McCalls 4440 Sew Along - Day 1

Good morning! Does everyone have their pattern and fabric?

Today, you need to choose a view and cut out your pieces accordingly (see below). I'll be doing View C this time but, they're all so similar it will not matter if you choose one of the others. I'll also be doing a full lining because my material is white but, we'll cover both ways. For those using trims or boning, I generally wait until I reach the "attach it" step before cutting to ensure it is cut to the perfect size.

To begin (yay!) start with pre-washed and dried fabric or pre-steamed if the fabric you chose is not machine washable. (If you haven't done this, I recommend doing this today before cutting your pieces. Using unwashed fabric could result in your garment shrinking. No one wants that after putting all that effort into it!) Lay your fabric on a flat surface, right sides together, matching the selvedges (the thicker edges, often marked with a store or brand name). If you have trouble lining up the selvedges, gently pull the fabric diagonally in both directions, smoothe, and then press. This helps to "true" the grainline, which is very important in ensuring the garment will sew and wear correctly.

For any true beginners, you may choose to cut out the pieces, as is, without adjusting for fit. If you are intimidated by fitting and/or this is your first garment, then, provided you bought reasonably priced material, I would recommend against fitting. The last thing you want to do is take an "easy to sew" pattern and make it difficult or frustrating on your first garment attempt. (I almost always make the first of any pattern "as is" as a wearable muslin.) However, this garment, as an empire-waisted dress, does rely on a well-fitting bodice. So, if you're up for it, let's measure your bodice piece against your bust to ensure a nice fit.

Pg 91 - The Complete Photo Guide
to Sewing (Singer, 2009)
In "The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing," there is a small section on bust fitting. Since I've used this pattern before, I know I need a bit more length in the bust area and page 91 has a quick explaination to determine how much. For this pattern, your "waistline" will actually be just under your bustline. Since this pattern has no shoulder line, start your measurement at your high bust (the top of your bust, around underarm level). Using Singer's instructions, I know I need 4" of length under the bust point so I will need to lengthen my pattern piece to compensate. If the dart point is higher than your bust point, you may need to lengthen above the dart. The total length of the bodice piece, after adjustment, should match your bust length measurements. Don't forget, if you lengthen the bodice front piece, you need to lengthen the bodice back piece by the same amount.

Adjustment Tools: Tracing paper, Scotch tape, scissors,
dressmaker's ruler, extra-fine point Sharpie, and sewing gauge

Newly adjusted bodice pieces, front and back
(back formerly eaten by dog, traced from original dress piece)

Now that we have that sorted out, let's cut out our fabric!  On your freshly pressed fabric, lay out your pattern pieces according to the pattern instructions. Some tweaking may be necessary if you adjusted your bodice pieces. When pinning your fabric, make sure you do not shift the fabric. Doing so could cause your pattern to go off-grain or alter the finished size.

Time to thread your machine! Tomorrow, we begin sewing!! x

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