I feel like McCalls M7969 needs no introduction. Every now and again a pattern comes along that the whole sewing community goes crazy for, and this dress is one of them. It’s that dress with those sleeves. Keep on reading for an explanation on why I made it without those sleeves! Sacre Bleu!
You know me – I love a good pattern bandwagon to jump onto, but last year with the pandemic and all, I didn’t have as much money to spend on patterns and fabric. Also the pattern was out of stock in my size everywhere ( and I think it is still hard to get hold of), so even if I had the money I probably wouldn’t have been able to find it!
The time came around this year when I couldn’t wait any longer, FOMO had got the better of me and one of my kind followers let me know that the pattern was in stock at Ahakhan. I didn’t even know that Abakhan sold patterns! Of course I charged over to their website, and it was indeed available at that time. Before I knew it, it was in my basket and on it’s way to me. Phew.
The style of the dress is supposed to be ‘very loose fitting’ according to the pattern envelope description, but I didn’t want it to feel too relaxed as this look can sometimes overwhelm me as I’m only 5’2″. My size put me in the ‘Medium’ size range for this pattern, but I wondered if the ‘Small’ might give me the fit that I was going for. My measurements are 34-29-38. I did cut out the small size for my toile and found the fit of this was just right for me. The dress comes with sleeve, ruffle and length variations so it has something for everyone. Unfortunately this pattern doesn’t cover all sizes in a single pattern. You choose either the size XS – MED or the L – XXL. This is frustrating if you find yourself in the MED -L size range as you have to make a decision on which size pattern to go for.
To check the fit before cutting into my ‘good’ fabric I made a toile in the small size out of an old sheet. This was important not only to check the fit, but also to see how the fabulous massive sleeve would look on my frame. I cut one of the large puffy sleeves (view A sleeve) and one of the narrower sleeves (view B and C), to see which I liked better.
The big sleeve just felt too big for my frame, also it made me look very wide across the shoulders from the back. When I attached the slimmer, shorter sleeve to the other arm it felt much more comfortable and I liked how it looked when I roughly gathered it up with a gathering thread. Rather than gathering it into a cuff as I normally would I added some clear elastic to the inside which creates a nice little ruffle edge. Also TBH if I had made the big sleeves I would be forever catching them in door handles. You know what I mean all you statement sleeve lovers out there 😉
Take a shot each time I say sleeve! 😉
The sleeve is a raglan style and gathers really beautifully at the shoulder so that it fits into the bias tape neckline edge. It really is a beautiful feature of the dress.
After machine stitching the bias neckband tape in place around the neck edge, I hand stitched it on the inside, as recommended in the instructions. You could use the ‘stitch in the ditch’ method with your machine if you’re not a fan of hand sewing. After making my toile I decided NOT to interface the bias neckline tape again. Maybe my medium weight interfacing was just too heavy, but I was certainly glad I left it out for my second version as it was much easier to fold and my neckband edge has still held it’s shape beautifully. I added a couple of stitches on the wrong side of the dress where the crossover meets just to make sure it stays in place where I want it to.
The dress length on my toile was just a smidge too short for me, so before cutting out this dress again I added 1.5″ to the skirt length. Not much but it makes all the difference to me and my wrinkly old knees.
Sadly pockets aren’t included in this pattern so I simply added my own using a pocket pattern piece from another pattern.
My fawn gingham fabric is also from Abakhan. I wrongly assumed that this was a cotton gingham when I bought it, but it has some polyester content in it. Silly me for not checking carefully enough. Never mind, not quite exactly what I had in mind, but not the end of the world.
I am blown away by just how much I love how this dress turned out. Sometimes those raised waist dresses can be a little unflattering for those of us with a bit of a bigger bust, but I really like where the waist seam sits on me – especially at the back for some reason. I also adore the subtle shape of the neckline at the back – that beautiful curved dip is adorable
The fawn/cream gingham print looks wonderful with gold coloured jewellery, so I accessorised this dress with the gold button necklace from my shop.
Thanks to my husband Mick for patiently taking these pictures on our 24th wedding anniversary trip to Coughton Court this week.
Take care and I’ll be back soon,
Kathy @sew_dainty x