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Wool Challis Dress

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Done! Yes, years in the planning, months in the construction, it’s finally finished.


The main fabric in this dress has been the subject of many dressmaking day dreams. I wrote a post about it in April 2008. and now it’s really here!

I hope having the dress in the closet will break my sewing inertia of the past few months. My dreams are always big but my git-‘er-done has been small. It happens.

Bad weather is coming (again) so I rushed to get these shots today. It was overcaste and windy today. I am holding the skirt down to get this shot! And I had to really lighten the exposure to show all the details of the dress and when you play with the exposure it changes the colors.

Full Shot

My design is based upon McCalls 5973, one of those patterns that lets you mix and match components.


I used the sleeves gathered into bands and the front yoke with a slit. But trying to get creative I added a ruffle on one side of the band extended up to the shoulder seam. Over the years I have looked for a fabric to match the roses and bought a few fabrics but none were the right weight or color. I don’t think the ruffle shows well and now that asymmetrical details are slowly passing out of fashion I am glad I couldn’t do what I had planned. The ruffle is there but it is not a loud “look at me” detail. Saved from myself, thank goodness!!! LOL

I used the skirt front panel for the gored skirt and cut the width down to match the width of the front band. I also narrowed the width of the gathered skirt pattern pieces and gathered only under the bust in front. The back is gathered evenly across the whole back.

So…..really, only the bodice is sewn following the pattern’s original pieces. I love how comfortable it is and how well (I think) it fits. I made a muslin (yes, I really did!) and I’m glad. The gored skirt would not have fit me at all. I cut a 14 for the bodice, widening at the side seams just beneath the armscye through the raised waist band. The skirt is mostly of my own drafting efforts


Those neck points really do match.

The dress is unlined and I tried out the new Pro-Sheer Elegance interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply to pad out the hem and give my hand hemming stitches an anchor. Love it!!! It’s so lightweight and barely changed the hand of the wool challis at all. I tested 4 different fusible interfacings, including Sewer’s Dream, the knitter’s choice for interfacing, before I hit on it. Oh yes, I’m very happy with this new version of Pro Elegance.

So there it is: The Dress Finally Done.



About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

11 responses »

  1. Mary Beth what a wonderful, one of a kind design – love that ruffle accent, and the print is fabulous.

  2. I really like the juxataposition of print and striped fabric. It’s so nice that you finally got to use the fabric and to sew again. BTW, I’m loving your hair!

  3. We are so alike! I love the dreaming part. Then I get very wrapped up in the design/construction. You sure do too! The wool challis is perfect for this design. Thanks for the interfacing tip, I need some STAT.

  4. Love the dress but am more impressed by how good you look. xo

  5. Gorgeous fabric!! Such an interesting “mix” that really works. As others said, you look great. Enjoy your new dress!

  6. Just wonderful, Mary Beth! I really like the juxtaposition of the masculine pinstripe with the feminine floral. And your hair is lookint totally fabulous!

  7. Long in coming, but worth the wait, or so they say, but I really like the ‘mix-up’ of prints/stripes…. it’s my ‘thing’ at the moment. 🙂

  8. Wow, how nice it is to hear from you all! I should blog more often 🙂 And finish something more often.

  9. summersetbanks

    Beautiful – the mix of prints is nice without being overwhelming and the dress looks so comfortable. The shoes are cute, too!

  10. You look lovely in this. And the shoes! What great shoes! Love challis, it seems hard to find anymore.

  11. Isn’t it wonderful when dreams are realized? Your dress is beautiful. Nice work!


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