This is the second version of McCall's 6696 I made to bring along on vacation. Making five versions of the same pattern in different fabrics is an interesting experiment in textiles. Oddly, each of my dresses fits me slightly differently, despite being cut and sewn using identical methods.
To start, I should probably recap the modifications I made to the original pattern. At the onset of this experiment, I determined that I would smooth the gathers from the back bodice in exchange for a flat, fitted top. I also shortened my bodice by an inch and removed 1/2 inch in height from the collar. Next, I narrowed the shoulders of this pattern by 1 1/2 inches each. I wanted a fitted waist, so I used a zero ease measurement. Finally, I lopped 6 inches out of the skirt length.
My chambray version of this dress fit nearly exactly the way I wanted it to (I could shorten the bodice a bit more to be 100% happy), so I was very surprised to discover that this version of the dress was so snugglebuggle. I'd used the same construction methods and modifications, which leads me to believe that the fabrics are to blame for the differences in fit.
The fabric I used in this dress is a linen/rayon blend from Joann Fabric. It has a really beautiful hand and a fantastic drape. I still love the dress, but it's definitely not the sort of dress I'll wear to enjoy a large meal. So, it's ironic that I wore it the day we decided to explore Brussels' chocolatiers.
This was another day of exploration and scavenger hunting. We made ourselves an offline map of the chocolate shops we wanted to visit. Our list included: Frederic Blondeel, Neuhaus, Pierre Marcolini, Laurent Gerbaud, Passion Chocolat, & Leonidas
We made it our mission to try as many varieties of chocolate as we could from each of the shops we stopped in. It was divine, especially the hot chocolate we drank at Laurent Gerbaud. I can't honestly say I tasted a chocolate I didn't like. But, there was a clear winner, in my opinion: Neuhaus, Rigoletto. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
I was overjoyed to discover there are Nehaus locations in New York. Sadly, I've learned they do not stock Rigoletto. This leads me to the very reasonable conclusion that I will have to go back to Brussels to buy more. :-D
Mike. I like Mike. A lot. So much, I sewed for him.
In fact, I love this man to no end. And, it would appear he loves me; enough so to entertain, enable and encourage my crazy ideas. And, friends, there are lots. When he asked to be added to the vacation sewing list, I couldn't refuse. But I had one condition, he had to help.
As a tall but thin guy, Mike typically has to choose between a shirt that is long enough and largely oversized, or a shirt that fits his torso with sleeves that don't reach his wrists. The struggle is real.
To sew this shirt, we started with McCall's 6044, chose the size medium width, and lengthened the body and sleeves of this shirt by 3 inches each. Once we made all our flat pattern adjustments, MIKE got busy and cut out his own shirts. Yes, you read correctly! He's a good student. I showed him how to find the grain of the fabric, I explained the markings on the patterns, and I advised him to be mindful of plaid matching across seam lines. He did an A+ job. Though, I caution anyone who plans to teach an engineer how to cut a pattern against using words like, 'exact' or 'precise', for both your benefit. (LOL)
I substituted the sleeve placket with my preferred tower placket. In future versions, we will likely taper the shirt slightly beginning at the under arm to better follow the shape of Mike's body. His hips are considerably narrower than his shoulders, and he could use a bit less ease in that area.
Overall, we are both very pleased with the finished garment. Mike reports that he felt very comfortable in his new shirt. And, if I may, he looked great in it!
On this particular day, I marched Mike around Brussels in search of the best chocolate Brussels has to offer (more on that later). The shirt was a performer, even in the rain. I think the above photo caught the exact moment the rain poured from the sky. Mike's shirt and shoes aren't even wet yet. Fortunately, this was the only rain we saw on our trip, and there was shelter nearby. Mike was rewarded for his resilience with another of Brussels' culinary claims to fame. Frites, or French Fries, as we call them.
Vegetarians beware, these are no ordinary fries. They're fried twice in beef marrow, the secret ingredient. It probably goes without saying, I didn't partake. Mike assures me they are delightful and worth the stomachache he earned from overindulgence. I think the expression on his face while he was eating them says it all.
Brussels: Comic Mural Walk
While I spent my summer knitting hours on socks, I spent the majority of my summer sewing hours stitching together garments to take and wear during our recent vacation.
