Friday, August 30, 2013

McCall's 6074-Summer Sew Along #2, Day #1

Today we'll prep the pattern and cut and mark the fabric. This dress should be really easy to sew. The biggest difficulty will be getting used to sewing knits. This pattern could be easily modified, so I'll include instructions for two simple variations (a reversible dress and a maternity dress) at the end of each day.

Here's what you should do today:

First, read through all the pattern instructions so you have a sense of what you're going to do and what each pattern piece corresponds to. Also, make sure you understand what the grainline, crossgrain, and selvedges are. If you don't, check out this previous post. Commercial patterns like this one include seam allowance, so you don't have to worry about that. I'm making View A, so I only need pattern pieces 1, 2, and 3.

Cut out your pattern pieces. Don't cut right on the line,
leave a nice inch or so for now. If you're making one of
the short versions (like View A), you can cut right along
the hem line for View A.
Save the bottom piece of pieces #1 and #2
(the front and back). Make sure to label
them clearly! You'll want these pieces in the
future if you choose to make a different
style of the same dress.
Iron the tissue paper pattern pieces. Use low heat, no steam.
It's best to use a dry iron (no water inside) so you don't
accidentally get the tissue paper wet. You want your
pattern to be flat-a big wrinkle could change the size of
the pattern piece.
Here's everything you need for now: pins,
scissors, your flat pattern pieces, fabric, and
instructions. Fold the fabric lengthwise, as
indicated by the instructions.
You want your
selvedges to match. Your fabric should
stretch a lot between the selvedges and fold
and not so much in the other direction.
The pattern instructions will give you a suggested layout
for your pattern pieces. You can deviate from this layout if
you'll be able to save fabric, as long as you stick to two
VERY important things: 1) the direction of the grainline
(parallel to the selvedges) is marked on the pattern.
You can't turn the pattern piece in any other direction!
2) Pin all your pattern pieces to the fabric before doing any
cutting, just to make sure everything fits.
Here's a tip I learned from my grandmother: to make sure
your grainline runs straight, measure the distance between
the line marked on the pattern and either the fold or
selvedges, whichever is closer.
Here's how I ended up laying mine out.
You don't actually have to pin piece #3
in place, just make sure there is room for
it. Now you're ready to cut.
You'll notice that piece #3 says "cut 1,"
while pieces #1 and #2 say "cut 2." Since
your fabric is folded in half, when you cut
each piece, you'll get two. Don't cut piece
#3 until you open up the fabric (so it's not
folded anymore). Otherwise you'll just
have an extra piece you don't need.
A good cutting tip for stretchy fabrics (or
for slinky fabrics): place a towel underneath.
Make sure the towel is flat. It will hold the
fabric still and prevent it from moving or
stretching as you cut.
Cut right along the line for your indicated
size. Ideally, keep the part you're trimming
off in one piece.
Label the part you trimmed off! This way, if you need to
make a different size in the future, you can! You already
paid for the pattern, so make sure you get your money's
When you come across little notches pointing toward the
pattern piece, cut out away from the piece. You don't need
to cut individual triangles, just cut a wedge across all of
them. The purpose of these notches is to allow you to match
up pieces later. See how one side of this piece has three
notches, and the other has two? Well, you won't accidentally
line up the pieces and sew the back middle to the front
middle, or something like that! Do NOT cut the notches
, as it will weaken the seam you sew there. 
If you're making a maternity dress, you'll 

You can unfold the fabric before cutting piece #3. I would
place it somewhere where you won't cut in to a bigger piece
of fabric. That way you can keep some extra squares of
fabric for something else.
Once everything's cut out, you need to mark
your fabric. You'll want to trace any circles,
triangles, squares, etc. onto the fabric with a
fabric pen. The circles (and squares on the
other side) are for the applique that goes
along with View D, so I don't need those.
Make sure you also trace the "stitching line"
on the front.
Ok, you're all ready to start pinning and sewing tomorrow!
Make sure you have your elastic ready (I'm improvising
and sewing two pieces of 1/4" elastic together because
that's what I had on hand).

Reversible dress: Cut the pattern as indicated above on two different fabrics. Skip pattern piece #3 (the casing). You'll make a casing by just sewing the inner dress to the outer dress. The visible seams will be the same! 

Maternity dress: You might want to go up one size from your usual size to allow for a bigger bust and belly. If you do this, you can extend the casing (pattern piece #3) by the difference between the two sizes (which should only be ~an inch or less). You also will want to make the whole dress a little longer at the center front. Here's how: 
1) Measure the difference between the two sizes at the stitching line (just below the bust). Cut pattern piece #3 along the center line. Add a piece of tissue paper in the middle to make it wider by the amount you just measured. Make the elastic ~1/2" longer as well. This will allow for more cinching below the bust to go along with a slightly bigger bust and belly.
2) Add length at the center front. See picture below:
Cut along this black line. Then, once the dress is put
together, you can try it on and decide exactly how much
length you want to add/take away before hemming.
You might want to swoop a bit more (make it more
rounded) than my lovely drawing here.
Tomorrow, we start sewing! Here's the link for day #2 of this sew along.


  1. Where did you purchase the brown pattern tissue paper? I can only find it in pink or white. I am looking for a large roll.

  2. I did not make this pattern, this pattern is McCall's 6074. I think all patterns that I've purchased come on the same brownish tissue paper. If you're looking for brown tissue paper to make your own patterns, I'm not sure where to recommend. Typically when I make my own patterns I use whatever tissue paper I have on hand, and I tape smaller pieces together. I don't know where to buy a roll or where to find brown.