The fabric I used for this month’s Mood Sewing Network project was one of those that jumped straight off the page at me and I ended up ordering without a specific project in mind. It’s described as a Stretch Viscose Twill so I pounced on it as I’ve always had a good experience sewing garments with viscose in the past and often struggle to find it in interesting prints and colours here in London. When it arrived I was really surprised, but in a good way! The description on the Mood Fabrics site is perfectly accurate but it’s a really quite unusual fabric and difficult to picture until you’ve got it in your hands. Previous viscose/rayon twills I’ve worked with are fairly fine and lightweight with quite a visible twill weave. This on the other hand has a reasonable thickness to it and seems somewhat spongy to the touch. The surface is so smooth and it also has a decent amount of stretch one way. It’s almost like a lighter-weight scuba fabric but with the most amazing drape! I was so excited to start working with it.
Both the hand and print of the fabric have a really modern feel so I knew I wanted to make a garment/outfit with a contemporary look to it. I decided to dip my toe into the two piece trend that’s been so popular recently. I figured even if I don’t like the two pieces together I’ll have two new garments to wear separately! Rather than purchase an all new pattern I rummaged through my stash to see if I had a dress pattern that I could adapt. I settled on McCalls 6887 which I was yet to try, as I wanted something fairly fitted and I liked the look of the classic princess seams and little cap sleeves. I used view D which has the high back without the cut out to balance out the fact that I was going to be bearing a bit of midriff which was enough of a change for me! The pattern does include instructions for adding piping or colour blocking the bodice panels but I omitted these steps as I wanted to keep it clean and simple.
Like the ever popular McCalls 6696 shirtdress this pattern comes with pieces for different cup sizes so as I did with the shirt dress I started by making a muslin of the size 10 with the A/B cup size. It turned out pretty great first try. If I wanted it closely fitted I could have gone down to an 8 and up a cut size but I was worried about making the waist too snug and I also wanted it to have a bit of ease because of the cropped style. Instead of going down a size I just made a simple alteration of pinching out some of the extra room I had above the bust along the princess seams. It was about 1cm on the double by the armhole, grading out to nothing just below the bust point. I could probably still do with taking a little bit of room out of the neckline if I make this again but it suits me just fine for this style. Turning the bodice into a crop top was a simple as taking 1″ off the bottom of all the bodice pattern pieces and used 1″ to create the hem (folding it up twice by 1/2″ each time).
The muslin helped me work out how I wanted the top to fasten at the centre back. Despite having a fair amount of stretch it was going to need a fastening to get on and off but the only open ended zips I could find in the right length were of the chunky, exposed variety and I really wanted to keep this look sleek. I realised when removing the muslin that I could get it off over my head with centre back closed for a few inches below the neckline. I needed the room at the waistline really. So I simply decided to insert the invisible zip upside down! It might not be the technically best solution but it works for me!
Having already assembled the bodice for the muslin really helped me work out how to get away without lining the bodice. I actually cut lining pieces from some gorgeous silk crepe de chine I had left over from my very first MSN project! But I realised lining with the silk crepe would combat the usefulness of the stretch in the fashion fabric and had second thoughts. Amongst it’s other amazing properties this fabric is completely opaque, even in direct sunlight and is also lovely and smooth against the skin so I thought not lining it would actually probably be preferable. At first I drafted a facing for the neckline, thinking I could use this and simply turn and stitch the hem of the body and sleeves. However I failed to realise until I made the muslin that the lovely cap sleeves are only inserted into the top part of the armhole which would leave the underarm edge completely raw if not using a lining. To solve this issue I drafted a larger all-in-one facing which continues across from the neckline and under the arms. I do love this method of cleanly finishing a garment and on this particular pattern it means the armhole seams are neatly concealed within the facing. I inserted the sleeves before attaching the facing and then kept the sleeves in the same position, with right side against the right side of the bodice and treated those two parts as one when I pinned the facing in place. That probably makes no sense but man, that is difficult to explain in writing! If you attach the facing before sewing up the side seams or centre back you can stitch it around the full neckline and armholes then pull the back pieces through the armholes to the front to turn it right side out.
Rather than use the skirt from M6887 I decided that a simple half circle skirt, with only the one seam would show off the print best. Plus this fabric has a lovely body and bounce to it that I hoped would suit the style perfectly. And I’m pleased to say that I think it did! I drafted the skirt myself which is so straight forward to do if you fancy dipping your toe into the world of pattern drafting. I used the formula’s that By Hand London provide in this circle skirt maths post and drew the shape with chalk directly onto my fabric. The length of the skirt was entirely determined by the width of the fabric as I really wanted to cut the skirt in one piece on the fold. The waistband is interfaced with a lightweight fusible (as is the facing of the bodice) and the raw inside edge is simply pressed under and hand stitched. It was such a great fabric for hand sewing, the stitches just vanish!
The fabric itself was lovely to work with throughout the whole process; easy to cut and sew, the stitches sink in beautifully and it pressed well. I used a medium heat with my iron or I started to get a bit of a sheen on the surface. I’m especially pleased with how clean my two invisible zips look! The only issue I had with it was that it did snag quite easily. I finished all the seam allowances on my overlocker and this is where the problem with the snagging seemed to crop up most. Thankfully any little pulls remained within the seam allowance! I was careful to keep any pins within the seam allowance too.
I was pretty apprehensive half way through making this project about how it would look on me as an outfit but I’m so happy with it now it’s done! I like how the proportions of the two pieces work together and how it almost looks like a dress until I move. But I also like the top paired with my favourite high waisted pencil skirt and the skirt with a simple t-shirt. However, overall I’m most pleased with how well the fabric worked for both of the separate pieces. The slight stretch and thickness of the viscose suited the structure of the top and the body and beautiful drape gives the skirt a lovely flare!