Pattern In Action: New Look #6723

I’ve discovered that many of my Moxie readers don’t sew and for my latest dress, I thought you all might enjoy seeing a step-by-step pictorial of how a dress gets put together.  I decided to make New Look #6723 because I liked the idea of a sweetheart neckline and my body fits well into dresses with princess seams.  After the Summer Solstice Dress, I was not terribly interested in making a ton of pleats and this one has a gathered skirt.  Adding pockets in the skirt side seams was also a snap.  I followed the instructions of the pattern and only lined the bodice, using leftover cotton from the existing yardage.  For this pattern, I made view D — sleeveless with the sweetheart neckline (minus the tied sash).

1.  Fabric is pre-treated, which means I put it all through a wash & dry cycle as I would want to launder my final garment.  This helps reduce any change in size after the garment is made because there is invariably some shrinkage the first time some fabrics are washed and dried.

pre-treated cotton fabric

2.  I prep the pattern pieces by cutting them all out very carefully.

sewing pattern pieces

3.  Everything gets a fresh press, both pattern pieces (on a low setting, no steam) and the fabric I’m using (for this cotton, a hot iron with steam).

ironing fabric in my sewing studio

4.  I further prep my fabric by aligning the grain with the fabric right sides together, selvages matching.  If I need to true up the raw ends to help me when I lay out the pattern pieces, I do that as well.

5.  All of the pattern pieces get laid down on the fabric so that I can make sure they will all fit across the total yardage.  Then I carefully measure the grain lines against the selvages to make sure everything is on grain as it should be.  Lots of pins go into the pattern pieces through both layers of fabric.

cutting out pattern pieces

6.  I trace my pattern pieces & transfer all markings.  Note:  It is true, I do use a waxy transfer paper that some seamstresses do not like (or only use on a toile).  I prefer to think that I am quite meticulous about my cutting.  I take my time to trace the pattern pieces and then I take my time to cut them all.  And yes, I do use the waxy transfer paper on my final fabric because I really cannot stand the chalky paper that I find utterly useless (but I use tailor’s chalk or water soluble chalk pencil lines for darts).

7.  I cut every piece.  Slow and steady wins the race.  If there are a lot of pieces in a pattern I definitely lose patience quickly, so I often take a lot of breaks when I cut fabric.  To me, this is one of the most tedious parts of the sewing process.

cut pattern pieces

8.  Now I prepare my notions — I wind my bobbin thread, locate my zipper, and any other bits like hooks and eyes or buttons are located so that I feel organized.

winding bobbin thread and preparing zipper     winding bobbin thread

9.  Following the pattern instructions, I stitch!  This is my favorite part–there is something about stitching that makes me feel very industrious and I love it.  Stitch & press, repeat, repeat, repeat.  It’s very meditative and the rhythm of sewing clears my mind and I swear I can feel my blood pressure drop into the Ohm Zone.

stitching New Look #6723

Stitching princess seams on New Look #6723.

I added pockets to New Look #6723

I added pockets to New Look #6723.

Finishing seams with a double zigzag stitch.

Finishing seams with a double zigzag stitch.

New Look 6723 in progress.

After attaching lined bodice to gathered skirt, I prepare the zipper installation.

hand basted zipper

I like to hand baste my zippers so that I can easily make adjustments before sewing it with the machine.

sewing a blind hem

Sewing a blind hem.

10.  I let Mr. Giles inspect my work to make sure it meets his approval.

11.  I finish the garment by double checking my hems, pinking the raw seams (if I haven’t edge finished them already), and I give the dress a fresh press with the iron to smooth out any wrinkles from the sewing process.

12.  When I try on my dress, I’m totally amazed it fits!  You might remember a recent blouse that did not fit when it was near completion (stake through my heart!!) and it’s one of my worst fears.  If I make a toile, it’s usually to work out some big alterations — making a toile doesn’t make me feel any more secure when I sew the final garment.  Part of me is always convinced I’ve mucked it up and it’s not going to fit.  I don’t think that worry is something I will ever really banish from my mind.

