Tag Archives: summer dress

Fun in Green: A McCall’s 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall’s 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I have a fun dress to share with you today!  This dress is all about volume, which makes it a joy to wear.  Today’s pattern is McCall’s 7948, View D, a very popular style that is showing up in lots of stores and sewing patterns.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I bought this pattern last year with the thought of making it in eyelet, just like the cover photo, but with a fun colored slip underneath.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I made a few slips, and then finally made the dress.  This was supposed to be my Easter dress, but time got away from me, (or I just plan more sewing projects than I can actually sew), and this didn’t get started until May.  Part of what held me up was trying to decide what trim to use on the dress, but in the end (and after looking at examples online), I decided to go trim-less and just make the dress in green.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I traced a straight size 20, and just barely eked it out with the yardage I had.  This green cotton eyelet was from last spring at Joann’s, and I got it on sale this year when it was almost gone.  I managed to find 1 2/3 yards in one store and another piece that was three inches short of two yards in a different store.  The fabric is 50/51″ wide, but 8-9″ of that is plain green cotton without the eyelet embroidery on the edges.  I had to do a bit of pattern Tetris to get it all figured out, but it worked in the end.  I had wanted to include pockets, but I realized that you would probably be able to see them through the eyelet, and I didn’t have enough fabric anyway, so I left them off.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

One really nice thing about the style of this dress is that I didn’t have to do too many adjustments–no grading between sizes, no broad back adjustment.  All I did was to add some width at the top of the sleeves and lower the front neckline by 1/2″ based on Martha’s review on the Buried Diamond blog.  I used The Perfect Fit, my favorite basic fitting book for directions for these things.  It said not to lower the neckline beyond 1/2″ in this size because it would affect other aspects of the pattern, but the one thing I would consider doing if I make this again is to see if I could lower the neckline a bit more.  It’s mostly fine when standing and walking around, but the dress does slide a bit toward the back occasionally and it can sometimes be a problem when sitting.  My husband’s idea was to weight the front hem.  What do you think?  What would you do?

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

That very minor adjustment and issue aside, I LOVE how this dress feels to wear.  It’s my ideal summer dress as far as feel–loose, flowy, breezy thanks to the eyelet, perfectly comfortable.  The slip worked out great–I didn’t even notice it, which is the goal (no one wants an uncomfortable slip).  I couldn’t see its color as much as I would have liked, but that is due to the very small holes in this eyelet.  You can see it at the points where the dress touches your body, but not much more.  Regardless, it provides the opacity I wanted when the light shines through the dress.  Now here is a weird conundrum–do you make your clothes to feel good or look “flattering” (whatever your definition of that word is)?  I don’t think this dress makes me look like any ideal vision I might have of myself, but other than that, it feels great, covers me in all the areas I want covered, and brings me joy…but I don’t think it makes me look amazing.  When you can’t always have both, which do you choose?  In general, I come down on the side of comfort and feel, but I admit that it is sometimes a mental struggle for me.  I could make uncomfortable clothes that I think look good on me, or I can make comfortable clothes that may or may not look good, but that feel good.  Comfort wins for me, but if I’m honest, I really want both in most cases.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

The other thing I changed on this dress was the facings.  I did manage to cut them out, but realized that the interfacing I was supposed to use was going to show through, and I didn’t have any fabric I could use as sew-in interfacing that was close to this color.  In the end, I decided to finish the neckline and back slit with bias tape, because I had a lot of it that was close to this color.  It took a bit of thinking, but I managed to figure out how to do the back slit, and I’m pretty happy with the result and definitely happy not to have used facings or interfacing that would show through around the neckline and back.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I used some single fold bias to finish the hems of the sleeves and skirt and a pretty vintage button on the back of the dress.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

As far as finishing my seams, my machine did not love zigzagging on this fabric, so I sewed a straight stitch in each seam allowance and then pinked the seam allowances.  The dress is in the wash now, so we’ll see if there is much fraying or not.  Even if there is, the straight stitch in the seam allowance will stop it.  I’m not really worried.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

When gathering the skirt and arm ruffles, I used a technique I learned from Megan Nielsen, where you do a large zigzag over a piece of string in your seam allowance.  I used baker’s twine.  (You know that cute red and white twine they use to tie up boxes in bakeries?  Lots of people use it for crafts as well.)  Once you have gone all the way around, you cinch up the fabric using the string, pin it in place, pull out the string and go on with your sewing. It’s a lot faster and easier on a fabric like this with ruffles this big than it is to sew two rows of basting stitches and gather them.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

This was a fun dress to sew and not too difficult.  If you can get this pattern on sale, it’s a great deal for a pattern that is very on trend and VERY fun to wear.  I wore this on a walk in the woods with my family and while I’m sure that other people we saw thought I was crazy for wearing a dress on the trails, I felt awesome in it.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

A Summer Dress: McCall’s 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall’s 7774 in Yellow Linen

And now back to sewing!  Despite the quiet blog and relatively quiet Instagram account, I’ve been sewing as much as possible.  With kids home, guests, and travel, the sewing has varied in amount, but it’s still happening.  I usually blog mostly in the order I make things, but this dress is jumping to the front of the line because some of my other projects have been multiple versions of single patterns and, if possible, I’d like to feature those together.

On to the dress!

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

This season, I’ve really felt the urge to discover some Tried ‘N True patterns.  I suppose that’s an endless quest, since fashion and our own opinions about it tend to change, but I’m looking for favorites nonetheless.  I decided to try out McCall’s 7774, View C to see if I liked it.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

I made a 16 in the bust and a 20 in the waist and hips.  The dress hits your waist somewhere in the skirt portion, so I didn’t have to grade out to the 20 until I traced the skirt piece.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

When I was younger, I really favored empire waist and A-line dresses and skirts, and I’ve been wondering if I still like them.  This dress has a higher, empire waist, so it seemed like a good one to try.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

It features pockets (yay!) and a bodice cut that looks like it might hide undergarment straps (always a plus, in my book).

