Tuesday, August 23, 2016

McCall's 6559 Maxi Dress

I hope ya'll like lots of pictures, cuz I made two dresses from this pattern, and I love them both, and I love to take lots of detail shots and fun crazy poses.  So, enjoy them all, or scroll through quickly, your choice.  :)

I have been wanting to make maxi dresses for what feels like 3 years now.  This is one of 3 or 4 maxi dress patterns that I have, and it is the quickest and simplest, and I finally got around to it.
 I made both these dresses from view C and D, one short, one long.  I normally go for a racerback, but I don't have a great criss-cross/racerback bra at the moment, so I'm going the boring route with good ol' straight bra coverage.  As a side note, I do really love the colourblocked/striped versions E and F, and I will be happy to use up small pieces of my knit stash someday to make a funky patchwork maxi dress.  But that's for another day.
I made the first dress out of a 1-metre cut of this funky green/black/yellow/white ITY knit that I've had for a handful of years.  I originally envisioned testing a Jalie crossover top with it, but this was calling my name, so I went for it.  I'm glad I did.
Since I had a limited amount of fabric, I had to shorten the hem by 2".  It's a wee bit too short for me to wear in public, but it will make an excellent "wear around the house on a hot day" dress or a beach cover-up.
Since I have been lurking this pattern for the last couple years, I knew that the neckline was low.  I originally added 2" to the height of the neckline, but once I got it on to check for fit, I decided 1" was sufficient.
This is what my neckline alteration looks like.
I was a little leery of the armholes, since most armholes in most patterns are way too high on me and I have to lower them by 1/2" to 1".  So I kept a close eye on this one, and I was pleased to see that once I stitched them down 5/8", they were perfect.  I was also cautious about a tiny bit of a fold/gap at the lower front armhole near the bust, but once I stitched everything down and put it on for a few minutes, it all but disappeared.  So, armholes are good.
The centre back of this pattern is meant to be placed on the fold, meaning it is a straight line.  Since you can easily get this dress on one length of fabric, it needs a centre back seam.  I added seam allowance to the straight line, sewed it up, and tried it on.  I was hoping to avoid a swayback adjustment as that would tilt the pattern slightly, and I would like to preserve the grainline to make it easier to lay on the fabric.  So, instead, I drafted a curve at the waist at centre back, taking it in by about 1 1/2" total, or 3/4" on each piece.
Here is what that adjustment looks like.  Worked like a charm.  The dress hugs my curves on the back, but still hangs nicely from the front.
My only other alteration was to grade out from an 18 at the bust to a 20 at the waist and hips.  This is very strange for me, because my bust and hips are equal, which usually means that I would either take the hips in slightly or leave them as is for ease.  This is a very slim-fitting dress.  For reference, I have negative 3 1/2" ease at the bust, and about 2 1/2" ease at the hips.  I have never made a top in a size 20, even though it's closer to my measurements.  I made a wise choice and went with the 18, which fits nice and snug, and as you can see above, fits nicely at the armholes and neckline.  A 20 would have been too big.
Here you can see that the skirt hangs nicely.  I'm happy with the amount of ease I chose.
I love the way it hugs my curves at the back.
I am especially proud of myself that I am learning to fully embrace the coverstitch option on my serger. In one of my last knit tops, I learned that if you pin the pesky curves, they are much easier to stitch down.  
So I painstakingly pinned everything, spacing them about 1 1/2" apart.  I also pinned and coverstitched one armhole/neckline at a time, so as not to get the pins all tangled and accidentally pulled out of place. 
I also coverstitched with a lot more patience than I have employed before, and I am pleased as punch with the results.
My serger still has a tendency to get caught up on every seam and bump, so I have to coax and pull gently to make it behave, and it's usually always a little bit crooked near the seam, but I've long since learned to live with this.  I may look into getting a smoother presser foot for my serger and see if that solves the problem.  I can't complain, because I have a Babylock serger/coverstitch machine, and I am very thankful.  It has been my pride and joy and right hand man for many years.
 Look at that!  Doesn't that look professional?  I love it.
Now, hold onto your hats, because this green stuff is positively boring compared to this!  I bought 4 metres of this from Fabricland a couple three years ago, and I had forgotten how dynamic the print was!
 I started this dress the day after I finished the green one.  I also traced myself a paper pattern with all my adjustments.  In addition, I added 4" of length to the bottom, which is just about right, because I am 5'10", and patterns are designed for 5'6".  (I'm also having fun playing with different camera angles, and I love this shot, as it shows off a totally different angle of my sewing room than what you normally see.)
 The only slight difference is that I hemmed this at 1", and the pattern calls for 5/8".  But I imagine that different fabrics will hang differently, and I hope that the deeper hem will give me enough to work with for most knits.
 I did the coverstitching exactly the same way as the green dress, and it all turned out beautifully, except for one little bit.
Right at the back corner of the neckline, I missed a little bit, but I won't bother fixing it, because I have another top with this same problem, and it doesn't really do anything.
I'm absolutly chuffed with how good this looks from the inside!
And here is my 1" hem.
And one more from the outside, because it's just so pretty!
Did you know that if you forget to turn the timer off on your selfie (which is how I take all my full-length shots), that you don't have to worry about touching the button to get your photo?  I'm gonna use this trick again!
 Here is the boring side angle from this side of the room.
 And the boring front angle.  (Well, it's not that boring.  Look at that dress!)
And just to show you how slim this dress is, here's an action pose.  I hope I never have to run in this dress!  My only consolation is that it's not a pencil skirt.  And it hardly uses any yardage at all.
 I put my phone on the shelf and got some shots from this side, at different heights, and I had a lot of fun with it.
 Now that's a better full-length shot, wouldn't you say?
 And since I'm so thrilled with finally having my dream maxi dress made, I had to ham it up a bit more. :D
 I love the white socks peeking out.  Speaking of feet, I have absolutely no idea what kind of shoes to wear with this dress.  I'm not much of a shoe person.  I really like deck shoes, so I might get a new pair of those.
 And one final shot of the back, to show the centre back seam.  I've never been one to pattern match anything, except plaids or stripes.  And I like that this almost matches!  It really is a cool print.
I'm going to have so much fun wearing this dress, as well as the green one around the house.  I have a very cool black and white camouflage knit slated for this pattern, so that should be fun.

Thanks for reading and putting up with 35 photos!  :)


  1. Wow love your blog! You dresses are beautiful, they fit just right. I have been sewing since I was about the same age you started. I have never had a serger, just dreams of one. But after seeing how beautiful your finished garments are I really need to make that investment. Thank you again!

  2. It was a joy to look at 35 photos and see how you turned some fabric into two gorgeous dresses! I love the green fabric for the short dress and the fabric for the longer dress is amazing! These look so beautifully made and are made to measure, literally! I wish I had the confidence to fiddle around with patterns. That pattern set looks great, but I can't even imagine what it would be like doing the patchwork one! You've done such a superb job with both dresses! XxxX

  3. Perfect! You did an amazing job on these and omg I want a coverstitch!!!

    Beautiful work!

  4. Your versions are awesome and I love the fabric you chose for the second one. I made a lot of these last summer so understand your joy with your new dresses! I added a back slit to my last one to help with the walking and that worked out well...just to let you know.

  5. Beautiful dress, I love your fabric choices. Great job & You look lovely!

  6. If you fold your fabric by having the 2 selves edges meet in the middle (like single fold bias tape) you can cut both the front and the back on the fold.

    1. That's right! I had forgotten about that trick. :)