I told you guys about how I’ve started amassing big four patterns faster than I can make them, yes? Well this pattern-McCalls 7969-is one that I’d picked up in one of those hauls and it quickly rose to the top of my sewing list. I had been unaware of its popularity but after running a Google search, discovered it’s been a favorite in the sewing world for a couple years now. And with good cause! You probably won’t learn anything new from my post that isn’t already out there. But I loved it so much I sewed it twice, first in a black crepe and then in the above fabric, a treasured See You at Six rayon. I thought my beloved rayon would obviously be my favorite but I’ve actually had a really hard time deciding between the two. Perhaps you guys can weigh in with your opinion!
The dress is super cute and fun and I haven’t seen a version of it yet that I don’t like. It seems to work well in a variety of fabrics and just now as I’m writing this I’m thinking I ought to try making myself a velvet version and perhaps a hacked one with flutter sleeves and a tiered skirt. But I’m getting ahead of myself. There are 4 versions of the dress included in the pattern, the most popular of which is view A (which is the view you see here). I’ve heard people call the silhouette “nightgown-ish” and while I see what they’re saying, I disagree. Or maybe it’s that I don’t mind a nightgown-ish silhouette. In any case, I think the best feature of the dress are for sure the sleeves. In the words of Napoleon Dynamite “They’re real big.” And they are, but somehow less voluminous than the ones in the Cielo top. The dress also features a wrap style bodice and just a regular skirt but gathers galore in both the sleeve and the skirt.
The top part of the dress is raglan style which, for me, was unexpected and went by unnoticed at first. I chose to sew up a size medium. I traced my size onto some freezer paper-as per my usual-and cut out all my pieces. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it to death but sewing for a postpartum body is difficult! Pre-this-most-recent-pregnancy, I had certain alterations I could mostly always plan on doing. I also had things I never had to worry about. But postpartum body is different and things are unpredictable! If nothing else, it at least makes me second guess. Once my pattern pieces were cut out in paper, I held up the front bodice piece to make sure it would fit and not have the seam fall awkwardly in the middle of my boobs. Momentary panic ensued because with the top of pattern piece at my shoulder seam, the bodice would, indeed, stop right at the fullest part of my chest, which is not a look I am into! I had the smaller size set so I couldn’t just merge lines from the large. Never having had this problem before, I started searching full bust adjustments and probably 20 minutes into my search it hit me that the sleeve might account for something and it did! It’s raglan so the top of the sleeve is a part of the neckline! Phew! I was definitely relieved and was able to keep on going just with the size medium, no full bust adjustment necessary!
I had bought this black crepe fabric for a different dress but last minute decided not to use it so it was available for this faux wrap dress. As I laid the fabric out, though, I was sorely tempted to use my See You at Six rayon. The print on that fabric seemed like it would be a great fit for the shape of the dress! But I held off. The crepe is from Joann and, though it’s good quality (really! I’d buy it again!), I didn’t feel any sentimentality toward it and knew that it would make a great first run through, which is the same as muslin but one you can hopefully end up wearing. So I held strong, determined to make it in the crepe first, and, if all went well, proceed with the rayon after.
For my first version, I made a couple of alterations. First, I shortened the sleeve length by 4 inches. Yes, four inches is a lot. But I don’t in particular like long sleeves and with my Cielo top (which has a similar sleeve) I also had to take off some length, but after the fact which was difficult. Four inches was bold and I hemmed and hawed but ultimately decided to stick with it. It’s too short, I’ll admit. Meeting in the middle at two inches would’ve been the better choice so I noted that for my second version. I also added 4 inches to the length of the skirt. Now, adding length isn’t necessarily something you’d think I’d need to do as I’m pretty short but I prefer my skirts to be to my knee or below because chasing kids around in anything shorter is not something I’m into, so it might surprise you how often I lengthen. But adding length is safe and easily changeable. Here, the four inches was great, right about where I wanted my hem to hang. I also added pockets. I’ve tried to be more judicious in considering things that have no pockets but this dress seems to want to have pockets, right? At least that was my interpretation so I added them. In the black dress I added them way too low (I don’t know why but I sure seem to like making this mistake often) but I fixed it in the other version (placing them 4 inches down from the top of the skirt, fyi).
