Saturday, August 11, 2012

McCalls 6559 -- Short Dress

front view
This is the short version of McCalls 6659.  This knit fabric (also from Jo-ann Fabrics) was heavier and less drapey than the first knit I used.  But I already had it and thought "why not?" (And yes, those are my white legs, which probably explains why I need vitamin D supplementation).
Back view
I decided to use the racerback version, which you can see a little bit above.  But maybe because the fabric was stiffer, this dress turned out way larger than the first one, even though I cut the 16 on both of them.  I actually had to trim out a two-inch wedge from under each arm because the sides stuck out so far on the body.  It's still too big in the top, so I'm planning to raise the armholes by taking in another inch at the shoulders.

The fitting issues also may have been because I decided to bind the seams instead of flip them under, and I didn't trim off the seam allowance first.  Now I did this on purpose because the neckline runs a little low.  The first dress I simply raised the armhole a bit.  I thought not turning under the seam allowance would be enough for this one, but I think it made the shoulders too wide.  I think if I make another with bound seams, I won't trim the seam allowance on the neckline, but I will on the armholes.

This dress is super casual, so casual you could throw it on over your bathing suit, which is not necessarily a bad thing -- clothes like this have their uses.  I'm also happy because I practiced some new-to-me techniques.
Neck and Armhole Binding
First was attaching knit binding.  I got the binding by cutting two-inch-wide strips from a worn-out T-shirt I had that matched the print.  I followed the directions on this tutorial from The Beauty of a Stitch blog, and I was very pleased by how it turned out.  (BTW, I keep a lot of this kind of information on the Sewing Help board of my Pinterest account.  That seems to be a good way to keep up with these little bits of information that are quite useful, but not always easy to find when you actually need them.)
Twin needle Hem
On the hem I still used the knit fusible stay tape, but I also put two needles in my sewing machine and threaded it with two threads to get the twin needle look above.  I need to play with my pressure and tension on this a bit, I'd like it to lay just a bit flatter, but it's not bad for my first try.  (My sewing machine can accomodate two separate needles, but there are twin needles of various sizes you can buy than can be used on almost any zigzag machine.  Your machine should have directions.)

If you'd like to see the first version I made of McCalls 6559,  just go back one post to here.  Again, this dress is all over the internet.  Just do a little search and you will see many, many versions.

And this is for Deborah of Square Grannie, who asked to see my sewing machine:)
Singer 401
This is a close-up showing the settings I used to sew the narrow zigzag for the stretch seams for knits.  I put my knobs on B-L (that's the coordinates for the zigzag stitch).  The red lever on the right sets the width of the zigzag, which I had set on 1 1/2.
This is my stitch length lever, which I set on 15 stitches per inch.
Your sewing machine will have different ways to set this up, but this should give you a little starting point if you are new at sewing knits.  My best advice is to be bold and get in there and experiment a bit.  You are not going to get a grade, and unless you are a professional sewing is for your own pleasure, so don't let a fear of messing up get in your way.  Just my two cents worth;)


  1. You are on an impressive roll here, Angela! You've got these tricksy knit fabrics sorted and no mistake - I love the binding - what a good (and thrifty) idea. These kinds of clothes that are easy to wear (and launder - I never bother to iron anything made out of a knit fabric) are very useful. This would be a great dress to travel with - versatile to wear and not bulky to pack. Well done you! Can't wait to see what's next off your sewing machine! E x

  2. Cute, cute, to get my bottom back in the sewing room, I might have something new before the summer ends
    I am starting to remember again all my lessons...great job!
    I hope hubby enjoys how productive you were while he was gone

  3. You look very nice in the dress, and thanks for showing the pictures of your sewing machine. It's very nice - all you will ever need for good sewing.

  4. I grew up sewing on a machine just like this. Mama still uses it. It's a workhorse! Your binding looks great! That's hard to do, too. Just add a short cardigan with 3/4 sleeves, and you'll be set for fall.

  5. P.S. I take Vit D supplements, too, because I tend to get 'down' feeling without it. I guess I don't get enough sunshine.


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