Last year I learned that there is such a thing as UPF fabric (like SPF, but for fabric–it’s treated to protect against ultraviolet radiation from the sun). Since then, I’ve been pondering lightweight coverups to throw on when I’m going to be outside for extended periods of time (rather than having to slather on sunscreen constantly).
My first idea was to make a beachy coverup out of a white woven. The problem was that all the beachy coverups I was looking at for inspiration had short sleeves and/or left the chest exposed–two areas I definitely wanted to protect! So then I thought . . . maybe I could adapt a wrap dress pattern with long sleeves? This is what I ended up with:
The pattern is McCall’s M6959 and the fabric is SunScreen50 Lightweight Nylon Woven Wicking Fabric from Rockywoods. I adapted the pattern by raising the neckline a bit, lengthening the sleeves, and shortening the skirt (more in front than in back). I also added patch pockets.
Unfortunately, it’s just not that comfortable. It’s cute, but doesn’t really give that flowy, beachy vibe I was going for. The armscyes are also kind of tight, making it annoying to layer. And while Rockywoods claims this fabric has a “soft, cottony hand,” I would say that . . . it feels like nylon. It’s hot and stiff!
On to Plan B: a waterfall cardigan in a knit. I used the Harper Jacket from Style Arc pattern and this time I went for SunScreen50 Activewear poly/spandex in Carbon Grey. It’s still a bit warm (definitely more than a lightweight linen or a cotton lawn would be), but is so much more comfortable than the woven. The major down side of this fabric is that it smells a bit rubbery; hopefully after a few more washes that will go away.
Waterfall cardigans aren’t really my style, but this is definitely good for layering and covers up both the arms and chest without any modifications. In fact, I didn’t change anything from the straight pattern. (Though in retrospect I wish I’d added in-seam pockets.) I found the instructions a bit confusing at one point, though I’m pretty sure I worked it out and luckily knit is forgiving. Plus, there are only three pattern pieces so it still comes together very quickly–especially if you don’t hem anything.
The winner has to be the waterfall cardigan–I actually wear it since it is pretty comfortable, even if I don’t love the look. (Nothing against the style; it’s just not really me!) Still pondering if there’s a better solution that I’ll really love, though . . .
Hmph. This fabric‘s color is listed as “orchid” and on my screen it sure looked like a lovely pale lavender (I mean…I don’t know what colors orchids come in!). So it was a bit of a surprise when it arrived! It’s definitely pink, very pink. Luckily, I’d just snagged one yard on a whim (in an ongoing quest for quick-drying, cool activewear), so I shrugged and made something with it anyway.
This started with with good old McCall’s M7349, View B, but cut short. I lowered the front neckline a bit into a gentle V and added some pockets in the side front panels. They’re kind of weird and small, but also kind of fun.
Well, I’d say this is fairly flattering on me, though I don’t love the color. I’ve worn it for dance a couple of times and it does dry quickly, but the true test will come in a few months at camp. I have a few more yards of activewear knits for more items in a more “me” color (black, haha), so hopefully I’ll have some stuff I’m more enamored of in the near future….
Last autumn, I completely fell in love with a dress I saw online, but I didn’t feel like I could justify spending ~$75 on it when I didn’t really need a new long-sleeved black dress. Fast-forward several months and Fabric Mart was having a sale on some delicious viscose/lycra ponte. I snapped up a few yards (for far less than $75) and when it arrived I realized it would be perfect for re-creating that dress I’d fallen in love with!
I started with McCall’s M7349 and made these modifications:
- Increased the flare of the skirt from the waist (generally necessary for me with this pattern anyway).
- Drafted asymmetric bell sleeves.
- Replaced the neckband with a short funnel neck. (I didn’t actually have to change the neckline at all–it’s very high on me–but instead of using the neckband pattern piece I cut a rectangle about 3 1/2 inches wide x the length of the neckline, joined it into a circle, folded it in half, and sewed it onto the neck with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.)
- Added in-seam pockets.
(I still haven’t found a good place to take photos in the apartment. This is the least-cluttered spot, but it sure is ugly!)
Another summer party dress! This one is made from stretch poplin, which gave me the courage to finally make a tight-fitting bodice in a woven fabric. The bodice is McCall’s 6989, which I modified by making the front a V-neck (which included adding a center front seam) and leaving off the sleeves.
The dress is unlined and the neckline and armscyes are finished with bias binding.
The skirt is a full circle skirt with, of course, pockets.
I kind of wish I’d piped the bodice princess seams and waist to make it more obvious that I was in no way attempting to pattern-match there, ha. And that I’d lowered the neckline a bit. Next time. Looking forward to dancing in this at an event in early September!
I finished this dress months ago and have worn it to two events now, so I think I should just accept that I’m not going to get any better photos. I do think it looks much better in person–but of course the only time I remembered to get photos was when I was already sweaty and shiny in the middle of a ball. Oh well!
This is another McCall’s 7160, View C. This time it’s in a lovely wine-colored rayon jersey (that seems to no longer be in stock) with a black lace overlay (the sleeves left unlined). If I’d bothered to get swatches first, I might’ve gone with a brighter color to contrast better with the black lace. But, again, oh well! The belt is just a length of wide satin ribbon held in place by a couple of thread belt loops. Of course, it has pockets.
