11 March 2012

New Look 6049 Misses' Dresses


Last summer I found New Look pattern 6049. I consider a shift dress like this to be a wardrobe staple (obviously not in New Look's heinous black and white sequin fabric), so I bought it. I made it up in two versions, the first a plain white cotton one with a little cute flower trim, and the other in a black cotton, mock-linen look, with a pearl beaded trim. I drafted an extra few inches on the black dress so I could wear it to work. After I finished my one month at work, I took it up to the same length as the white one. I love both of these dresses. However, I had to do a little altering first time round, and the difference in fit shows when you compare the white to the black dress. 

I'm a size 10 on these patterns, but my waist is 26", not 25", so I added an extra 1/4" at the waist and blended the new line. My back-neck to waist measurement is also about 1/2" shorter, so I took this out at the lengthen/ shorten line.Then I made it up in the white cotton and found three problems. 

First of all, and this seems to happen so often with major pattern companies, which makes it doubly infuriating, there was way too much ease. I know I need to be able to move around in my clothes, but if a shift dress looks at all too big, it's not a shift: it's just an ill-fitting sack. I don't know what it is about these pattern companies, but I don't think they take into consideration that at the smaller end of their sizes, all that ease looks disproportionately tent-like. (Which when you think about it, for a Misses' line, which is going to go for the snugger fit is just forgetting to design for their target buyers.) Three or four inches too much ease is, after all, the difference between a size 10 and size 14. Maybe they assume we'll all be doing hurdles in these dresses, or maybe they just don't test them enough; I reckon it's the latter. So I took out a good inch from every side, tapering back up nicely to just above the bust dart (the bust fitted correctly). 

Second problem, a slightly gaping armhole that didn't quite lay flat on the armpit crease. Easy solution: I took 1/4" out from the shoulder on the armhole side and redrew the line to meet the neckline should point. Essentially I just made the shoulder more sloping. This seemed to work.

The third problem was that it wasn't fitted around the waist enough, especially at the back. So I deepened the darts on the back by about 3"16" and the front by 1/8" at the waist and tapered to each end. It's amazing how much difference an alteration like this can make.

Because these items are staples, and I intend to keep them for a long time, I didn't scrimp on quality. The white cotton I had already, purchased on Goldhawk Road for £8/ mtr. It looks exactly as a plain 100% cotton should look, not too smooth (like flimsy poly-cotton), but very even, and feels soft but sturdy. I love ironing this dress, as it comes up so crisp. The lining was a £6/ mtr, and claims to have good wicking properties, something I thought was essential for a dress to be worn on a hot summer's day. I have worn it when it was about 30°C and have to say, I didn't think the lining was particularly cool, probably because it is synthetic. The black cotton, from John Lewis for the other dress was about the same price as the white and the lining was a very delicate silk I had left over from a ball dress I made last year. The lining was only about £5/ mtr (which is a bargain for silk) from a local fabric shop, and it is wonderfully soft. It keeps me warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot, just as silk should. Both trims were from John Lewis. A cheap way to add a bit of detail!

The black one is currently in the wash (I really do wear them!), but here's the white one for you--



(The grey line is a shadow from the washing line).



I'll get some photos of me in both dresses soon!

Alix xxx

[Edit:] Here I am in the white dress--


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