The Little Red Christmas Dress
by Neela at Sew Fusion (sewfusion.co.uk)
I’m so excited to be writing my first post for White Tree Fabrics (WTF). When they asked me to make up McCall’s M7090 for their Christmas promotion using duchess satin and chiffon, I was even more thrilled because I love making dresses from such beautiful fabrics.
McCall’s M7090 pattern has several design options but the one that caught my eye was the wrap bodice version. I’d seen a similar design on a sari blouse which I was planning to self-draft so the pattern was a bonus!
For my first dress for WTF’s Christmas dress, I chose the red satin with a red chiffon overlay from the range of colours available in the Christmas bundle. Red just shouts Christmas and as I don’t wear it very often I thought it was the perfect choice.
When the fabrics arrived in the post I was surprised with the quality of the duchess satin which was more robust than any I’d used before. The chiffon too was a good weight and one I’d used before on Jasmine’s prom dress.
I’m really pleased with how the dress has turned out. The red is vibrant and looks lovely with either silver or gold accents. The satin bodice is very flattering and the chiffon wrap overlay provides interest and hides a multitude of sins!
Before I cut out the fabric I traced and cut out the pattern on some paper after studying the finished dress sizes to understand how much ease the dress has. I chose the finished size closest to my bust measurements ensuring that I had enough room to adjust the fit.
Once the pattern was ready, I made a toile out of muslin for the bodice, tried it on and with a help of a friend, made several alterations to the waist on the bodice and skirt sections, front bodice side and back panels. I always need to make a narrow back adjustment on most patterns. The alterations were then transferred onto my master pattern and used to cut out the fabric.
I also decided to shorten the skirt length by 2 inches.
Making up the skirt
The satin was used as the lining for the skirt. The skirt is made of 3 panels which I stitched together leaving an opening in the back for the zip. I overlocked the side seams to neaten them. The satin was lovely to sew.
For the hem I decided to use the same method I used to create a narrow hem on the chiffon overlay skirt, however due to the thickness of the satin the hem was wider.
To do this, I turned over the fabric, stitched close to the edge, trimmed close to the stitching, folded the hem again and then finished with another row of stitches close the hem edge. This successfully reduced the bulk in the hem.
For the chiffon skirt overlay the side seams were finished with narrow French seams to provide a neat finish. The chiffon skirt is slightly longer than the satin and with the narrow hem provides a beautiful professional finish. A technique I will definitely be using again. Both the satin and chiffon skirts were separately gathered and stitched onto the final bodice and finished with overlocked edges.
Making up the bodice
Making up the satin bodice was much easier after making alterations on the bodice toile. The chiffon wrap overlay was a little tricky. I attached the back and front wrap sections at the shoulder seams with French seams to create a neater finish and then gathered these. In future it may be easier to gather the shoulder seams by stitching a short piece of elastic on the underside.
I must admit these were a little too long, so I had to shorten them by an inch in length and re-finish the shoulder seams as I hadn’t made these up in toile. That’ll teach me to make short-cuts at the toile stage!
I also stitched narrow hems to both the front and back sides, and armhole edges of the chiffon overlay wrap to create a professional finish.
The chiffon overlay was gathered at the front and back bodice bottom edges and then attached to the satin bodice.
The satin midriff pieces were stitched together and interfaced, omitting interfacing to the seam allowances to reduce bulk.
This was then lined to hide the interfacing and provide stability to the midriff section and attached to the bottom of the bodice section.
The pattern requires you to line the full bodice but as the duchess satin is quite thick I don’t think a full lining is required. I instead opted to finish off the top edge of the satin bodice with bias binding which hand stitched on the inside.
I also decided to make some narrow straps out of some satin bias binding I had, to ensure the bodice stayed in place. These were sandwiched between the satin and the bias binding. I think in future I would consider adding some boning to the sides seams just to give the bodice more structure.
I added a concealed zip to the centre back of the dress.
I’m very pleased with the finish on the dress. Satin and chiffon are scary fabrics to sew but if you take your time and perhaps use some of the techniques I’ve used then you should produce a good result.
I hope you’ll have a go at making a Little Red Christmas Dress like mine. All I need now is some Christmas deely boppers or Christmas tree earrings to complete the look! What do you think?
Happy sewing and… dare I say it so early… Happy Christmas!