Wednesday, April 23, 2014

McCall's 6872

I've taken up sewing children's clothes again -- or at least another dress for my granddaughter.  I used to make nearly all of my daughters' dresses and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I'm out of practice, at least with the sizing.  It's hard to find patterns for babies and even harder to figure out which size will fits.  You wouldn't think that 1/4 or 3/8 inch would make such a difference but it does.

I chose this McCall's pattern.  Isn't it cute?  The sizes go from newborn to X-large.

Based on the measurements on the pattern I decided to make the X-small for my 13-pound grandbaby for my first try.  (I'm not going to show you photographs of that effort.)  When cutting the dress I didn't realize there were two lengths.   The pattern tissue didn't indicate cutting lines for two lengths, either.  As I was stitching the pattern together I kept thinking that the skirt was going to be so short -- and it was.  Very, very short.  (I later realized that what I thought was a dress was actually a top.)

But it was the bodice that caused me greater disappointment.  It was wide enough for a baby much heavier than 13 pounds.  And the long sleeves that I cut were long and wide enough to add a casing for elastic.

In the end, I laid that dress aside and bought new fabric for a second try.

I made these changes on the second dress:
  • I cut the skirt length as long as the longest pattern on the tissue.  I ended up with a 1 3/4" hem.  If she grows taller before she grows wider, I can lengthen the skirt.  Or it will just get a little shorter on her.
  • I fussed over the width of the sleeve and finally just cut it narrower from underarm to wrist.  Much narrower.  I angled the line from underarm to wrist ending 1 1/4" narrower at the wrist.  The result was a sleeve that looks a little narrower than on the pattern but which allowed enough room for Olivia's cubby little arms.

These are the changes I'll make next time:
  • I'll cut the neckline just a little lower in the front -- probably not even 1/4".  She had room but her mom was afraid the dress would slip toward her back and choke her.
  • I'll cut the sleeve narrow again (if I want long sleeves) but maybe not quite so narrow - maybe taking off 1" instead of 1 1/4".  
  • The lower edge of the sleeve was curved.  I'll cut it straight across, keeping it at the longest point on the pattern, or possibly add a little length (maybe an inch). 
  • I will not sew set-in sleeves.  The armscye on this dress is so tiny that after gathering and pinning, I was barely able to get it under the presser foot of my machine.  Next time I will sew the shoulder seams on the bodice, gather the sleeve, then pin them together flat, and sew them flat.  Then I'll stitch the underarm and sleeve seam all in one go.  It will change the appearance a little but not enough to make it worth sewing the set-in sleeve.
  • The other thing about this pattern is that the bodice is lined.  Great for a winter dress but a little warm for a summer dress -- at least in our humid summer climate!  That will take a little more effort to figure out the facings for the back opening....

Do you want to see the finished dress?

Here it is.  It's a little wide in the bodice for some growth room.  The sleeves could be a little longer but they'll fit for another month or two.  And the width and length of a skirt are (in my opinion) perfect for a kicking baby.  I think the fabric is a bit busy for such a tiny baby but I didn't have anything at home that would work and not much time to shop.  Next time I'll choose either a calmer fabric or one with a smaller print.

Are you like me?  Do you pick apart your work to figure out how you can make it better the next time?  I don't know if it's my introvertish ways, my perfectionistic tendencies, or my attempts at self-improvement....

By the way, Olivia loves "Center Light."  I could barely get her attention off the fabrics long enough to snap a few photos.

I'm linking this post to Really Random Thursday at Live a Colorful Life and Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation.  Thanks, ladies!

I hope you're having a great time quilting or sewing or gardening or doing whatever you're doing these days.



  1. I hope to venture into the world of garment sewing again also for our new little granddaughter. When I sewed clothes way back when I remember that fit was the hardest part. I'm so looking forward t being able to make girly things!

    1. Hi, Nina --
      I know you will make adorable clothes for little Winter. I think the fit of children's clothes is a little easier than for adult women because children don't have so many curves. For me just now the real challenge is that the suggested sizes on the pattern envelopes don't seem to correspond with the sizes of the babies. For example, the pattern may say that the NB size fits 7-13# when it really will fit up to 15#. Small fits 13-18# but was way too big. The patterns seem to be universally larger than the babies they're supposed to fit. It's an adventure. At least larger clothes can be held until the baby grows into them. Take care.

  2. Oh what fun this is going to be, and it looks as if you are off to a sweet start sewing for your beautiful Olivia! I think that fabric made a darling dress! I loved sewing for the kids when they were growing up. I used to sew for about an hour after we tucked them in for the night and then spend the next hour with hubby. The kids said that they treasured the memory of falling asleep to the humming of the sewing machine and were excited to see what I had made the next morning. I remember having to alter the patterns quite a bit. Both kids were very tall and I always had to add 2-3" in length everywhere.We don't have grandchildren yet so I'm going to enjoy your posts, as they bring back fond memories.

    1. Hi, Karin --
      I love the image of your children finding comfort in the hum of your sewing machine each evening. Children so often have trouble falling asleep at night -- it seems like knowing exactly what mom is doing would be encouragement to let the day fall away and fall into sleep. My sewing times were sporadic and fit into the day and night whenever I could find a few minutes. Now I wonder if my daughters would have slept better if I'd sewed at bedtime.

      I hope I can figure out how patterns are sized these days so I don't have to adjust them all the time. It might be a little easier to tell size if she lived close enough for her to measure before cutting out. Still, one of these days/months she'll be big enough that whatever I make might be a little too large to begin with and then she'll just grow into it. Right now she doesn't have many dresses and I wanted this one to fit.

  3. pretty little dress! and yes- I absolutely DO pick apart my work. I allow myself to do it for just a little while when I first finish a project, and then I put it out of my mind (otherwise I'd go crazy over it).

    Thanks for linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

    1. Oh, Kelly, thank you for being another who picks apart her work. I let it go, too. I guess I think of it as an evaluation with thoughts about how to improve the process the next time.

      Thanks for hosting Needle and Thread Thursday.

  4. Hello Nancy,
    Olivia looks so sweet in her dress! The print is fine on her, but if you think it is too busy it can be calmed down with a cardy in a plain colour to match.
    When I made a little jacket for a baby a while ago it was a very tight circle when it came to binding the cuffs... worth it though. And yes, with every project I do I am thinking how to do it quicker and better the next time.
    Love, Muv

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Muv. I hadn't thought about a cardy but that's a great idea. (Of course I'd have to find (i.e., try out) a pattern that fits.) It's true: I find that some hard things are definitely worth doing for the final result. Other times, not so much. And I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one who evaluating her own work. Take care.

  5. On the instructions, #5, what do they mean by FACING?

    1. Hi, Sydne.

      I'm guessing you're making a romper, top, or sleeveless dress. The facing in this pattern is really a second later of the same patterns you cut for the bodice, pattern pieces 1 and 2.

      After you sew the shoulder seams in both sets of bodices, follow the directions to add the sleeve ruffle (for View D) or to sew the bodices right sides together (for Views B & D) then add the sleeves. The layers of the bodice that are sewn with right sides together will be turned so both right sides show. One will be the outside side of the dress, the part that will be seen, and the other layer will be on the inside, acting as a facing so the seams in the bodice won't unravel.

      I don't know if that helps or not. Essentially, for this pattern, the facing is a copy of the bodice turned to the inside.


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