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Sew Long Summer: Shirt-dress Showdown

s8014-vs-m6891

Hey Sewists!  Sorry I have been gone so long.  I did not intend to take a nearly two month hiatus from blogging.  But, boy oh boy, have I been busy.  I have been enjoying my summer and am a little sad to see it leave. I have so many projects to share with you though.  Right now I am in the midst of costume sewing for our annual trek to the Ohio Renaissance Festival. Until then, I am excited to be a stop in the Sew Long Summer tour the Melissa is hosting.  Today I am excited to share my new shirt-dress obsession with you!  I fully intended to blog about these dresses way back in July, but summer happened.  Even still, I think shirt-dresses are the perfect seasonal transition garment for me.   This is my side by side comparison of two similar patterns, McCall’s 6891 view B and Simplicity 8014 view B.  Each finished garment was compared in four different categories: fabric used and pattern description, construction, alterations and fit, and wearability.

Fabrics and Pattern:

Musings of a Seamstress - Simplicity 8014

Simplicity 8014

First up, Simplicity 8014!  This pattern comes with several different collar, sleeve, length and skirt variations.  I chose to make view B with the flared skirt with mandarin collar.  For this version I used 2.5 yards of dark indigo chambray from my stash.  This fabric was purchased from Jo-Ann’s last year during their Black Friday sale for $11.25.  I also used 13 – 5/8″ copper shank buttons, also purchased from Jo-Ann’s this year.  Unfortunately, I didn’t keep track of how much I paid for the buttons.  I bought them when one of the local stores was closing, so I know I got them for at least 50% off.  I really liked the idea of a mandarin collar and thought it would be a great way to give this dress a different look than it’s competitor (M6891).  This pattern features pleats at the waist of the front and back, with bust darts and a back yoke.  I absolutely love the back yoke!  That makes it feel more shirt like for me.

Musings of a Seamstress - McCall's 6891

McCall’s 6891

Now the challenger, McCall’s 6891 view B.  This pattern features a notched collar with various skirt lengths and sleeve types.  The bodice features darts for at both the front and back waist as well as the bust.  For this version I used 3.25 yards of navy cotton eyelet and 4 yards of white Kona cotton solid, both  purchased from Jo-Ann’s this year. Total cost for both fabrics was $37.71.  I also used 12 – 7/8″ navy buttons.

Construction:

Musings of a Seamstress - McCall's 6891

For my McCall’s version I underlined every piece, except the sleeves, since I chose an eyelet.  That doubled the fabric needed and time spent sewing.  Underlining was well worth the extra effort.  I love the effect of the contrasting white underlining peaking through the navy eyelet.  Once underlined, the pattern went together pretty quickly. I finished this dress in a weekend. I used 1/2″ horsehair braid in the hem to give it more volume and structure in its drape.  The double thickness of the fabric and the horsehair make the skirt look great!

Musings of a Seamstress - Simplicity 8014

For the Simplicity chambray version it also went together very quickly.  I finished this one within a couple of days as well.  I used the 1/2″ horsehair braid in the hem for the same reasons as the other version. While you cannot tell from the pictures, it did not sew as easily as it did in the eyelet.  With the chambray it has some roping in a few spots because of the curve.  Interesting fact, the button holes on the Simplicity version are meant to be sewn vertically, while the McCall’s version are horizontal.

Alterations and Fit:

Musings of a Seamstress - Simplicity 8014

For the Simplicity version, the most significant alteration I made was to the sleeve length. This pattern only came with a long sleeve that rolls up to 3/4 length.  I knew if I was putting in the sleeve tabs I would never wear this with the sleeves unrolled, so I chose to make a shorter length more similar to the McCall’s version.  I love what the back yoke does to draw visual interest to the back of the dress, creating a more tailored fit.  I do not think the waist pleats add anything to fit though.  From the back I think the pleats are the cause of the bagginess.  I think that if they were darts it would look much better.