I've sewn a mini vacation wardrobe before. This trip, I had extra incentive and motivation to sew, because we weren't traveling alone. At some point during one of our regular get togethers, Liz, Meg and I started chatting about wanting to go fabric shopping in Paris. It was daydream banter, really. We'd seen other bloggers post about the marvelous fabric shops in the city of lights, and we were starry eyed at the possibility of having our own adventures. That chatting turned to scheming, then convincing, and. ultimately, planning. Before we knew it, we were on our way!
If it all seems a little ridiculous, it is. I still giggle over the idea that we managed to arrange an entire trip abroad based on our original premise, but we did, and it was wonderful! A major topic of conversation in the months leading up to our departure was the things we planned to sew and knit for the trip. We were all bursting with ideas, and among those ideas, we had a common plan to sew the very popular McCall's M6696 shirtdress.
This dress was the building block of my vacation wardrobe. As I recently mentioned, I've been unable to stop myself from making multiple versions of patterns I enjoy. A shirtwaist dress is one of the most classic and effortless garments a girl can have in her closet. One would not do. I needed several. Five, actually. Well, six, if I'm being totally honest (my first version landed in timeout).
I came to own this particular pattern thanks to the generosity of the lovely Mrs. Hughes who sent it to me in the form of a prize package for a giveaway she hosted on her blog. This pattern first caught my attention back when Clare made it for her vacation. But, it took the surge of McCall's 6696 dresses across the sewing blogsphere to convince me I should sew it. I'm so very glad I did!
I wore this chambray version of M6696 during Mike's and my first day in Brussels. (Each couple in our group took a mini-trip prior to meeting in Paris). It served me well. We started our first day with a short walk through Botanic Kruidtuin and then embarked on a self-guided walking tour/scavenger hunt searching for as many of the city's famous comic murals as we could spot.
Mike and I are strong believers in pedestrian tourism. We like to walk and explore in the process. These murals were a wonderful way to get acquainted with the city as we weaved in and out of side streets and down roads less heavily frequented by crowds.
We spent most of our time in the center of the city in order to maximize the small amount of time we had available. But, we did manage to find a few spots without any obvious tourists.
We found Brussels to be a very navigable, international, and friendly city. We arrived at the tail end of summer. Boulevard Adolphe was closed to traffic and the temporary home of numerous palate playgrounds and felled tree trunks inviting people to spend the evenings sitting outdoors watching impromptu table tennis and badminton matches in the street.
Evenings were lively and heavily populated with both tourists and locals. Best of all, Mike and I found several restaurants serving gluten free and vegetarian menus and brews, which allowed us to blend in with the crowd.
We trekked many miles our first day. We even found our way to the fabric store(s), Les Tissus du vert chine, which currently holds the award for the most charming and 'best dressed' fabric store I've ever had the pleasure of visiting! It's well worth a trip if you ever find yourself in the vicinity!
... I'm not quite sure about the 'orgy' bit, but the rest does seem to describe the moderate obsession I've been having with the Broken Seed Stitch Socks. They're addictive.
I first saw this pattern used on Steph's blog and loved the idea of using leftover sock yarns. It sounded like an excellent way to start cleaning up some of those random odds/ends accumulating in the stash. But, as Steph mentions, these socks require deceivingly small amounts of yarn. When I'd finished the first pair, my leftover balls of yarn had shrunk, but enough yarn remained to knit a second pair of socks (three pairs from one skein, actually, if you count the originals). I reached back into the sock scrap box and grabbed a secondary contrast color. And, I kept going. I can't stop, I won't stop... my shared affliction with Miley.
Where sock knitting is concerned, I prefer simple stitch patterns that don't add a lot of bulk to the sock. This pattern is interesting to look at without the addition of lumpy-bumpies or holey-woleies. It relies on the contrast between the two yarns to provide the visual effect. It's interesting to look at without being totally impractical and uncomfortable to wear inside a shoe. I especially enjoy the appearance of the variegated yarns. I like the look of the variegated yarns in these pairs of socks over any of the original pairs I knit using them, because I get all the benefit of the color palate(s) without globs or pooling. Also, instead of burying/blurring the design of the stitch pattern, the variegated yarn enhances it.
I see more of these in my near future. As a general proposition, I seem unable to make one of any pattern lately. This is also true with sewing, as I hope to show you soon! This space has been cycling between feast & famine a lot lately. I have LOTS of projects finished, and I'm due for a period of plenty.