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McCalls M7969

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.

So many beautiful variations with this pattern.

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. 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.

Have you even been to a National Trust property if you haven’t had your pic taken in one of their wonderful doorways?

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

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A Cocowawa Plum Dress

O.k, we all know that I love a pretty dress and a good ruffle. Throw in a button back and I’m 100% on board!

This is the Plum Dress  from Cocowawa Crafts. It’s a cute little baby-doll dress which has a relaxed fit, choice of lengths, and options to make the sleeveless ruffled version or the 3/4 length sleeves.

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Image from the Cocowawa website

I clearly went for the sleeveless ruffles, and glad that I did, because I have hardly any sleeveless dresses, although to be fair with the lovely dropped shoulder and ruffles they kind of look like little sleeves, which is great for someone like me that prefers to keep their bingo wings covered!

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In terms of sizing, the pattern is designed to be loose fitting. What I was after was something a little less relaxed. So after checking the finished garment measurements and also after reading beautiful Amy’s really helpful review here,  where she also was aiming for this kind of fit, I opted to jump in and make the size 2 bodice and size 1 skirt. My measurements at this time are 36-30-40 (they change all the time – up and down like a yo-yo)!

This worked incredibly well, although it’s very slightly tight around sleeve opening, which will need adjusting next time, but apart from that the bodice fit and the gently gathered skirt is just what I was after.

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The neckline sits a little too high for me, so would also lower that for future makes, probably by a couple of inches. Whilst we are on the subject of the neckline, this is beautifully finished off on the inside with bias binding. I have lots and lots of home made bias binding that I have made with leftover cottons and picked a ditsy pink floral for this dress. I know you can’t see it, but it’s a pretty detail that I will enjoy each time I put it on. Of course you can always use shop bought bias tape too.

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This beautiful cotton poplin is from Crafty Sew and So  and has been in my stash for a few months whilst I waited for the warm weather and the perfect pattern. The fabric combines gorgeous lilacs, lime greens and chestnut browns, and whilst this pic and was taken in the shade (it was a very hot day), I think you can get the idea of how sweet it is.

The pastel pink acrylic button necklace is available from my shop x

As mentioned I absolutely love button-back garments, and this is such a pretty feature on The Plum. I used these cute wooden buttons and lime green thread. After I sewed all the button holes, I realised that I only needed the top two to allow the dress to slip on and off over my head, so the top two are the only working buttonholes, the rest are just buttons sewn on over the top of the uncut buttonholes right through all the layers.

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On to the adorable ruffle sleeves. When I first gathered and attached them, I felt that they were a smidge too wide for me, especially with the poplin having that extra bit of body to it, so I narrowed them down by about 1.5 inches. I simply did this by trimming the long curved edge of the sleeve ruffle by that amount.

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Ooh, I also kept the hem of the skirt horizontal – the actual pattern has a little shaping to the hem.

Not forgetting the pockets of course!

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These pics were taken in the grounds at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. It’s the first time that we have ventured out doing anything like this since lockdown began, and whilst I still feel a little nervous around others, the numbers were strictly controlled by a ticket booking system.

Finally, a bit of fun. When you realise your husband is in the shot too! Ha!

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Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Simplicity New Look 6533 babydoll dress pattern review.

I am so very lucky to have been gifted a couple of sewing patterns recently from Simplicity New Look and this is my review of the second. (the other review is for New Look 6449 and can be found here).  I first spotted this pattern last October during the #sewbrum meet up when a lady next to me won it as one of the prizes in the raffle. I quickly took a picture of it to remind me of the pattern number and when this opportunity came along recently I jumped at the chance to choose and sew a pattern that I have been interested in making for a little while now.

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So as you can see from the image, New Look 6533 is a babydoll dress or tunic, for knit fabrics, with different sleeve options and length choices. It also has a legging pattern included.

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I chose to make view D, but with a couple of small adjustments. I didn’t want the side slits so just went right ahead and sewed the side seams as a normal skirt. I also added my own in-seam pockets as this pattern does not include them. As usual I just used my favourite pocket piece from another pattern and measured where I wanted them to be placed, and added them at the time of sewing up the side seam as normal. I decided to reduce any risk of bulk by using a scrap of chiffon type silky fabric that I had in my stash. It has a geometric design, and thought it would be a fun pocket fabric for this make.

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I also didn’t want the hi/lo hem that this pattern features. So I simply cut 2 skirt front pieces (rather than use the longer skirt back piece) ensuring a regular even hem.

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I am so in love with the fabric that I used for this project. I’m quite keen to introduce more grey tones into my wardrobe and this pretty jersey has been in my stash for a few months now waiting for the perfect pattern! It’s a cotton jersey from Girl Charlee UK and has 5% spandex. I’ve had a quick look at their website to see if I can link it for you, and have found this gorgeous almond colourway . How pretty is this colour? – so tempting!! I’m not sure if the grey is still available, or maybe I have just missed it..

Take good care when choosing your size for this pattern. My finished garment measurements put me down as an XS size! ( which I would definitely not describe myself as – I am a UK size 12 ish). As you can see, the finished dress is still quite roomy, I probably would have sized down even more if I could, but I get that this relaxed fit is part of the babydoll style and I think it’s cute.

To complete the dress you need to add some clear elastic at the waist seam. (the skirt is already gathered before attaching to the bodice), and whilst I felt I definitely still needed this elastic, I wanted the bodice at the front to lie smooth and flat and didn’t want the elastic at the front to produce any gathers on the bodice, so I just added the elastic at the waist seam at the back of the dress as this seemed to be where is especially needed cinching in, and this worked for me.

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I have made several jersey dresses in a similar style to this, but this one is a little different in that the waist seam sits higher due to the babydoll style. I like the different options that there are on the pattern – the tunic style with slits and leggings may be something that I could try as this is different to what I would normally go for, and I also think the elastic cuffed long sleeves shown in view B are cute and I will definitely use these another time.

The pattern comes with your standard tissue pattern pieces and step-by-step instructions accompanied with black and white illustrations. It was nice and easy to make (although the clear elastic may require some care if you are new to this method), and it was a quick and rewarding project which is always a winner! You can definitely play around with the pattern as I have, adding pockets, adjusting the side slits and sleeves. Patch pocket would be cute on this dress too don’t you think? Maybe ruffles on the sleeves…

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I was happy with the neckline, it’s always a relief when these lay nice and flat, and as always I finished this off with the twin stretch needle, along with the sleeves and skirt hem.

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Thank you to Simplicity New Look for gifting me this pattern to review. I had great fun making it and it gave me the perfect opportunity to pair it with this wonderful fabric that I had been waiting to use for so long.

Take care. and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x