I did zero hand sewing with this dress, opting instead to stitch in the ditch around the sleeve cuffs and neck binding and I have no regrets. In the world of fabric and threads, black is black is black and I don’t think it’s noticeable even one tiny bit.
So the black dress was a huge success! I love it so much! I am a little wary of the silhouette being a bit maternity but probably because I’m just coming off of that being my reality and worried I still look it. But I just need to embrace the ruffled flowiness of the dress because I really do love it and it’s comfy to boot.
So onto my second version!
I believe it was about a year ago that I bought this fabric from Stylemaker. It’s one I saw and loved and thought about for weeks! It was more expensive than I would normally buy but I couldn’t get it out of my head so I went ahead and bought 2 and a half yards of it. The brand is See You at Six (as I’ve mentioned) and the name of the print is “Oriental Garden.” Sometimes I get sick of a print after working with it, but I still think this is just lovely. I may have still had it buried in my stash, probably never to be used, but I recently read this post on precious fabric and I think that’s encouraged me to use up what I have and not save things for no reason and/or who knows when.
Anyway. Sleeping has been hit and miss for me lately with the baby and sometimes I am fuzzy brained. When I cut out my fabric I tried to be very careful, very conscientious and it wasn’t until a day or two later when I was telling Ben about the project that I realized I’d totally forgotten to alter the sleeve length to 2 inches removed instead of the original 4! Oh, I was so mad at myself for this mistake! I didn’t want to buy more fabric but after looking I knew I couldn’t get more even if I’d wanted to. I suppose as far as mistakes go, it certainly could’ve been worse, but still! Grumble, grumble and oh, well! I’m not sure I could’ve fit those extra two inches on each sleeve anyway. Things were tight as is. I did have a tiny bit of extra fabric that I made into bias tape so as not to waste the beautiful stuff.
I may have erred on the sleeve but I did correct the pocket placement so I can get things out of my pockets without having to lean into it, a definite plus. Also this time I followed the instructions and hand sewed the sleeve cuff and neck binding. Sadly, the neck gapes quite a bit on this one, where on the black version it doesn’t at all. I don’t know whether to attribute the gaping to the hand sewing or the fabric choice or maybe even the fact that I forgot to cut the interfacing on the bias (though to be fair I probably forgot that on the black version as well). I do have a snap to add to the neckline to help mitigate the gaping, I just need to take the time to sew it on which will take less than five minutes but it’s the starting that’s hard!
When I got the idea in my head to make two of these dresses, I just kind of assumed that I’d get rid of one of them but now that I have them both I don’t quite know what to do. I think there are some dresses you could have a few versions of and no one would think twice about it. But it seems to me that this dress is too remarkable (it’s those puffy sleeves again!) to get away with more than one version that’s worn regularly. Maybe not. Thoughts?? I love the rayon fabric and would have a very hard time giving it up BUT the black one somehow ended up with a better finish, namely a neckline that doesn’t need to be finagled. Obviously there’s nothing pressuring me to get rid of one and I’ll keep both until I can make a more firm decision. For now, I’ll probably just assign the black one as winter wear and get on with it.
Pattern: McCalls 7969
Alterations: Lengthened the skirt 4 inches; shortened the sleeve 4 inches; added pockets
Fabric: Black crepe from Joann and See You at Six rayon from StyleMaker (no longer in stock)
Cost: Pattern $2; 2 1/2 yards rayon $47.50; 2 1/4 yards crepe (I can’t remember! but probably about $20); thread from stash
Would I make this again?: Yes! This dress was fun to make with some different techniques than your every day dress pattern. I love that it’s comfy and loose but still very feminine with some great details. I really want to try making one with the flutter sleeve variation.