crafts · finished objects · Sewing

McCall’s 6518: lessons in pattern matching

Pattern: McCall’s 6518, Phoebe Couture design

Fabric: Rayon/Poly/Lycra suiting from Joann’s (last year)


Well, I haven’t accomplished much this week, as I’ve spent the entire thing at home with what appears to be the flu, but I did finish this dress!  Thanks to everyone who voted on this dress – I confess that the amount of plaid was daunting, and I might never have made it otherwise.  And that would have been sad, because I love the end result!

I’ve made quite a few dresses and tops in plaid, as it’s one of my favorite patterns.  It can be rather intimidating, but I think it’s doable for anyone if you remember one tip – you cannot be super OCD about plaid.  If you have more than two pieces, or any shaping in the form of darts/pleats etc you will have to choose your battles.

In this case I chose to match from the center out.  Therefore the waistband, center bodice, and skirt front all line up in the center.  As you move away from the center the match isn’t exact, as I have princess lines and pleats to deal with, but that’s not as noticeable as a plaid mismatch in the center would have been.  I chose to cut the ruffles on the bias, and I didn’t even attempt to match the plaid on the bodice right front (it is covered almost entirely with the ruffles.  I would not ordinarily use a pattern with princess seams for a plaid, as you cannot match them, but in this case the ruffles made it ok.   I also bound the neck and armhole edges in self bias binding, which ties in nicely with the ruffle and avoids the lining called for in the pattern (I do not do lining in the summer unless the fabric is sheer… there is nothing worse than sticky lining in the southern humidity!

The back presented a difficulty – the seam is shaped rather than straight, making lining up the skirt impossible.  In this case I chose to match the horizontal lines (a mismatch would be obvious) and let the center seam make a diagonal.  The back bodice pieces I was able to match exactly.  The back waistband is the only mismatch, and on a remake I might choose to cut it on the bias – darts in the top and bottom made lining things up tricky.  It doesn’t bother me though – I can’t see it when I wear it!

I was able to leave out the zipper entirely, so if I made this again I would likely remove the back seam.

The pattern was well drafted overall.  It went together pretty easily, and I really like the ruffles.  Here are my alterations:

1. I used my serger to create a rolled hem for the ruffles rather than hemming them individually.  I always do this for ruffles and I think it gives a nice ready-to-wear look.

2. I shortened the armhole depth by 2 inches total (1 in front, one in back) by taking up the straps and redrawing the neckline at the end.  I can’t tell whether the dress is supposed to be an empire waist or regular, but for me it was lingering in the middle which wasn’t flattering, so I shortened it to make it an empire line.

3. I took in the side seams from the armhole to the waist by 2 inches total.  I can’t tell whether this is because the pattern runs big, or because I chose to cut too large a size.  I tend to err on the side of larger cutting, so it’s probably that.

4. When I shortened the straps it made the dress shorter, so I took a narrow hem.  It would have been really short with the hem called for in the pattern!

5. No zipper (my fabric has stretch) and no lining.  I used bias strips to finish the armholes, and they are perhaps a tad large – I’m never sure of how long to cut them!

I didn’t really use the instructions.  I can say that it was a little difficult sewing on the ruffles!  I recommend finishing the edge of the ruffles before sewing them in place.  Mark the top and bottom placement, and then fit the ruffles in the middle as close as you can – mine aren’t exact and they look fine.

I highly recommend the pattern.  I’m pleased with how close I got to my inspiration!