Wednesday, August 8, 2012

McCalls 6559 -- Maxi Dress

My husband was away on a study leave for the month of July.  He took my daughter with him, and she spent the month in various locations -- at my mom's, at an old friend's, just with her dad.  I stayed to man the home front with my four boys.  It was a little different being a single mom.  Parts of my life were simplified because there was no husband and one less child to take care of.  Parts were more complicated because I was, in effect, a single parent, so all errand-running and problem-solving fell to me.  

But I did end up with some extra time here and there, and I used it to sew some things for myself;)

I made this maxi dress:
front view
The fabric is a very comfortable rayon knit from Joann Fabrics.  I used a universal needle, and I sewed the side seams with a short stitch length and a narrow zigzag setting on my sewing machine.  I raised the neckline by using a 6/8" seam allowance on the shoulder seam instead of a 5/8".

The pattern is McCalls 6559.
Dresses made from this pattern are all over the internet, and with good reason.  It sews up quickly, is comfortable to wear, and generally is flattering.  I cut a size 16, but it ended up a little large, so next time I may try a 14.  (It's taking me some trial and error to figure out what size actually fits me.)

There are only two pieces to this pattern -- a front and a back.
back view
To finish the neckline, armholes, and hem I used Londa's knit fusible stay tape.  I simply fused it to the edges with an iron, folded the edge over, and stitched using a straight stitch and a longer stitch (10 per inch on my machine).  I love that stay tape.  It really added stability and kept my stitching from being wavy.  I highly recommend it for sewing knits.  This dress stitched up with NO problem, and remember I sew on a vintage Singer 401.

This picture shows what the finish looks like on the outside (left) and on the inside (right).
Right now my goal when making clothes is wearability.  Sometimes I fall short.  A dress I worked on painstakingly -- it was fully lined, with princess seams front and back, just did not pan out.  After all that work, it did not fit right so I had to chalk the whole thing up to an "at least I learned something" experience.

This maxi dress, while definitely not perfect, is wearable and practical in this summer heat.  I learned some new skills -- I'd never used that stay tape before -- and worked on conquering a fear of sewing with knits.  For me, sewing is one of those things that I can get stuck thinking about and reading about and getting inspired by others, BUT I really need to just get in there and SEW and make mistakes and try new things to figure out what I'm doing.  And the enjoyment really comes from getting in there and DOING.  In a lot of ways, this has been a summer of DOING for me.


  1. That's a very pretty dress. It looks very nice on you. Please post a picture of your sewing machine.

  2. That dress and fabric pattern just looks fabulous on you! (I don't think you are the size you say...nor the other size you say. =D) How fun to get some time for you while your hubby was away.

  3. I really really like this dress Angela, you look wonderful in it,As i travel in blogland I am always so amazed at how creative women are with their hands. This pattern looks like something that a beginner like me could do, thanks for making it seems so easy! BTW love the colors too!

    Enjoy your day.

  4. Cute! I don't think you're bigger than a 12. You're right about sewing. You just have to jump in, make mistakes, rip out, and sew again. The most frustrating thing is that sometimes it just won't work out no matter what. That's when I want to quit, but I never have. I'm sewing again after a long hiatus; this time for the twins. It's fun to make baby girl clothes. Not so fun to make the exact thing twice!

  5. Well, look at you, all cute and cool and chic! What a fabulous job you did on that dress...and it is perfect for you!

    (I must agree with the other commenters who are marveling at your size. If it is the dress that is making you look so small, I will be making a closetful of them! :D

  6. Well his study time and your creative were very productive...this is cute! Great job!!!

  7. What a beautiful dress, Angela! And you look beautiful in it - those colours look made for you and the pattern you've chosen is so light and flowing - perfect for really hot days. I have to confess I regard knit fabrics with suspicion as far as sewing them is concerned and always fear that I will never manage to stitch anything other than curved seams instead of straight ones! But you make sewing with knits sound both possible and enjoyable so may be I must give them a go. I do love wearing floaty drapey things when it's really hot - not that there's been much chance of that this summer in the UK! I totally agree about wanting to make wearable things and sometimes what is easy or enjoyable to make is not necessarily very wearable so here's to searching out patterns that work for wearing in real time! Love your tip about fusible stay tape too - going to keep my eyes peeled for that. Enjoy wearing your new dress and being back all together again! E x


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