I liked the fit of my tan striped version of McCall 6209 so much that I decided to make one in plain black broadcloth as a simple everyday work dress. This time I used the sleeves from view E, but didn’t roll them up as the illustration shows them. When it is warm, or I am baking bread, I do roll them above the elbow then. I also widened the skirt a little, since I like my skirts full. The skirt has a piece of bias binding sewn in at the waist as a stay to keep the waistline from stretching out with wear.
Broadcloth has its advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side: it is easy to wash, rarely needs to be ironed, is surprisingly durable considering how thin it is (I’ve been wearing some of my homemade broadcloth dresses for over three years now), it is lightweight, it is also very inexpensive (I usually buy it for $2 a yard on sale at JoAnn fabric stores), it comes in lots of solid colors, and it has a drape that starts rather crisp, and softens with washing. It also works well for simple seam-finishing, like using pinking shears. Some of the disadvantages include: broadcloth often has a high polyester content, which can make it less breathable, it puckers a lot at the seams, and it can dull your sewing shears faster than one-hundred percent cotton.
I’ve found a few useful tips for working with broadcloth, mostly from reading Claire Schaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide. The section on wash-and-wear fabrics has a lot of techniques that apply to sewing with cotton-polyester broadcloth as well. First, it helps to get your scissors sharpened regularly, and to put a fresh needle for lightweight fabrics in your machine. Make sure you have pre-washed your broadcloth, since it sometimes has a ‘finish’ on it that will make it harder to cut and sew. Then, it may help to lower your tension to reduce puckering. The puckering is worst on straight seams along the length-wise grain, so try to avoid them if possible when choosing your pattern. If there are a few such seams, it might help to pull the fabric taut as you guide it under the foot of your machine. Thorough pressing and edge-stitching will also help give projects a neat finish.
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew.