For the most part, I tend to use fabrics that are similar to the ones that patterns call for. This is usually a sound strategy as you get the sort of garment that the designer(s) intended and that you see in the pattern photographs. Though sometimes the fabric choice in those photographs make the garment look awful, like in the case of McCall’s 7969, but more on that later.
Every once in a while though I make a bold substitution, sometimes with terrible results, and sometimes with fabulous ones.
This dress, made from McCall’s 7969, is one of the latter.
I first learned about the Nap Dress a few months ago, a term that is trademarked by Hill House Home, and I have wanted one ever since. In these times of a global pandemic and staying home, the concept really appealed to me.
I had been living in pajamas since March and was, quite frankly, beginning to hate everything about shelter at home life, including not having the motivation to wear anything but pajamas. But let’s be honest, pajamas are comfortable.
So, with the nap dress concept, you get a comfortable garment that also looks put together and presentable in public. What’s not to like?
At the same time, I discovered the cottagecore aesthetic, and although it often uses soft, muted colors, it can also be seen in bright and pastel colors. Just look at the Lirika Matoshi infamous Strawberry Midi Dress, a dress that has become a staple of cottagecore.
THEN, I started seeing photos of McCall’s 7969 on Instagram and they looked great. The pattern envelope photos make the pattern look drab and unappealing, but real people’s garments showed the real potential of this pattern. Some people had even made it in a crisp fabric and I was in love.
Best still, it had “nap dress” written all over it.
It was under these circumstances that I decided I would make a colorblocked McCall’s 7969 in pink and red poplin, which is a crisp fabric and the complete opposite of the flowy fabrics the pattern suggests.
The first thing that drew me to the pattern was the sleeves, which are text book nap dress sleeves. Plus, I love a statement sleeve and I’m currently in a gathers phase.
The pattern envelope I found had the L-XXL sizes only, and after looking at the finished garment measurements at the bust (WHICH ARE NOT PRINTED ON THE ENVELOPE, BY THE WAY) I chose to start with the size L. That was a size down from what the pattern says I should make!
I wasn’t sure it would go over my bust so, for fit and peace of mind, I cut the front bodice pieces halfway between the L and the XL at the side seams. I made the corresponding adjustment to the sleeves, and I also shortened them 2″.
THERE IS SO MUCH EASE IN THIS PATTERN!
In hindsight, I didn’t need the extra width at the front side seams.
The only other fit adjustment I made was angling the front neckline more to take care of some slight gaping. This is difficult to explain in text but there is a clip of the adjustment on my YouTube video for this dress.
For style, I knew that I wanted the bottom ruffle to be longer than the one in the pattern, but I didn’t want the skirt as a whole to be much longer. To get the look I was going for, I shortened the top skirt pieces the width of the ruffle, then cut the ruffle twice as tall as the pattern piece.
There is a lot of hand-stitching in this dress as part of the basic construction, so I decided to forgo a muslin altogether and just cut into the fabric. It wasn’t particularly expensive fabric so I thought I’d make it up as I went along.
The neckline is really wide and deep for all sizes. I tacked the V at the point I felt comfortable wearing it, rather than relying on just the wrap to keep the bodice closed and on my shoulders.
The final result was exactly what I had envisioned, but OH MY GOODNESS IS THIS DRESS PUFFY!
It looks like what I imagine Strawberry Shortcake would wear if she wore a cottagecore nap dress.
At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but I’ve had the chance to wear it around and I have to say, it just makes me smile. It’s so colorful and fun. The sleeves make my heart skip a beat and it looks like I’m on trend for once in my life.
Sometimes using the “wrong” fabric is the right thing to do.