So. Many. Colors.
This is my fifth time sewing McCall’s M5971, but three of those versions are pre-blog (version four will be on the blog in a few weeks). I really like this pattern! What I like most about it is the wiggle silhouette, because fitted dresses are rare in my RTW size. It’s nice to feel curvy and sexy and pretty every once in awhile, and that’s how this dress makes me feel.
Back in 2014, a friend and I went to check out a fabric store in a nearby town. It turned out to be a quilting store, but quilting cottons have the absolute coolest, wackiest, most out there prints (because manufacturers assume you won’t be wearing them). Well…I saw this lucha libre fabric and knew it had to be a McCall’s M5971 dress. I bought a lot — 3 1/2 yards — and stuck it in my stash.
I had to revisit the pattern because (a) my pattern grading skills are better now than they were then, and (b) I’ve gained mucho weight since then. It took some work to grade up the pattern, but nothing crazy. Honest! Some patterns are easy to alter. I think this pattern is easy because the pieces are all really straightforward.
If anything, this pattern is more like a block than a specific design. I’m seriously considering taking advantage of this trait to burn through my cotton stash with a bunch of hacks…because this dress is a fabric HOG. I know I’m a big person, but it took all 3 1/2 yards and I didn’t have enough for sleeves or pockets. (I gotta have my pockets!)
I was really surprised to see this pattern maxes out at size 18 because it fits me so well. This is the beauty of sewing with measurements and not sizes! I noted the difference between the measurements of the largest size and my own and graded up accordingly. It was all numbers, all math. Don’t be afraid of this, ladies! Doing the math is objective and lets you focus on more important things like fabric choice and design details. That’s how I got a perfectly fitting, adorable dress out of a pattern ten sizes too small.
I’d only sewn a few seams when I thought, ‘wow, this is easy to sew!’ Then I realized that compared to the jersey and ITY I normally sew, quilting cotton is dead easy to manage. That’s when I decided to go crazy with the finishing details! I really had a blast sewing this dress because cotton is such a stable fabric. It presses beautifully, too.
However, I did have a heart stopping moment during the construction process. I’d just attached the skirt to the bodice, and was hit by how…busy…the print was. My heart fell, but I decided to keep sewing. At this point in my sewing life, I finish everything because doing so builds sewing skill. Quitting means you never learn how to push through design and construction adversity, never learn how to sew with your intellect and your ingenuity. As a self-taught sewer, it’s easy to be insecure about your skills, but if you know you’re pushing yourself to learn and grow you can have more confidence and pride in your abilities. So I kept sewing.
I’m so glad I did because this dress is the bomb dot com! This is my second time doing a front zipper on a dress and I love it, definitely going to do it more moving forward. Also, this print is so much fun. I cannot express to you how much fun it is to wear a crazy print like this! I wear this and I’m visible. No more fat girl hiding in the shadows, wearing bland, baggy clothes for me. HUZZAH!!!!