McCalls 8251: Girl’s Dress (and Witch Costume)

I apologize for bringing it back ’round to Halloween when it is clearly time to move on. But if you happen to still have candy in your bucket, feel free to pull some out while we focus on costumes for just one more post. Sorrrrry!

So Wendy is a very lucky girl because she has a birthday right around Halloween. This year she took full advantage of that fact and had a very exclusive, costume-required, Halloween themed birthday party. Wendy wanted to do ALL THE THINGS for her party (seriously, the list of things she wanted to do was about a dozen items long and included stuff like craft time and story time, as well as Pass the Parcel (thank you, Bluey), a piñata, and trick or treating around the house. I made her cut the list down to about two things plus the usuals like cake and presents. Even with me reining things in, the party ended up being great.

Wendy has also been super in to DIY and crafting. For a month or more she planned on being The Halloween Queen for Halloween and insisted that she make her own costume for it. I will admit that she went full steam ahead on this thing without asking for help or taking advice. This was maybe a little bit difficult for me. Here’s what she made, along with the decor she chose and helped set up for her birthday party:

The supplies she used were appropriate for a five turning six year old (she’s six now!) but maybe weren’t the best for something that was going to survive multiple Halloween parties as well as a full day at school (she cut ghosts out of paper, glued on eyes and taped those ghosts to her dress. Cute but not exactly sturdy). I suggested that I could make a dress for her just as a back up, in case this one didn’t hold up. And in reality, the dress she made only ever made it to her birthday party (and even in the above picture is missing a handful of ghosts). But between making her Princess Leia dress and her waffling on whether or not she wanted me to make her a dress, the dress wasn’t made until the last minute. But she did eventually officially request that it be made and so I made!

She did carry on her love of crafting by making her hat out of paper and washi tape! She also made her ghost wand 🙂

The pattern I used is McCalls 8251. It’s a fairly simple dress pattern with options for long sleeves as well as an option for a skirt overlay. I bought it awhile ago when it was on sale at Joann’s just because it seemed like the kind of back pocket pattern a sewing mom of girls ought to have on hand, though this was my first time making it. That said, I’ve made similar things enough times that I knew I could get this sewn up pretty quickly, and that I didn’t have much need for the instructions except to make sure that the seam allowance stays consistent.

First thing to note is that the skirt overlay uses the same pattern piece as the skirt. This isn’t an issue, just a good reminder that we can make any skirt have an overlay! Make your own destiny! Another thing to note is that the seam allowance is a very generous 5/8ths inch. I think this is the standard seam allowance for Big Four patterns, but I’ve noticed that indie designers will often have a smaller seam allowance on their knit items and I definitely prefer that when dealing with knits. It feels strange to sew on a neckband where half of the neckband piece is seam allowance. This is definitely just personal preference and not anything super serious.

Finally, I had some issues with the neckband but the issues were my fault! On both the Princess Leia dress and this dress, my neckband piece was too big-big enough that the neckband was sticking up instead of laying nice and flat. I had to unpick and trim about two inches off of the neckband piece to make it look nice. I was grumbling about this but decided to check the pattern and I found two things. First, I realized I had accidentally traced the size 6 neckband while the rest of the pattern pieces were cut to size 5. This made the neckband less than 1/2 an inch bigger than it should have been which I didn’t think was that big of a deal (it didn’t account for the amount of puckering going on). But then I noticed Thing #2: a teeny little note on the neckband piece that stated the second important thing, “FOR MODERATE STRETCH KNITS ONLY.” And the envelope describes a moderate stretch knit as about 35% stretch. Each of the fabrics I used probably has closer to 70% stretch. So! Mystery solved! And that’s what I get for ignoring the instructions!

Otherwise, the sewing aspect went pretty well. I skipped out on hemming because I was working under a time crunch but I will most likely go back and hem sleeves and skirt. Both fabrics I used were from Joann, specifically their “Witching Hour” line. The longer I held onto the purple velvet without turning it into the intended dress, the more I liked it and the sadder I became at the thought of turning it into a Halloween Only garment. So I had the idea to sew the overlay as its own skirt, separate from the dress.

Hooray for saving a lovely fabric from one-time-wear Halloween Costume purgatory! I’ll need to adjust the length a big (and hem, like I said) but Wendy had been asking for more dresses to wear, especially ones that are more winter appropriate. Two birds. One stone. Score.

The skirt overlay was made out of this spider web mesh fabric. Their website doesn’t do it justice; it has a great sparkle to it, which is why I chose it. The gaps are pretty big though, some about 1 inch, and I know my sewing machine would not have handled this at all. I used my serger to sew the side seams together and then to attach it to a length of elastic and it handled it all with no issues, thanks to its ability to chain stitch.

Anyway, it’s a good and basic pattern. There’s nothing particularly exciting about it, but I can see myself making it a few more times (while it still fits my girls) or even hacking it to make tee shirts. I got it on sale for only $2 which is cheap for a well drafted pattern! Next time I’ll just be sure to adjust the neckband if I’m using stretchier fabrics!

Pattern: McCalls 8251
Size: 5
Alterations: None (unless you include adjusting the neckband to account for the extra stretch)
Fabric: This velvet and this mesh
Cost: This month was so busy! I can’t remember! But I think the fabrics were 60% off when I bought them (??)
Would I make this pattern again?: Yes!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s