Thursday, October 4, 2012

Clinging to summer with McCalls 5882

Even though the calendar says October it felt like summer this week since we had the typical late September heatwave in my part of California.  More 100º temps which cause me to reach for a this batik print dress.  Not the most exciting number but so easy to wear. More blue which is certainly a trend for me this year, in any hue. 

Blue batik dress
The weather reminds me of back-to-school time in elementary school. I always wanted to wear my new school clothes which tended to be more of the winter variety. Since we didn't have air-conditioned classrooms (nor at home for that matter) a fashion conscious little me had to choose between waiting or sweltering in my new outfits. In particular I recall that my mom bought me a leather jumper at a boutique in Carmel, not exactly hot weather wear.  Wow that sounds slightly crazy in retrospect, but as I remember it was really cute, caramel color with buttons at the shoulder and worn with a little turtleneck.  I tell ya, my mama was a fashion-enabler from way back. Gotta love her for that (as well as a zillion other things, of course).
I used McCalls 5882 and it had a problem that I find on many patterns from McCalls, Butterick and especially Simplicity, which is that the neckline is far too wide, especially in the front. 
McCalls 5882 pattern envelope
Consequently I had to make it work by putting two pleats in the front neckline. I had worn it for a few weeks as designed and it annoyed me so much that I thought I will either get rid of this dress (even though I really like the fabric bought in Hawaii) or make a somewhat unorthodox alteration. 
Batik dress front close up
So you can see I just pleated the neckline which was already enclosed in the bodice lining, and topstitched down.  Success!  Kind of looks intentional.  Even better!

Since this time I have utilized a different method to choose which pattern size to make. I first saw this on a PBS TV show by Nancy Zieman and it really works if you are having trouble with the upper part of garments not fitting correctly. She calls it the "Right Size Measurement".  You choose the pattern size based on the width of your upper chest and notes that many people will find they should start with a smaller size than had been their habit.  The slight drawback might be that there are more alterations to do from the bustline down, however if the neck, shoulders and armholes fit well then the garment will look really great.  I highly recommend reading her blog post which I linked to above, as choosing a pattern size is always critical so having another insight is helpful.  I usually start with a size 12 in big 4 patterns but following her system I could start with an 8.  Quite a difference and maybe the neckline on this dress would have been better to start with.
McCalls 5882 dress frontMC5882 dress back

sneak peek finale one-hit wonderMoving along with my Vogue 1143 suit, so I will have photos and lots of info before October is over.  Thank you for all the great comments and interest in that one.

Here is a tiny peek at my One-Hit-Wonder Grand Finale dress, the colorful image to the right   ➙

This one you don't want to miss...if you enjoy a good laugh at the excesses of recent decades :)  Let's just say this if this number was on Project Runway someone might call it "overworked".  But at the time it was a hit!

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, a calibrachoa that has decided to take off in a big way lately, and looking very good for it.  Here's hoping it makes it through the winter - sometimes they do.
Calibrachoa pink summer 2012


  1. I've found the same issue with necklines that are way too wide. Pleating is a nice way to make it work and look feminine.
    Bring on the Grand Finale dress. The fabric is really lovely.

  2. Gorgeous! I really love the polka dot contrast fabric :)

  3. The dress is really lovely and I too love the contrast polka dots. Thanks for that link too.

  4. Great save. This dress is much too nice to not get worn.

  5. Oh I love it- I thought I was the only one with neckline issues from those companies!

  6. Love the dress and beautiful fabric. I've used NZ's fitting help for sometime now - glad you found her tip for future use. Like many others, I have the same problem.

  7. Love the dress and fabric - so glad you were able to save it!

    I've used Nancy's Zieman's pattern fitting tip for about 25 years. While I draft most of my own patterns, I usually begin with a commercial pattern when I sew for others. There still is a lot of fitting involved, but I find that most family/friends do not have the patience needed to draft a basic pattern that can be restyled as needed for many years. Instant gratification is required!


  8. I love your blue batik dress!! I just finished a few tank tops which I usually shy away from because of baggy armholes. My fix was 1) pick a top with a bust dart OR 2) use the gathering foot to make the armhole smaller inconspicuously. I have Nancy's book and I will try the smaller sizing sometimes, but then the bust, and hips have to be made much bigger in the pattern.

  9. Oh I forgot. I live in Santa Cruz and actually got a heat rash from the 100 degree temps on Monday and Tuesday. I think we might be neighbors.

  10. love this dress and how it looks on you! and neckline looks very good with pleats!

  11. I have that pattern but haven't tried it yet. Thanks for the tip on the neckline width. I like what you did with the pleats!

  12. Love this dress -- the batik print is fabulous (I love batiks!) and the polka dot print is a nice contrast. A leather jumper -- wow, your mom really is a stylin' lady!

  13. Lovely dress!!! That cut is so flattering on you and the main fabric choice and border print works wonderfully together!!!!! You look so pretty:)


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