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

It also has some interesting seaming that would allow you to play with pattern placement (especially stripes), which you can see in the photo on the pattern envelope.  I was excited about this one, and I definitely wasn’t the only one in the sewing community.

In my stash, I happened to have a really nice, midweight yellow linen from Fabric Mart that I had planned to use for a ready-to-wear-inspired top, but which seemed perfect for this dress.  It was quickly reassigned to this pattern.  I gave myself a slightly crazy deadline of a wedding my husband and I were going to, and got to work, no muslin/toile in sight.  I was going for it with my awesome fabric!

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

This is one of the designer linens that Fabric Mart regularly stocks, and it is AMAZING.  I think they call it a light-medium weight, and it’s pretty opaque, which I really like.  It is very linty when you wash and dry it, but you only notice that when you clean the dryer’s lint trap.  It was great to sew, although I did press it on the cotton setting rather than the linen setting.  I can’t tell if my iron is starting to go, but that seemed to be a better setting for this fabric.  Usually the fabric retails for around $25/yard, which is way out of my budget, but they often have sales, so it is totally possible to scoop this up for $9 or $10/yard.  Oh!  And it’s a wider width at 57″.  I highly recommend it!

On to the pattern!  Being now older and wiser, 😉 I’ll tell you that if you attempt this dress, you should probably muslin the bodice.  I really like the pattern overall, but I did have to adjust a few things, and they seem to be common adjustments for people who tried this one.  Some good news is that if you just go for it, like I did, you can make these fixes on the fly without damaging your fabric.

The darts, which are under the bust, extend pretty high.  You want your dart points to end 1/2″ to 1″ below (or beside if you have side darts) the apex of the bust.  I shortened these by 2″, and they may still be slightly high.  Shortening darts that much gave me darts that were very wide at the bottom, which made the bust very…pointy.  That’s not for me!  So, then I had to narrow the darts.  I narrowed them by half (so that they were half as wide).  If you do this, you must take the extra length you have created out of the side/bottom of the front bodice!!!!  Learn from my mistake!  I knew that narrowing my darts would give me extra length in the front of the bodice, but because the skirt was gathered and could expand and because I love ease, I initially left it in.

Wrong choice.

I ended up with a pregnant-’90’s-lady jumper.  If that makes no sense to you, just trust me when I say that it looked bad.  Apparently you can take a love of loose clothes too far.  😉

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

The original dart is in marker.  My modified dart is in pencil inside the original.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Below is the area I should have adjusted when I narrowed those darts.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Above:  the final modified front bodice piece with narrowed, shortened dart, and excess length (from narrowing the dart) removed where the side seam and bottom of the bodice meet.

I also noticed quite a bit of gaping in the back neck area, but I realized that if I fixed that, the bodice would be tight in the shoulders, so I decided I could live with it.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

All these issues aside, I think the instructions for this pattern are really good.  You are on your own for seam finishing, but other than that, this was really enjoyable to make and was well-thought-out.  The bodice is fully faced/lined with self fabric, and it’s a nice dress.  There is quite a bit of hand-sewing involved in putting in that facing/lining, but if you know that going in, you can enjoy it, and come out with a beautiful result.  Using a comfortable thimble to push my needle through the fabric and running my thread through beeswax to keep it from tangling has really helped me in the hand-sewing department.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

If I made this pattern again, I would do what @artsy_tiff did and lengthen the bodice, lower the neckline a smidge, and maybe lower those dart points a bit more.  I’m new to doing forward shoulder adjustments, so I’ll have to wear this a bit more to see if I think I need that.  Initially I thought not, but now I think maybe I do.  This dress is very comfortable to wear, especially in this fabric. Belting it really helped when I wanted a more form-fitting shape.  The belt is some wide ribbon (maybe upholstery trim?) from my stash.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Here are some pictures of the dress without the belt:

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Final thoughts on this project:

  • Fabric Mart’s designer linen:  recommended!
  • McCall’s 7774:  recommended with reservations–do your research and maybe make a muslin of the bodice.

I’d love to make this again just to see what it could be with those fitting changes, but I don’t think I will this year, so we’ll see if it happens.  I considered the maxi length, but my mom and I both think it might just be too much.  I need a good woven maxi pattern.  There are a few contenders, but I haven’t settled on anything.

I hope you all are having a great summer.  No thoughts of fall here!  It’s usually warm where I live through September, so I’m sticking to summer sewing.  Yay!

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Thanks to my wonderful husband for helping me out with some of the pictures in this post!

Recommendations:

  • I read the most fascinating book after I saw it on Peter Lappin’s Instagram account.  I planned to just skim through it, but ended up reading it cover to cover, even letting it go overdue at the library since I couldn’t renew it and wasn’t quite finished.  A History of the Paper Pattern Industry:  The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution by Joy Spanabel Emery was really well done.  The older I get, the more important history seems and while this isn’t world history, it’s history that covers one of my favorite little corners of the world.
  • I really like hats and, for the past few summers, have been thinking I’d like a white summer hat.  After doing a little research on Panama hats, I found one that looks like the real deal (made in Montechristi, Ecuador of toquilla straw) on eBay and ordered it.  I love it!

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

  • I haven’t been able to shake my summer obsession with wooden-bottom clog sandals (is it just summer love or is it true love forever??).  Here is the latest pair I keep looking at by Cape Clogs.  They’re pink!