Anyway, it looks kind of limp and unexciting in these photos, but that circle skirt swings nicely when dancing. (Someone was taking a video of at least one dance this evening and I keep hoping it gets posted somewhere, but nothing has materialized yet.) Plus, I can scrunch it up in my suitcase for easy transportation to dance events–no need for a garment bag.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but this dress just turned out . . . blah. It’s McCall’s 7349, which I have made and loved before. The differences from the last one are:
- Short sleeves
- High-low skirt (my attempt at making it less blah)
- Lower neckline w/ band instead of facing
Maybe it needs to be shorter? (But here’s the thing–I dislike exposing the skin in my legs to the subway seats, so I tend to only wear shorter skirts in cold weather, when I’ll be wearing tights anyway.) Maybe it needs a more interesting neckline? Fabric with less drape? More flare in the skirt? Exciting accessories??
I don’t know, but I think I’m done messing with it. The fabric is some bouncy, spandex-y stuff that came in a kit for a skirt. I discovered after cutting out half the skirt pieces that there wasn’t enough fabric (grr!!!), so turned it into this instead.
To be fair, the dress is really comfortable and cool, and will protect my skin from the subway while not flying up in a stiff breeze. Plus, it’ll be easy to add layers to it (such as the jacket/cardigan I’m knitting!). So I may end up wearing it a lot this summer despite my current lack of enthusiasm. We’ll see.
Speaking of knitting, I’m joining this year’s Outfit Along! I confess, I’m using a knitting project already in progress rather than starting a new one, but my excuse is that I’m a beginner and was already well into my first top when the OAL was announced. I’m afraid I’d lose my momentum if I set is aside for a couple of months. So the garments I’ll be making are:
- Evening Spencer Jacket in red cotton
- Quarter-circle maxi skirt (self-drafted) in a black linen/cotton blend (hopefully with some embroidery if I still feel inspired when I get to that stage)
Okay, it’s not anywhere near spring yet, but that title describes this dress pretty well! I had to snatch up this fabric when it went on sale over the holidays since it’s a cotton/spandex jersey with a fun print that you usually only see in quilting cottons. Then I was a little disappointed when it arrived since I’d thought the background was gray, but it’s actually a grayish pink/lavender (I even emailed Michael Levine to make sure I’d gotten the right fabric, and they’ve now updated the page to reflect the actual colors–very much appreciated!). However, on further reflection, I’ve become fond of it as kind of a “stealth goth” print: at first glance, you see the pink and the large sprays of flowers…but then at second glance, you notice it’s also full of bats and cobwebs. Perfect for spring! (It’s also very soft and cozy–I could definitely see making PJs out of it.)
(Please disregard my so-so pattern matching on the center front bodice–it’s hard to do with fabric that doesn’t press well!)
The pattern is McCall’s 7160 (a Christmas present–thanks, Dad!), view C without the overlay. Note the pattern comes with pockets! And they’re the kind that are attached to the waistband–this makes them much more stable (great for knits), but means you can’t do up the side seams last, which is what I prefer to do to make fitting easy.
As a consequence, I see some fitting issues to fix, but honestly, they’re probably not enough to make me actually unpick that waistband (I serged 1/4-inch elastic directly into it–ugh, no way I’m unpicking that). The only changes I made to this pattern were to shorten the skirt a little, give it a slight high-low hem, and to not actually hem it, just serge the bottom of the skirt. (I hate hemming circle skirts, though I love the way they look.) I also put elastic into the shoulder seams like any knit top, but I don’t remember whether the instructions say to do that or not (admittedly, I didn’t really check).
Still, I’m generally very pleased with this look and fit, and I could definitely see doing this with a lace overlay as a special-occasion dress. (I’m really into making ballgowns out of stretch fabric at the moment!)
Hello, 2017. I have been sewing in the last few months, but the shorter days mean it’s really difficult to get good photos. Luckily, I got my sister to snap a couple photos of this dress while we were visiting our parents in New Mexico over the holidays.
(We were at Black Mesa Winery. I went home with some Santa Fest.)
The pattern is McCall’s 7349 and I looove it. I love that it’s a fit-and-flare shape with no waist seam, no closures, and princess seams on both the front and back. Raglan sleeves and no waist seam means fitting is super easy–though I actually did only minor adjustments (nipping in the waist a bit, letting out over the hips). Comfy, flattering, easy to make…what’s not to love? I did try to extend the sleeves to full length, but it wasn’t entirely successful since, um, I ran out of fabric. Oh well! (Is this what’s called “bracelet-length”? Let’s pretend that was what I was going for.)
I also left off the neckband and faced the neckline with some fun quilting cotton to finish it:
Speaking of quilting, the main fabric is a quilted-look knit (rayon/poly/spandex). I picked it because it has a lot of body and structure, and it worked perfectly for this dress. It’s also quite cozy.
That said, I’m definitely considering making this pattern again–sleeveless, floor-length, lower neckline–in a shimmery spandex for a ball gown that can be easily packed for the two dance camps I’ll be attending this year. No more hauling around a bulky garment bag!