Saturday, August 3, 2019

McCall's 8498 (1983): Cream Charmeuse Jumpsuit with Black Dots and Belt Variations

When I decided to sew McCall’s 8498 in charmeuse, I wondered:  Would the resulting jumpsuit look like pajamas?

Charmeuse: Satiny, Slinky and perfect for negligees and luxe loungewear

As described in my last post, Diahann Carroll and other Dynasty Divas had their names on some McCall’s patterns in the 80s.  As Dominique Deveraux, she strode into La Mirage dressed head to toe in luxurious creams and whites (complete with fur stole) for her first scene on Dynasty.  She immediately got frosty at the check-in desk because they wanted to put her in a junior suite.

You see, that wouldn’t do.  Dominique needed a suite with two bedrooms. One for her and one for her clothes, as she “does not sleep in her clothes, nor do I sleep with them!”

If my jumpsuit looked like something she’d sleep in, could I wear it out of the house in good conscience?  You know she doesn’t sleep in her clothes. So logic dictates her clothes wouldn’t look like sleepwear.

Your Logic is sound.

And this wasn’t the only conundrum I confronted once I settled on the charmeuse.  The very FACT of charmeuse was stress-inducing.

Why?  Because charmeuse, and other fabrics like it, are notoriously challenging to sew.  If you treat it like a nice simple cotton, you will be sorry. Charmeuse is complicated.  It shifts when you cut it. It puckers when you sew it. It tends to fray, thus all seam allowances must be finished.  Heat makes it shrivel and die. If charmeuse was a person, you’d consider her very high maintenance and dodge her phone calls.

Yet like many high maintenance individuals, charmeuse is also beautiful, charismatic and charming.  So, we make accommodations.

In the charmeuse’s case, that involved pre-treating it with a relaxing hot gelatin bath.  

The gelatin (original Knox brand, unflavored) stiffens the fabric (once dry).  I followed this method in Threads magazine for treating my charmeuse. Stiffening the fabric makes it easier to cut out the pattern accurately.

Other things I did to make sure I didn’t screw up my charmeuse include the following:

*sandwiching the fabric between large sheets of tracing paper to further prevent shifting when cutting out the pattern.

*buying the sharpest sewing needles I could find (to avoid the fabric getting mangled in the sewing machine) and pins designed for delicate fabrics (to avoid holes).

*Using a smaller stitch length (2mm).  This was advised all over the internet.

*Pulling the fabric taut from the back and front (but still allowing the machine to pull it over the feed dogs) while sewing (to avoid puckers). 

*Using french seams throughout (to hide fraying edges).

French seams are lovely.  They are often used for things made out of chiffon, charmeuse and other delicate fabrics.  But sewing a french seam involves sewing it TWICE. Once wrong sides together, then again, right sides together.  Thus, the seam allowances (with their fraying edges) are totally contained.  

I even used french seams on the in-seam side pockets, which I had never done before, using this tutorial.

French seamed pockets

This jumpsuit has two rows of ¼’ elastic at the waist.  The two casings for the elastic are created from the seam allowances where the top and bottom of the jumpsuit are joined.

The edges of these seam allowances also had to be finished.  French seams were not possible, I used a satiny bias tape to finish them.

I made the jumpsuit with long pants.  Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t make it with long sleeves because I didn’t have enough fabric.    I didn’t have enough to make the top’s front and back facings either, so I used a piece of black charmeuse I had leftover from my failure with McCall's 3167 (see previous post).   But I’m glad I didn’t have enough, because I think the black looks great.

I can’t be sure, but I don’t think this jumpsuit looks like pajamas.

Nope, I'm wearing them outside so they can't be PJs

I paired the jumpsuit with a few different vintage 80s belts:

Aqua looked snazzy plus I have matching VINTAGE 80s SHOES!!

How about a green belt and aqua shoes?

Pink belt with the top closed

Vintage Red 80s Belt!

This would be good to wear to a spring or summer wedding if you didn’t want to wear a dress.  

As to whether it’s Diva-worthy, I couldn’t say.  All I know is that the feeling of charmeuse against my skin makes me crave a glass of champagne!

I think we know who the real Diva is around here.

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