Sewing An Easy Maxi Dress Pattern - Where's Wally?!
I've always fancied a nice casual maxi dress for day to day wear, but have only ever had quite formal or dressy ones for special occasions or evenings out...until I discovered the McCalls M6744 sewing pattern that is. I loved the styling on the packet and it immediately had me dreaming of summer holidays so I grabbed one for my stash a while back when we had a McCalls pattern sale on. By the end of May I'd beavered my way through quite a few patterns in my stash and I decided it was time to give this one a go. I chose our stripy jersey fabric in red and white for a bold and different look. I thought it would look great with a denim jacket. Ed thought I would look like Where's Wally? Husbands - what do they know?!
This pattern was a breeze. It took me a few evenings to make, but a lot of that time was spent matching the stripes. If you took the stripe matching out of the equation and used a fabric that didn't require matching it would only take a few hours to make plus Angela suggested a way to make it even quicker and easier still. Instead of cutting the bodice and the skirt separately combine the bodice and skirt pattern pieces overlapping them by the 5/8" waist seam allowance and remembering to mark where the casing for the elastic should be. This reduces the pattern pieces required from four to just two - you could probably just look at your sewing machine and make this dress now!
To create a casing for the elastic simply cut a strip of fabric marginally wider than your elastic and four times the width of one of the skirt pattern pieces at the waist. Stitch it in place at the waist along the two longest sides of the fabric strip creating a tunnel to thread the elastic through then stitch across the ends of the elastic and ends of the fabric once the elastic is in place.
It wasn't until after I had cut my fabric Angela and I had the above conversation so I made it with four pieces and it was still easy, although the suggested cutting layout caused me a bit of a headache. The pattern instructions suggested cutting round the outside of the back skirt piece then flipping it over to cut the other side. I couldn't get the stripes to match up properly and gave up and cut it on the fold instead. Much easier.
I used stretch interfacing on the neckline, armholes and hem and this made the fabric really easy to handle when pressing the narrow hems. I was a bit nervous how the narrow hem round the neckline and armholes would turn out due to the curved lines, but they turned out really well and I think this was largely due to the stretch interfacing which made the fabric much more stable. I simply pinned the relevant pattern pieces to the interfacing and cut strips 1/4" wide round the edges I wanted to stabilise and ironed them in place.
I'm really pleased with how the stripe matching went down the side seams, however, it was impossible to continue this good work across the waist due to the shape of the bodice and this is another reason why reducing the pattern to two pieces rather than four would have worked better. Having said that, if you're using a fabric that doesn't require matching this wouldn't be an issue anyway. To resolve the problem I decided to wear a thin gold waist belt with the dress, which I think actually adds a nice touch of glamour and goes well with the gold sandals I will wear with it.
When stripe matching I laid the fabric out flat and folded it in the normal way for pinning my pattern and cutting the fabric making sure the stripes matched up at the selvage ends. To ensure the stripes matched all the way down the fabric I used a helpful tip from Tilly And the Buttons blog. Half way between the fold and the selvage of the fabric I pushed a pin through the fabric on the edge of one of the stripes to make sure the stripe beneath it was in the same position and repeated this at regular intervals until I had checked the full length of the fabric was positioned correctly.
I should also mention the sizing of this pattern - by my measurements (35" bust) I should have been a medium (34" - 36" bust), however, when I measured the pattern pieces there seemed a huge amount of ease so I opted for a size small. I'm really glad I did this, the next size up would have been way too big.
All in all another easy and satisfying make I will wear again and again. The fabric is so soft and the dress is lovely and comfy plus it is perfect for those in between summer weather days teamed with a denim jacket.
Have fun sewing!
Lucy & Angela