Musings of a Seamstress - McCall's 6891

For the McCall’s version the only alteration I made was to the size and quantity of buttons.  This was because I could not find any 5/8″ buttons, which is what the pattern calls for, that I thought looked good with this fabric.  So, the 7/8″ buttons won out.  I added 2 extra buttons, changing the spacing between each one from what the pattern guide is.   The fit of this one is spot on though!  I love the shaping the darts give.  I do not like where the button placement stops in the front for this version.  I think another two buttons could be added to make me feel more secure that it won’t fly open.  I also do not like the length of this skirt.  It is about 2″ shorter than the Simplicity version, making it just above my comfort zone.

Wearability:

Musings of a Seamstress - McCall's 6891

I really enjoyed wearing the McCall’s dress.  The double layers of cotton do make it heavier and warmer to wear.  It will be great for fall for that reason, but right now it is still a bit to warm here for me to want to wear it all summer.  I am definitely going to have to add two more buttons to the skirt.  I was a bit nervous while wearing this all day of it flying open below that last button.

Musings of a Seamstress - Simplicity 8014

The Simplicity was much more comfortable to wear all day since the buttons and hem length were just right.  I can say that I am not as big of fan of this mandarin collar as I had hoped to be.  The pattern calls for button all the way up with one finishing on the collar.  It was a bit too uncomfortable for me to wear all the way closed.  I wasn’t a big fan of leaving it unbuttoned though because I think that the neckline naturally drapes a little weird when unbuttoned.  Other than that I loved wearing the chambray all day.  It is the perfect lightweight fabric to wear on warmer summer days  that will pair well with sweaters or tights for cooler fall days.

Winner:

Musings of a Seamstress - McCall's 6891

McCall’s 6891

When it comes down to the pattern itself, it was an easy choice to pick a winner.  The initial fit of this version is so much better than the Simplicity version.  There would be no alterations need for the fit of the bodice.  The only alterations I would have to make are to the length of the skirt and amount of buttons in front.  Those things are minor in comparison to changing the pleats of the Simplicity version.  Then there is the collar!  That mandarin collar on the Simplicity dress is just not as flattering as the notched collar of the McCall’s dress.

Have you stitched up your own version of either of these patterns?  What did you think of it?

Check out some of the other stops today on the Sew Long Summer tour and sew along with us.

mahlicadesigns, Musings of a Seamstress, Rainy Day Sewing, Sprouting Jube Jube, Sewing A La Carte, Anne-Mari Sews
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Battle of the Cotton Knits

Cotton Rayon Spandex Knit VS Cotton Spandex Knit

Hey Stashbusters!  Today we are talking about knit fabrics!  Inspired by Melissa at Mahlica Designs and her fantastic Versus series, I thought I would write up my own version of this.  I wanted to compare how the exact same pattern would sew up in two different knits.  Cotton Spandex Knit and Cotton Rayon Spandex Knit to be exact.

Let’s start with a little background on the pattern first.  The pattern I picked is M6559 in view D.  This is a pretty basic pattern as it only has two pieces.  It is a quick make, which is good for me.  These are the 3rd and 4th versions I have made using this pattern. Surprisingly, this is the first time I am really blogging about this pattern.  I kind of reviewed it here but not very much. For both versions I made a size 22 with no fitting alterations.  For both versions I did add a contrasting trim to the neckline and armholes and a simple rolled hem finish.  I love the contrasting trim I added as a different way to finish my openings.  I haven’t posted it yet, but I do have a pattern hack tutorial written for a different pattern that includes how to add this trim, so I am not going to post it here.  I really do love this pattern for its simplicity.  It makes a great summer dress for me that I am going to make over and over again.

Let’s get down to the main event though.  I compared each fabric in the following areas: sewing experience, all day wearability, first laundry cycle.

THE FABRICS:

Musings of a Seamstress - M6559

Cotton Rayon Spandex Knit

 

First up is a Kumquat Teal Navajo Modal Cotton Rayon Spandex Knit Fabric from Girl Charlee.  I used 1.75 yards of this fabric that I purchased back in 2014 during their Black Friday sale.  The total cost of this one is $4.38.  I also used scraps of an Orange Rayon Spandex.  It wasn’t enough to count for anything though.  This is a very soft drapey knit, that clings in all the right places. It is typically used for sleep wear, making this kinda like secret pajamas.

