Subversive Sewer

{October 25, 2009}   McCall’s 5799 Dress

I don’t know if this has happened to anyone else, but sometimes I’m just so happy I finished a project that I’m temporarily blinded to the fact that it didn’t turn out well.  I think that’s what happened here.  I’m hoping for some honest feedback and advice.

Here’s the dress in question:


First, I’m aware that most people would not wear (or like, for that matter) a bubblegum pink dress.  Especially not with bold flower appliques.  What’s your opinion: is it awful or simply not your thing?

Second, some technical shortcomings are very apparent to me.  The first one is that there’s too much fabric under the bust.  This pattern has separate pieces for A-D cups, and I used the correct one.  So, I don’t know why all that fabric is there.  The next problem requires a closeup of the dress:

003 (2)I don’t know if you can see it in this photo, but 2 things bother me.  First are the darts.  I tried to fix them, but the ends are pointy, like beacons guiding the eye to my boobs.  I also don’t think they’re pressed well enough.  I used a ham and steam, so what else am I missing here?  The second problem is the topstitching.  It looks Becky Home-ecky to me.  Is it because the stitch length is too short? I used 2.6, as I forgot to lengthen it to 3.0 as I normally would.

For reference, here is the pattern:

Any feedback will be received with cheers, no matter how grim it is.  I would really like to improve my skills.


I think it looks great – it only needs a nice cardy to complete the look.

The darts look good to me too – start and finish at the right point, the pointy bit is just because you are sewing a heavyish fabric (cotton drill?) … when you are sewing to that kind of fine point with a stiff or heavy fabric for the last half inch or so you need to reduce your stitch length to “1” (ie microscopic) and the stitches will allow the dart to taper away at the end. It pays to baste your darts first, check the fit, sew as normal reducing in stitch size right at the end because those tiny stitches are awful to unpick if you change your mind.

I hope you get to enjoy your dress. It looks like a whole lot of fun to wear!

I think part of the problem is that the pattern requires at least one more dart (on each side) than they gave you. A waist dart under each bust point would help. You might try pinching it out to see how you like that. Another thing I have noticed with McCalls patterns is that most women need to lower the bust point and darts on it. IIRC they place the bust point about 10 inches below the shoulder, which is higher than most women’s bust points.


Bunny says:

YOur young and can definitely wear this cute dress. I like it. My comments:

Fabric: Is there any synthetic in this fabric? That can definitely make the details harder to press flat.

Darts: I agree with the other posters. I think a couple of waist darts will help under the bust. Are you familiar with the “S-Dart”? Search it on PR. It will give you a much better fit I think.

Topstitching: I think again the fabric is preventing the right look here. I would compensate for that with another row, or originally using a double needle. You could also try adding edge stitching at this point. Use an edge stitching foot if you have one for great results.

Style: I think it is darling, hip, and you can definitely pull this off.

Good luck with this and know you have a cutie here.

Christy S says:

First of all, I think the concept of the dress is great. It is a lot of fun. I agree with everyone about the darts. I see that you used a ham and steam — do you have a clapper? I find that with some fabrics, especially if there is lycra, the clapper is invaluable for getting that crisp look. As for the topstitching, 2.6 is a very short stitch length for topstitching. I go back and forth with topstitching — sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t.

Alethia says:

I like bubble gum pink. The style of the dress is simple and flattering. Let see, It looks to me like the dart is too low and short. It should end 1-inch away from your bust point. Also, maybe instead of sewing a straight dart you may want to sew the dart with a little shape, something like a “S” dart. The applique seems to be a little too much, and that is only because of the color. The pink is attention grabbing and so are the applique. Looking at the pattern it seem that the dress looks better without topstiching. With such a bold color the dress really does not need any attention grabbing details. Hope this help. Otherwise I like the dress

blacksheepone says:

The dress looks fine, but I agree that a (very small!) dart on each side at the waist might help. The appliques look fine from here. The topstitching would, I think, benefit from being pressed (from the top) to slightly mute the effect.

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