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Thursday, August 24, 2023

Lots of Sequins and Fit! McCalls 8406


This is turning into a true couture adventure, thanks to the lovely fabric I've chosen. There is just no simple way around sewing with these tiny sequins. I did a lot of research and will make lots more samples. I will be sampling seam treatments, pressing possibilities (likely none), hem finishes and more, all before the real sewing hits the fabric. 

I finished my muslin journey after three toiles. The second toile showed my over reaction and was too small and pulling everywhere. For the third toile, I took a simple approach but I did learn something with my second effort. Adding the skirt made a huge difference. I discovered I actually could wear a bias skirt. The weight of the skirt pulled the bodice down and the bust actually looked quite good. I realized what the designer was trying to achieve here. There is a deliberate effort to skim the bust, not fit it snugly as one would expect, but as the fabric skims over the bust and flows into the bias movement of the skirt it really all works together. It is a fresh look and I love it. It has a minimizing effect on the bust, a flattering one. If that is a goal for you, try this pattern.

The pics here are from the third toile. The fabric is from two very thin, well worn sheets with NO body to them at all.  My lining, Ambiance, is probably just as loosey goosey but the sequined netting definitely has structure and that should make a difference. It will be a mystery to see how it turns out. The neckline here is not interefaced and will be in the finished garment.  I cut the skirt and lining on the bias as the pattern indicates. The lace netting has very little grain of any sort so it will  interesting to see if I get any lovely bias effect. I also was careful of the nap, as it seems sequins have a nap, like velvets.  This is the first time in my life I have referred to a personal bias cut garment as lovely. I still have memories of some frightful failures when I was heavier and curvier.  It this comes out well, I think I may be on to something my aging body can really enjoy and play with.

On the above pic you will see an arrow pointing at a red line. This is the hemline I will use. It is an exaggerated shirtail hemline and will be five inches higher. In the top picture you see an issue with the collar. It is made from one wide, long strip of bias fabric that wraps around the neck. I believe that it wrinkles because the direction of the bias changes as it goes around the neck. I actually had this same issue on a different pattern so it made me think twice. I added a center back seam to the final neckband in the opposite bias grain. It will be interfaced and hopefully that will take care of that wrinkle that would not go away on any of the three toiles. Also on the top pic  you will see an arrow pointing at the underarm area. It is droopy here. A petite tuck across the chest takes care of that. 

How did I petite/shorten my curvy bias skirt hem?

The first thing I did was trace off the bottom of the skirts, View B, front and back. I then cut the tracing out.

On the tracing it was important to have the bias grain marked as well as the center back line and the horizontal line. Once this was established I  slid this up five inches from the original pattern hemline. I pinned down the pattern along the center line while I worked. I then went to the upper corners and lined them up five inches higher than the original at the side seams and pinned my way across using the original lines in the pattern for help. This left excess fabric at the center which I gently moved toward the center and hand pressed into a tuck.

That tuck was evenly folded along the center back/front line. At the top of this picture you will see the two darts I have drawn in. I may do gathers there instead based on my research, better for the sequins. 

As far as couture,  this is how I am cutting things out: First, I set up my net on a padded roll in the direction of the nap I would use, smooth feel down, like velvet. I could cut my pieces in the proper direction directly off the roll. But, first,   I cut out all of the Ambiance lining fabric. It will be used as a classic underlining, treating it and the fashion fabric as one unit for the bodice. 
 In the skirt it will float freely. Then I block cut the first pattern piece of sequin net, which from now on I will just refer to as the net, in block form, leaving about an inch plus margin all around and pinning my grainline. I laid this on top of the cut out bodice underlining piece, right sides up, matching and pinning grain lines. I could easily see the outline of the underlining fabric, heretofore called the Ambiance, under the net. With grainlines matched, I used fine, long, glass head silk pins to pin closely all around the borders of the two fabric pieces. I pinned them together about 5/8ths inch away from the edge of the Ambiance, lots of pins. These two bias pieces were now officially laying very flat and happy. I then took silk thread and basted the two pieces together just this side of the stitching lines. I used 1/4 inch stitches, smaller than my usual basting. The silk slid in and out so easily so no problem with future removal.  I will block baste all of the pieces in this manner. After that I will machine stay stitch just inside the stitching line, all around each pattern piece. This is absolutely necessary to control the sequins from becoming undone and falling off the dress, leaving threads behind as a memory.  Yikes! The net will be trimmed back to the cut edge of the Ambiance and the sequins cut back and picked off.

Thank you to Claire Shaeffer, for teaching me to cross my corners when basting, instead of attempting to turn corners or just miss them. 

This process will be done to each piece of the garment before starting to sew together the garment.  Before sewing together the dress, I need to think about seam finishes. There is an underarm invisible zipper involved! This is all going to take some time!  Bear with me as I take you along for the ride. I figure a couple of days for all of this prep. Till then................Happy Sewing, Bunny

Two shopping bags of cotton and linen scraps for our local Freecycle. May they find a happy home ;)


  1. That dress is going to be absolutely stunning. But I'm glad you're sewing it and not me. LOL. ;-)

  2. It's actually going better than planned. Haven't broken a needle yet! It's just taking a lot of time but at this point I have it. The fact that the sequins are so tine and that there is so much negative space with the netting has really helped, also that nothing stretches. Keep ya posted!

  3. I am using a size 12 microtex needle and it is working great. Still using the one I started with and no problems.


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