Sunday, 15 January 2017

Keep It Cosy - McCall's 8810 for January #dressmakingbloggerchallenge

Hi folks,

Hope you're all well and your year is getting off to a good start! Here is the second thing I've made for myself this year, a nice quick palate cleanser and stash buster that nicely fits into the Dressmaking Blogging Network's January challenge: 'Keep it Cosy'.

This is a 1980s vintage pattern (McCall's 8810) which I've made before, and both times I've tackled it I've made up in a knit (although it is actually intended for woven fabrics). The first version I made in a ponte knit (and this dress gets worn all the time, unbelted – turns out I rather like the 'nightie look'. Funnily enough this is also my boyfriend's favourite handmade garment of mine!) and this is made in a more stable fleece-backed sweatshirting that I bought at the same time as this blue stuff that I made my friend's matching outfit in. Despite the lack of stretch being an issue for those garments, I figured it wouldn't be a problem for this make as it's so loose-fitting.

My initial plan for this was to make a hip-length sweatshirt with full-length sleeves, but as you can see it didn't quite work out like that! I am pleased with how it turned out, but I ended up with some extensive on-the-fly decisions made at cutting stage. Basically I'd decided to err on the long side cutting out my front and back pieces, thinking I could trim down to my preference afterwards, and maybe even add the patch pockets if I had the length to play with. I also kept the 5/8” seam allowances out of laziness, thinking I could trim down to 3/8” with the overlocker easily enough.

However I regretted not turning in the pattern's seam allowances as I did have a bit of squeeze getting the two-piece raglan sleeves on the remaining fabric after the front and back pieces were cut. To make it work I finally did turn in the seam allowances to 3/8” for the sleeves so I could just about get the width on, but I had to sacrifice quite a chunk of the length. Luckily this turned out well as I really like the new sleeve length and think it balances out the loose shape and funnel neck nicely.

I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get the funnel neck on either as I only had a few scraps left over, so decided to make it up as it was and decide on the mannequin whether I'd rather have a simple neck band or try and cobble the funnel neck together. I managed to piece together a couple of the scraps so that there's a seam instead of a fold to make it work with what I had. As this pattern was for wovens it should have been fastened at the back of the neck with loops and buttons, but I omitted these and instead decided to have my zip go all the back up the back of the funnel. I've not made a funnel neck before so don't know if this is the best finish- it definitely adds structure and because of the height of the funnel and thickness of my fabric it certainly makes a statement! I wore this dress to the cinema last night and did find the funnel bothering the back of my head a little, but in normal wear it's fine.

This was a pretty quick make- mostly done on the overlocker and completed (including cutting) in an afternoon. It would have been even quicker if there hadn't been moments where I had to make decisions on the fly about elements to keep/ adapt due to fabric restrictions. I did however save myself time by choosing not to finish the hem or the sleeves. After trying it on I really liked it as a dress, but I couldn't get away with losing any more length (it's a bit risky raising my arms!) and figured if I had to leave the skirt edge raw then the sleeves should match to make it look intentional. I think this gives the dress a modern edge, although the front edge of the skirt hem is starting to curl more than the back so I may have to reassess after a few more wears!

This is definitely snuggly to wear and I can see it becoming part of my regular wardrobe rotation. It even has room to wear a thermal layer underneath if needed, and I'm happy to have a 'blank canvas' piece to show off all the weird and wonderful patterned and coloured tights I've acquired over the years (that barely get worn otherwise as they clash with most things). It wasn't really something that formed part of my sewing plan, but it feels good to have used up fabric that was taking up a lot of room in the stash. 

How have you kicked off this year's sewing? Anyone else 'keeping it cosy'?

NorseOtter xx


  1. Love this! The whole shape is great - looks quite like something you might pick up (for a lot of money) in Cos :) x

    1. Thank you! It is really fun to wear, and definitely way cheaper than Cos - I think it cost me about £5 in fabric, and the zip was salvaged from an old skirt!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! I definitely feel very playful in it!