Welcome to In The Making!
On my summer sewing plans, I had two dresses from the McCall’s 7561 pattern. I made those two items, but unfortunately one of them was a complete fail- which happens I suppose. However, the other dress is amazing and I will happily live in it for the rest of my days.
I will talk about the dress I’m unhappy with and share what I learned from that make.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
This McCall’s pattern is in their Learn to Sew collection so it’s intended to teach basics to beginners and be easy to make.
There are three different sleeve lengths, three different front necklines, two different back necklines, and two skirt lengths. There even is an option to add patch pockets to the bodice. While there are four “set” versions, each piece can be interchanged to create more styles than what the envelope designs.
The sizing runs from XS to XXL which is way more limited than typical sizing, however, the stretchy nature of knits allows for fitting leeway.
I had some issues with this standard of sizing because I fall in-between a small and medium and I couldn’t grade at all. I chose to go with a size small which actually fits me better than a medium would have.
Quick tip: when sewing with knits, if you are between sizes you can size down because the fabric will stretch over the body. In fact, it is probably better to choose a smaller size if you want a snug fit.
I made no changes on the first dress until I sewed the bodice to the skirt and realized that it hit my waist too low. So I took in the seam until it was right.
For the second dress, I fixed the low waist seam by adjusting the pattern itself, but when I compared the numbers the pattern was only about 1/4″ below my waist which is barely anything. But, I notice the lower waistline and I don’t like it so I shortened the pattern anyway.
I also took in the bodice side seams by 1/2″ because the first dress was too boxy on me. I felt like it just fell from my shoulders and didn’t give me any shape.
And during construction, I added a band around the neckline instead of just hemming it like the pattern instructs. I simply measured the neckline, took out an inch, cut a band of fabric that length and 2″ wide, sewed it into a loop, turned that in half, and finally stretched and sewed the band to the neckline. It gives a lot nicer of a finish.
The Finished Garments
Let’s start with the good first. Sadly, I don’t have any photos of my wearing these dresses because it has been a busy couple of weeks for me and my family. I hope hanging photos will suffice for now.
This dress is the second one I made from this pattern and I’m dubbing it the Flower Power Dress!
It is made from a 100% cotton interlock knit from Fabric Mart. It’s super soft and super comfortable. However, it doesn’t have any spandex in it so the recovery is not there. But honestly, this fabric is so soft that I don’t care. It’s like I’m wearing pajamas.
Since the fabric doesn’t snap back into shape, the waistline and back neckline is stretched out. So, even though I took in the side seams on the pattern, the dress is still a bit boxy.
I love the print of this fabric. It makes me think of 60’s mod.
While I made alterations to the waistline, the shoulders have some issues. The sleeve cap sits about 1/4″ too far from where it should and I get a lot of fabric bunching at my armpits.
I’m hoping that these issues are just from the fabric stretching out and can be fixed in later makes by adding ribbon to the seams, however, a likely culprit is that I need to make a narrow shoulder adjustment. My first dress also sits too far on my shoulder, and it’s not just this pattern. My Colette Sorbetto tops are wide as well.
I’m actually happy to discover this adjustment. Nothing ready to wear fits me well, so I wanted to be able to fix those issues in my own sewing. While it would be nice to have patterns fit me right away, I’m willing to put in the extra work to get them to sit right.
It’s all just a process. I learn something new every single make. And speaking of learning something new…
The first dress I made from this pattern was an experience!
My first error was the fabric. It was from a polyester/lycra knit which feels like a swimsuit and is probably meant for swimwear. That also means it gets hot super fast so it’s like am wearing a toaster from head to toe.
It is a four-way stretch which means the bodice stretches downward when the weight of the skirt is pulling it which contributes to the problem of the low waistline.
And speaking of the skirt, I chose to use the maxi version which has some issues. One: the skirt is so heavy because of all that fabric. Two: I don’t like full-length skirts on me. I’m tall, but all that height comes from my legs. When I sit down I’m actually quite short. So, I feel like long skirts just accentuate my short torso and make me look disproportionate.
So, this dress is just one mistake after another. The only redeeming factor of this dress is how much I like the coral color and tiny floral print of the fabric. But it’s better suited for a swimsuit or maybe even activewear.
This make is just a reminder to always been aware of the fabric being used. The wrong fabric for the garment will ruin it no matter how flattering or well fit the pattern is.
While I am disappointed that this dress is so bad, but I’m not going to let this failure discourage me from experimenting with fabric and styles. The worst that happens is that I discover something new about this craft and walk away wiser.
Will I use this pattern again? Mmmmm, probably not. The way the dress fits me is different than I thought. From the envelope, I believed the dress was rather fitted, but it’s really not. I think a better pattern for the look I’m going for is the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Top with a skirt added. So, I’ll probably use that pattern instead.
I actually broke my first needle sewing the Flower Power Dress so I’m officially a seamstress now!
Keep on stitching!