Sunday, July 26, 2009

McCalls 5804

~a new dress for Katie, my 19-year-old daughter~

The Pattern: McCall's 5804, View B

Fabric: Cotton--a beautiful print, not what I would have chosen but Katie loved the fabric when she saw it at Hancock's. She will get to do the ironing. :) The fabric suits Katie well, and I'm very pleased with the results.

Size: I started with a size 10 based on Katie's measurements, but it was much too big. I'm so glad I discovered this when I made a muslin of the bodice. You know, I rarely used to make muslins, and it's only been in recent years that I have. After much fitting and re-fitting, I finally got it right on this dress. I realized that I should have started with a size 6 and adjusted up from there instead of adjusting down from the size 10. The only place the size 10 fit was in the waist/ribcage and the hips. I pulled several reference books off the shelf and learned so much about fitting. Much to my surprise I found that I actually enjoyed the fitting process! I feel like the extra time and work involved was well-spent because of the knowledge I gained.

Construction Details: The dress is fully-lined, but I did not follow the instructions for the lining which have you line the bodice and waistband before attaching the skirt and skirt lining. Instead, I completely made the dress, sans sleeves, and I made the lining the same; then I attached them together at the neckline. Afterward, I did stitch-in-the-ditch in the waist seams to hold the lining to the dress. I did not topstitch the waistband as instructed.

The back of the dress opens with an invisible zipper. I'm so glad I have an invisible zipper foot for my machine--it holds the coils up and allows for close stitching. Before I bought the zipper foot, I used a pintuck foot which worked almost as well.

Changes made:
~Raised the neckline by 5/8 inch.
~Raised the armholes because the sleeves were binding. Raising the armholes helped because there was too much fabric there that was binding. Before I read about this in the fitting book I would have thought to lower the armhole (I tried it first, and it made the binding worse).
~Lengthened the hem by 2 inches. I would have made the skirt even longer, per Katie's wishes, but I didn't have enough fabric. Since Katie is short ("short people got no reason") the final dress length is fine.

Okay, I will post pictures of Katie in the dress in the next few days. It looks great on her!

thank you for reading,


  1. That's a really cute pattern. Can't wait to see what the dress looks like on Katie. I may want to get this pattern for my 16 year old.

  2. What a beautiful dress , I love your fabric choice . Very pretty !

  3. Beautiful fabric and pretty pattern. Maybe I'll do a muslin one of these days...

  4. Very pretty! My daughter picked this out for herself.

  5. I read your review on PR and came to your blog... I was wondering what reference books you like for resolving fit issues? Thanks!

  6. AprilH: The two books I used were The Perfect Fit by Nancy Zieman, and Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer. I also have Fitting Finesse by N. Zieman.

    I am relatively new to fitting patterns, and I like having a variety of books to reference. If I had to choose just one, I think it would be the Fit for Real People.

  7. Very pretty dress! Isn't the invisible zipper foot amazing? It is unreal how quickly and easily you can put in a nice looking zipper with it.
    Can't wait to see the pictures of her wearing it!

  8. AnonymousJuly 28, 2009

    Please tell me your secret of getting so much sewing done and having a family! Perhaps I haven't hit the right amount of children yet!!!!

    Love the dress. I will have to try fitting a dress correctly just once.

  9. Great dress!

    You sew up some lovely things! I am enjoying scrolling through your projects!

  10. You are a very good seamstress and the dress is pretty! I like the fabric too.