Tuesday, July 27, 2021

True Bias Calvin Wrap Dress Hack

If you've been reading long, you know I love to find clothes on Pinterest to recreate. Today's dress is inspired by a beautiful dress for sale on Etsy.


I've had this dress pinned for a while, but out of the blue I realized that the front of it looks similar to the True Bias Calvin Wrap Dress. I'm not big on woven wrap dresses so I never paid much attention to this pattern, but I couldn't get this hack out of my head! I bought the pattern and made the top to figure out how it's constructed, and how best to proceed with the changes to the back.

Using my muslin and dress form, I draped a pattern piece for the back. I obsessively studied the photos online and tried to figure out how to put the dress together. I made an entire dress from black linen and decided that the back wasn't quite right. 

I made the back piece bigger and proceeded with a second dress in this GORGEOUS sea glass linen, from iSeeFabric. It was better, but ultimately I had some gaping and added a dart for a better fit. For the skirt, I roughly used the Calvin pieces. The front has no gathering and the back is about 2:1 with an elastic casing at the waist.

After making two of these dresses, I think it would be better in a linen/rayon blend with more drape. I'm resisting the urge to do it, because how many of these dresses do I need?! But the itch is still there and still wants scratching, so who knows.

The Calvin Wrap Dress pattern was well written and drafted. You do need to enjoy making bias tape though. I used this kit for mine. The original pattern has directions for making a thread loop to hold the wrap ties, which I had never done. It turned out to be useful in my hack, as I added a loop at the back of the neck.

I truly love finding RTW inspiration and using my sewing skills to figure out my own version!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Madalynne Fenix Bodysuit

A few weeks ago, I found myself on the Madalynne Intimates website, trying to find bra strapping. I found it, but I also discovered a cool new pattern, the Fenix Bodysuit. I previously made the Anouk Bodysuit, from Ohhh Lulu, and I'm not sure how many bodysuits a stay-at-home-mom needs, but the graphic lines of the Fenix really called out to me and I bought it anyway.


I've made one other Madalynne pattern before, one of her collaborations with Simplicity, number 8228. The sizing was a little wackadoodle but I ended up with a nice bralette. The Fenix had a lot of information on sizing and fit, including a whole section on torso length that I've never seen in another pattern. There are three cup sizes in addition to XS-4XL. I made the A/B cup in a size M for my 33" bust and 38" hip. 

In the end, I think I need to go down a size in the cups. In the above photo, I have tacked the center front edges together in order to pull the cups more tightly over my bust, which gave me a better fit. The width of the bodice fit well but I did find it way too long, despite the fact that I have a long torso. The torso length is also dependent on the width of the elastic you use under the bust. All things considered, I expected the fit to be WAY more off than it was and I'm more or less pleased with this first go at it. It is a lot like making a bra, you have to make the whole thing to know how it's going to work.

Now for the bad. I found the instructions to be insufficient. I've made a lot of bras, underwear, and as I said another bodysuit, and I still found myself confused and scratching my head. There are full color photos but not one for every step. Seam allowances are 1/4", which does not allow much room for error. Most importantly, there are no notches! I can't think of a time when I made a bra with more than one piece for the cup, and it did not have notches. I found the gusset construction difficult to understand (there is more than one way to assemble a gusset) and it would have been infinitely easier if there had been notches on the pattern pieces. 

All that said, I made my bodysuit differently anyway because I lined most of my pieces. The instructions tell you to cut lining pieces but to spray baste them to the outer pieces, which is more truly called an underlining. I opted to sandwich seams whenever possible so that they would be in between pieces. Unfortunately, I was so focused on going in the right order that I made the suit in a way where the seam allowances are visible, rather than sandwiched inside the darker mesh color. Probably nobody even noticed this in the photos but it's sticking out to me!

After the suit was assembled, I found it to be too long in the torso. I had made a muslin but because I didn't understand the gusset construction, I hadn't gotten the right length in my muslin. It's also possible that applying the FOE on the leg had stretched my back bodice fabric, which is a single layer of mesh. In any case, I shortened the bodice with a crappy after-the-fact cutting of the gusset. 

Personally, I've come far enough in my sewing journey that bad instructions are not as annoying as bad drafting. The drafting of this pattern worked well for me, and now that I've made it once the instructions are not an issue. But if you're a beginner lingerie sewist, I would grab a different pattern before this one.

I love the design lines and it has so much potential for a swimsuit, so #noragrets here. Madalynne also offers ready made lingerie if you want to skip the sewing, and some great kits for her patterns. The flocked leopard mesh, the thick black band elastic, the snap tape, and the FOE all came from her site and were high quality (the FOE in particular). The other supplies were in my stash and probably came from Tailor Made Shop or Sew Sassy.

There are plenty of modeled photos of this pattern on the Madalynne Instagram.