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.

Men’s shirt- Mccall’s M6044

I’m sorry about the lack of posts recently- I’ve been making muslins for Butterick 5638– I am determined to learn how to fit patterns to my body, so I can make clothes that fit great.  It’s been quite a struggle, but I am making real progress! I’ll post about this separately.

McCall's M6044 Men's shirt
McCall’s M6044 Men’s shirt

Ever since I started sewing, my partner has been asking (nagging) me to make him a shirt. I decided to make it over the summer while he was gone (yes, I am behind on my posts) I was pretty daunted, but making a men’s shirt wasn’t so bad! He likes cowboy style shirts (style E on M6044), but I was realistic and knew I could not make that shirt yet. I went with style A, which is a simple short-sleeved button down with a pocket.





M6044 in plaid seersucker
Success! Sorry it’s a little fuzzy- this was absolutely the only picture he would pose for.

For the fabric, I chose a dark blue and white plaid in a cotton seersucker weave. Partner keeps on saying he thinks the weave is weird, but I say too bad! Seersucker is supposed to be great in hot weather. I’m sorry he doesn’t like it more, but still think choosing a fabric that makes you more comfortable is worth it.

I made several alterations to the pattern- instead of using plain seams, I used French seams wherever they were straight enough for me to manage it- I think this was a great decision, since the seams are stronger and the shirt looks better and closer to store-bought. I think flat-felled seams might have worked too, but was not in the mood to try a technique I had never done before.

I also added an additional pocket, since I know he likes to have one on each side.

The biggest change I made was to use pearl snaps instead of buttons- for this, I had to buy a Dritz Heavy Duty Snap Fastener Plier Kit

I’ll admit, even with the pliers, putting the snaps on was tough- for starters, the first time I did them, I put them on the wrong side, forgetting that they would not be coming up through a layer of fabric like buttons do. And, the snaps were just difficult to put on. Despite my best efforts to make sure all parts were flush with the pliers before using them, sometimes snaps were misaligned, so that the attachment prongs were sticking out at odd angles. I had to use an awl to pry misaligned snaps off and try again with a new snap. I do think that it gets easier the more you practice, but I am going to plan on having extra snaps from now on.

All in all, a success! I’m going to try sewing a cowboy shirt this winter. Glamour Glory also loved M6044.