Cooling-off dress: McCall’s 6331

After I tried Lynda Maynard’s suggestion, only to be rewarded with a still-wrinkly back AND the reappearance of all the problems I had already worked hard to correct*, I decided I needed to move on to another project for a while.  Yes, I know I said I was not going to do anything else until I successfully made Craftsy’s fitting class dress, but I really needed a break.  Sewing is a hobby for me, and hobbies are supposed to be fun! Instead of being fun, sewing was just becoming a grueling task that made me angry.

For my cooling-down project, I choose McCall’s 6331.

McCall's 6331
McCall’s 6331

It has several options- over the shoulder straps, halter straps, as well as a romper option (with a back zipper instead of a side zipper, which seems like it would make going to the bathroom hard, but whatever). I’m not really built for halter straps, so am going with the shoulder straps option (View B).  This dress looks good for warm weather, and will let me avoid having to deal with fitting my arms and upper back, meaning I might actually be able to make something wearable.  It has different cup size options, which is a plus.

I started off making a bodice muslin in a size 14, cup size C.  Despite the fact that the muslin still had folds and drag lines in all the usual places (diagonal line from bust to waist, lots of horizontal folds on back), it was clearly too big.  But, it did expose a problem that I thought had been due to mistakes I made in altering previous muslins; the back waistline clearly dipped down in back. I made a second muslin in a size 12; the fit was closer, which was good; this is supposed to have a close-fitting bodice. With my size selected, I was able to start making alterations.

unaltered M6331 size 12 back
Unaltered back. See how the center waist dips down?

I’ll get to the front alterations in my next post, but first I’m going to discuss the back. Making it in the proper size made the fit closer, but also made the fit problems more apparent, especially the dipping in the center waist.  In fitting, drag lines are supposed to point to the problem area; this is especially true here. As I already said, I was surprised to learn that this problem was a result of misalignment between my body and the pattern, and not a drafting mistake that was my own fault.

To correct this, I took off the zipper and made a 1 1/2″ triangular horizontal wedge to remove length from the center back, but keep the length of the side seams the same.

Using triangular wedges to removing length from center back, but keep side seam length the same.
Using triangular wedges to removing length from center back, but keep side seam length the same.


Comparing the two sides, I was happier with the left side.  I marked and measured the changes on the muslin, then transferred them to the pattern.  I also added length to the darts to keep the overall length the same.

Making these alterations presented me with a new dilemma; how to adjust the balance lines and where to put the new zipper, since these things shifted during alterations? I marked two options on the pattern; one wider than the other.

m6331 fully altered back, both cb options



I tried the narrower center back option first, but ended up going with the wider center back option, since that one had fewer back wrinkles.  Is it perfect? No.  But, this is progress.  At least there isn’t a huge lump of fabric on my back like other muslins have! I’ve decided that for this project, I will be happy with “good enough,” instead of “perfect.” Only making muslins is getting boring!




*I think Lynda Maynard’s suggestion is probably correct, but I’ve been getting some great responses from the readers as well.  I’m going to start from scratch one size up when I feel ready to deal with the aggravation again.

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