I allllmost made this dress in the spring which would have lined up fabric to season pretty well. But then I didn’t. And I just got around to realizing that that was a pretty silly choice, so in an effort to rectify my misguidedness, I decided to go forth and make! I got going on it close to my birthday so in my mind it was a Happy Birthday To Me dress. However, the day before I still had a lot to do, including buying buttons, and I decided not to cram it all in but instead to change it to Just A Regular dress which took a lot of the pressure off and that was good for me! When I first tried it on upon completion, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not but after wearing it, I think I can say officially that I Like It!
I am not by any degree of the imagination an impulse buyer. If anything, I’m the opposite. I can talk myself out of any purchase, and I mean any. There are, however, circumstances that leave me in a weakened state of resolve and lovely fabric seems to be among them. I still won’t buy right away but, if I happen to see said fabric again and again, I may just have to eventually click the “Add to Cart.” I kept seeing this fabric as I perused Style Maker and I just loved it. And the more I saw it the more I wanted it until I finally caved and bought some.
The fabric is a cotton poplin that’s fairly lightweight. It’s a lot more colorful than anything I have in my wardrobe currently (which is mostly filled with solids) but they are all colors that I love. In fact two of the featured colors were my wedding colors so maybe that’s part of my attraction to the print. When I bought it, I was trying to be more realistic about my fabric measurements so I bought 3 yards, which turned out to be a good choice as it was mostly all needed.
When I bought the fabric I didn’t have a project in mind but a while later, I saw the New Look 6651 pattern and I knew that that was this fabric’s destiny. Truthfully, I didn’t know that it would turn out, but I thought it’d make a solid effort and was worth a try.
Getting the pattern proved to be a little tricky just because Joann didn’t have it in stock when I went to go pick it up! I was disappointed but just committed myself to keeping an eye out for it any time I visited. But then I found it at Hobby Lobby instead! I think in the back of my head I’m aware that Hobby Lobby carries patterns but I don’t ever go there for patterns because their selection is smaller than Joann’s. However, I was in Hobby Lobby’s fabric section (a place I’m in more often than I should probably admit) when I saw that New Look is a brand they carry! Luckily they had this pattern in stock so I grabbed it!
I’ve not sewn enough of the Big 4 patterns to confidently know which size to make for myself. With this pattern, my bust and hip measurements put me in between a size 14 and a size 16 but my waist is closer to a size 18. The pattern lists the finished bust and hip measurements and there is enough ease in the pattern that I felt like I could make a straight size 14 which is what I traced and cut out all before realizing that it never listed the finished waist measurements. So for the entire time I was sewing I was worrying that I’d really messed things up! I was worried I’d have a dress that fit everywhere but the waist! It was a silly oversight and I tried the dress on countless times during the making process to try and reassure myself that it was going to be okay but didn’t actually get any relief until I tried the dress on when it was 100% complete. It does fit, thank heavens, even the waist! I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not I should have sized up to a 16 but I think I’ve come to the decision that the 14 was a good choice in this case. The dress is designed to be fitted at the waist (with the elastic) but more loose and flowy everywhere else. My fabric is more structured so I think it did well with a smaller size to prevent that sort of ballooning look that happens when a pattern is meant to drape but the fabric isn’t made to drape, if that makes any sense. If I had a drapier fabric, I think I could definitely go up to a size 16 to have more of that flowy look (kind of like what’s shown in the pattern’s photo).
Luckily, I have made a decent amount of button up shirts, so I’m at least moderately familiar with the process (and happy to not have had to do a sleeve placket and cuff!). And I say lucky because in true Big 4 fashion the instructions were enough but not overly explanatory. With these patterns I feel like I always just kind of have to intuit when to do stuff like finish seams or topstitch.
The instructions did have you construct the sleeve in the round. I’m much more familiar and comfortable with sewing my sleeves flat but I like to practice different methods when reminded that different methods exist, so I sewed my sleeves in the round as per instructions. And in the end they look the exact same as if I had sewn them flat, ha! I struggled to decide what color of topstitching thread to use and went with a dark teal. But after sewing the casing and my sleeve hem, I decided a dark gray looked a lot better and switched to that. I spent a lot of time worrying that this was a glaring error, that anyone and everyone who looked at my dress would say in horror, “Um, excuse me, what is wrong with your topstitching?!?!!” I realized I was being ridiculous-it’s hardly noticeable-and just let it be. But I’ll definitely let you guys know if anyone catches the mistake out in the wild.
Somehow, when I got to the point where I was attaching the neckband and the collar, I found that both pieces were much too short to attach to my neckline. Like, over an inch-way beyond fudging. I’m still perplexed about this (though I haven’t checked the pattern to the pattern) because I did staystitch very first thing and everything still feels proportional, not like one section got severely stretched out. So I don’t quite know what happened but thankfully I had extra fabric so I ended up cutting a size 20 neckband and collar which went on easily. Collars always make me a bit nervous since there’s a certain amount of symmetry expected, although I try not to be too perfectionistic about it. For most (all?) of the collared shirts I’ve made previously, I’ve topstitched the collar, I think mostly relating to the fact that I’ve been a bit obsessed with my edgestitch foot since discovering it. But I didn’t topstitch here and it was the right choice! Who knew having no thread on my collar would make it that much easier for me to breathe?
Here’s a peak at the insides. I serged my seams which is what I typically do. And I chose a dark gray wood button. I used 15 buttons, which is 5 more than the envelope called for. I make my own destiny when it comes to button placement. I mean, I try to make things even but I never use the guide. Also, the pattern called for 7/8″ wide elastic which I’m not sure is actually a thing? I used 3/4″.
I did think ahead and attached the tag to just the neckband facing! Normally I don’t think about tags until the very end so I glad I caught this in time! I don’t know why but adding tags to my clothes makes me so happy, maybe even a little bit giddy. I love it. This “nailed it!” tag is from the KATM’s advent calendar last year. It was a gift I loved so much that I ordered it this year for Ben to give to me again ;).
I also added a tag on the placket because more is more right? Honestly, I don’t think anyone will notice the tag down there but it makes me happy every time I see it. And yes, the dress does have pockets! I didn’t even have to add them in-they’re included in the pattern!
Anyway, I had such a fun time sewing this dress. It was good for my soul to sew something I was excited about and not just something I needed. And the dress turned out lovely. The print’s a little louder than what I normally go for, but I think it’s going to hold a solid place in my wardrobe.
Pattern: New Look 6651
Fabric: Cotton poplin from Style Maker (no longer in stock)
Cost: 3 yards fabric $45; pattern (20% off) $5; buttons (hobby lobby) $4; elastic $4; thread and interfacing from stash
Would I make this again?: Yes! I’d love to try it in a fabric with more drape!