Musings of a Seamstress - M6559

Cotton Spandex Knit

 

The second fabric is Pink and Black Ethnic Cotton Spandex Knit.  This one also came from Girl Charlee and was in the August 2015 Knitfix I purchased last year. I used 2 yards which was a cost of $11.50.  For the contrast I used some scraps of Black Ponte De Roma that I had laying around. For this version I added 3″ to the bottom hem since I did not pre-wash the fabric because I wanted to do a laundry test.  This fabric is a little thicker than the other, but it feels more like a comfy t-shirt.

SEWING EXPERIENCE:

Musings of a Seamstress - M6559  The Rayon Spandex print can go either direction, so I had no problems being able to match up the print at the side seams.  It is darn near perfect! Rayon Spandex does present it’s own set of sewing challenges though.  This fabric has a lot of stretch to it, so it was very important that I not stretch the fabric as I was sewing. Having a pattern to match at the side seams helped immensely with that. For all knits I make sure I use bulky nylon as my bobbin thread on my straight stitch machine and looper threads on serger.  I also make sure I use a jersey needle.

 

The cotton spandex, Musings of a Seamstress - M6559unfortunately, is a one way print.  With only having two yards the front and back panels go different directions, so there was no way I was able to match prints at the side seam.  This one has a good amount of stretch to it, but not as much as the rayon spandex,  making it a bit easier to sew with.  It would be a great knit to sew if you are new to knits.  The only downside to sewing this fabric was hemming.  The cotton spandex tends to curl up and my rolled hem is not visible now and I have a narrow band of the underside of the fabric showing.

ALL DAY WEARABILITY:

Musings of a Seamstress - M6559Musings of a Seamstress - M6559I love wearing this rayon spandex dress.  I said earlier that it is like secret pajamas, making it a super comfortable fabric to wear.  The stretch and drape in this fabric makes it flattering in that it shows off my curves!  The fabric does tend to stretch out during the course of the day, but after letting it sit over night it recovered pretty darn well.

 

 

 

 

 

Since the cotton spandex doesn’t have the drape as the rayon spandex, it does show off my curves as well.  It is a little baggier looking in the waist creating more of a column look from the chest down. On the plus side, this one does stretch out a bit while wearing, but does not recover as well as the rayon spandex did. Since I didn’t wash it before wearing, the extra inches I added were slightly problematic.  Good thing that isn’t going to be permanent.

 

 

 

 

FIRST LAUNDRY CYCLE:

Musings of a Seamstress - M6559Part of the reason I wanted to wait to wash them until after wearing them was I knew how the rayon spandex would turn out and it performed as expected.  This is the biggest let down of rayon spandex for me.  In the picture the fabric on the left is unwashed and the one on the right is the finished garment.  You can see that the finished garment has white fuzzies all over it, causing it to have a faded look.  This is because of the rayon fibers.  I hate that this dress now looks super worn after only one wash.  Musings of a Seamstress - M6559The cotton spandex, by contrast, washed up wonderfully!  If you can see the dividing line down the center, the one on the left is the unwashed fabric and the one on the right is the washed garment.  They are identical in look!  No fading at all!  The fabric did become a bit softer though, which is a plus.  It did shrink up a bit in the hem, but not as much as I added to the hem, so I will re-hem this one.

THE RESULTS:

So, which fabric does it come down to as being the winner…

Musings of a Seamstress - M6559

The cotton spandex knit!  I think the washability of the fabric was the deal breaker for the cotton rayon spandex knit.  I want my garments to be of great quality and how they wash and wear is a huge part of that.  The downsides of this cotton spandex can be looked passed because this fabric still looks great after washing and I expect it will hold up for quite a some time.  I do have another cotton rayon spandex knit that is mostly white and navy that I am curious to sew up and see if it washes the same as this mostly black version.

Cotton Rayon Spandex Knit VS Cotton Spandex Knit

Have you sewn up either of these fabrics before?  What are your thoughts on them?