Sunday, 31 March 2013

Step 2 to TNT Dress - McCalls 2401

I am that much closer to one of sewing's Holy Grails - The TNT dress pattern.

At my last TNT posting I was at TNHP  (tried and has potential).  I think I am at TNGT (tried and getting there). There are still a couple of alterations I need. I think the front armhole may need to come up a bit and the "hippy hippy shake shake pouches" (which didn't show up in the photos) need to come out.

Also, although I think it is getting there, I won't consider it "true" until I have tried it successfully in a *gasp* W.O.V.E.N. non stretch fabric (I am shaking in fear - no nudge room) and also tried it successfully with sleeves.

Once this happens I will cover it in gold leaf and laminate it for longevity. I will wrap it in silken cloth to store and handle it like fragile glass.

Though I am still on the journey my smile is getting bigger.

With my first version (TNHP) I added about 2 inches to the shoulders as I thought this would bring the neckline, bustline and hemline (being tall) down and also widen the armholes (having largess). I also added a cm to the middle front, added about 2 inches to the sides, did an FBA and added a couple of cms of flair to stop it being too straight for my body. Did I take out too much flair?

With this version (TNGT), I took out the 1cm front middle to stop the wide neckline, took off the 2 inches on the shoulders. This brought up the armholes. I then took about 1.5cm off the neckline to lower that a bit. I   also turned under the neck and armhole and used the coverstitch machine instead of banding it as the armholes were not too big on this one.

I have noted a few comments about the fact that I do make my clothes a little too big. So I also shaved off a cm from the sides of the pattern. I think I went a little overboard with this step as the dress is a little tight on the bust - however it certainly needed to be brought in at the tum / hips. I also took out a cm of the flair that I put in. This fabric has a lot of lycra so I just stretched it back into shape but I will add a little more to the sides of the bust for next version. (I know that I am jumping from metric to imperial measurements and back again - but unfortunately that is how my mind works).

It's funny - there were a couple of comments about choosing a few sizes smaller that your size and just adding to the sides of the pattern - and as this pattern was a few sizes too small to start with - I think that this method may just have hit the mark as a lot of the changes I made to the first version - I had to "unmake" for this version. Oh there is soo much wisdom out there.

What to you think? Getting there? What do you think of the length - am I getting it right. I don't have any sewists around me and my sewing group doesn't meet again for a few weeks so your comments (as always) will be a great help to me.

Version 1 and 2 side by side

Excuse the strange tilt to one side (you will see it in all my pics) - it is not the cutting and sewing of the fabric - I have curvature of the spine and an artificial hip and can't stand up straight - see - I am twisted!!!

Supervisory Special Cat Elle ensuring all my cutting is on the straight and narrow

This version is a weekend / house dress (which I need a lot of - I am still wearing a few I purchased from Best is Less about 10 years ago - yikes!!!!). The fabric is not a great love of mine. I bought it from the bins outside Remnants Warehouse for $1 per yard for trials. I was so happy with the progress I went out to buy some more fabric specifically for this pattern and for house dresses (of course there is not enough in my stash). However - it seems to be very hard to find cotton tee fabric or cotton / lycra thick enough for a dress a the moment. Finally found some at Remnants Warehouse - where else. Problem is - it is way too nice for house dresses!

Gratuitous Remnants Warehouse new fabric shots - the green fabric will end up as a house dress - the others work dresses.

Almost a terry fabric but a little more glam than terry - destined for house dress
Tribal print jersey - can you see the weird face? Looks like the Riddler from Batman

Gorgeous thick jersey type with a beautiful feel


  1. Looking good. I think the narrower skirt hem really flatters you. I'd like to see it above your knee too for something different. You have nice slim calves and I'm jealous! :-)

  2. Oh ... just re-read the bit where you said the fabric isn't a favorite. I was just thinking the colors are great on you. You have similar coloring to me (pale-skinned redhead) and those are good shades for us.

  3. It's looking really good, I like it more than the first version, it's more fitted and more flattering on you in my mind. I'm enjoying reading these posts, I love Carolyn's style too and her TNT dress so it's so cool watching you perfect a TNT pattern too!

  4. I think you are very close with this version- in fact, i can't see anything to complain about! but i know how it is when you are the one making and wearing the dress. I can always find all the faults with my own dresses! I think the fit is great and I agree, i think the colors are great on you. Plus, it layers so well and that is always a plus for those of us that love our cardigans (i'm guilty!). Nice work and I really applaud your effort to get the fit just right and find your TNT pattern. And, yes, wovens are VERY SCARY.