New Look #6723

New Look #6723

Then I wear my dress around town!  I love a swishy new dress that fits me well and makes me feel like a retro princess.  The best compliment is always when a total stranger stops me to compliment my dress–that’s when I know I’m a real stitch witch!  I will have pictures of me wearing this dress soon… stay tuned…

Things I like about New Look #6723:

  • It was very easy to make and after doing some rather complicated projects recently, this one felt easy (although it is not labeled as such on the envelope).
  • The sweetheart neckline is a nice design detail and it adds a little something extra special.
  • The gathered skirt is just full enough, so I don’t feel too much pouf in the skirt with such a bold print that can get very Minnie Mouse very quickly.
  • It’s a very comfortable dress!  The princess seams hug the natural curves of my body in a way that often makes me feel pinched when a bodice has darts.

Things I don’t like about New Look #6723:

  • It doesn’t come with pockets but you know I’ll add them anyway!  It’s very easy to do with clear and simple side seams in the skirt.
  • I don’t have patience to sew a slip stitched hem, so I substituted a blind hem instead.
  • The upper back gapes quite a bit, so if I do this pattern again I will likely make a toile so that I can experiment with neck darts.  You should know I’m discovering this is a general fit issue for me but it was particularly pronounced with the finished dress in this case.  Easily fixed with a comfortable cardigan for the time being!
  • I did not make the fabric self-belt because, as I mentioned above, the polka dots threaten to turn me into Minnie Mouse and I felt that a sash would look far too cutesy for the cotton print.

I wore this dress on a travel day (traveling for business) and it was very comfortable and fun to wear.  There’s nothing like an upbeat cotton print to add some fun to the drudgery of airport security lines.  What do you all think?  Are the polka dots fun or what?

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  • Sarah B - this was great!!! thanks for sharing all the steps! I always hated pinning! lolReplyCancel

  • Giveaway week! : School of Moxie - […] from was inundated with (too) many ideas from me and she made a wise choice with the Polka Dot Fantasy Dress that I posted last week.  Apparently Kate Spade is also dreaming of polka dots so my little blog […]ReplyCancel

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  • Gaby - Hello! First off, you did an amazing job with the dress! I adore polka dots….but secondly, I had a couple questions because I’m going to make this dress and I’m a beginner. Did you use interfacing on the entire bodice? I’m fairly new and I’m just skimming over the directions before going out to buy some fabric, and I’ve never done interfacing before…Lastly, did you just use the same fabric to line the bodice or did you use something else? Thank you so much! <3ReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - Hi Gaby – Thank you so much! Yes, I did use the same fabric as the bodice lining. I had enough of it, so it worked really well. There is actually only a small curved strip of interfacing on the lining piece of the bodice — it helps give some sturdier structure to the curve of the sweetheart neckline. For my cotton, it was actually stiff enough that I could have gotten away without the interfacing. But if you use something softer and silkier, you would definitely want the added strength from the interfacing to hold up the sweetheart neckline. I hope that helps! Let me know how it works for you and I’d love to see your finished product! Cheers, -maw 🙂ReplyCancel

      • Gaby - Thank you so much! I will certainly send a picture of the finished product (may be awhile though….I am quite the slow-poke) If I have any more questions I will be sure to contact you–thanks again for your help! <3ReplyCancel

  • karen - I’ve ben looking for a pattern for an hourglass figure and happened upon this one on another website. I LOVE hat you’ve done with yours, and the pattern is FABULOUS. Well done xReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - Thank you so much, Karen! I do love this dress and I’ve been wearing for a few months now. In a blog post next week I will talk a little about my teardrop figure — I’m not quite as sever as a classic hourglass, but I suffer many of the same fit issues. If you’re shaped liked me, you will like this dress! The princess seams let your bust line breathe and the waistline comes in just right. The skirt gives your hips room to move comfortably as well. I’d love to see your dress when it’s finished! Cheers to you! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Until We Meet Again : School of Moxie - […] this brunch, I chose to wear my Polka Dot Fantasy Dress, also known as New Look 6723.  I thought this dress had enough retro nods to go perfectly with the very retro […]ReplyCancel

  • Clare - Hi Mary, that is a lovely dress. I haven’t sewn since 8th grade, so what is the selvage and the grain, or how do you determine it? I like your sewing room, btw.ReplyCancel

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  • How to Read a Pattern : School of Moxie - […] way back at the beginning of School of Moxie, I wrote a post for National Sewing Week and detailed how one of my garments came together from top to bottom.  […]ReplyCancel

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