the sewing line and experienced the joy of cutting through thick layers of fabric - like a knife through butter - with my new Ernest and Wright Dressmaking Shears.
There are a few areas to pay attention to when it comes to matching up and I almost came a cropper with continuing the line of that back dart but a bit of basting and easing in saved the day. I'm particularly pleased with the curves across the centre front even though I eschewed buttons for press studs. I'm not going to lie and pretend this was purely aesthetically motivated – I was terrified of ruining my handiwork after my Kelly Skirt debacle. But I was genuinely concerned that adding anything further to the front panel would detract from the design and I'm so glad I followed my instincts.
Despite the lengthy nature of its undertaking, I'm keen to revisit this pattern a size or even two smaller. I cut on a medium based on my bust size and whilst I'm a massive propenent of the tent aesthetic, this resembles a coat rather than a dress on me. So, I'll be mocking up the top sections soon to see how a closer fitting bodice hangs. Having switched between siblings, my love affair with the Tilton's remains undiminished and I'm sure to be returning to their stable sometime soon.