  5. I agree, it is looking really good! I chuckled when you said you make everything too big - I tend to as well, I think my mother is at fault, because she always made things big for us so that we could grow into them! Perhaps not appropriate now for any of us. I think it is always a good ide to cut extra on the side seams when cutting smaller, just in case one has underestimated.

    Actually reading everyone;s comments, I have the opposite problem 0 I think stretch is scary, I grew up with wovens - you do need more design ease with wovens, so do cut those larger side seams when you first try. Or make up your muslin first. Well done.

  6. I Think you've hit the nail on the head with the green dress. The other is too big and too big in the shoulders as well. If you are comfy going a little shorter, I think it will look good a tad bit shorter to show off your great calves. Maybe anywhere from mid knee to just above the knee. The green is a nice color on you, and the fabric looks lovely. I think it would make a nice work dress!

  7. I don't think you're "gettng there", I think you're already there! The arm holes look much better now, and yes taking it in more makes a big difference.

  8. This version fits so much better, especially in the shoulders, arms and neck. And once you have your TNT, you can change the neckline to suit whatever dress you are making at the time. Maybe the tightness in the bust just means you need to do some sort of an FBA? Also, you do have really nice legs as Debbie said, so you might want to experiment with a little shorter length to show them off:)

  9. Wow, that's a great improvement -- that much better would have taken me like 3-4 more versions. :) I agree with the comments about trying it an inch or two shorter! Also, I wholeheartedly agree that most plus-sized sewists should start with a sizer smaller than measurements dictate, because we don't necessarily need the grading up as much everywhere, namely, usually at the shoulders. The problem is that there's no real "rule" that I've seen that works across the board -- we just have a bit of trial and error to find the right starting size. For me, that's a size corresponding to a 44" bust, which is a full 7" smaller than my full bust size; it's even 3" smaller than my high bust, but it fits my shoulders correctly just about every time. I find it much easier to add room in the other places where it's needed, versus having to adjust the shoulder/neckline area. Thanks for sharing your process -- it's so helpful to see the path others take to achieve a great fit!

  10. I agree with Judi. You're there with this dress. It is a more tailored fit and is more work-worthy, if that's what you're working towards.
    While there's lots of sewing wisdom out, this is your collection and your wardrobe and your sklls that you're working with and frankly, you have great skills and the basis for a great collection.
    PS. Don't let me near your tribal jersey because I love it!!

  11. Spot on!!! So much better with the fitting in the second version - you are definitely nailing a TNT dress pattern - my hat goes off to you...J

  12. You know I thought the first one was really pretty good but this new one is sooooo much better. And I really like that fabric too.

  13. Hi again, just having another look at your dress, and it certainly does look better pegged in. I think one of the problems plus sized ladies have had to deal with is the tent syndrome - but you actually have a shape, and now this dress is starting to show it. Thin people have to volumise a bit, but larger people need to scale down a bit. You are looking really good, and the warm colours suit you.

  14. Replies
    1. Not at all SarahLiz- all thoughts are valuable. Thanks for your advice.

  15. Beajay, you are totally getting there. Very close to TNT.

    I vote for shortening a wee bit for the hemline to hit the thinnest part of your leg. For me this is just below kneecap.

  16. Yep, you are almost there! Keep up the good work!

  17. I think you're almost there, BeaJay. I agree with those who suggest shortening it a bit and maintaining the pegged hem. Once you have your TNT, the sewing possibilities are endless.

  18. This second version is looking very good! I think undoing many of your first version's tweaks has brought this pattern closer to what it looks like on the pattern envelope. And it skims your shape nicely now too :)

  19. I think this is very close. The skirt, especially, is a very nice shape. But speaking of shape, in your post about the TNHP you remarked that the pattern has front and back darts but you left them out because you can't accentuate a waist you don't have. But you clearly do have a waist--it shows up when you stand with your hands on your hips--and anyway structure in a dress can be as much to create shape as to fit it, imho. I look forward to seeing what happens when you make this up in a woven fabric, maybe with the darts put back in. In the meantime, what happens if you tie the cardigan a few inches higher so the skirt is visually longer than the bodice?
    Thanks for posting this process. You are an inspiration.

  20. BeaJay I am so pleased you put the 2 dresses side by side. What a difference. The green dress is so flattering, I especially like the neckline shape, the width at lower edge, I would still like to see a slightly lower neckline on you. This really is a flattering style for you. It will be interesting to see it in woven,you will probably find you need the darts to shape as woven doesnt skim like jersey, I am sure you will conquer the woven version.

  21. well done. It is not easy to fit clothes I think especially by ourselves. Your dress looks terrific and flattering. Looking forward to seeing all your versions because once you start to add sleeves and different fabrics no-one but us will realize you are making variations using the same pattern.


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